Monday, October 5, 2009

UPDATE: WWNP Urban Conservator Tom Jones in National News

Posted by: Noel Jones

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training today is featuring the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership's Urban Conservator, Tom Jones, who has basically taken over coordination for the urban ecology program, which includes, but is not limited to, the canton program, which I featured in my last post. While the viability of the canton program remains to be seen, CACLV and WWNP continue to do important work under the auspices of the urban ecology program, which, aside from the canton program, also encompasses the planting of shade trees, sidewalk repair, weatherization grants,  "green" housing grants and home loans for residents of the West Ward. Tom also spearheads the push to get our neighborhood registered on the National Registry of History Buildings. So he's a very knowledgeable guy that we're lucky to have working as hard as he does to revitalize our neighborhood. If you'd like to talk to him about the program, you can find him by day at the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership Office at 668 Northampton, or by night at Porter's Pub nearby, where he's happy to regale you with the details of the program over a pint.

If you read the article linked above, you'll see that he goes fairly deeply into the ambitious goals of the urban ecology program, and he elaborates on the canton program as well. What caught my attention is that the canton program is presented as "a true democratic process that respects citizen participation." While I know that that is the stated goal of the canton program, until it is functioning successfully, with regular committed participation, it seems a bit bold to make that claim. In the WWNP's defense, they seem to be aware of the problem, as Tom goes on to say, "its strength comes from full cooperation from the people that live within the area, and they have to come from people who can speak loudly in the community development process as well as those who have more silent voices."

So I will put my best foot forward and see what we will see in this new incarnation of the canton program...I still see issues with having representatives from the City on the steering committee, but in the meantime, getting neighbors together for a good brainstorm is always good for the hood.

How do you feel about the canton program?

Noel Jones
Neighbors of Easton


Easton Heights Blogger said...

hey Noel, I'm still a bit ignorant on this 'canton' thing; I went to one of the links to see the canton map, but I really can't figure out what it's all about.

noel jones said...


Type "canton" in the search window at the upper left and it will pull up all blog posts that mention the canton program. If you scroll back to the earliest ones, you'll see how it all began. There's also one post in particular called "Find Your Canton" that has the boundaries written out, rather than in a map form--I hope this helps!

Easton Heights Blogger said...

I guess I don't know what the word 'canton' means; it it just a way to identify a section of neighborhood? I'm not seeing how this word is being applied. I've only heard it used as an administrative divion in Europe.
I'll have to get to a canton mtg, I suppose.

Dennis R. Lieb said...


The word canton is derived - as you mentioned - from the European use of the word for a small political neighborhood body that (hopefully) creates grass root participation in the governance of towns, cities, regions, etc.

The UEP started out under different leadership and was optimistically gearing up for the same kind of political influence over city decision making by each canton. Because of a change in management personal early in the process - and at a time when new recruits were still in the training phase and getting acclamated to the ideas - there has been a definite fall off in participation and emotional commitment to the canton model.

It remains to be seen whether public buy-in toward this model can be recaptured or not. I am keeping an open mind but proceeding cautiously with my personal commitments until I see where we are headed.


am said...

thanks for highlighting this! i pass WWNP every morning and walk on sidewalks bordered by newly grown grass, and construction workers improving sidewalks along Northampton. thank goodness for Mr. Jones!

David Caines said...

To be honest, we liked Igho as a person, but didn't much care for him as a canton administrator. He often bored and to some degree alienated us.
To be equally honest I didn't get the canton thing at first, but I now have more of an interest. And hopefuly we'll be more active. A ground swell democraticaly based iniatiative maybe just the thing for Easton and I am thrilled to see Tom heading things up.
His knowlege of Easton's history and open love for the area may well be the driving force we need behind a grass roots program of this sort. That it is through the WWNP, is equaly happy. After a month with Weed and Seed I was willing to write Easton politics off entirely (though there is some new blood we'll wait and see). Then we found Gary and the WWNP. I know some people have issue with them, but the money and energy they bring into the area is well worthy of note. And I have no doubt they will continue to do so.
That our urban eccology efforts have made the national stage is in no small part ude to both Tom and the WWNP, and through them Easton may well have a positive effect on the world. Tom is as I know well aware of world trends as they regard urban eccology, and probably a good number of other areas I am as yet unaware of.It is always a pleasure to hear him speak, and our city would be lessened by the lack of his knowlege. I look forward to seeing what the canton project will become with his knowlege and help...and promise to do a bit more myself. Sorry, i liked Igho...but he realy wasn't my cup of tea. I thought his training distanced us more than it brought us together, and I know that it irked and alienated more than just myself and Jeanette. Sorry Igho, hope you're well.

Alan Raisman said...

An idea for Easton...

Durham council passes same-sex marriage resolution
Aug. 17, 2009

Way to go Tim!!