Gaining a Community’s Trust
Gaining a Community’s Trust
The revitalization of Old East Durham has resulted in a dramatic increase in property values over the last 10 years. What does this growth mean for housing affordability, equity, and environmental quality in one of North Carolina’s fastest growing areas?
To find out, the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning is listening (and lending resources) to long-term residents of Durham.
Fruit platters, hummus and veggies, chicken wings, home-baked cookies, and large pitchers of sweet tea and lemonade cover a long table at Holton Career and Resource Center. It’s the third Tuesday of the month, which means Communities in Partnership, a neighborhood initiative of old East Durham, is hosting their monthly potluck.
Across from the table, Karla Jimenez, a graduate student from the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning, talks with a long-term resident of east Durham. Together they examine a large map of the neighborhood, and Jimenez asks her questions about local businesses and economic opportunities in the area.
The woman points to an area of Angier Road where there is a row of abandoned warehouses. “These buildings could be serving the community but they’re not,” she says. “It’s hard to see people walking to the bus stop in the rain with bags of groceries. They have to commute by bus to the other side of Durham just to get groceries.”
The conversation switches to food deserts, and while Jimenez listens intently to this woman’s concerns about her neighborhood, another graduate student from UNC is taking down notes from their conversation.
“As a facilitator I was engaging participants—I asked them what their experiences have been like, but I was essentially letting them lead the conversation,” Jimenez says. “Wherever they wanted to take the conversation we followed, because we wanted to understand what was important to them.”
This is what community mapping looks like, and it’s one of the ways UNC researchers hope to help some marginalized neighborhoods in east Durham.
“We’ve worked with other researchers but this has been the best experience,” says Camryn Smith, one of the founders of Communities in Partnership. “Oftentimes researchers come in and research us to death and give nothing to the community in return. Having researchers like them who understand racism, inequality, and privilege is really important to us.”
By Mary Lide Parker
Danielle Spurlock is an assistant professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning.
Karla Jimenez is a graduate student from the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning.
About Endeavors: Endeavors is the online magazine of research and creative activity at UNC-Chapel Hill. Endeavors (ISSN 1933-4338) is published by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.