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Gathering Places Initiative Transforms Vacant Lot in National City

Our region is growing.

Today, more than 3.2 million people live in San Diego County, and by 2050, that number is projected to rise to 4.38 million.

As our population increases, innovative methods are needed to ensure shared community spaces are effectively utilized and regional quality of life continues to thrive. Thankfully, a few communities are doing just that.

Creating Vibrant Neighborhoods

Through its “Creating Vibrant Neighborhoods Initiative” in National City, A Reason to Survive (ARTS) partners with other nonprofits including Pomegranate Center, local government, artists, community planners, students and neighborhood volunteers to convert under-utilized urban spaces into beautiful public places for people to come together and build a sense of community.

Recently, ARTS and its partners completed building their first community gathering place.

Nearly 50 community volunteers participated in transforming a vacant lot into a vibrant gathering place that borders a neighborhood park and is within walking distance to National City’s City Hall and a public library.

San Diego Gathering Places

San Diego Gathering Places

But what’s most exciting is the transformation of community spirit. Residents are energized about their neighborhoods.

“It’s amazing because it gives you a sense of ownership,” said Fabio Rojas, a neighborhood volunteer. “I did that. I built that. It makes me feel like I am actually part of this.”

Impacting Local Communities

This is the first year of ARTS’ 3-year Creating Vibrant Neighborhoods Initiative.

In the next couple years, ARTS and its partners will work on 24 public works of art and six gathering places; train a minimum of 60 community fellows to lead their fellow neighbors in public projects; and coach at least 60 community youth, our region’s future leaders.

Efforts will focus in National City’s Cultural Arts District as well as other neighborhoods in South Bay.

San Diego Gathering Places

ARTS’ Creating Vibrant Neighborhoods Initiative builds off the successes of Butterfly Park and the Manzanita Gathering Place, and is supported by private donors and the Rokenbok Educational Foundation, the Orca Fund and the Gathering Places Fund at The San Diego Foundation.

Consider contributing to the Gathering Places Fund to support programs that transform neglected spaces into vibrant, community spaces throughout San Diego region.

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About Vi Calvo

Vi CalvoAs the Community Impact Manager at The San Diego Foundation, Vi works with local governments, nonprofits, academic institutions and community groups to identify and support strategic partnerships throughout the region aligned with Work, Enjoy, Live and Learn (WELL). Vi earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications from UC Santa Barbara and a master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego.

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