Project for Public Spaces (PPS) worked with the OST/Almeda Corridors Redevelopment Authority and City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department to facilitate a community process to develop a vision and program plan to guide future investment in Emancipation Park. There were two goals of this work. The first was to create a long-term vision that guides the park’s development and that would help ensure that the park becomes a neighborhood attraction and a monument to Emancipation of national significance. The second, related goal was to work with community stakeholders to capitalize on the neighborhood’s inherent assets, the talented and passionate people who live and work there.
As part of the process, PPS facilitated two public “placemaking workshops.” The workshops were attended by approximately 75 community members and stakeholders, including area institutions, city agencies and local residents. PPS also conducted a number of interviews/focus groups with a stakeholders including representatives of the Friends of Emancipation Park, Project Row Houses, area universities, The Dawn Project, the Third Ward Community Cooperative, and others.
Community residents and stakeholders described the vision for Emancipation Park as a vibrant neighborhood center that becomes the heart and soul of 3rd Ward residents and institutions, where local people find daily inspiration in the culture and history of their own community. While it is mainly a neighborhood family attraction, it will also attain national significance as a living monument and to African American history and the rebirth of a significant black neighborhood.
The program PPS proposed would make the park a hub of diverse activity, ranging from recreation to live performances to all manner of programs that are offered in partnership with local organizations and individuals. It will become the central place where residents and local organizations work together to build a shared vision for the neighborhood’s renaissance - a vision that will help guide the work of those organizations and identify neighborhood priorities. It will provide a quality environment that promotes health – walking, recreating, learning healthy habits, being outdoors, social gathering & interaction.
With locally-inspired activities that fly in the face of traditional park programs, from bread-baking to puppet shows, Toronto residents created a community place out of a park neglected by locals and city officials alike.