Socioeconomic Integration in the Commons

By Bronlynn Thurman

In this third installment of the Pillars of Civic Commons, we’ll be diving deeper into what we mean by Socioeconomic Integration.

On the evening of December 26th 2018, more than a hundred people crowded onto the basketball court of the Summit Lake Community Center in anticipation of the first Kwanzaa event of the year. Hosted by the Akron African-American Cultural Association and our Civic Commons partners at SWAG (Students With A Goal), the event was the kick-off to the week-long celebration honoring the African heritage of those in the African diaspora.

Residents from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, races, religions, and neighborhoods came together for an evening of fellowship. Throughout the evening, community leaders gave presentations, danced, and sang songs around the first concept of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity).

“…[W]e all have a responsibility to those who will come after us, to do what we can to build a stronger and better community.” said Shammas Malik, Ward 8 council candidate, on social media about the event.

When thinking about socioeconomic integration, the Kwanzaa kick-off is a perfect segue into this concept. Under the realm of Civic Commons, Socioeconomic Integration is the idea that we are “creating places where everyone belongs and that generates [authentic] opportunities for shared experience among people of all incomes and backgrounds.”

We measure this pillar by looking at the diversity of the visitors to a space, the perceptions of a neighborhood and its future, time spent with neighbors and opportunities to meet, and the income and racial diversity of neighborhood residents. To us, success is in the relationships being built within and between the neighborhoods in which we work. Without that trust, support, and understanding, authentic socioeconomic integration isn’t achievable. In 2018, we hosted and partnered on a number of events to work towards success in this arena. From Summer on the Plaza with Downtown Akron Partnership to a series of concerts at Park East, thousands of people were able to see spaces through new eyes and connect through a common experience. We look forward to building more of those opportunities in 2019.

 As we continue to work deeper in this pillar, we will be adding more relevant articles below:

Interested in learning more about Reimagining the Civic Commons? Visit the national Civic Commons’ Medium page for more stories. Visit our Baseline Report for more information on where we've started.

Note: We've shifted from Socioeconomic Mixing to Socioeconomic Integration although noted otherwise in the image.