Blueprint City®



In 2016, racial and political tensions were running high at a national level, and the city of Dothan received its own backlash regarding our government, policing, and school systems. City officials and citizens alike realized that if we weren’t going to hold ourselves accountable for our actions (or lack thereof) as a community, someone would. We knew that in order to see a positive change on the national level, we needed to initiate genuine change and inclusion in our own community first; therefore, it became imperative that a local program be created to foster unity and to create opportunities for citizens to be heard. 


The city and its citizens put their heads together, and the Blueprint City initiative was introduced in 2016. Precious Freeman, managing partner of BFC Management, presented the idea to former Dothan mayor Mike Schmitz, and they partnered up to ask themselves the tough questions: “What are we doing wrong, and what can we do to improve our community long-term?” 

“Somewhere along the line, things changed,” Schmitz said. “It used to be that everything was concentrated far away in Washington. If you wanted something to happen, that’s where it started. It’s no longer top down. Now great things happen from the grass roots up. If we want to improve, if we want to get better, it has to start with us.” 

A Blueprint City is defined as a city that strives to bridge racial and cultural gaps by designing and implementing an integrated community-focused accountability system across city departments and organizations. The term and the initiative were created with these goals in mind: 

  • To build a better Wiregrass Area for our children by uniting all city influencers behind one strong, consistent message -  "One community of sharing citizens, centered in faith and family, concerned for the well-being of all."   

  • To build a culturally competent community, starting with our city influencers.   

  • To become ONE community. 


We began with a detailed 3-step plan complete with specific objectives and courses of action for making the Blueprint City initiative a reality. Those three steps included mobilizing key influencers in the city in order to get the message out, asking those influencers to perform  self-assessments to see where they stand in meeting the goals of the initiative, and finally creating a sense of responsibility and accountability on all levels, from the top of the city down to its very last citizen. 

“In our daily grind, we don’t see our biases. We’re pushing people away. We have to start here and fix this,” Freeman said. “This isn’t a band-aid; it’s surgery. We’re doing it for our children. We’re going to do it right.”

When the time came to set the initiative in motion, we decided to focus on six areas of emphasis: 

  • Education

  • Police & Government

  • Civic Groups

  • Affordable Housing

  • Business

  • Spiritual 

We met with volunteers from these fields and asked them to lead the discussions for their respective committees. The committee chairs and volunteers then spent two months identifying their challenges as a group and setting inclusive, impactful, and sustainable goals for the future. The following two months would be spent tackling their goals, and the final two months were for reassessments and reporting their work in the community. 



After six months, we were able to better understand where our plan was successful and where it needed more work. The Police and Government committee reported back with several notable achievements and suggestions for further action. The Dothan Police Department developed its own website, to include links to easily report crimes, complaints, and compliments; access mugshots from local arrests and calendars of local events; and learn more about the department’s community interaction programs such as Coffee with a Cop, Community Watch, Rape Aggression Defense, Junior Police Academy, and more. Within the first month of launching, the website received an overwhelmingly positive response from the community and over 50,000 views. 

Other notable initiatives reported by our community committees included:

  • Compiling a comprehensive list of civic groups in the city, along with specific areas of advocacy and contact information.

  • Tasking the Dothan Housing Authority with being the primary entity responsible for management and engagement around the issue of affordable housing.

  • Developing a city-wide business council and a “business concierge” program to assist new business owners in the licensing process.

  • Promoting and supporting interfaith activities in the community for the purpose of interacting with diverse groups within the community.

“In our daily grind, we don’t see our biases. We’re pushing people away. We have to start here and fix this,” Freeman said. “This isn’t a band-aid; it’s surgery. We’re doing it for our children. We’re going to do it right.”


After analyzing what we learned in 2017 and acknowledging feedback from the community, one of the first changes made to the Blueprint City initiative in 2018 was the addition of the Arts & Culture committee. 

Other changes were made as well throughout the planning and implementation of Blueprint’s second year, including dropping the spiritual committee due to the inability to establish a focus. The Education and Police / Government committees were changed to the Youth Development and First Responders committees in order to be more inclusive. We recognized, along with our dynamic committee volunteers, that these changes would benefit the initiative and the community. Fortunately, we have never been afraid of a little change. 

When all was said and done, new and improved initiatives were proposed across the board at the end of the year. Notably, the overarching Blueprint City initiative was acknowledged in the city’s business plan objectives for 2018 and included in long-range planning.

Individual committee initiatives and achievements in 2018 included: 

  • The Housing Authority planned to ramp up efforts to create more affordable housing for the working class and build more single-family homes.

  • The Arts and Culture committee began work on a cultural map and searched for ways to draw more artists to Dothan and be more involved in classrooms. 

  • The Business committee continued to focus on making it easier for small business owners to get licensed, as well as attracting more local business start-ups. 

  • The Education committee focused on finding and retaining more qualified teachers

  • The First Responders committee aimed to improve community relations and diversify staff

Present and Future

Blueprint City’s work will never truly be finished, as there will always be more room for improvement and inclusivity. The initiative is in its third year and continues to gain traction and attention. With each passing year we plan to see our city and our community improve and grow closer together. If you would like to get involved in Blueprint Dothan or if you are interested in leading the Blueprint City initiative in your community, reach out to us and find out what you can do to get started. 

“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs” - Frederick Douglass 

Quotes borrowed from:

Delia JalomoComment