Hudson residents offer views on jobs, police, housing

HUDSON–A diverse design team of local residents has identified three key actionable needs for Hudson: employment paths for youth, better relations with the police, and affordable accessible spaces for families and children.

On February 4 at the Hudson Library, they presented their preliminary ideas and provided opportunity for community feedback.

The team is part of Raising Places, a project of Greater Good Studio (GGS) in Chicago, which “designs tools for social change.” The goal of the Raising Places project, Project Director Sara Cantor Aye of Chicago said last November, is to “inspire community transformation by empowering local change agents to build healthier places where children and families can thrive.”

Funding comes from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Hudson is one of the six communities out of 156 applicants that GGS chose for the Raising Places project. Hudson’s application was written jointly by two community organizations: Kite’s Nest and Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood (GHPN).

These two organizations built a local design team for Raising Places, picking 11 individuals, many already known in the community, for their experience in urban planning, community organizing, economic development or child/youth services. They are: Jabin Ahmed, Tom DiPietro, Cedric Fulton, Kamal Johnson, Willette Jones, Victor Mendolia, Maija Reed, Brendan Santos, Jennifer Stockmeier, Zebi Williams and Nick Zachos. The project also has a Youth Advisory Board, consisting of eight youths: Jasmin Ahmed, Melina Hayes, Steven Kritzman, Irlande Louis, Adonis Ragland, Pierre Rice, Monique Rivera and Trevor Slowinski.

Design Team members, Youth Advisory Board members, Joan Hunt of GHPN, Sara Kendall of Kite’s Nest, local politicians and educators, as well as Ms. Aye and other GGS staff from Chicago, attended the February 4 event. It began with Ms. Hunt and Ms. Kendall summarizing Raising Places’ history in Hudson to date. Initially, according to Ms. Kendall’s presentation and the Kite’s Nest’s website, the three key pressing actionable challenges the design team came up with were:

1. Unemployment and lack of career training

2. Racism and lack of minority representation in our institutions

3. Lack of affordable spaces

After more time together, some of it spent working with facilitators from Chicago, the team whittled over 100 initial pertinent goals down to three: City leaders to prioritize job training for youth; Our Police Department to speak and interact positively with the community; City government to prioritize affordable and accessible spaces.

The second goal arose because of shootings last summer—one fatal—in Hudson, Ms. Kendall explained later that afternoon. In those cases the shooters and victims all were civilians.

For each of the three goals possible action programs have been proposed.

For the first: a youth-friendly transit schedule, internship programs and Job search hubs (both physical and digital). For the second: community-driven police training, a community-police joint workshop, and a youth liaison app.

For the third (affordable accessible spaces) the proposals are: increased protection and services for landlords and tenants, an inclusionary housing policy, community land/housing trust(s), and people-friendly parks.

At the end of the presentation Reverend Edward Cross said, “I see a lot of people from Hudson who aren’t here. A lot of people who are not going to respond” until they find out that something affecting them is about to happen, he said, and by then it will be “too late” to change or influence it.

Ms. Kendall said that each member of the design team has a community network.

Another man said, “I’ve been in projects like this. Are the young people we’re supposed to be helping involved in the process?” Ms. Kendall referred to the Youth Advisory Board.

In November, Raising Places ran an “ideas lab” in Hudson, where people from the community suggested hundreds of ideas. On February 4, the project leaders called for community input related to the possible action programs.

After the presentation, people were directed to posters for each possible program were mounted on easels. The posters had specific questions about the programs, with space for people to post answers. Typically the questions under each category asked about specific details of the possible undertaking, for information about what other organizations are already doing about something similar and for suggestions for people to contact about funding.

Many of the sticky notes had comments about the subject of police training. One question was, “What topics should police learn about?” Answers included race and inequality, historically and specific to Hudson; restorative justice; implicit bias; conflict mediation; the impact of trauma on oneself and others; replacing some arrests with “simple mentor-type lectures”; and “to see youths as whole human beings.”

Another question was how frequently the police should undergo this training. Somebody answered “bi-annually.” Also on that board someone posted, “Should police be required to be residents of Hudson or at least the Hudson City School District?”

Under “protection for landlords and tenants,” somebody suggested a housing coach: “someone that can advocate from beginning to end in the process of acquiring a house.” Additional comments on affordable spaces ranged from “I imagine higher-to-mid level incomes could support or subsidize lower-level incomes” to “condition of housing stock leads to displacement.”

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