Including the communities in ReImagina Puerto Rico’s development process has been crucial. For this reason, various community outreach events were held in the six regions that have been identified. Activities were designed to promote an inclusive environment and encourage participation from a diversity of perspectives. Some of the community outreach events included a Youth Participatory Photography program, Community Focus Groups, and Town Hall Meetings.
Youth Participatory Photography
The Youth Participatory Photography program was carried out in six schools, one within each of the six designated regions, and approximately 60 students participated in each school. This activity was loosely based on Community-Based Participatory Research (CPBR) and participatory photography frameworks, which are intended to empower communities to identify and frame the issues most relevant to them without using technical jargon. The program was performed in the following schools:
- Escuela INE Carmen Pilar Reyes in Humacao
- Escuela INE Elemental Urbana Nueva in Lajas
- Escuela INE Inocencio Cintrón Zayas in Barranquitas
- Escuela INE Luis Llorens Torres in San Juan
- Escuela INE Rafael Delgado in Guayama
- Escuela Francisco Jordán in Utuado
Part 1: Program Launch
Having taken place between February 5-9, 2018, this activity served as an introduction to the Commission and its relevance to students. During this activity, digital cameras were handed out to students so that they could photograph their school and community surroundings. They were then prompted to complete an activity booklet with a keen focus on their perception of their community. Some questions they were prompted with included:
- What do you like about your community, and Puerto Rico?
- What aspect of your community are you most proud of?
- What should there be more of?
- What should there be less of in your community?
- What does rebuilding stand for in your community?
- What does recovery mean in your community?
- What is resilience in your community?
Part 2: Program Discussion and Exhibition
For the second part of the program (February 19-23, 2018), the engagement team returned to each of the schools to hold a forum discussion and photo exhibit. Teachers, parents, and other family members were invited to this session in order to obtain input from them as well. The engagement team reviewed the photographs with the groups of students and held a discussion regarding why they chose certain photographs. At the end of the activity, participants kept their activity booklets, which included background information on resilience as well as the photos they took with their explanations.
Community Focus Groups
The Commission held Community Focus Group meetings with community leaders in each of the six regions. Two additional Focus Groups were convened for organizations that provide an island-wide reach and/or perspective and for the diaspora. The purpose of the Community Focus Groups was to efficiently understand recovery, resilience, and engagement issues and opportunities, as well as to obtain input for the ReImagina Puerto Rico Report. Considering the vast amount of Puerto Ricans that have relocated to the Orlando, FL area in the last couple of years and more recently after Hurricane María, the Focus Group in Orlando, FL was created to obtain insight and input from Puerto Rican organization leaders established in that area. Approximately 10 to 25 participants attended each Focus Group meeting. The Commission joined forces with Espacios Abiertos to convene participants and coordinate the meetings, and it also partnered with organizations with strong networks to help maximize participation in the Focus Groups. Focus Group participation represented a diversity of perspectives, including youth, seniors, social service providers, recovery workers, and educators, among others. The Focus Group meetings took place as follows:
- Caguas Focus Group at C3TEC: February 27 and April 20, 2018
- Humacao Focus Group at PECES: February 28 and April 18, 2018
- Ponce Focus Group at Centro Sor Isolina Ferré: March 1 and April 18, 2018
- San Juan Focus Group at Universidad Sagrado Corazón: March 2 and April 20, 2018
- Mayagüez Focus Group at UPR Mayagüez: March 2 and April 19, 2018
- Arecibo Focus Group at OPDH: March 5 and April 19, 2018
- Organizations Focus Group at Fundación Banco Popular: March 1 and April 18, 2018
- Diaspora at Orlando, FL: March 24, 2018
Town Hall Meetings
The Commission, supported by Espacios Abiertos and other local organizations, led Town Hall Meetings in five regions across the Island during June and August 2018. Additionaly, two meetings with the diaspora were held in the cities of Hartford, CT and Holyoke, MA. During these meetings, the Commission presented ReImagina Puerto Rico’s efforts and the priority recommendations in the Report. The Commission also thanked communities for their involvement and presented ways in which the communities can get more involved in the reconstructions process efforts. These meetings took place in the following manner:
- San Juan at Universidad Sagrado Corazón on June 26, 2018
- Mayagüez at UPR Mayagüez on August 14, 2018
- Ponce at Universidad Interamericana, Recinto Ponce on August 16, 2018
- Humacao at UPR Humacao on August 21, 2018
- Cayey at UPR Cayey on August 23, 2018
- Hartford, CT at The Lyceum on September 17, 2018
- Holyoke, MA at Dr. Marcella R. Kelly School on September 18, 2018