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Building a Neighborhood: The Oakwood Project

Oakwood is one of Raleigh, North Carolina’s oldest neighborhoods and was the first neighborhood in the state of North Carolina to receive “historic” designation. Over its 140 year history, Oakwood has undergone tremendous change.

Last year, when another life-long resident passed away, the neighborhood lamented that we had never captured her story. This project originated from that desire: to capture the important stories of cherished neighbors before they were gone.

However, in the process of capturing these stories, this project has grown into something more: a way to recognize and celebrate the individuals who worked hard to revitalize a community that nearly became a super highway; a way to learn and teach history; a way to build and strengthen the connections in our community; and a model to inspire community development advocates in their work to transform urban neighborhoods that are in decline.

  • "It’s not about statistics. It’s about using individual stories to create that connection, that empathy. Then, rational arguments, like numbers, can play a supporting role."
    - Nicholas Kristof

    "When you’re lost in a good story, it’s not arbitrary, it’s not pleasure for pleasure’s sake. It’s biological, it’s chemical, it’s a survival mechanism."
    - Author Lisa Chron

    "Stories are powerful because they transport us into other people’s worlds but, in doing that, they change the way our brains work and potentially change our brain chemistry — and that’s what it means to be a social creature."
    - Neuroscientist Paul Zak

    "Listening is an act of love."
    - David Isay, StoryCorps