Historical timeline of development plans and community organizing efforts in Orange, NJ

Collaboration with the University of Orange

Orange, NJ is a small town currently being eyed by many private developers due to its rail assets that connect directly to Manhattan. To ensure people's voices are still heard in the face of this rapid change, we have identified key institutions we have defined as social anchors which can be activated to become the vital intermediary spaces to bring people together and amplify their voices in the face of rapid urban change.

Participant worksheet from a co-creation workshop

Participant worksheet from a co-creation workshop

Our goal was to facilitate communication between players, so that local residents could insert themselves into the conversation and co-create future development plans. This project required reframing the role of isolated community organizations to one that highlights their interdependencies in a larger system.

Process & Outcomes

After analyzing historical events, community organizing efforts in NJ, and conducting over 25 in-depth interviews, we were able to prototype various methods of public participation. Together with the social anchors, my research partner and I designed an engagement model that activated existing local support institutions and encouraged strategic planners to empower the people on the ground so they can together reframe and redirect the future course of the city.

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Participatory workshop

Participatory workshop

The HUUB was one of the ideas that came out of the co-creation sessions to support an ongoing engagement process for the residents Orange. HUUB is a community center housed out of the First Unitarian Universalist church -- a familiar place for many local residents. HUUB is an outreach, community service and advocacy organization that continues to host events today. 

Source: uoforange Instagram page