What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
The Square One Initiative began with a councilperson's suggestion that more attention be paid to Olneyville’s commercial district. The program began modestly as a weekly litter pickup, then expanded and incorporated new elements over time. Olneyville Square has historically been a true downtown, but a bad reputation has plagued the area for many years. Our challenge was not only to transform the physical space of Olneyville Square, but also to transform perception of a place thought to be dirty, dangerous, and largely undesirable.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
After several years of multi-faceted revitalization work, we realized our strengths and capabilities, and also recognized what was largely out of our control. We have grown to effect change where we can and encourage our partners to push other efforts forward.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
The Square One Initiative was made possible by a CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These funds allowed us to work with a marketing firm on the design and implementation of a logo and tagline, and to employ local youth for the regular maintenance of Olneyville Square. We were also able to work with local artists on various place-making projects, including steel cut-out lightpost banners designed by a feminist art collective located in the Square and produced by a nearby metalworking studio.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
In 2009, Olneyville helped to lead a comprehensive neighborhood planning process through extensive interviews with residents and community stakeholders. Through this process, several themes emerged as especially important to the community: social fabric, physical fabric, safety, housing, and economy. We believe that the Square One Initiative directly addresses all of these issues. Surveys also noted an urgent need for jobs for young people in Olneyville. The Square One Initiative's partnership with One Olneyville provides entry-level landscaping jobs for neighborhood youth.