Easton Matters: Community Needs Assessment
With the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Nurture Nature Center conducted a two-year community needs assessment of the Easton community from 2014 to 2016.
This project, called Easton Matters, served as a means to learn about and better understand the local community and the issues that matter most to residents. Focusing on the four neighborhoods of Easton Downtown, South Side, West Ward, and College Hill, NNC asked for input on local environmental concerns and priorities through a public survey, interviews with city officials and leaders of community based organizations, neighborhood focus groups, and a community wide forum. Summaries of the survey and focus group findings can be found here. In addition, residents provided photographs of their local environment as part of a photovoice exercise. These photographs were used in an art display shown at NNC in the spring of 2016. The community valued the opportunity to share their perspectives and to connect with neighbors. The conversation that the Easton Matters effort started continues today. Walking tours in each neighborhood allow residents to show and discuss issues and Q&A sessions with city officials provide an additional venue for residents to ask questions and learn about living in the city.
What came through loud and clear in the Easton Matters process was Easton pride. Residents genuinely love their neighborhood and neighbors, and value the walkability of a small town with a vibrant downtown. Issues raised most often related to litter and recycling, traffic, pedestrian safety and walkability, and the maintenance of sidewalks and street trees. The desire for more green space, access to healthy affordable food, easier access to the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers, code enforcement, and building re-use were also issues discussed.
These issues, along with positive assets in the city, are illustrated below by local artist, Tom Maxfield. Each topic depicted in the illustration is labeled and relates to the findings and recommendations from Easton Matters. More about this diagram here.