Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership Sets Priorities

Trinity Park Survey

By Susan Jakes

The Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership (DDNP) is a group of representatives from 14 Durham neighborhoods – including Trinity Park – that border on Duke. The group is convened by Duke to build goodwill and relationships. In addition, Duke periodically offers small neighborhood improvement grants for projects that align with DDNP’s shared vision of thriving neighborhoods.  Trinity Park has benefitted in recent years with several grants ($1100 for rain gardens at George Watts, $1400 for permanent labels for the artwork in the Park, $9000 for cultural heritage signage and for invasive species removal along the Ellerbe Creek Trail, $5000 to help repair the steps in the Park).

This summer, the DDNP held a visioning workshop to re-examine our shared priorities for the next 2-3 years.  A few weeks before the workshop, I created an informal online survey to find out what Trinity Park residents believe our priorities should be. I shared it via the Trinity Park listserv.  

The survey asked “What community needs and priorities should the DDNP focus their efforts and resources on for the next 2-3 years?” and invited respondents to rank six given priorities (the current DDNP priorities at the time): Health & safety, Equity & justice, Education, Neighborhood communication tools, Development that puts community members first, and Respect & preserve history.  Respondents were also invited to elaborate on how they interpreted each priority and to write in additional priorities of their own.  

89 neighbors completed the survey.  Of the six given priorities, Health & safety, Equity & justice, and Education were top-ranked by many respondents.  Neighborhood communication tools, Development that puts community members first, and Respect & preserve history tended to be lower priorities.  

Most respondents provided some explanation about their priorities.  Health & safety, for example, meant a variety of things: traffic mitigation, pedestrian / bike safety, root causes of crime, more police, and climate change.  Equity & justice meant things like root causes of violence, racial inequity, affordable housing, public transportation, living wages, disability access, and urban heat islands.  More than half of the respondents also wrote in additional priorities, many expressing concern for the environment / climate, affordable housing, and traffic / public transportation. It’s clear from the responses that people share many similar concerns even if they would categorize them differently.  

Thank you to all the respondents for your thoughtful participation!  Your responses were very interesting and will help guide us in working with the DDNP.

Visioning Workshop

By Karalyn Colopy

“What community needs and priorities should we focus our efforts and resources on for the next 2 to 3 years?”

This was the guiding question at the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership (DDNP) visioning workshop on Saturday, August 26 at the Lyon Park Community Center.  With the help of a professional facilitator, representatives from the 14 neighborhoods of the DDNP expressed our neighborhoods’ concerns and hopes.  About 50 people attended, including Susan Jakes, Kelly Witter, Matt Kopac and me as representatives of Trinity Park.  We used the results of the survey that Susan Jakes sent out on the listserv in early August to help guide our input to the discussion.

By the end of the 3-hour workshop, the group had agreed on 9 shared priorities:

  • Supportive safe communities
  • Political activism
  • Neighborhood networking
  • Housing justice
  • Environmental justice
  • Neighbors helping neighbors
  • Cultural heritage and preservation
  • Traffic and pedestrian safety
  • Intra-community development

“I thought it was a very productive meeting and allowed all voices to be heard,” said Kelly.  “One of the priorities that especially resonated with me was environmental justice.  Some neighborhoods have limited green space, and we have access to so much being next to East Campus and a short distance to other trails.”

On August 26, ~50 neighbors from the 14 DDNP neighborhoods agreed on a list of 9 shared priorities that will guide our projects and discussions for the next 2-3 years.

Starting in early October, Duke will again offer DDNP neighborhoods the opportunity to apply for Doing Good grants for projects that align with any of these shared priorities, placing emphasis on collaboration among DDNP neighborhoods.  If you would like to help develop / work on a project in any of these areas that would involve other DDNP neighborhoods, please contact me at karalyncolopy@gmail.com.

Matt offered this reflection on the workshop:

It was incredibly special to spend time with a group of neighbors from across Durham to discuss what we saw as the pain points in our community, as well as our vision for the future. There were some clear high-level themes that emerged, like affordable housing, traffic/pedestrian safety, and environmental justice. I appreciated the strong shared belief in local capacity building, supporting neighbors through mutual aid, and advocating together to influence the policies of local government. While we often think in terms of the boundaries of our own neighborhoods, we can seek to be allies and support other parts of our community. For instance, there was a lot of energy behind acknowledging and preserving the legacy of historically Black and brown neighborhoods in the face of so much change in Durham. I left hopeful about our ability to support each other within and across neighborhoods, and to advocate for a Durham that is healthier, safer, and more just. 

Neighborhoods of the DDNP: Burch Ave, Bragtown, Crest Street, Lakewood Park, Lyon Park, Morehead Hill, Old West Durham, Southside, Trinity Heights, Trinity Park, Tuscaloosa-Lakewood, Walltown, Watts Hospital-Hillandale, West End

Advocacy, Community development, Neighborhood concerns, TPNA