The Making of a Center: East Aldine

Since first engaging in East Aldine, we have continually engaged residents and partners in building a collective vision for the new center that will support the community’s strong entrepreneurial spirit.

We didn’t find this neighborhood – they found us. The residents of East Aldine wanted a space for innovation, for connection, for community.

This is our journey…

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As an unincorporated area of Harris County, limited resources for basic infrastructure always represented major difficulties for East Aldine. These residents realized that they needed to organize as a community to meet their own needs.

In 2001, local leaders established the East Aldine Management District to address key issues in the community. Soon after, residents successfully raised $7.4 million for water and sewer projects to support the community’s infrastructure.

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State Representative Armando Walle grew up in East Aldine. He recognized the disadvantages and challenges the community still faced, so he reached out to BakerRipley.

Because of our work in the Gulfton Sharpstown area and the success our center experienced there, Walle wanted to replicate those efforts in East Aldine.

He invited us to East Aldine in 2013 and, drawing inspiration from the community, we committed to building a community center as part of a 61-acre, master planned Town Center with several key partners.

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Through a series of 140 in-depth interviews and several focus groups, we were able to discover common themes and insights in each of the neighbor’s aspirations.

This was our way of saying: This is what we’ve heard is important to you.

The next step in the appreciative community building process? The visioning sessions.

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The East Aldine Visioning sessions allowed to take their collective vision and brainstorm practical ways to make it a reality.

The community determined some key needs that our pre-existing programs could meet, even without a center. Working with key partners in the area, we introduced our free tax services, youth programs, senior engagement programs and our resource fairs.

Over and over again, residents prioritized the need for more resources and trainings for small businesses. So we created the Entrepreneur Connection program to help neighbors to conceptualize, start or grow their business.

The programs were designed to support residents’ entrepreneurial spirit and desire for self-sufficiency.

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Together with the East Aldine Management District and other partners, we broke ground on the new BakerRipley East Aldine Campus that will be a part of the larger East Aldine Town Center.

State Representive Armando Walle spoke of “planting the seeds of opportunity” and how he hopes BakerRipley can help young people in East Aldine face fewer obstacles than he did.

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While the campus and Fab Lab Houston are still coming together, the last week of July saw a Fab Lab ambassadors program and the ESL (English as a Second Language) classes kick off the first programs hosted at the center.

This neighborhood isn’t afraid to take risks, try out solutions and strive to find what works.

Now, neighbors will see their visions materialize in the colorful buildings and industrial wide-open spaces of the new BakerRipley East Aldine Campus.