Connecticut REALTOR® Boards Improve Their Community’s Quality of Life With Local Placemaking Projects
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
July 2017 – The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) have been working with REALTORS® across the nation in order to lend support to their community building efforts by offering Placemaking Grants. The idea behind “placemaking” is to fund smaller community projects that bring a large impact to the people who live there.
Frances Cormier-Carroll, Executive Officer of the Greater Fairfield Board of REALTORS® (GFBOR), agrees. “Placemaking Grants are one of the best things that the National Association of REALTORS® has done for the local boards!” GFBOR feels that the grants not only uplift the community but help local homeowners to see that REALTORS® are advocating for them and their neighborhoods.
Carroll’s boards have made good use of NAR’s small-scale grants. Just last summer, GFBOR partnered with the Town of Fairfield, Connecticut to create a ‘pocket park’ on a small plot of unused public land at a downtown crossroads.
With a $3,000 placemaking grant from NAR in hand – GFBOR’s 2016 President Stephanie Barnes, Co-Chairman Michael Traum and Kristen DeLaurentiis, pitched the idea of building a small, attractive green space for families and residents to gather. The town of Fairfield was excited to move forward with the idea. Numerous planning meetings and about 100 man hours later – the new “pocket park’ was born.
The small space featured new trees and plantings, a winding brick pathway and three comfortable benches. The end result was a creative use of space that gave the community a peaceful and attractive place to rest and socialize. Fairfield’s First Selectman, a former REALTOR® and Past-President of GFBOR, noted the new space also enhanced property values for residents.
The nearby Newtown Board of REALTORS® (NBOR) used a $1,500 Placemaking Grant to help establish a ‘Fruit Trail’ along an existing recreational path on the 185-acre campus of a former hospital. The Newtown Fruit Trail connects the community with nature, supports the local bee population and it’s young fruit trees will be a source of fresh fruit for residents in the years to come.
Like many placemaking grant projects, the local NBOR REALTORS® not only offered funding for the project but also showed up to physically help make it a reality. NBOR President Barbara Frey and seven of her REALTOR® colleagues got their hands dirty, weeding, mulching and planting fruit trees and perennials. And of course, all of the plantings that NBOR helped to install were purchased from a nearby nursery in order to support the local economy.
Carroll shared how proud she was to watch these projects take root, “These boards, Newtown especially, are on the small side, but their members are deeply involved and committed to improving their communities.” She added that, “there’s been a great community response to these placemaking projects, from neighborly notes to recognition from officials. We are so grateful to NAR and the Placemaking Grant program for making this possible.”