???We don???t call it Bristol Park???: engaging African American youth in urban neighborhood redevelopment planning

by Miatta Echetebu

Institution: University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
Department: 0338
Degree: MA
Year: 2015
Keywords: Neighborhood Redevelopment
Record ID: 2060847
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/72848


This youth participatory action research project was conceptualized in an effort to include the voices of youth residents in a process of neighborhood redevelopment underway in their community. Four youth collaborators partnered with a graduate student and an adult community partner to design, implement, and disseminate results from a study of youth perspectives concerning the Bristol Park neighborhood redevelopment for use in the City of Champaign???s master plan for the neighborhood. As low income teens of color, participants may face social, cultural, developmental, economic, and systemic barriers to civic participation in neighborhood redevelopment, and their absence from the process was apparent locally. An innovative method of a youth ???lock-in??? with a late night basketball competition and talent show was used to attract youth participants and engage them in surveys and discussions regarding the redevelopment, which were analyzed and included in the Bristol Park neighborhood master plan. The goals of this study were to 1) learn effective strategies for gaining civic participation from African American youth in the context of an urban neighborhood redevelopment, and 2) assess youths??? views of the strengths and needs of a community undergoing redevelopment, including their concerns regarding redevelopment. We learned that youth tended to be uninformed about the redevelopment and were more likely to participate in the redevelopment planning when they were provided with information about the redevelopment, given a youth-centered and youth-led context in which to participate, and received authentic support from both adult partners and city staff. Youth???s primary interests were in increasing safety, recreation, and housing quality, while preserving social networks and nostalgic aspects of the physical structure of the neighborhood. Implications for inclusion of youth perspectives in urban neighborhood redevelopment are discussed.