One of the most pressing issues in Lawrence (and nationwide) is the quality of our educational systems. Parents, students, teachers, school administrators and community members have been grappling with ways to deepen their connections and play a stronger role in the future of the education of our community’s children.
To respond to this demand LCW piloted three education focused “NeighborCircles” campaigns:
2012 Community Education Circles – Circles aimed at convening parents, teachers, and students to deepen their relationships and discuss educational aspirations.
2012 ParentCircles – A partnership with the Massachusetts Association of Charter School to convene parents city wide discussing the quality of education in the community and make specific recommendations to the charter and traditional public schools in Lawrence.
2010 Promise Neighborhood Circles – A partnership with Lawrence’s Arlington School aimed at convening parents to further their connection with the school and the surrounding neighborhood.
In late 2008, over 70 Lawrencians came together for a set of remarkable conversations that began with a reflection on the “new politics” represented by the 2008 presidential campaign. The conversation moved to the question of how we can bring that same spirit and momentum to our local elections in Lawrence.
Yes We Will (YWW) was a non-partisan open forum for all who live and work in Lawrence, and who supported and demonstrated a willingness to promote a “new politics” in Lawrence based on the words “Yes We Will”. The primary sponsor of Yes We Will was Lawrence CommunityWorks.
On June 7th, 2008 Lawrence CommunityWorks hosted its first Foreclosure Summit in response to the impact that the foreclosure crisis was having on the families and the neighborhoods of Lawrence. Lawrence is ranked 5th in the commonwealth for foreclosure filings. Subprime loans, accounting for over two out of three of the foreclosure filings, have left our neighborhoods with increased vacant properties, and many of our homeowners and renters wondering where and how they will access shelter and housing for their families. The current foreclosure crisis affects everyone – those being foreclosed on, surrounding neighbors, friends and families. This is a community issue, and it is time for Lawrencians to unite around this crisis and take back our neighborhoods.
Lawrencians had the opportunity to join neighbors, city officials, police and foreclosure specialist to unite, to learn, and take action. Informative workshops were offered on the following topics: facing foreclosure, purchasing foreclosed properties, living near foreclosed properties. The summit ended with a solidarity march to take back our neighborhoods. Foreclosure Orientation, was a workshop designed for homeowners who were seeking aid in resolving, and or preventing mortgage delinquency. Homeowners learned about the foreclosure process of Massachusetts and the options available to prevent it. Participants gained the knowledge needed to decide which options are suitable for their situation, and the confidence to begin taking action. All participants received a follow-up personal consultation that focused on helping them achieve their goal.
Buying Foreclosed Property
A workshop designed to guide potential homebuyers through the expectations of a foreclosure sale, what to expect from a foreclosure purchase team, and how to prepare for purchasing foreclosed properties.
Foreclosure Panel Discussion
A panel composed of individuals who had gone through foreclosure, a youth whose family had faced foreclosure, a tenant facing eviction due to foreclosure, a LCW staff and two lenders who have extensive experience working with families facing foreclosure. This panel was excellent because it aided people in realizing how foreclosure affects all people. Everyone who attended felt that the panelists were engaging with their stories and experiences and great questions came from the participants. The panel provided a complete picture of what it means for the family and individual to face foreclosure, the emotional toll that it takes and what it takes to keep moving. This workshop was designed as an open forum to discuss how foreclosure affected families and individuals on an emotional level.
For additional information on foreclosure or homeownership programs with LCW contact our Homeownership Department, Ana Bello – Homeownership Administrative Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org or (978)722-2627.
Our Money, Our Future, Our Right to Know is an effort to get more of our neighbors involved in a discussion about a vision for our community – Who are we as a city? Where are we going? What do we need? How can the local government best invest its resources to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods?
Lawrence CommunityWorks members during the PODER Leadership Institute of spring 2004 produced “Our Money, Our Future, Our Right to Know: The People’s Guide to the Lawrence City Budget.” Many meetings and hours of research went into writing the 72-page bilingual publication that sheds light on the city’s three major budgets – operating, capital improvement, and CDBG and HOME funds. It explains where the money comes from for each budget, what it funds, who decides how it’s spent and what opportunities there are for residents to get involved.
So what have we learned?
It is possible! Other cities across the nation and around the world understand that to reinvent their cities for the future they have to involve residents in the process and be more accountable to them — and they are making it happen in new and creative ways.
We need to look for creative solutions. The Lawrence tax base is small and our challenges are great — these are unique realities of our city. We need to keep building real partnerships between residents, business owners, and the City to take in order open the door to new and exciting opportunities.
We need political will and great leadership. Change is never easy and reinventing an older city like Lawrence is a big job, but it is possible if we have the will to make it happen. We need our elected officials to work as a team and to be accountable to the residents of this city so that we have the necessary political will to bring resources to the City and use them well.
We need to be efficient. Resources are precious and with our small tax base, we must make the best use of those resources.
We ALL need to get more involved! Lawrence is our city. With hundreds or thousands of us getting involved, asking questions, coming up with ideas, giving our time, talent and energy, we can succeed.