Whittier group wants people to rate the neighborhood

The Whittier Alliance is asking those who live, work or own property in the neighborhood to fill out surveys to help shape the direction of the organization's activities -- including how to spend the $7 million it expects to direct under Phase II of the city's Neighborhood Revitalization Program.

The five-page survey takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete and asks a range of questions on the community's environment, housing and economy. It asks participants to rate Whittier's cleanliness, the quality of life for neighborhood children and how often people frequent amenities like parks, coffee shops and social services.

The Alliance has printed 500 surveys and will collect them through the end of the month. It will compile the information and present it at the neighborhood's annual meeting the evening of April 4 at Whittier School.

The Alliance also is holding a series of 30 focus groups, eight to 10 people each, to glean more information on neighborhood priorities.

The surveys and focus group information will set the direction for the NRP Phase II Action Plan, said Michelle Dibblee, an Alliance staff member. They are an effort to reach those who do not normally attend neighborhood meetings.

The Alliance hired Contact Inc. to do the phone calling to select a random group of participants.

The Alliance chose to hold focus groups by different demographics; for instance, senior citizens, youth, African Americans, Spanish speakers, Somali speakers, people with disabilities, property owners and business owners. It will hold 14 focus groups to talk to people who live in different parts of the neighborhood.

If callers reached someone who spoke Somali or Spanish, the contractor was

supposed to follow up with a phone call from someone who spoke their language, Dibblee said.

The Alliance held its first two focus groups Feb. 2, she said, one to talk to people in the northeast corner of the neighborhood, the other to talk to people in the middle of the west part of the neighborhood.

Surveys in English, Spanish and Somali are available at the Alliance's office, 10 E. 25th St. The Alliance is still looking for volunteers to help with NRP Phase II planning and outreach. For more information call 871-7756.

Whittier is bounded by Lake Street, Lyndale Avenue, Franklin Avenue and I-35W.