The Urban Action Network designed and developed the Resident Engagement and Action Project or REAP, provides funding for the initiative and directed its activities from 2017 – 2019. In 2018, Allissa Hall, Executive Director of the Family Communication Centers, worked in close partnership with REAP hosting its monthly meetings and supporting REAP activities. In 2020, REAP officially became a program of the Family Communication Centers supported by the Urban Action Network.
REAP seeks to foster concrete neighborhood-level improvement in East Springfield first by creating a collective vision among residents for positive change followed by the implementation of resident-generated and resident-led community-building strategies and actions. By tapping into the energy, creativity and resilience of local resident activists, REAP cultivates ongoing, trusted relationships among East Springfield residents who are working together to build a thriving, cohesive neighborhood.
REAP began hosting Friday evening, 2-hour sessions on July 7, 2017 with 12-17 identified residents. Engagement sessions were facilitated by DeAndre Neal and Sam Johnson. Every other Friday evening, participants followed structured agendas that encouraged lively and open dialogue in both large and small groups and enjoyed a delicious dinner provided by Queen B catering.
Participants shared their thoughts on topics such as the impact of poverty on their communities, why violence occurs in their neighborhoods, the impact of drugs and incarceration of males on families and female heads of households, stigmas associated with mental health, and more. The sessions quickly move from the identification of broad challenges to asking participants to visualize their ideal neighborhoods, community asset mapping and the generation of ideas for small-scale, doable actions they can accomplish in their neighborhoods.
In 2019, in addition to four Adopt-A-Street clean-ups and participation in the Kiwanis Park Movie night, REAP staffed an information table at the annual Juneteenth celebration with newly printed REAP & UAct promotional posters and displayed our new banner.
REAP, in coordination with the Sustain Springfield Green Map, hosted and staffed an informational table at Springfield’s Annual Earth Day celebration.