Play the City Community Engagement

Our ongoing community engagement efforts include a conversation-based lemonade stand, photo booth, cookouts, distributing fliers, and creative surveying.

For many community engagement is a quick interaction, a brief conversation, where information is quickly exchanged between people. Yet real community engagement is about listening to one another, hearing each other’s stories, and empathizing with those around you. This takes time. It is not going to happen over a week or even a month, but is a long term relationship that is focused on building on trust. This is not easy, but is vitally important to creating an inclusive and equitable city.

There are over 350 individual houses in the Strategic Investment Area (SIA) and it is important to reach out to everyone of them. Over the summer The Bridge worked with the Ridge St. Neighborhood Association and a host of volunteers walked throughout the neighborhood, distributing information about community activities and events. Our goal is to continue to do this to build relationships and get to know more of our local community.

We are all perceived in different ways. Yet, what may be seen on the outside is not necessarily how who we are on the inside. During the Westhaven Day Festival, The Bridge worked with local residents to learn a bit more about what is on the outside and the inside. We took photos of residents with both serious and fun faces, and then asked them to describe themselves. This created over 50 images that got a little closer to breaking down the difference between who we are and who people think we are.

What could be better than mixing beer, drawing, and ideas for making Charlottesville a better place? In June, The Bridge collaborated with artist Ryan Trott and the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation Future Fund to mix these things together. Everyone turned into an artist, and had fun thinking about the future of our city.

What are some creative things you like to do?
Who are the most creative people that you know in this neighborhood and how do they like to express that creativity?
What would you want to see in this neighborhood that would make it even more beautiful?
What are your hopes for this community?
What opportunities are there or what opportunities do there need to be?
What are your fears for this community?
Who are the community and neighborhood leaders that you respect?
People who have not been to this neighborhood should know…
City officials should know…
The services I need most are…
I get my neighborhood news from…
Residents after redevelopment should be…

The cookout was an opportunity for people to come together and learn more about the summer programs over dinner. Sixty people attended and heard presentations about the programs from the program leaders while they ate. Fliers about the programs were available to take home. On each table there was a question abut defining people and community. Guests were invited to answer these questions by writing on the table.

Photo Gallery


At Push Play, residents of the SIA said they’d like to see more cultural and creative events in their neighborhood, as well as green initiatives like recycling bins and anti-litter campaigns, but they don’t want redevelopment to change the structure of their community. They’re proud of how friendly their neighbors are and how supportive the community is of resident musicians and other artists. Better police relations, more equipment at parks and schools, and assistance for the elderly also came up as desired improvements.

At the African American Heritage Festival, residents of the surrounding area were excited to share what a friendly, quiet neighborhood they live in, with a wonderful park and talented local athletes. They believe in art in all its forms, including movement and dance, murals, and even small expressions like decorating mailboxes! They love getting creative with their families – parents, children, and grandparents alike – by knitting, writing short stories, painting, and designing clothes. They want to see the community improve with better bus service, more jobs, safer streets, more after school activities for kids, and better protection for the environment.