Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Power of the Scribe: Sharing Your Stories and Building Buzz

In this field, the work we accomplish in a community is sometimes difficult to quantify. The metrics can be hard to define - and even more difficult to collect. Metrics like new businesses attracted, growth in pedestrian count, new jobs created, etc are valuable. Yet sometimes what has the most impact on investors and potential funders are those stories that communicate the impact of revitalization efforts, not only through numbers, but through a strong narrative.  
I am currently in the final stages of a project with LISC and the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development (ICCD) called "Corridors of Retail Excellence" or CORE. Together with my colleagues at LISC, we have been working with two commercial corridors in Rhode Island to analyze the market, diagnose challenges, and recommend short term, high impact action projects. What has been particularly nice is that throughout the process we have had a designated scribe documenting the outcomes and helping us develop a strong narrative as the new programs and changes taking shape. A scribe is a writer who follows the process as it unfolds - someone whose editorial insight and writing skills help us tell the story of the impact of our efforts.  What ICCD has found is that scribing plays a powerful role in not just communicating impact, but in building buzz that is so critical to leveraging additional funds towards the local commercial revitalization efforts. [For more examples of scribe reports, check out ICCD's website by clicking here]

Writing about (and photographing) the community's progress, and posting it as we go, has been both a communication strategy for sharing results, and a way to evaluate our performance. I encourage practitioners to adopt this practice as a way to share your projects with planners and community members, and most importantly, to have as a resource to inform your future projects.

Read about how our work has progressed in Rhode Island, written by our wonderful scribe Pamela Thomas, over the past few months:

'Eyes on the street' in Providence

By Pamela Thomas, Dec 5, 2011
In the West End neighborhood of Providence, RI, new security cameras might just help local merchants prosper and encourage area residents to be more physically active.

Working in Rhode Island to improve state economic efforts in cities

By Pamela Thomas, Dec 5, 2011
Rhode Island LISC is aiming to improve local economy in two cities and raise the quality of life of their residents. And that's just what Gov. Lincoln Chafee wants to do.

Experts helping to boost commercial strips in two Rhode Island cities

By Pam Thomas, Aug 29, 2011
Two Rhode Island cities are currently the targets of a new program to revitalize urban commercial corridors.

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