Creating Community and Safety: The Charrette for Center City Manchester

Creating Community and Safety: The Charrette for Center City Manchester

You can read more about this gathering over at NHPR at:

In the heart of Manchester, NH, lies a diverse community of many of the city's immigrants nestled between Maple Street and Beech Street.  However, like any urban area, it faces its share of challenges. The lack of community resources, art, and bustling streets have contributed to a sense of insecurity and disconnectedness. Recognizing the importance of uplifting, empowering and improving street safety within this community, I recently had the privilege of participating in a charrette led by Plan NH and the Conservation Law Foundation. Together, we collaborated to address community and safety issues and propose ideas that could breathe new life into Center City Manchester.

The charrette brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, including community members, city officials, and nonprofit organizations, all with a shared goal of creating a safer, more inclusive, and engaged community. The energy in the room was inspiring as we embarked on this collective journey to envision a brighter future for Maple Street and Beech Street.

One of the most inspiring aspects of the charrette was the active involvement of the local residents. Their valuable insights and lived experiences served as a guiding light throughout the process. Listening to their stories shed light on the challenges they face daily, but also showcased their resilience and desire for positive change.

A key theme that emerged during the discussions was the need for spaces that foster a sense of belonging and unity. To address this, we proposed transforming underutilized lots into community gardens, vibrant mural-adorned gathering spaces, and safe playgrounds. By creating these shared spaces, we hope to cultivate a strong sense of community pride and ownership.

Safety was a paramount concern, and our solutions aimed to create an environment where everyone feels secure. Ideas like improving street lighting, enhancing crosswalks, and going from a two lane road to a one lane one with a dedicated bike lane were presented to address these concerns. Additionally, we explored the possibility of introducing pop-up art installations to infuse the streets with creativity, making them more lively and inviting.

Recognizing the transformative power of art, we proposed murals, sculptures, and art installations that would celebrate the cultural diversity of the neighborhood. By involving local artists in these projects, we aim to amplify their voices and ensure that the artwork truly represents the community it serves.

The charrette was just the beginning of an ongoing commitment to improve this region of Manchester. We have established a working group to advocate for the implementation of our proposed ideas and secure the necessary resources to bring them to life. Together, we envision a vibrant and safer neighborhood where all residents can thrive.

The charrette led by Plan NH and the Conservation Law Foundation was a powerful demonstration of what can be achieved when communities come together to address shared challenges. The collaborative efforts of local residents, artists, and organizations have paved the way for a brighter, safer, and more connected future for Maple Street and Beech Street. As we move forward with our plans, we are filled with hope and determination, knowing that every step we take brings us closer to realizing the dreams of this incredible community.

Check out some mockups of our vision for the community below! 

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