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Hi, I'mJohn Cruz

Urban Planner & Data Scientist

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Winstanley Community Plan

The Winstanley Neighborhood plan is a comprehensive community plan for a neighborhood in East St. Louis, IL. 

This community-driven neighborhood planning process was launched in the fall of 2018, in collaboration with local elected officials, neighborhood organizations and other community stakeholders. Mt. Sinai and Rise co-developed a community engagement strategy that has included indoor meetings, active design charrettes, pop-up stations and other ways of meeting the community where they are.

The core values of this effort include an emphasis on community engagement, equity, and building an inclusive process and result, respectful of the area’s resident population.  Residents and other stakeholders have been engaged in looking at business development, land use issues around vacancy and green space, social services, mental health services, environmental concerns, transportation (including pedestrian and bicycle networks), housing, educational opportunities, healthcare concerns, and others.

The plan is pending approval by the City of East St. Louis.

John's Role

John's employer, Rise Community Development, was a the lead on both planning matters as well as community engagement. Additional work was done around setting contextual existing conditions data via applicable neighborhood indicators, overall strategy for completion, and working to keep residents engaged and energized throughout the process. 

As Data Management Coordinator, John Cruz’s role was not only to assist in urban planning processes, community engagement, and plan structure, but also to handle the all of the GIS, data, and mapping needs that would show existing conditions as well as use data to guide policy.

An active part of the community engagement efforts, John spoke both to groups and individuals in a variety of settings throughout the planning process, working to ensure that the vision and honesty that the neighbors had shared was evident in the final document. He spoke at community meetings, charrettes, and other engagements. This engagement often consisted of having conversations around neighborhood indicators and data snapshots around various topic areas, allowing the crowd to challenge and clarify assumptions that could be made based on the data. 

Fully active in all parts of the planning process and final document production, John was also responsible for writing the narrative and policy for the Public Realm chapter, in addition to a substantial amount of editing for the remainder of the plan and supplying supplemental material for the rest of the plan (especially existing conditions and history). John produced all maps for the plan and documented most of the community engagement process both in photographs and in writing for website updates, actively updating the website that he developed for the process. 

John addresses the crowd at a community workshop. 

John Cruz and Brian Hurd engage the community at an East St. Louis senior living facility. 

John addresses the community during an active design charrette at Mt. Sinai Baptist Church.