Empowering underrepresented citizens of Charlotte-Mecklenburg with a voice and role in municipal storm water program goals

No Thumbnail Available




Journal Title

Series/Report No.

WRRI Project;20-10-S

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




In our research study “Our Voice Our Water” focused on community engagement and stormwater knowledge within three communities in Charlotte, NC. A goal of our study sought to address the linkages between stormwater and trash, litter, and/or illicit discharges. The neighborhoods selected were historically underserved communities of Historic Washington Heights, Lincoln Heights, and Northwood Estates. Primary research objectives included: 1) Applied research techniques by Johnson C. Smith University faculty, Rising Solutions, PLLC staff, and an AmeriCorps Member were implemented to access the behaviors and knowledge of stormwater issues with community citizens. Community members were encouraged to “Be Heard” by sharing their knowledge and perspectives. Research techniques included focus groups, surveys, and stream indexing. 2) The 3-1-1 Call Center Data was evaluated to gain a historic understanding of the citizens’ concerns and follow up actions by Charlotte Mecklenburg. 3) Engagement with neighborhood leaders and citizens to build community trust and understanding through education and outreach opportunities as well as community meetings. The “3-1-1, Having a Voice Workshop”, was a model to provide opportunities for citizens to have a voice by expressing concerns which, in turn, helps to build relationships, two-way communication, and enhance trust. The “Neighborhood Empowerment Model” was a powerful result of the research, it enabled us to create a new systematic approach to engage with stakeholders and communities. These purposeful interactions with neighborhood leaders and city and county municipalities-built community trust and understanding through education and outreach opportunities as well as increased community stream and residential cleanups.