Quan presents on summer research at the Nov. 2017 community meeting in Binghamton.
R2G is unquestionably made up of academic interests, given that much of the team is associated with Cornell University. But first and foremost, R2G is focused on community, and the focus of our projects had always been on community.
Issues in a community require the work of people with a deep understanding of the community, and to that extent our contacts and team members in Binghamton have been an amazing help. Living here for three months had also been a great experience.
From a place-making perspective, every place has a “character”. This represents the kind of meaning a place has for inhabitants, and how these meanings contribute to the individual’s concept of self.
The meaning that Binghamton has taken on for us, the R2GB team, is encompassed by the rivers, the festivals, the great downtown atmosphere, the individual character of the shops downtown, and the diversity that is present all over Binghamton. Taken together, Binghamton has a unique cosmopolitan attribute, but also the homeliness and intimacy of a city its size. For us, beyond being a place to work, Binghamton was a place to enjoy the varieties of life at an unrushed pace.
As students, Binghamton helped us grow by presenting us with a diverse array of well-informed opinions, on issues we’ve seldom discussed in a classroom setting.
As students, could it be forgiven if we admit that we came into Binghamton with pre-conceived notions of what we wanted? Perhaps it has become somewhat cliché to call college students idealistic, but in many ways we were missing the nuances of life that could only be taught by deep interpersonal interaction. The Binghamton community was deeply accommodating of our ignorance, and residents took time to teach us about the rivers, about life in Binghamton, and about themselves. We came out of the experience realizing we knew very little, but we were guided by the Binghamton community to ask the right questions.
We learned that collaboration begins by listening to people, and listening we did. The centerpiece of our 2017 work were a set of in-depth interviews with many members of the Binghamton community, and a community survey gathering data from five neighborhoods in Binghamton. Currently, we are still processing the data we’ve collected.
We would be giving too much credit to ourselves if we say we discovered the lesson of listening to the community on our own. Last year, R2GB ran a program called Living with Water, where members of the Binghamton community recounted their experience in the 2006 and 2011 floods. We’ve obtained endless inspiration from the work that was done in 2016, and much of our methodology this year was based on the work last year. The continuation of R2GB means that the team this year will pass on the lessons we’ve learned this year, so that the research process could be expanded upon year after year, to be ever more fruitful.
-Rust to Green Binghamton Scholar 2017-18
-Developmental Sociology and Environmental Sustainability Sciences (double major)
-Cornell University '18
As we look ahead for the coming summer 2018, we will finish the analysis of our community survey data, case studies, and interviews, which will be published in a policy brief on the challenges of disaster recovery and strategies for community and riverfront development! Our policy brief will focus on our findings in Binghamton, along with findings from other rust belt cities and areas around the world. We will analyze the key components, challenges, and successes of waterfront development and community revitalization strategies in other areas as a way to better inform our efforts in Binghamton.
We are also planning to hold a follow-up community meeting, where we will present our data analysis to community members and hold a discussion where attendees can share their thoughts on the data-analysis and the ways we can use this information moving forward. We hope to see you all there!
Let us know if you would be interested!
During the meeting, four R2GB interns from this summer gave a presentation on the Living with Water Project and the major projects we worked on this summer, including placemaking activities at Live on the Waterfront, interviews with Binghamton residents on their thoughts about the rivers and ideas for the future, and community surveys of residents’ thoughts on river usage, river quality, and the downtown area. Click here to view the presentation! community_presentation_.pdf
Following the presentation, community members worked in focus groups to discuss next steps and ideas for shaping the future of Binghamton. Our main points of discussion included: