We talked to Brenda Rodriguez-Andujar and Ken Tangvik of Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) to find out more about the measures they are taking to improve economic development for their neighborhood. Brenda told us ‘We have found that our projects and initiatives have been the most successful when we are open to new ideas, ask questions, and when we reach out and maintain long-term relationships with people and organizations.’
‘Over the course of our grant award, HSTF has maintained an open-minded and mixed approach to our creative placemaking work in our neighborhood. We engaged in new and innovative outreach in our community, which increased and diversified our event participants.
'Having the resources to buy marketing materials to supplement our guerilla outreach made a huge difference in who we connected with and who ended up at our events. Because of our ability to do some on-the-ground marketing, we could move beyond Internet-based approaches. While the internet is clearly an invaluable resource for many, it is not the most effective tool for reaching many of our neighbors, especially those who are older and primarily Spanish-speaking. Critically, support from ArtPlace allowed us to meaningfully engage HSTF young people in our Artes Pa’lante project, three of whom were permanently assigned to our creative placemaking work.'
Youth visit local businesses
Brenda continued ‘They visited local businesses, had conversations with the small business owners, and shared compelling event promotional materials. This personal touch transformed our outreach work and helped us to reach and to connect to more people. We encourage our fellow ArtPlace award recipients to use their grant resources to try to reach out to their community members who may not have regular access to the Internet.’
HSTF programs and civic engagement activities are developed by youth and residents in response to community needs with youth at the heart of all their work. They believe that social change is most successful when young people develop the skills to succeed and become committed change-makers. Since its founding, Hyde Square Task Force has developed ongoing programs for youth and families that not only help them advance at school and in careers, but also give them opportunities to take pride and action in their communities.
The team hit upon the brilliant idea of providing technical help to businesses in their area, ranging from businesses offering cleaning services, to beauty salons, to fitness studios. This help allowed business owners to spruce up their shops and make small customer service changes. This allowed them to continue to serve longstanding residents and cultivate business from new residents as well.
What Hyde Square offered:
- an intake survey among local businesses to see what they needed and to map their networks
- preliminary marketing plans using traditional and digital partnerships with organizations within a network that shares the same beliefs as them
- met with, and then called/texted/emailed each business owner to follow up on their progress and troubleshoot challenges.
What the local business owners gained:
- owners improved their understanding of marketing and learned how to apply marketing basics to improve their business
- the program enabled owners to improve their understanding of a specific marketing strategy
- owners learned how to map a network of potential partners and the steps it takes to establish such partnerships.
- the process of implementing the program revealed opportunities for addressing important barriers to the roll out of the marketing plans
- while lack of proficiency in the use of digital platforms was a barrier that can be solved with training, lack of proficiency in developing the content to publish on these platforms would have to be solved through education in writing and graphic design fundamentals
- in addition to training and education, it could also be helpful to develop local young marketing experts to support business owners with marketing campaigns. In particular, these experts could be critical to less computer savvy owners and owners that would like to delegate marketing tasks.
Attracting people to the neighborhood
In September 2016, Hyde Square Task Force hosted the Latin Quarter Fiesta, one of the biggest events in their 25-year history. 'We hosted the event block-party style event at a neighboring park in Boston’s Hyde/Jackson Square neighborhood, now known as Boston’s Latin Quarter in honor of its proud Afro-Latin heritage, thanks to the advocacy of our youth leaders. Over 600 community members and guests were in attendance that day to visit our vendors, listen to the live music of local Afro-Latin musicians, or play a game of dominoes. Between vendors, local organizations, musicians, and artists, we worked directly with over 30 partners and working artists. This event altered HSTF’s trajectory by raising our visibility and deepening our connection to our community.' These positive outcomes paved the way for subsequent high-quality community events that were heavily attended by community members and local civic leaders, and which received increased press coverage by bilingual media outlets. Other great initiatives like the annual Three Kings Day, and the upcoming Viva El Latin Quarter Summer series and Latinx Heritage Month raise visibility and allowed them to reach more people through smaller but equally engaging events.