Habitat for Humanity + Pomegranate = Habitat for Community
Pomegranate Center was invited to help Habitat for Humanity Tacoma-Pierce County expand and enhance their exciting new community engagement program called Habitat Connects.
First, a little background: as Habitat for Humanity Tacoma-Pierce County began construction in 2012 on its most ambitious project to date—the Woods at Golden Given—a clear need existed for a process that would comprehensively address post-purchase support for homeowners and their children. The Woods will bring together thirty low-income families (including an estimated 100 children) into a brand new, sustainably-built community. With such a significant convergence opportunity for community development and environmental education, Habitat staff and Board of Directors recognized that culturally competent training for families must complement the standard practice of forming a homeowners association. So began the vision of Habitat Connects.
What if Habitat homeowners could be the future leaders of their own community?
Habitat Connects is a new program that provides grassroots leadership training for Habitat homeowners at The Woods community. At the core of Connects lies the value of participatory decision making, which is what led Habitat to partner with Pomegranate Center.
Pomegranate Center helped facilitate multiple meetings with residents from the Woods neighborhood to create a community-based design for a common house; the first such structure planned in a Tacoma-Pierce County Habitat development.
Through community workshops and a two-day design session, Pomegranate Center worked alongside community members to develop a space that best meets the community’s needs on a limited budget. Features include an indoor/outdoor space for community gatherings, a place for performances and small events, direct connections to the adjacent playground, and artwork infused throughout.
After an “Early Success” art-making project this fall, the common house will be built largely through community efforts including skilled volunteer labor.
According to Elliot Stockstad, Tacoma Habitat’s Director of Homeowner Services, “Through Connects, Tacoma Habitat staff is working shoulder to shoulder with residents from The Woods neighborhood to help co-create a common vision for their community. It’s exciting to see what they have come up with so far, forming teams and taking action.”
Having Pomegranate Center involved in the process of Habitat Connects is a “beautiful marriage between organizations with similar principles and the mutual desire to see communities included and involved in the planning of their future amenities.” says Christina Rupp, Habitat Connects Coordinator.
For 39 years in more than 70 countries, Habitat for Humanity has long been a leader in social change and betterment of the lives of thousands of low-income families and individuals by building homes. We are enthusiastic to be working with this remarkable organization as they develop this enriching new program that empowers and connects residents at a whole new level.