End of Semester Reflection: ATP Experience

The final deliverables our ATP team of 10 students and 5 faculty created were 2 thorough presentations and an asset map with corresponding data definitions. We worked extensively this semester to collect background research about Fayette County and Connellsville, but more specifically the assets that exist in the county and communities. We hope these deliverables will be able to help the community of Connellsville locate and focus on their very important assets in the journey toward community resilience. Most community members already know about the assets (businesses, parks, community organizations, etc.) but hopefully, giving the community an accessible and interactive map with the assets we identified as most important from our interviews and research will allow more individuals to utilize the assets available and continue to broaden existing strengths of the community. In our presentation for the Connellsville stakeholders and community members, as well as the one we did for the ARC ATP conference, we brought up various recommendations for the communtiy to advance their existing strenghts. If I could automatically implement one of those recommendations, it would be expanding public art projects and covering each plain brick building with a beautiful mural done by a community member, because I believe this initiative could seriously attract tourism and enhance the resilience of the community through utilization of community talent and creativity.

My perception of the Appalachian region has greatly expanded this semester. Before this project/class, I did not know of the ARC or Fayette County. Through our work through the ARC and ATP, I have learned about the resilience and diversity within the Appalachian region. Before this work, I had a conception about the Appalachian region that disregarded the many variations across the region, which I now realize was not a constructive way to view the region as a whole. I know understand critical comparisons across the region and I can better comprehend regional and community issues within Appalachia. On the other hand, I had never been or read/spoken about Fayette County before being introduced through this project. Because of that, I have developed an entire new knowledge basis about a county in Pennsylvania other than Allegheny County.

I would consider professionally doing similar work as this class demanded. The community work and research was very intriguing and exciting to be involved in this semester. Working in a community like Connellsville where I was able to speak with residents and business owners to collect data on the assets was very interesting to me and Ihad a ton of fun developing my understanding of Fayette County as a whole, which is far from over.

If in the future I speak to my future children and grandchildren about this project, I will highlight the importance of community engagement and the fact that most people are grateful and accepting of your help if you address them respectively and listen to what they have to say.

I’d like to thank the Pitt ATP team for this experience and I look forward to further research and experiences in Fayette County during my internship with Fayette County Cultural Trust next semester.

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