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terms of neighborly relationship or see in an initial plan community problems as a whole. Only by subdividing the city into its natural units can the specific problems be localized and brought home to residents of that community. Moreover, action taken on the basis of civic responsibility in the smaller neighborhood areas will be far more effective than what appears to be outside interest. A committee was organized by the Community Council of St. Louis. It consisted of a representative of the City Plan Commission who had been thinking in terms of the assets and liabilities of the city from a physical standpoint; representatives of the research departments of a daily newspaper, and of the Bell Telephone Company, who were interpreting in terms of economic values; and representatives of welfare agencies concerned with social factors. This committee decided that comprehensive planning needed as a basis smaller units of homogeneous areas and complete knowledge of all the factors, physical, economic, and social, in terms of the areas as units; further, that attempt should be made to arouse the interest of the people in each area to their own neighborhood, and then, by comparison, to their neighbors' neighborhood. In other words, as we would strengthen each member of the family in a plan for the family as a unit, so should we develop neighborhood units as a basis for a larger community comprehension, thus making possible a strong chain of community links.

By the working of this plan St. Louis has beeen divided into twenty-six areas which, in the main, are not over 50,000 in population. Many which are now under 50,000 have been purposely planned in that way because of the expectation that as the city fills in its vacant areas these districts will greatly increase in population. These districts, so far as possible, are made up of people of similar interest and racial, national, and economic background and conditions. Attempt has been made to group them about natural centers of population, such as the intersection of great traffic arteries. So far as possible the boundaries have been set on the basis of actual division between areas of different character of population.

It is the intention of the committee that these districts shall be permanently used so that for all times a comparison of conditions of human life in St. Louis, month by month and year by year, may be kept. The advantages of this plan for long-time comparison of community conditions are obvious. Because of their lack of permanency the boundaries of the wards into which the city is divided for political purposes were not used for this permanent districting plan. In order to use all possible local enthusiasm and community feeling these districts have been named as well as numbered. The names have been taken from objects of local importance, such as parks, streets, names in common use which describe these districts, or the names of old real estate subdivisions which still have significance. All of the organizations whose representatives participated in the creation of this plan, including public agencies such as the city health department, City Plan Commission, research department of the Post-Dispatch, and private case working agencies, have agreed to the acceptance of these dis

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tricts for their work. The federal Bureau of the Census has been asked to plan to conduct its census in 1930, using these district lines as the outside boundaries of its own census enumeration districts.

These districts will be used in the first place for compilation of all available information regarding human problems in St. Louis, such as births, deaths, increase or decrease in population, disease, delinquency, poverty, juvenile dependency, crime, and other factors in the social life of the community. Moreover, the boundaries of these districts will be incorporated in the boundaries of organizations which are on a city-wide basis, such as the St. Louis Provident Association, the Visiting Nurse Association, and the Children's Aid Society, while agencies at work in smaller communities will use one or more of these districts as indicating their own spheres of influence and activity. The figures as to community conditions will be collected monthly by the agencies concerned and turned over to the Community Council, which will tabulate them. It will prepare comparative figures for these various districts into which the city is divided; it also will give comparisons of conditions in the city as a whole, month by month and year by year. This material, when analyzed, will be interpreted, through charts and through statements which will be given both to the daily newspapers and to the neighborhood publications, so that all the citizens of St. Louis may know exactly how their communities stand in terms of human. welfare.

For the better information of the residents of these various districts meetings will be arranged by the Community Council as the opportunity offers, district by district. To these meetings, which will be held in central locations, will be invited all citizens. The latest information which is available as the result of the compilation of these figures will be given through charts and through competent speakers, representatives of charitable and civic organizations, and agencies at work in these districts will also explain how the residents of these districts may use them for attacking the human problems which are indicated as existing there, so that social agencies and citizens alike may work together, district by district, for improving human well-being. As a further step in making these districts uniform for all purposes, the Community Fund will use them for its campaign solicitation, so that the residents of these districts, in giving to the fifty charities and philanthropies which make up the community fund, may know exactly what kind of service they are giving to in terms of their own neighborhood problems.

In the past there has been no uniform basis for the collection or dissemination of such information or for the organization of effort to act on that information. The result has been confusion, duplication, and waste of effort, and, more often, no effort at all, because individual citizens who were aware of conditions in general saw no way in which to effect specific situations. This new plan of permanent, uniform districts and carefully assembled and analyzed information should enable each community of St. Louis to know its problems and to take

effective action on them. This plan will not stop at the St. Louis city limits, but will be extended throughout St. Louis County and be applied to county-wide agencies in the very near future.

In order to illustrate briefly the application of the general case work method, I have organized a few slides indicating how we may make a study of background and present situations; further, how such a study will lend itself to comprehensive interpretation of the conditions in diagnostic fashion and will suggest a plan of treatment according to conditions as discovered.

Identifications.-Tower Grove, one of the 26 acres, or District 16, represents a community 2 miles square with a population of 39,800 individuals, approximately 9,700 families.

Historical.-Its original settlers came there about twenty-five years ago, moving up from a more congested part of the city. They were for the most part first- and second-generation German, with a keen appreciation for the wooded area into which they moved. Both space and trees have been preserved.

Physical. The area today covers about 400 city blocks, has thirty-one persons per acre, in comparison to St. Louis' average of forty persons per acre, indicating definitely a non-congested area. Practically all houses are of the old design known as the "St. Louis flat," housing two or four families. Each usually has its garden, its terrace, and its hedge. The one-story bungalow with ample space on sides, rear and front, represents the newer type of architecture. There has been little invasion by the popular apartment tenement. This district has one park acre for every 140 citizens, twice as much park space for each person in its boundaries as St. Louis as a whole averages per citizen. Its parks are used for recreational facilities, the citizens having enlisted the support of the park department for athletic equipment and general use. The district shows results of the thought and care given to it. Lots are not littered. Alleys are kept in as good condition as the streets. All of the streets are paved, though many are not city thoroughfares. In the district both street railways and busses make it possible to go from anywhere to everywhere in both the city and the county.

Economic. The rents of this district are for the most part above the average rent paid in St. Louis. Sixty-four per cent of the residents have telephones. The district has within its boundaries 181 independent stores, including 63 groceries, 23 drug stores, 5 furniture houses, 14 ladies' ready-to-wear shops, 13 real estate offices, 3 music stores, 3 banks, and so on over a long list of 21 varieties. Nevertheless, department stores welcome the opening of charge accounts from inhabitants of this neighborhood more than from any other neighborhood in St. Louis, because of the well-known stability of the people.

Educational. There are three grade schools of the most up-to-date type, two parochial schools, one high school, the latter built on a lot formerly used as a cemetery, which neighborhood pressure had removed and had taken over by the Board of Education.

Religion. There are sixteen churches in the district, representing various denominations.

Social. Socially we found the community to have a parent-teachers association in every grade school. There are also organized in the district ten Boy Scout troops and four Girl Scout troops. A study of reported contagious diseases, including scarlet fever, diphtheria, and tuberculosis, over a two months' period shows this neighborhood to be far below its quota. Moreover, a two months' study of the intake of the Social Service Exchange indicated that dependency and delinquency were almost nil.

The diagnosis of this area could be summed up in such terms as thrifty, foresighted, and desirable. Moreover, since community planning involves both the giving to and partaking of its resources, this community would afford an excellent environment for the placement of children in foster homes, and as a source for securing Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Within its own groups should be developed a very successful community fund team for solicitation within its own area. These, then, represent a few of the factors which can be etched into a neighborhood picture. The study only just begun shows us many resources for available facts which have never been tied together. This, as a function of the Community Council, is in itself a very real opportunity in community planning.

While the immediate idea of the plan is for the improvement or better use of the areas, the permanent result could be the stimulation and direction of attention of the members of the community to conditions as they are, to focus on the possibilities for the future, and, most important of all, to inspire ideals of civic pride and responsibility for more effective community planning and, as a result, better community living and community thinking. Finally, out of the strength and growth of group thinking from citizen to citizen and from neighborhood to neighborhood we may hope to be able to see clearly and attack vigorously the causes of defects in community organization.

THE NATURAL AREA AS THE UNIT FOR SOCIAL WORK
IN THE LARGE CITY

Ernest W. Burgess, Associate Professor of Sociology,
University of Chicago

Over a year ago Amelia Sears, associate director of the United Charities of Chicago, asked the Committee on Family Social Work of the Council of Social Agencies to consider the feasibility of working out a plan of uniform districting for city-wide social agencies. At that time she outlined the argument for the scheme of uniform districts that to me, at any rate, was both convincing and compelling.

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Of the points in her argument of the various advantages to be expected from uniform districts, as local statistics, local conference groups between workers of different agencies, joint housing, one made a deep and lasting impression upon me. Miss Sears pointed out that the main trend in social work in the past few years had been in the direction of concentration at the top. During the last decade we had watched the rise and development first of councils of social agencies, and then of financial federations. In this trend the social worker in the field had the sense of the coordination and regimentation of the overhead administration. Had not the time arrived for experiments in local conference and discussion groups of social workers from the different social agencies in each community in the city? But with the present confusion of independent districting such attempts were difficult, if not impossible.

Through the cooperation of Dean Edith Abbott of the Graduate School of Social Service Administration of the University of Chicago, Miss Clark made, during the past year, a study of the history and problems of districting with special reference to a practical program of uniform districts for Chicago, and will report upon her findings. I wish, therefore, to try to cover only one aspect of this topic, namely, the natural area as a unit for social work in the large city.

There are many who hold that locality is of decreasing significance in city life. The rapid growth of the city has led to a decay of local communities and to a decline in neighborhood spirit. The automobile in both the country and the city has emancipated the family and the individual alike from the narrow confines of the neighborhood. Where the horse and buggy gave a radius of movement of from five to ten miles, the automobile provides from twenty-five to fifty miles of freedom. In the city young people are escaping from the wholesome festivities of the neighborhood to the adventure and stimulation of the bright-light centers. With but few dubious exceptions, the many widely heralded crusades to revive the neighborhood have ended in unreported but disastrous defeat.

It must, then, be admitted at the outset that the neighborhood and the local community, at least in the form cherished in the memory of old residents, have disappeared, or at least are rapidly disappearing, in our largest American cities. At any rate the urban neighborhood and the local community will be in the future vastly different from what they have been in the past. This fact is one of the reasons why individual social agencies have been able to disregard what dividing lines still exist in the metropolitan community. This is undoubtedly the cause of a healthy skepticism of many who are more prone to think than to feel toward any crusade to revive the neighborhood. It is also the main objection in the argument of those who oppose the organization of social work on a local basis. I, for one, do not regard this as a valid objection. In fact I regard it as the strongest argument for just the opposite conclusion. For it is one of those curious paradoxes that the pivotal consideration for placing social work on a local basis inheres in the very fact that city life has lost its old local character. It is

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