Claiming a Street Named King King…

A Report to the Georgia Clients Council
Submitted by The University of Georgia School of Environmental Design

Copyright © 2007 by Mary Anne Alabanza Akers

Claiming a Street Named King…
The following individuals have contributed to this significant community experience
Ovita Thornton, Georgia Cli t Council (GCC) O it Th t G i Clients C il Terrence Dicks, GCC Kirby Turner, GCC Robert Lee, GCC Juanita Johnson, GCC Gwen Littleton, GCC Stephanie Hall, GCC Keith Johnson, GCC Cory Thornton, GCC Alvin Sheats, GCC Julia Menefield, East Athens Development Corporation C ti Tracy Smith, TRACO Media

Ack knowled dgemen nts

Keith McNeeley, Athens Clarke Department of Human and Economic Development Rob T R b Trevena, Athens Clarke Department of Ath Cl k D t t f Human and Economic Development UGA Graduate Class, Spring 2006 Elizabeth Arnett Gretchen Gigley Laura Hayden Kristina Hyland y Maura O’Malley Katherine Parent Richard Simpson Christopher Sparnicht p p Sarah Thompson Erin Williams Joseph Williamson

This report was compiled and written by Dr. Mary Anne Alabanza Akers, Associate Professor at the University of Georgia School of Environmental Design (SED). The report contents are ideas and opinions of the author and graduate students involved and do not reflect the viewpoint of UGA nor S f f G SED. For more information about this report, please contact Dr. Akers at makers@uga.edu.

Ryan Johnson Marielle Lumang Charles Muffitt Michael McCartin

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Claiming a Street Named King…
Table of Contents
Introduction…………………………………………………..1 Introduction 1 Purpose of the Report ………………………………………3 Background Information………………………………….....5 The Research Process………………………………………9 MLK Parkway Case Study…………………………………13 Research Methods………………………………………….14 Secondary Research……………………………………….15 Physical Inventory…………………………………………..22 Oral Histories Histories………………………………………………..39 39 Participatory Techniques…………………..………………42 Behavior Mapping…………………………………………..47 Conclusion…………………………………………………..51 C l i 1 References………………………………………………….53 Page ii

Tab of C ble Content ts

Claiming a Street Named King…
The project, Claiming a Street Named King, started when Ms. Ovita Thornton, GCC Executive Director and Mr Terrence Dick, Augusta GCC Mr. Dick Chair approached me about the need for a study on MLK streets in Georgia. Mr. Terrence had just read two pivotal publications on this topic and was inspired to initiate community based efforts that community-based would revitalize these streets. After much discussion, we agreed that the first step towards reaching this mission is to conduct an inventory and analysis of MLK streets in Georgia With Georgia. limited resources and time, we decided to focus on one MLK street in Athens, Georgia as a pilot project. This street served as our model in developing a community-based applied research framework for other groups to use.

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Introdu uction

Claiming a Street Named King…
I designed the MLK project so that it served both GCC and university students. As part of a graduate class in the Spring semester of 2006, I incorporate this service learning project to teach graduate students how to conduct community research. Landscape Architecture 6540 (Ideas of Community) is a required class for graduate students in the UGA landscape architecture program. It focuses on the program relationship between people and their physical and natural environments. In order to examine these dynamic processes, I felt that students needed to learn how to conduct applied research and the MLK project provided this opportunity. To benefit GCC, I invited members to participate in all the class activities (i.e.,lectures, discussions, and field work). The class experience was enriched with GCC members and other community representatives who attended many of our activities. It was indeed an educational and inspiring encounter between students and the community. I look forward to collaborating with GCC on other future projects.
Dr. Mary Anne Alabanza Akers

Introdu uction

Graduate students and GCC members

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"If you want to know how the shoe fits, ask the person who is wearing it, not the it one who made it."

This Thi report summarizes th results of a community research process th t t i the lt f it h that involved gathering planning data that can be used for the revitalization of Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway in Athens, Georgia. The reader should note that this process is applicable to any street, neighborhood or district. It iis especially usefull to groups who d i t d l th i own i ll f t h desire to develop their grassroots plan. The report will, specifically, do the following tasks: ■ Present a research framework that groups can use to find out more p y preparation of about their physical and natural environments for the p p community-driven revitalization plans; ■ Describe the research methods used in obtaining data on the MLK Parkway in Athens ■Show the results of the research process and its practical application ■ Provide practical tips in conducting community-based research.

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Purpose of the Rep port

Claiming a Street Named King…
Two individuals have paved the way for others to learn and understand the conditions of MLK streets throughout the United States. Jonathan Tilove, Tilove an award winning journalist wrote a book Along Martin Luther book, King: Travels on Black America’s Main Street, which documents his journey visiting about 650 MLK streets, avenues and boulevards across America. He interviewed residents that lived or hung out along MLK thoroughfares or around adjacent areas and the outcome asking them outcome, about their lives. The product was a vivid description of a people, revealing the soul of Black America. Dr. Derek H. Alderman, Associate Professor of Geography at East Carolina University has published many articles about the politics of street naming and commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s historical legacy. legacy For a list of his works, please visit: works http://personal.ecu.edu/aldermand/
“Commemorative street naming is an important vehicle for bringing the past into the p present, helping weave history into the g g p fabric of everyday life.” p g y geographic y y Dr. Derek Alderman

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Backg ground Information

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Background Information g

The UGA class and GCC members speak to Jonathan Tilove and Derek Alderman via a conference call. Please visit (http://mlk.greenman.us/general/conference-call.html) for a transcription of our discussion.

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Street Naming for King: Elements Considered in the Process
The naming of Martin Luther King, Jr. roadways is not without controversy. In selecting which street is to be named, a city has to contend with voices g , y that represent different groups. Many African American leaders, for example, want a widely traveled street, but business owners oppose the name change because of the inconvenience it brings, such as cost of reprinting advertisements, stationary, etc… Within the black community, p g , y, y, debates arise on whether the street should be in a predominantly African American area or in a “neutral” district to remind the larger community of Dr. King’s contribution to American society. Furthermore, as the selection of streets are narrowed to a few, community leaders continue to ask , y questions: What streets symbolize the values of the black community? At what scale should this commemoration take place ----- a block, several blocks, and how many miles? While considering these questions, however, cities and towns are able to move ahead with naming their streets after the g great man. Motions are passed by city councils, streets signs change, telephone directories are printed with the new name, and life moves on. But what type of life goes on? What characterize these places? Who are the people living there? This report addresses the q p p g p question and p provides communities with tools to learn more about their local MLK environments.

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Backg ground Information

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Basic facts about MLK streets¹
■ In 1996 483 communities in the United States were name after Dr Martin Luther King 1996, Dr. King, Jr. ■ A significant proportion of these streets are found in the Southeast but other regions like the Midwest and Middle Atlantic areas, as well as the state of California, have concentrations of MLK streets. (Please see Figure 1) ■ Southern states account for 77% of all MLK streets. ■ Street naming is highest in Mississippi and lowest in Virginia. ■ Many MLK streets in 11 Southern states are found in relatively smaller communities. The median population size for cities with MLK streets range from 4,500 to about 5,500 people. ■ Most MLK census tracts have high black populations, with an average of 65% black residents. ■ The per capita income of MLK census tracts are much lower than the average city per capital income ($7 999 for MLK tracts and $11 916 for average city) ($7,999 $11,916
¹ These facts were taken from Alderman, Derek. 2000. “A Street Fit for a King: Naming Places and Commemoration in the American South”. Professional Geographer 52(4):672-684.

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Backg ground Information

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“There is a road that wends its way through the heart and soul of black America. It may be called a boulevard, a drive, an avenue, a street, or a way, but it is always names Martin Luther King.” King.

Backg ground Information

Jonathan Tilove in Along Martin Luther King: Travels on Black America’s Main Street

Source: Alderman, Derek. 2000. “A Street Fit for a King: Naming Places and Commemoration in the American South”. Professional Geographer 52(4):672-684.

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The Value of Community-Based Research
Why is it important to conduct research? The answer lies in a common belief that “Knowledge is Power”. For a community to develop a grassroots revitalization plan, it must first understand its strengths, assets and opportunities, as well as its problems and challenges. Citizens rely on data provided by the government. Most government information is useful but can also be limited. For the most part, various levels of government gather data to describe a community in its entirety but the data often lacks the personal and intimate details to capture a community’s soul. Community-based research, on the other hand, produces factual clues that residents gather themselves. Empowerment occurs when they are able to interpret the information and use it to take proactive steps towards improving their conditions.

The R Researc Proc ch cess
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"Whoever controls your source of information controls you."--W.E.B. DuBOIS Whoever you. W.E.B.

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Community-based research is:
1. 2. 3. 4. 4 5. 6. 7. Grassroots-driven Collaborative and involves all partners A systematic process of collecting information Committed to disseminating information and findings to the community Reflective A co-learning and empowering process for all participants An experience that should lead to action

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The R Researc Proc ch cess

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The community-based research (also referred to as participatory action research) is not a linear process but a cyclical one. ) p y

The R Research Process c c

Source: http://www.communitysolutions.com.au/images/topimage2.JPG

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The MLK project entailed a similar process as illustrated below.
Research Question: What are the features of the MLK Parkway in Athens?

The R Researc Proc ch cess

Prepared a research plan for each of the components (i.e., history, physical inventory, social behavior)

Developed recommendations

Conducted field work (i.e., personal interviews, behavior mapping, secondary data collection)

Reflected on the findings with GCC and community members

Analyzed the data

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Claiming a Street Named King…
The Martin Luther King Parkway in Athens, Georgia was selected as a first case study for the Claiming a StreetNamed y g King Project because of its proximity to the University of Georgia (UGA). Existing relationships between UGA and community-based organizations (i.e., Georgia Clients Council and East Athens Development Corporation) facilitated the p p ) process. Personal ties between representatives from these organizations and residents along MLK proved beneficial to the UGA project. The MLK Parkway is about a mile stretch of a connector street that parallels the eastern bank of the North Oconee river. This river is a traditional boundary between ‘East Athens’ and ‘Athens.’ The Downtown and University of Georgia campus are across the river on the west side Unlike many other MLK side. roadways, the Parkway in Athens has significant natural features that contribute to its overall aesthetic quality.
MLK Parkway in Athens

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MLK Parkway Case S y Study

Claiming a Street Named King…

Community researchers have various methods to choose from, ranging from no-cost from no cost observation techniques to expensive surveys. They can involve a one hour focus group to a year immersion in the community. Depending on the issue or questions at hand, the researcher can pick and choose the most appropriate techniques. For the first phase of the Claiming a Street Named King project the following methods were project, selected: ■ Secondary research (collecting information and data from other sources) ■ Physical Inventory ■ Personal interviews with old time residents of MLK Parkway ■ Behavior mapping (a systematic way to observe people in a particular space) This report focuses on each of these methods and their respective results.

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Res search Method ds

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The first step in undertaking community-based research is to define the project area. It is imperative that the Martin Luther King street neighborhood be defined spatially. Speak with residents, not-for-profit organizations, business owners, and other area stakeholders. Take note, however, that residents’ and stakeholders’ concept of boundaries may not match with the official government’s designations. Consensus must be reached, therefore, in defining the project area. The planning office and department unit responsible for administering federal monies and grants (i e CDBG (i.e., CDBG, HOME, etc… are important local government offices to approach. In the case of Athens, the Human and Economic Development (HED) Department manages such programs. Interviews with the department head confirmed an inconsistent definition with people’s concept of what blocks and street comprise the MLK area. The government considers the larger East Athens community as its target area and not just the MLK district which is a relatively small district, portion of the entire area. In most cases, community groups simply follow the local government’s designation
Oconee River

Seco ondary Resear rch: Pro oject A Area

MLK Parkway (dark line)

MLK Parkway Project Site

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Claiming a Street Named King…
Mapping is recommended in all phases of research and planning. A visual representation of the MLK street and neighborhood provides information that can be understood. For nderstood consistency, a base map should be used for all other maps (i.e., circulation, vegetation, land use, etc...). Maps that show the individual property parcels and topography can usually be obtained from the local government planning office, a Regional Development Center, or the property tax Center collector’s office of the municipality that your study area is located in. It is best to have maps at different scales scales, depending on the type of information you are presenting. The map on the left was our base map of East Athens with MLK Parkway outlined in dark lines. (Scale: 1 inch is to 960 feet) lines

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Sec condary Resea y arch: B Base Ma ap

Claiming a Street Named King…
Secondary Resea c y arch: Aerial Ma ap

MLK Parkway

Aerial map for MLK Parkway You may want to obtain an aerial map through Google Earth. This map shows details of a site including building footprints, trees, parking spaces, and even walkways. Go to http://earth.google.com/ and download the free version of Google Earth.

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Claiming a Street Named King…
Another important element of conducting secondary research is obtaining census information about the MLK area. The United States Census reports all manner of important information, information from population and racial, gender and age composition to median income and racial gender, education. This information can help you assess the situation of your MLK neighborhood far beyond what word-of-mouth and observation can reveal. By comparing current and past data, you can learn the direction your area is headed or where it had been in the past. The most basic information you should have is the census tract number number.

Se econda Rese ary earch: Census s

Census tract 301 C t t covers East Athens.

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This information is available online through the American FactFinder at www.census.gov. The American FactFinder contains data from 1990 to the present. Among some of its detailed information include: ■ Population profiles ■ Housing ■ Economic indicators

Se econda Rese ary earch: Census s

Census Data on the Internet

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A property survey is the next step in the process. Knowing your Neighborhood’s Economic Character Can Help You Answer Some Very Important Q p Questions. How is land on my MLK street currently being used? How can this street be developed or preserved? How much are mine and my neighbors’ p p y g properties worth? Who are the people living on my street, and how can they help or hurt my neighborhood? How do I lessen the impact of gentrification? A property survey is a review of the properties in a neighborhood. It looks at zoning, property values, property sales, occupancy status and land use. To Find Property Information, including values, sales, and taxes visit y p y , g , , your county’s Tax Assessor's office or website. To Find Occupancy Information refer to a Polk City Directory, a published source that gives detailed information about businesses and residential g properties. Your local library would probably have this resource.

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Se econdar Rese ry earch: P Propert ty Surv vey

Claiming a Street Named King…
Property Information Site Address: 430 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway Parcel Number: 163D4 F002 Zoning: Residential Z i R id ti l Owner Information Name: Robert Flanigan Mailing Address: 430 Dr. Martin Luther King g g Jr. Parkway Athens, GA 30601 Assessed Value Land Value: $16 441 $16, Improvement Value: $80,651 Accessory Value: $0 Total Value: $97,092 Sales Since 1991 (the last 15 years) Sale Date Price 05-01-1991 $50,370 Property Value Change 93% increase in value since the last known sale Owner Occupied? Yes

Example of Information in a Property Survey

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Se econdar Rese ry earch: P Propert ty Surv vey

Claiming a Street Named King…
Land use plans, which includes a colorful map and written text are accessible in your text, local planning office or Regional Development Center (RDC). In many cities, you can download the plan from a government website. website Land use data is important because development decisions are based on specific designations. The spatial locations for land use classifications (e.g., residential, commercial, industrial, commercial industrial institutional) are indicated in the map. For example, your community may be surprised that a light manufacturing plant suddenly locates close to the neighborhood. Residents are often neighborhood caught off guard because they are not aware of the city’s land use plan. When you collect land use information, make sure you have both existing and future land use plans plans. Although your MLK street has a general land use designation, it is usually best to conduct designation a parcel by parcel inventory of the functions for each property. The first step is to note the street address of each parcel on the base map. (For vacant parcels, assign an address that would fall between the addresses of adjacent properties). Conduct a street by street survey of the study area by describing the ACTUAL land use of each parcel. Classify each property by the uses listed on the next page page. Residents of the neighborhood know the land uses in their neighborhood better than anyone and make the best surveyors or resources for verifying survey results.

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Ph hysical Invent l tory: La Use and e

Claiming a Street Named King…
■Single Family Residential ■Multifamily Residential (How many units?) ■Institutional (What type? Church, hospital, medical clinic, non profit organization clinic non-profit organization, government office?) ■Educational (Is it an elementary, middle or high school?) ■Commercial (Is the use for a chain grocery store, retail shop, gas station, etc?) ■Industrial (Is it light, medium or heavy?) ■Public open space (Is it a park or playground? ■Government use (describe) ■Utility (Is it a waste water facility or another type of service facility? ■Undeveloped ■Other (describe in detail)
In all the above uses, take note whether the property is abandoned or not in use If no apparent use. signs of occupancy can be seen, ask neighbors, property managers or residents for help in verifying if a property is vacant. Map showing results of a land use survey for a few parcels along the Athens MLK Parkway.

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Ph hysical Invent l tory: La Use and e

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Zoning is a planning tool that allows local governments to regulate site layout, characteristics of structures, and the use of the property. Building heights, setback requirements, placement of driveways, floor area ratio, and other specific regulations are all part of a zoning ordinance.

Physica Inven P al ntory: Zoning Z
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Image Source: http://www.ar.utexas.edu/Preservation/images/p2_cc_01.jpg

Claiming a Street Named King…
Obtain information about the topography of your MLK site. This information is useful for communities on septic systems and those in floodplains, like the MLK Parkway in Athens. It is also needed in the planning of greenspaces (e., parks and playgrounds) or for neighborhood landscape design projects. Use the base map, which has contour lines, to measure the slopes. Slope is equal to the difference in elevation divided by the distance in which that change takes place. On a contour map, find out what the elevation difference is between each contour ( h contour iinterval). D (the l) Draw a line b li between the two h contours and divide the contour interval by the length of this line. This will produce the slope along that line between the two contour lines. By drawing lines at set distances apart (10’-25’) and measuring th i slope, you can d l a sense of th d i their l develop f the overall slope of a site. Use this method to find the slopes between the contours on maps of your study area.

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Physic Inventory: S cal Slope

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Physical Inventory: Slope c S

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P Physica Inven al ntory: N Natural Vegeta ation

It is important to identify the conditions of your natural environment. This information is useful so that the community can decide what to do with the natural vegetation ---- conserve it as a resource or designate low impact uses on these properties Ask for help from a local botanist, properties. botanist ecologist, urban forester or local parks department professional. Using natural history guidebooks for your region, note on a map the plant communities that would naturally exist in the study area The area. guidebook should list the plant communities of your area (for example, in Georgia, plant communities include Flood Plain, Mid-Slope, Mesic, and Ridge top communities. Reference example: Plant Communities of the Georgia Piedmont By Connie Gray, web source: Piedmont. Gray www.gnps.org/Gray.pdf).

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Claiming a Street Named King…

P Physica Inven al ntory: N Natural Vegeta ation

This map shows the type of vegetation on MLK Parkway. As indicated, the area is covered with vegetation, a plus for any neighborhood. This natural feature enhances the quality of life for residents.

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Using the base map with tax parcels, conduct a street by street survey of the buildings in the MLK street. Note the physical condition of the p y building, categorizing them on a scale of 1 to 3, with 1 being in a ruinous state and 3 being “like new”. Category 2 -Building is stable, not new, but not dilapidated. Paint, roof, foundation, windows, and structure are basically sound but are showing signs of wear or age. Signs of age or wear include roof shingles that are fading or starting to curl in places, roofing tin that may need painting or be loose in a few places, paint that is faded or starting to peel some, evidence of some structural The criteria to help you categorize the state of each deterioration (such as minor wood rot, siding that is warped). building can be as follows: g Category 1 - Building is in great shape, as if it were new, with no visible maintenance needs. Paint is in excellent condition, roof is new or nearly new with , y no problems visible, foundation is in good repair, windows are whole and well maintained, and there are no visible signs of decay in the building.

Category 3 - Building is visibly deteriorated or dilapidated. Many visible signs of decay or damage to the structure. Things to look for include: paint that is peeling badly or gone; holes in roofs; roofing tiles or tin that is damaged or badly decayed; foundations that are slumping or collapsing; walls, siding, h h l h porches or other structurall elements that are visibly decayed in a way that threatens the structure. Page 29

Ph hysical In nventory Buildin Survey y: ng y

Claiming a Street Named King…

P Physical Inventory: Building a g Surv vey

Building Survey of a few parcels on MLK Parkway

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To identify historic structures in the study area you will require the services of someone with experience in the field of Historic Preservation or Architectural History. Ask for help from the local planning office, a historic p p g , preservation g p or college with a p g group g program in either Historic Preservation or Architectural History. To help with estimating the ages of buildings, ask for help from long-term residents of the neighborhood or useful references such as the following p g g publications: A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee A. McAlester; What Style Is It?: A Guide to American Architecture by John C. Poppeliers & S. Allen Chambers For each street in your study area, note by address whether each building is estimated to be less y y , y g than or more 50 years old. For the buildings estimated to be more than 50 years old, note an approximate date of construction for the building and an architectural style/period for that building. Evaluate the condition of the buildings estimated to be more than 50 years old, on a scale of 1 to 3, with 1 being in a ruinous state, 2 being average and 3 being “like new”. Assess , g , g g g whether the building is occupied, or empty, or if visibly abandoned. Map the results of your survey by showing on your map one color for the tax parcels that have buildings estimated to be over 50 years old, and another color for parcels with buildings estimated to be newer than 50 y years in age. g

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Physical In nventory: Historic Buildin : c ng Inven ntory

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Map showing Historic Properties in the MLK Parkway

Physical Inventory: Historic Buildin n : c ng Inven ntory

Listing of Historic Properties and their Evaluation

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An inventory report that contains detailed information about each historic structure is important.

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Physical Inventory: Historic building n : c inven ntory

Claiming a Street Named King…
You need to identify and map the utilities in your MLK site. Due to greater security, maps of utilities are generally not available to the public. However, a survey can still turn up where the study area is generally served by a utility. Contact the business or government office that is responsible for the following utilities: Electricity, Water, Sewer, Natural Gas and Cable. Make a table that describes the extent of service for each of the five utilities listed above. If geographic service in your study area is partial, map the general area served versus the area(s) not served, using different colors on you map to distinguish between served and unserved areas.

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Physic Inventory: U cal Utility Infrastructure

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To identify the physical facilities for moving around in your study area, either on foot or driving, map each of the following elements in your MLK area: Sidewalks: Location of public sidewalks and their condition, on a scale of 1 to 3. Category 1: “like new”, having smooth like new smooth, uncracked walking surfaces; Category 2: average, being generally safe to walk on with few cracks or uneven edge; Category 3: in poor condition, with many condition cracks, and/or uneven walking surfaces.

Ph hysical Inventory Transp y: portation n Infrastru ucture

MLK Parkway

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Streets: Note the hierarchy of the streets, using these typical planning categories:

Ph hysical Inventory Transp y: portation n Infrastru ucture

Local residential street (for accessing residences, with a speed limit of 25 mph) Collector street (collects traffic from local residential streets, with a speed limit of 25-30 mph) Commercial/industrial street (a local or collector street with commercial/industrial activities on it, with a speed limit of 25-30 mph) Thoroughfare/Arterial (connects neighborhoods and districts of a community with one another with a speed limit of 30-55 mph) Freeway (controlled access road with grade separation from other streets)

Local streets connecting to MLK Parkway

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Show on the base map the bus routes with bus stops, streetcar lines with stops, heavy rail mass transit lines with stations and station entrances.

Physical Inven ntory: P Public Transpo T ortation
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Public transportation routes serving the MLK community

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Traffic volume is an important planning element because it impacts the quality of the street and adjacent neighborhoods. Visit your local government transportation department to look at their traffic data for your MLK site Using the data provided site. provided, create 3-5 categories based upon trip volume. These categories will rank the trip date from high to low, based upon the volume of trips.

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Phys sical In nventory: Traffic Volume y f

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Oral history is comprised of people sharing their life through memories and stories. It is about experiencing the history of an area by listening to those who have lived in the area since their childhood. O Oral history is important in researching your MLK district because it is a way to find out how the community used to be based on personal experiences. It helps those who are trying to learn about an area to visualize, through stories, h a place was lik iin the past. i how l like h

Oral stories O His

Contact community leaders for names of prominent community elders. Some examples of these may be church leaders, or captains of neighborhood or community organizations. organizations Ask the respondents if they prefer to remain anonymous and if so, respect their wish to not be named in the report. However, this is valuable information so try to report the name if possible. possible

Devise a list of questions related to the project to help stay on topic as it is sometimes easy for the respondents to get off track when recalling memories of their childhood and early adult years. Some years possible questions could be: What is your fondest memory of the neighborhood? How has this area changed since you were young?

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Interview at a time and place that are most convenient for them. Include a map of where the respondent lives in the report.

Record interview with audio recorder or R di t i ith di d video camera. Be sure to test the equipment before the interview to make sure the quality is good.

Oral stories O His

Confirm the historical facts by a secondary means. This may be done on the Internet, historical documents in the local library, or through other people.

Transcribe interview for others to read.

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“On this street, it was like a family. There were some white families over there, but we still went to their houses and they came to ours. It was a family ” ours family.
Mrs. Beullah Devenport, resident of MLK Parkway

General findings from the personal interviews with MLK senior residents: ■ A covered bridge has been moved. ■ Height of MLK road was raised. ■ Farming was practiced by a lot of neighbors. ■ The community buildings that were there included a church, school, post office/bank and corner store. ■ It was a real community where blacks and whites lived and interacted with each other. ■ There was a small red light district at one of the intersections of MLK Parkway.

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Oral stories O His

Claiming a Street Named King…
In order to create a design which effectively addresses the needs of a community or its revitalization process, the community’s needs must be understood. User needs assessment strategies offer ways to involve the community in the design process during planning processes. Each community has particular traits that influence how the community uses outdoor space. Communities may differ within themselves. People on one block may use a community park primarily for children’s play while people a few blocks away may use another end of the same park for socializing and hanging out out. There are several techniques available to assess the needs of a community like a Martin Luther King St. corridor or neighborhood. In order to choose the appropriate techniques (often it is important to use more than one technique), the kind of information required must be decided on and specified. For example, is it more important to know what people will do in a space, how they will feel in a space, or how they will interact with a space? Other important preliminary questions to settle before choosing user needs assessment strategies are cost of running the assessment, whether the technique needs to be easily duplicated elsewhere, and whether the strategy is to be used to accomplish other community goals like neighborhood education or the development of neighborhood organizations.

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Partici ipatory Techni iques

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User needs assessment strategies can be divided into four broad categories Town Meeting strategies, Interviews, Questionaires, and Observation. All of these techniques provide feed back from the community about what they do, how they feel, and/or how they will interact with various outdoor spaces. When assessing the needs of a linear space like a Martin Luther King Street corridor, it is often necessary to assess the needs of the community at different locations along the corridor. For example, if the street stretches from a primarily business oriented community to a residential community, the community needs at one end may be very different from the needs at the other end.

Town Meetings g probably y The Neighborhood Forum is p The Panel Di Th P l Discussion gives an i i the best example. It is a public meeting opportunity for neighborhood education. It open to all community members. It can is made up of community members who be very useful for determining user are given several alternatives and must p preferences, but cannot effectively , y h t l to l choose or create a plan t solve a answer questions about existing particular problem. It is best if panel problems because information obtained members are community residents who in a neighborhood forum is limited to are able to explain the concepts and the those who choose to attend which may y d t d disadvantages of each f h advantages and di d t not represent a cross section of the alternative to the community at large. whole neighborhood. Page 43

Participatory techniques y

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Brainstorming is generally used by g g y y small design groups to generate alternative solutions. During brainstorming negative criticism is not allowed, the sky is the limit for y solutions, more ideas are better, ideas generated should be improved on by the group. Brainstorming does not provide an accurate assessment of users needs because so few people participate. However, it can be used to provide alternatives to present the community at large. To be the most effective, the brainstorming leader must be sensitive to members’ ideas and must be able to keep the group focused on a clearly defined goal. The Buzz Session is like brainstorming but with fewer than five people. It is more informal, less directed , and can uncover user preferences in a random manner.

Partici ipatory Techni iques

Synectics can help groups to maximize their creativity. However it requires considerable professional training to effectively use.

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Role Playing is frequently used in small groups to see how different sets of community members feel about a space, interact in a space or do in a space. space It is particularly useful in analyzing existing spaces determining spaces, future uses, and resolving conflicts over the use of a space. It can also be used to further community education. However, it is fairly expensive, can only be used in small groups, and is not very versatile. Gaming allows community members to express their preferences in a model of reality. There are several neighborhood design games such as POP and SOS. Gaming can be very useful for setting goals and self-education by community members, however professional aid is necessary which increase the cost and pla ers m st be trained to necessar hich players must use the games developed.

Partici ipatory Techni iques

Town meeting techniques often do not automatically reach a cross section of the community. Some effort must be made to gather information from all types of community members.

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Interviews Questionnaires Interviews are done by trained field workers using a set of questions designed to determine activity patterns, feelings, desires or values. Interviewing can be expensive, but is useful in defining problems and analyzing existing spaces. Interviewing takes considerable time, but if an accurate cross section of the community is interview it can create a fairly accurate projections about the community’s needs. If designed by at professional, the interviews information should be easy to analyze. Interviews can be informal which is prompted by the situation or guided which is made up of a series of open-ended questions.

Partici ipatory Techni iques

Questionnaires, like interviews, are most useful in problem definition and patterns in use. The main drawback is use the questionnaires must be returned to be analyzed and not everyone will answer. To get valid information community groups must be identifiable and reachable.

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Observation Observation techniques will not effectively define how people feel in a space, but they are very useful in determining user needs and preferences from behavior. Professional aid is required to develop a good systematic and precise observation technique. Observers must be professionally trained. Observation will not generate ideas, set goals, give alternatives, makes choices, or resolve conflicts. Administration of observation techniques can be time consuming, but they can be easily duplicated from one community to the next. A good rule is to do some preliminary observation before beginning in order to determine what types of activities occur and should be recorded. Some common observation categories include: people and their activities, access points (gates, driveways, doorways, street crossings), circulation (roads, drives, sidewalks), maintenance, and security. , y

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Behavior Mappin ng

Claiming a Street Named King…
Behavior Mapping on MLK Parkway Our study was a preliminary observation study using activity, interaction, and ecological mapping observation techniques. We observed at the Golden Pantry gas station on the northeast corner of North Ave and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

We observed from 8am to 10pm on February 23, 2006 in two hour shifts. There were 16 observers over the course of 14 hours. There were at least two observers in each two hour shift. All observers stood in the same location and received maps of the location and recordings sheets detailing the information to collect.

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Behavior Mappin ng

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Typical Activities Observed at the Golden Pantry: Walking Jogging Driving Getting Gas Visiting the Golden Pantry Biking Talking on phone Visiting with friends Throwing trash away Putting air in tires Unloading beer Fixing tailgate

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Behavior Mappin ng

Claiming a Street Named King…

Map showing results of observing the MLK Golden Pantry

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Behavior Mapping n

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What do all this data and information mean? Communities will be empowered if they develop the skills in collecting evidence about an issue. Having the ability to conduct research should not only be an academic past time. Communities, like the MLK district neighborhoods, should acquire and then refine their abilities to engage in collecting facts and stories about their own areas. Grassroots activities, such as planning for revitalization projects, is empowering to the extent that residents and stakeholders have the knowledge to engage in a systematic process of inquiry. With this knowledge, communities are armed with their own data and can present such valuable information in defending their interests. The following are our recommendations for groups who desire to undertake a study of th i MLK street: t d f their t t 1. Seek grant funding from various sources to support your community research activity. Agencies to approach include the US Department of g p , g p y Housing and Urban Development, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and your local government. Other institutions to ask are private foundations, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropic individuals. Ask your local government to create a program similar to the Main Street Program, a revitalization program sponsored b the N ti l T t f P it li ti d by th National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Concl lusion a Recomme and endatio ons

2.

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Concl lusion a Recomme and endations o

3. 3

Collaborate ith C ll b t with a college or university th t iis iinterested in service llearning ll i it that t t di i i activities. These types of partnerships benefit both the MLK neighborhood and university community. g p your planning department or regional g p g Build a strong relationship with y local p development center because they are your primary source of information. Furthermore, they are staffed with trained professionals who can assist you in developing and implementing your research agenda. Solicit widespread participation from the MLK community. Please do not idespread comm nit expect others to do the task for you. It is essential that the community initiate and control the process.

4.

5. 5

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References
Akers, Mary Anne Alabanza. 2000. “Community R Ak M A Al b 2000 “C it Research and h d Participatory Techniques: A Framework for Teaching Planning and Design”. Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Conference Proceedings, pp.1-10. Alderman, Derek. 2000. “A Street Fit for a King: Naming Places and Commemoration in the American South”. Professional Geographer 52(4):672-684. Alderman, Derek 2002 Alderman Derek. 2002. “Street Names as Memorial Arenas The Arenas: Reputational Politics of Commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. in a Georgia County”. Historical Geography. 30: 99-120. Alderman, Derek. 2003. “Street Names and the Scaling of Memory: , g y The Politics of Commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., within the African American Community”. Area 35(2): 163-173. Tilove, Jonathan. 2003. Along Martin Luther King: Travels on Black America’s Main Street. New York: Random House Street House. Page 53

Refere ences

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