Community Mapping Example

As an early step in planning a Neighborhood NORC program, a community development organization in New York City decided to map the resources of its rapidly gentrifying community.

The organization’s staff had already consulted the Census Bureau website (www.census.gov) and reviewed relevant Census tracts to confirm that a sizable population of seniors lived in the area—it met the state’s criteria as a NORC. Building on that information, staff members decided to generate a detailed map of the neighborhood.

Over the summer, two interns walked the neighborhood, looked at the available resources, and marked them on the map. The map provided a wealth of useful information.

At a glance, program planners could now see where health care services, houses of worship, restaurants, and many other commercial entities were located. The map also revealed things that were absent; for example, there was no grocery store or post office.

As the program planners continued to study the neighborhood with their partners, they were able to layer more information onto their map. They documented housing characteristics (for example, the condition of the housing stock and whether the buildings were high rises, garden apartments, or private homes), bus stops and other transportation options, parks, pedestrian amenities, libraries, and cultural, education, and religious institutions. They also noted the major throughways running through the neighborhood.

As a final step, the program invited the older residents of the community to weigh-in. Using the community map created by the program planners, seniors were able to identify additional resources and detail how they interacted with the community -- where they go to shop, how they get there, and what they thought was missing in their neighborhoods. This provided yet another layer of valuable information.

In the end the program planners had a valuable portrait of the community it was looking to serve, and were able to identify a banner issue for the community to rally around – better access to nutritious food.

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