By Emanuel Peterson
As of late I have found myself incredibly busy with several very different types of work. It has been busy, it has been hard, and I have loved every minute of it. One major project I am currently involved with is the design of a new park in Richmond, CA, called Unity Park, a new addition to the Richmond Greenway.
The design team is made up of community members representing 17 different local organizations. Once completed, Unity Park will transform a once abandoned space in the heart of the Iron Triangle Neighborhood, into a community hub with vibrant gardens, sporting greens, children’s play areas, a cafe, and places for friends and family to gather. Our team’s design approach is steeped in community input, with each of the design teams populated with local leaders, and a full community outreach team that is canvassing the community seeking input of local residents and businesses. It has been inspiring to see so many people from different organizations with such diverse backgrounds come together to make this dream come true.
Throughout my time working with The Watershed Project on the Green Collar Corps, I have had the chance to interact with many of my fellow community members. When people see the work my comrades and I have done to better our community, they are greatly appreciative of it.
One of my roles on the design team is to go out and talk to people about this park. Along with telling them about the project, I get to ask Richmond residents what they would like to see in their local park. It has been amazing to see how positively people respond to the news of the park. Children especially seem to be incredibly responsive to the news of a big great new park with so many exciting features.
The community is a very important aspect of this project and I have been impressed with how involved this process has become. To others, administering so many different surveys about a project may seem tedious. However, it is important to keep the community involved every step of the way, because this project is not about building a park. It is really about bringing together a community, bringing people closer, and making it stronger as a whole.
The community of Richmond has not always felt the love they felt they should receive from others, and this has led to many people within the community to become more reserved. But when people see their community being taken care of and looked after, I they often come and ask how can they help or they share how much they appreciate the work my co-workers and I have done. It always brings a light to my heart because this is my home, where I have lived for many years. Seeing more and more people wanting to be involved in the development of this project brings me hope because if we keep this momentum going, we can have a healthier and more involved community that can build a better future for many generations.
photo credits: Liza Dadiomov