Re: needs assessment question
- Subject: Re: [cg] needs assessment question
- From: Adam36055@aol.com
- Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2002 12:30:29 EDT
Re: interests needs survey models
As a person who currently works in publishing, media and marketing (some
days, I have so many hats on my head. It feels like I'm wearing helicopter
propellers) I respect and use paper and Internet survey questionnaires, in
person and conference call focus groups.
However, when the Andy Rooney and Judy Garland, "Lets put on a show!" bug
bites you, nothing beats walking through your neighborhood, talking to your
neighbors, and starting on a few small neighborhood beautification projects
to see if anyone helps you "whitewash the fence." Community gardeners
generally self-identify by their love of gardening, willingness to actually
do the work with others and actually be civil to other people doing the work.
Having been involved with community gardens since I threw seed bombs over
fences on the lower east side and moved rubble with Adam Purple, I question
the efficacy of an assessment questionnaire. Viable community gardens
develop best from the ground up, not the top down.
Now mind you, I'm urban, so my ideas may not apply to some place that has
huge back yards like the one that the cops in Washington State backhoed for
sniper evidence. ( Forgive us, but my wife and I noticed that one could feed
a whole family and have room for flowers or make a nifty community garden if
there wasn't too much lead in that space. Space starved ommunity gardeners
You still need that questionnaire to get funding, eh?
Find a beat-up middle aged social worker in one of your gardens (there has to
be at least one) to walk the walk with you in the neighborhood in question,
learn what you want to get done (i.e., dreams of lush gardens, happy
multiracial groups gardening together, food security considerations,
Shangri-La, etc.) and run it through her well honed b.s. detector.
The questionnaire that this good natured social worker will create for you
(for an effusive flower arrangement, dinner and drinks, a lovely note of
acknowledgment suitable for her c.v. and tastefully framing on the wall of
her dismal "cube") will probably have this kind of structure once you've
found your target area(s) / population(s). It may be helpful to have nice,
unthreatening folks with clipboards, coffee and donuts as well. Make the
survey taking as pleasant as possible.
I. Age, sex, neighborhood, ethnicity, pertinent socioeconomic questions.
II. General questions dealing with neighborhood structure and problems.
III. Questions about use of public space (how many times do you use the
parks/playgrounds, do you feel safe out of doors, etc.?) DO YOU KNOW WHAT A
COMMUNITY GARDEN IS? ( This is the time that you need to do some serious
IV. Do you get enough fresh vegetables, would you grow some for your family
if you had the opportunity - IMPORTANT: WOULD YOU WORK TO MAINTAIN AND HELP
VOLUNTEER IN A SPACE THAT WOULD GIVE YOU THAT OPPORTUNITY WITH LIKE MINDED
NEIGHBORS. If so, how many hours a week, month, year. Could you see yourself
being involved in fundraising, meetings in non-gardening seasons.
V. Would you like a lawn/park like area in your garden where you could have
birthday parties, weddings, religious or memorial services outdoors which
would not be like the local park, regulated by the garden but available by
application by the community at large?
VI. Do you think your church or neighborhood organization would sponsor this
kind of community garden.
If the answers seem to point towards the questionnaire taker being a live
one, then invite them to a meeting (more coffee and donuts) where you will be
planning the organization of the new garden.
Also, when you and your social worker (not a student, beaten-up, sly and
reality-based is best) review your results be prepared to be honest.
Sometimes it's best to walk away from a garden project if what the community
really wants is affordable housing or a senior citizen home. Maybe your
focus should then be the incorporation of garden and greening elements in
I tried -- however, the best way I know of to create a community gardening
community it to get a small bunch of crazy people in an abandoned lot who
bemuse the neighbors by doing the impossible -- actually creating one of
those community garden things and suckers the neighborhood to buy in through
outreach, social events and cute gardeners in cut offs.
As always, best of luck,
Volunteer at the Clinton Community Garden who hasn't worn cut offs for years
(maybe too many donuts...)
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