Our quality of life is strongly dependent on where we live, how safe and secure we feel, how well we know our neighbors, and whether there is a vibrant sense of community.

Transforming Neglected Spaces into Vibrant Places

In many communities, there are neglected and blighted spaces in need of transformation. Over the past few years, organizations like A Reason to Survive and the Pomegranate Center have engaged artists, community planners, students and neighborhood volunteers to convert abandoned urban spaces into beautiful public places for people to come together and build a sense of community.

Two such gathering places have been completed recently: Butterfly Park in National City, and the Manzanita Gathering Place in the City Heights area of San Diego.

Both were transformed in a matter of days by hundreds of volunteers and community leaders, with support from the Rokenbok Educational Foundation and Myron Eichen Memorial Funds at The San Diego Foundation, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. and other private donations.

Making Stronger, Safer and Better Connected Communities

The wonderful thing about these gathering places is that they do so much more than transform neglected spaces.

In fact, Bill Cleveland, a national expert on arts-based community development, has evaluated the community impact of these gathering places. Here is what he found:

  • A wide variety of local residents and students were drawn to participate in the design and building of these community gathering places.
  • Those who were involved are now working more with their neighbors and colleagues.
  • They see their community as stronger and safer as a result of their placemaking effort.

More gathering places on the horizon

A Reason to Survive plans to expand and deepen its partnerships with other communities to promote community revitalization and youth development through gathering places and the arts.

There are many ways you can give or support opportunities like this for gathering places, youth development and community engagement in the San Diego region.

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