Rooted in Love: South Park Coalition
The South Park Coalition uses collective power to advocate for and improve their underserved community. South Park is a small community near Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, Calif. 43% of the approximately 3,300 residents are Latino, and 21% live below the poverty level. One of the Fund’s Community Building Initiative neighborhoods, the goal of the Coalition is to improve the health and quality of life in South Park.
After surveying residents, the Coalition identified the main issues affecting the community – safety, crime, homelessness, and illegal dumping. The community includes a large majority of families with young children. Safety in a centrally located park became a primary focus of the Coalition’s work.
The team and residents created a plan for improved safety, cleanliness, and access in and around the park. To increase security and cleanliness, they improved police and community relationships, established processes for reporting crime, improved park infrastructure, and continue to advocate for other safety enhancements like better lighting and reduced speed around the park.
They continually foster relationships between neighbors by encouraging engagement and communication. Neighbors share information and plans through a newsletter and Facebook group and mobilize quickly when issues arise. As a result of the Coalition’s work, there is a greater sense of pride in the neighborhood. They’ve developed a reputation as a community that is involved and willing to do the work to improve South Park.
“One of the important things I’ve learned from the Coalition is the courage to talk to my neighbors. I’m not afraid of strangers so much anymore. The other thing I’ve learned is how to become a squeaky wheel. I have the means to talk to the City and County officials to let them know what’s going to make us happy and safe.” – Jennie, Coalition Member and South Park Resident for 16 years.
The Coalition helped define South Park as a distinct neighborhood with strong community leaders creating positive change through community power. Their work is rooted in love for their residents, area, and future generations.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.