Community organizing often begins with a survey of community needs and assets. We train community residents and leadership in listening skills, organize community listening days and assist in developing strategies for issues that surface.
The Listening Project is a community organizing tool developed by the Rural Southern Voice for Peace (RSVP). The Baltimore Urban Peace Program has organized Listening Projects in eight Baltimore Neighborhoods and one neighborhood in Philadelphia. We trained more than 180 residents in Listening skills.
McElderry Park Neighborhood, Baltimore
On two Saturdays in May 2008, members Amazing Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church and partners from St. John’s Lutheran Church Sweet Air were trained how to listen to community residents and in the afternoon we listened to 36 households. Amazing Grace Lutheran Church has organized the Center for Grace-full Living wellness center. The Listening Project helped assess what services the center should provide and expanded the Center’s outreach in the community.
In fall 2006, teenagers from the Belmont Community of West Philadelphia and members of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting were trained in listening by the AFSC Baltimore Urban Peace Program as part of the community listening project.
Staff members of the local community organization We Never Say Never recruited teens from the community and found a place for the training. Teams of two went door-to-door to apply their skills while listening to community residents. We listened to seventy two households.
The primary concerns, expressed by residents, were the lack of youth programs and recreational space as well as the high cost of energy. In the summer of 2007, the teens were were hired to do energy audits on 75 homes in the Belmont neighborhood.