ORA Blog

“You Are The Help You’ve Been Waiting For!” Paul Stewart of the Oswego Renaissance Association on Neighborhood Revitalization

In Southern Vermont we are no strangers to volunteering for multiple causes within our small towns. Paul Stewart, the volunteer leader of the Oswego Renaissance Association knows this all too well. When he looked around his town of Oswego, NY and saw that no one was doing anything about neighborhood disinvestment he asked himself, “What can I do to help improve my neighborhood?”

From that was born the Oswego Renaissance Association (ORA), an all volunteer organization which has spurred widespread neighborhood revitalization and investment. The driver of change is small matching grants to clusters of homeowners who want to collaboratively improve the exterior of their neighborhood.

We’ve asked Paul Stewart to join us for a SVEP 2.0 Knowledge Bites webinar on February 17th at noon, so stay tuned! Additionally, we’ve invited Paul to come visit us in southern Vermont to talk with our communities about investing in ourselves and that “you are the help you’ve been waiting for.” We’re really excited and hope you’ll join us! Paul will share how volunteers like him have helped this grassroots program stimulate over $3,000,000 of investment in neighborhoods, and inspire local residents to believe in the future of their community.

Paul Stewart is a frequent contributor to Strong Towns. You can hear him talk about ORA on this Strong Towns podcast episode where he talks about the realization that inspired him: “No one’s coming to save my city for me, so what is it that I can do?” We can all relate to this notion here in southern Vermont.

The work of Paul and ORA has made small, steady, incremental changes in the neighborhoods of Oswego, NY since 2013. These little changes have been adding up in a big way!

Some impressive numbers from Oswego in 2019:
15 Neighborhood Clusters revitalized
183 Participant homeowners and landlords
$600,122 invested by property owners in exterior housing and neighborhood projects
$175,177 reimbursed to property owners through small matching grants

Over $3,256,516 has been invested in Oswego neighborhoods so far! (2013-2019)