The Consortium brings all viewpoints to the table, and addresses quality of life issues. It has led to successful collaborations and an overall sense of accomplishment among many diverse Cecil B. Moore area organizations and residents. The success of the Consortium lies in the coordination of efforts of all contributors to the community including schools, churches, and businesses.
In 1991, Beech Interplex, Inc., formerly The Beech Corporation, invited as many community and agency representatives as could be found in the Cecil B. Moore area to participate in a meeting to discuss the mission of Beech and to foster collaboration among the Cecil B. Moore stakeholders. At that time, the Cecil B. Moore area was overwhelmed by vacant residential and commercial structures; trash strewn streets with abandoned cars; weed filled lots; poor street lighting and graffiti on every conceivable surface. The negative physical attributes had taken its toll on the people who lived in the community. With few exceptions, the residents and business owners were disillusioned because it appeared no significant positive changes were going to take place in the near or distant future.
An examination of the area revealed that contrary to the blight and disillusionment, there were several public agencies and non-profit groups diligently working against significant odds. After sharing information during the initial meeting, the attendees agreed to meet on a regular basis with Beech acting as the convener. The agenda would consist of an update and/or planning by each agency or community representative. At various times, a presentation would be given on a particular project, which had a major impact on the community. Because of these informative presentations, individuals were able to get questions answered, voice their opinions or concerns and become aware of any new projects or programs in the community.
Since that initial meeting, meetings have been held 2-3 times a year with excellent attendance at each. The attendance has consistently averaged 60-70 persons representing over 50 organizations. While the formal agenda of these meetings has been important for structure, the informal surroundings have allowed individuals to feel comfortable and relaxed.
The exciting part of the meetings has been the networking, the spectacular catered lunch and the deal making during the meeting breaks. For example, a block captain obtains information on how to get a house demolished from a Redevelopment Authority representative; a community development corporation representative gets some information from the City Planning Commission on planning services that are available; and the boundaries between two community groups are established. This on-going interrelationship building has been beyond our expectations. Some results include combined projects, joint funding, creative programs, effective communications, information gathering, and open dialogues between attendees.