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North Richmond expands its “Popsicle Project” safety survey

on September 7, 2011

When activist Harold Beaulieu wanted a way to measure how North Richmond residents felt about their safety, he decided to focus on Popsicles. Specifically, he wanted to know what percentage of people in a given community can travel safely from home to a local store, buy a Popsicle, and travel safely back home. The resulting percentage is known as the Popsicle Index, a quality of life measurement designed to assess the relative safety of a given neighborhood. The results of the most recent survey should be available soon.

North Richmond’s Community Housing and Development Corporation received $30,000 late last year from the city of Richmond to implement a detailed version of Beaulieu’s Popsicle survey. Throughout the month of August, more than a dozen surveyors, aged 17-28, visited approximately 700 residents. Four of these surveyors had graduated from North Richmond’s Verde Elementary School.

Beaulieu first used the survey in 2009, and after approximately 1,000 households responded, he was able to map the areas of the community that were viewed as less or more safe. This year’s survey was expanded to include 50 questions in an attempt provide a clearer picture of who these residents were and what specific issues they felt most affected their community’s safety. In addition to ranking and rating various problems, residents were directly asked what they felt were the biggest issues on their street and in North Richmond as a whole.

Beaulieu believes the opportunity for young adults to participate in the data collection was just as important as the data they were collecting.

“This survey opportunity provides meaningful employment and meaningful engagement,” he said. “It may give them courage to meet their peers.”

The surveyors were paid $5 for each completed survey they turned in, plus a $10 lunch per diem. Additionally, the surveyors agreed to profit sharing, with the balance of the earmarked wage money apportioned according to individual performance rates.

Beaulieu says he’s tabulated the survey results, but will deliver them first to Richmond’s Waste & Recovery Mitigation Fee Joint Expenditure Planning Committee for final review and distribution.  It could take another two to three weeks before the data are available to the public.

To link to the 2011 Popsicle Survey, please click here.



  1. Alicia Silva on September 8, 2011 at 7:41 am

    How can we get someone to come do a survey in our neighborhood? I live off of fourth street and I know that our neighborhood needs help. It’s not safe our kids are keeped in side for fear of them being shot or robed.

    • Derek Lartaud on September 13, 2011 at 11:31 am

      Thanks so much for your comment, Alicia. It was my understanding that they did go to 4th St. It’s quite possible your house was not contacted, though. The Phase II survey should be out in the near future, so stay tuned for that.

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