Building Blocks is a collaborative effort of representatives from many community organizations to involve local residents in the physical and social revitalization of their neighborhoods. Through this involvement, residents are able to strengthen social bonds and take a greater part in the development of their own communities.
The Building Blocks Board of Directors offers grants and organizing support to residents within target sites designated by their Neighborhood Association. Sometimes assisted by Western Michigan University students, neighborhood residents plan and implement a broad range of fix-up and beautification projects such as painting, landscaping and minor repairs. After the target areas are selected, project activity begins with outreach to residents and property owners. Participants begin planning and making preparations for work weekends. The actual work takes place in May. For sites utilizing student organizers, detailed planning begins when students are available. Sites may elect to not use students but are expected to meet all other project criteria.
Residents in each target site volunteer their labor to the project activities. The success of these activities depends upon the volunteer and cooperative efforts of neighborhood residents. They work together to improve not only their own homes, but also their neighbors’ homes as well. They also volunteer their time, preparing food, supervising, or volunteering their homes for meeting space. Most importantly, through cooperation and involvement in the project activities, residents bond with each other and ensure a sense of commitment to their street and neighborhood association.
Resident leaders emerge throughout the activities of Building Blocks. They assume primary responsibility for completing project tasks, including recruitment, planning, choosing project activities, making arrangements for food, materials, and supplies.