What is impressive about a gravel trail with painted stones?
I've been reading reports from SafeGrowth teams in Connecticut. One struggle I hear is how to engage community members.
Last week, I was in Monterrey, Mexico, site of the 2011 narcoterrorist attack on a downtown casino where over 50 people were murdered. Engagement should be more difficult here than anywhere. I was taken to a poor community on the outskirts of the city near the construction site of a master-planned community.
It was unlikely residents in this poor community could afford to live in the new development. My guides, a dynamic Monterrey CPTED team, showed me the poor community and a rocky ravine beneath a highway overpass with an elementary school on the other side. School kids had to walk across this unsafe stretch to go to school. A gravel trail had been built connecting the community with the school.
Residents, school kids, the developer, and volunteer construction crews had come together to build the trail. The Monterrey CPTED team ran a painting day when school kids painted stones. They then used the stones to mark the trail edges.
The visible part of this project was simple - a gravel trail, painted stones, and construction volunteers. It was the invisible part that caught my attention – engagement!
The kids and their parents enthusiastically showed me their trail and the stones, from one end to the other. This was clearly a source of pride. Discussion focused on expanding the trail and adding play areas.
In other words, residents with few resources had built their own solution to a neighborhood problem in a region of Mexico not far from one of the most violent narco-gang wars in history. By partnering with others they were making their community a better place, stone by stone. Those actions are community-engagement seeds starting to grow.
Not just a gravel trail and painted stones. Much more.