My mother in law has spent the vast majority of her life in Hinton, Ok. When she was a little girl her grandfather helped build a long, graceful bridge between Hinton and the nearby Geary, Ok. which is still heavily traveled today. Once the bridge was compete the workers invited their families and townspeople to a huge party on the bridge.
Even now,when driving across the bridge this vibrant 78 year old woman proudly points out, “One time I got to dance right there!” Through her memories I can imagine the party, the music, and the civic pride that created an excitement they could not contain….they just had to dance!
Over the last few years, as I watched the I-40 construction with fascination, I secretly hoped I would have an opportunity “to dance right there” before it was opened. Then it happened…I received the invitation from ODOT…”Neighborhood Alliance is invited to join us for the grand opening of the new I-40.” I could hardly read it because I was shaking with excitement!
Now you have to understand, this massive construction site has been a fascination of mine for years. I poured over the maps, tried in vain to figure out exactly where “my exit’ would be, drove friends and family over to watch the construction, felt enormous pride when I saw the decorative bridge at Pennsylvania Avenue open up, and often felt like an I-40 stalker because I was so fascinated with the process.
To get the invitation was like being asked to be “milk monitor” in 3rd grade…it was special and only a few got the privilege! I would be surrounded by I-40aphiles just like me! These people would understand when I talked in awe of the huge concrete art tiles, the mounds of dirt that were excavated , and the highly anticipated scissor tail fly catcher sculpture that sits atop the roadway. I would be among my people!
I invited my co-worker Jennifer to go with me on the much anticipated day. We drove to the site and were immediately asked if we were there for the convoy (the first 100 cars on the roadway) or if we were dignitaries. We looked at each other and then responded with confidence, “convoy!” The flag-man then waved us to the west, stating, “you will have to park down there after that last tractor trailer” which was about 1.2 miles down the road!!! Quite a walk back to the ceremony site in our cute dress clothes we wore for the special occasion! So we re-thought our status, and told him we must have been mistaken, we were really dignitaries. He looked a bit puzzled but politely told us to park up closer to the staging area.
It was a party atmosphere… a loud speaker boomed fun music, free cupcakes and coffee were being passed out, there were commemarative post card books depicting the history of the project, national and local officials were abundant, people were laughing and carrying on with palpable giddiness.
We were all carried away by the significance of this day! I-40 was re-opening and in some small way it was as if each one of us took some ownership in this. Not that it was really warranted…demanding that unwilling family and friends look on in awe with you at construction sites is not really participating in the overall project! But none the less, ODOT and the other hosts helped make me feel as though it was all because of me that they were able to get his massive project to this point!
While waiting for the real dignitaries to make their official speeches, standing under the Western Avenue bridge on the brand new, not-yet-driven cement of I-40, with all the drunken abandon of free cupcakes and beautiful Oklahoma weather, I looked at Jennifer and said, “I have to dance!”
And dance I did! Just a little jig…but it was a fearless, full of pride kind of dance! And believe me, if you are ever in the car with me while we drive I-40, and even when I am 78, I will proudly say as we pass the Western Ave. bridge, “One day I danced right there, cupcake in hand, civic pride took over and I had to dance!”
I love the feeling we get when as a whole we accomplish something that none of us could do alone. I didn’t turn one shovel of dirt that it took to build I-40 yet I feel like it is as much my project as it is ODOT’s, the City of OKC, the engineers, or the multitudes of workers who really built it. I am their biggest fan…but I am also their silent partner. Just back here dancing on one of the grandest pieces of construction ever built in our state! Congrats to all of us!
The mission of Neighborhood Alliance is simple: to help create safe, attractive and healthy neighborhoods throughout OKC. However, one neighborhood might view cars driving 30 MPH through the neighborhood as their biggest safety factor, where others might have nightly visits from drug dealers and prostitutes.
Because of this, Neighborhood Alliance is challenged to assure our city-wide programs and workshops truly fit the needs of ALL citizens and not just a few. We need to make sure we are sensitive to the needs of different wards, different ethnic groups, different socio-economic backgrounds, and the unique needs these groups encounter while trying to create stronger neighborhoods.
To help with this task we hosted a focus group made up of 14 OKC citizens from diverse backgrounds. This group represented residents from the all 4 quadrants of OKC, men and women, Hispanics, African Americans, Caucasians, gays and straights, reps from both voluntary associations and mandatory associations, wealthy and low income neighborhoods. In order to help them feel comfortable to speak freely, we held the meeting at our non-profit neighbor, OKC Beautiful’s office, and we asked 2 outside facilitators to lead the discussion. Neighborhood Alliance staff was not even in attendance.
Safari McDoulette from Commissioner Brian Maughn’s office and Sgt. W. Cubit from the OKC Police Department led the group in what they said was a lively, informative disucssion on some very sensitive topics. Later this week the facilitators will meet with Neighborhood Alliance staff to go over what they gleaned from the conversation. We will publish a report and post it to our website (www.nacok.org) and print it in our bi-monthly newsletter, The Cornerpost.
This exercise was for more than just a nice report. We will incorporate the ideas, learn from the critique, and continue to listen to our clients as to what they need from us in order to accomplish their job…creating safer, more attractive and healthier neighborhoods for all.
Great neighborhoods is one huge element in making OKC a great City. Diverse neighborhoods makes us all happy…some like living in rural settings surrounded by trees and green space where others want a more urban feel where they can walk to restaurants and shopping. Each comes with its own set of issues…albeit very different ones. Because of the volunteers who participated in our focus group on cultural sensitivity, we know we are going to be better equipped to support all neighborhoods in thier unique goals.
We are interested in knowing if you have ideas, thoughts, complaints or compliments on ways we can better serve you and your neighborhood. Please respond to this post or contact us at our office…528-6322 and talk to Jennifer or Georgie.
The University of Oklahoma “Big Event”
The University of Oklahoma holds a Big Event day when over 5,000 student volunteers descend on Oklahoma City area communities to carry out neighborhood beautification projects. See website for application and details, bigevent.ou.edu.
Jobsite Application Deadline:1/28/2012
Volunteer Schedule: 4/14/2012
Brooke Coe, Community Relations Specialist
During the months of June & July, nearly 1000 Chesapeake Energy employees roll up their sleeves to volunteer in the community for the annual Operation Blue volunteer program.
Jobsite Application Deadline: Call 935-3049
Volunteer Schedule: June-July
The University of Central Oklahoma “Big Event”
Brandt Smith, Assist. Director of Volunteer & Service Learning Center
UCO hosts a Big Event day when over 500 students perform community service jobs in Edmond and OKC areas.See website for application and details, www.uco.edu/volunteer
Jobsite Application Deadline: 2/10/2012
Volunteer Schedule: 03/10/2012
Oklahoma State University
JoElla Flinton, Assistant Vice President of Student Services OSU-OKC
Individual students and faculty carry out community improvement projects throughout the school year.
Jobsite Application Deadline: Call (405) 945-9106
Volunteer Schedule: Throughout the School Year
Oklahoma Christian University
Gary Jones, Multicultural & Service Learning Coordinator
During the school year, smaller groups of students carry out community improvement projects in the Greater OKC area.
Jobsite Application Deadline: Call 425-5904
Volunteer Schedule: Throughout the School Year
Contact Ashley Dickson with questions, 528-6322.
Volunteers Information Packet
Neighborhood Alliance likes to keep you up-to-date with news and items we think are of interest to our OKC-Metro Neighbors. You always have the option to update your contact information or unsubscribe using the links below.
Neighborhood Capacity Builder
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett received more than 100 applications from citizens to fill a limited number of positions on the planokc Citizen Advisory Team.
Thank you to all who applied! Members have been selected and letters of appointment have been mailed.
Our website now includes a Citizen Advisory Team page where you can find the names of all appointed members. Meetings will begin in February and are open to the public.
planokc goals drafted
Planning staff drafted goals based on the responses submitted online and at the fall workshops and confirmed that they addressed the issues identified in Phase 1 of the public outreach process.
The Citizen Advisory Team will review the draft goals, and then we will post a final draft online for public comment. Thank you for your participation in this important step of the planning process.
We look forward to a productive year as we continue our work together on planokc.
You still have time to participate in Neighborhood Leaders for Today classes in February and March.
This one-of-a-kind leadership program is designed to give citizens the confidence and tools they need to create, promote and sustain productive citizen-based neighborhood associations and to help develop sustainable community improvement projects.
The class runs seven weeks and includes over 30 different speakers all geared toward creating educated, well-equipped neighborhood leaders throughout Oklahoma City.
This class will include 35 hours of classroom study through which participants will learn how to organize successful neighborhood groups, access City services, develop successful grant projects, organize neighborhood specific programs, navigate City Hall, establish membership drives, communicate effectively, and much more.
Classes are consecutive Thursdays from 6-9 p.m., Feb. 16 through March 29, and Saturdays, March 3 and March 24, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Class size is limited to 30 participants.
To sign up online, go to
Application deadline is Jan. 26.
Wednesday, Jan. 18 – Economic Development Forum
An Economic Development Forum for Ward 5 will be held at 4 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, 701 W I-240 Service Road. Presenters include Roy Williams and Alison Oshel with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Cathy O’Connor, president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City and South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce president Elaine Lyons.
Thursday, Jan. 19 – Ward 5 Community Meeting
A Ward 5 community meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 19 at Emmaus Baptist Church, 16001 S Western. Topics to be included are; the widening of Western Avenue and the continued development of far South Oklahoma City. Presenters include Development Center Director Bob Tener, Planning Director Russell Claus, Public Works Director Eric Wenger and Police Major Brian Jennings.
Saturday, Jan. 21 – Ward 5 Community Meeting
A Ward 5 community meeting will be held at 3 p.m. on Jan. 21 in rooms 2 and 3 at Oklahoma City Community College, 7777 S May Ave. Topics to be included are issues affecting more mature neighborhoods. Speakers include housing rehab coordinator Bob Dailey, Community Action Agency executive director Jim Sconzo, Police Major Brian Jennings, Public Works Director Eric Wenger and Bob Tener and Charles Locke with code enforcement.
Call 297-2569 for more information.
Tuesday, Jan. 31- Ward 7 Community Meeting
A Ward 7 Community Meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at Metro Tech, Auditorium, 1700 Springlake Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73111
(Use the parking lot on the north side of the facility, enter through the main entrance). Presentations include: Eric Wenger (Public Works), Cathy O’Connor(President, Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City), Major Willard Paige(OKC Police),Bob Dailey (OKC Planning Department), Charles Locke (Development Services). Presenters will be followed by a Q&A session and closing remarks by Councilman Kelly.
Information will be provided on the following topics: code enforcement, public safety, infrastructure /traffic, economic development, NE Post Office relocation, and public safety.
Should you have questions, you may contact Councilman Kelly at 297-2569.
Thursday, Feb. 16 – Town Hall Meeting and Health Fair
A city-wide Town Hall Meeting and Health Fair hosted by Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid will be 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the OKC Marriott, 3233 Northwest Expressway, Oklahoma City, OK 73112.
Health Organizations are invited to set up booths in the hotel Entry Foyer. Confirmed Speakers include: David Blatt Ph.D. (Director, OK Policy Institute), Terry L. Cline, PhD (Oklahoma Commissioner of Health), Gary Cox, JD (Director, OKC-County Health Dep’t [OCCD]), Ed Shadid MD(OKC Councilor, Ward 2), Ray Vaughn JD(Oklahoma County Commissioner, District 3),
Terri White MSW (Commissioner, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse).
Contact Councilman Shadid with any questions at 297-2402 or view the Facebook Event.