The Dialog of Infill Communities

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Mission Metrics: Case Studies on Impact Part 2
Written By: Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy

Green Canopy’s neighborhood engagement started with our first home in West Seattle in 2010. We painted the home a shade of green that our neighbors rejected immediately and publicly via social media. We were taken aback. This certainly wasn’t the “impact” that we had hoped for. Our nascent team had just begun working together with a mission to inspire and this quickly became a moment to listen and learn.  We invited all of our neighbors to meet onsite and tour the construction project and vote on the color to repaint the home. This was our first opportunity to talk to the community about our mission, gather feedback and learn more about our neighbors, their values and, of course, a better choice for paint color.

Since that time Green Canopy has increased its commitment to neighborhood engagement in a number of ways. The company has hosted barbecues, sponsored block parties, held educational events on green building, hosted happy hours highlighting local non-profits, and more. The company has also programmatically adopted the Community Color Program to select the color palette that we use to paint every home.  Additionally, in 2012 the company formalized our introduction to the neighborhood with a “Meet the Builder” community meeting. This is neither required by the cities in which we build, nor embraced by the associations to which we belong. The Green Canopy Meet The Builder community meetings represent an early chapter in the story of every project, helping to set the tone once construction begins and ultimately ensuring greater community inclusion and consideration than otherwise.

The Green Canopy Meet the Builder community meeting is designed to introduce the company and our mission to inspire resource efficiency to the neighborhood; Green Canopy is a very different type of infill homebuilder. We flyer and mail invitations to the community to join us for an evening event that typically takes place in a local community center or library. During this event, the Green Canopy team introduces the company and team members. We put ourselves out there to receive input and feedback and to answer questions about construction, timelines and what to expect. 
 
Over the years we have met with hundreds of neighbors and learned so much about the communities in which we build. We have opened our projects to external influence, and while we can’t always accommodate, we always ask and listen with respect. 

In October of 2014 we layered into the Green Canopy Meet the Builder community meeting, an online neighborhood survey. Since that time, we have held over 20 community meetings and received results from 15 communities with responses from over 100 neighbors in Portland and Seattle. Once the surveys have been completed we process neighbor’s responses and send all responses back to the community members that filled out a survey. The responses are shared anonymously; yet when we review these results we receive highly informative feedback, which we use to learn, adapt and inform the Green Canopy team about the unique story of every community in which we build.  
 
For the first time, we are producing the results of the community surveys from which we have learned so much – they are full of critique, feedback and grace - take a look for yourself and let us know what lessons you learn in the comments below!

Download Green Canopy's Community Survey Responses to learn more about the communities in which we work.