Trash Clean ups
Through several one-on-one meetings held since April 2011, neighbors have brought up the concern of cleaning up their neighborhood with the help of Commitment to Community (C2C). Neighbors have had multiple Trash Clean Up events since 2011. C2C, neighbors, and The former Walla Walla Joint Community Development Agency partnered to beautify and maintain the neighborhood. The Trash Clean Ups have been major successes that are a benefit to everyone. We hope to continue to have great partnerships like the ones with local government for future trash clean ups.
In October, C2C celebrates Halloween themed events that are geared towards the kids of the Blue Ridge Neighborhood. We have had neighborhood Halloween Parties at the Walla Walla Fire Department, planned by neighbors and their children. We have also taken groups of children to the Walla Walla Corn Maze.
Neighbors hosted an appreciation luncheon for the firefighters of Station #1. The Chief and firefighters at Station #1 keep an eye on the children while they play on their station’s lawn. The station has been so welcoming, and has hosted an annual tour of the station for the neighbors and even let the kids use the fire hose!
On December 10, 2011, C2C had its first official neighborhood Christmas party in the Blue Ridge Neighborhood. The potluck party was held at the Senior Center located by Jefferson Park. Neighbors and their children have helped plan the Blue Ridge Christmas Party every year since 2011.
Garden Bed Creation
Since July of 2012, the neighbors have been working together to help each other build garden beds with donated supplies. A plan is in the works that might result in creating a school garden at Blue Ridge Elementary.
Youth Free Summer Meals
Edith and Carrie is currently a site for the free lunch program, thanks to Walla Walla Parks and Recreation Department, USD, and a few neighborhood residents and youth who volunteer to staff the lunch program all throughout the summer. Kids ages 2-17 are invited to enjoy a free brown bag lunch all summer long.
Edith & Carrie Park
Thanks to a couple of key neighbors, the park was nicely maintained throughout the spring, summer, and fall. There were also a couple day events where more surrounding residents came and helped work on some park projects. One big project that was completed was the clearing of many weeds and leveling of a hillside on the East side of the park, and leveling the grass where an irrigation system was installed spring of 2014 by BMAC.
Neighborhood cleanliness continues to be a common theme among residents. Neighbors work together to clean up alley ways and get rid of personal trash. They help each other load their trash into big garbage bins that were provided by the City of Walla Walla thanks to a Match Grant from the Sherwood Trust and support from the city. These projects build neighborhood pride, engender a sense of accomplishment, and develop skills and confidence in the residents.
In November of 2015, BMAC completed and opened Carrie Center across the street from Carrie Park. This space will serve as a natural gathering place for neighbors in Edith & Carrie. Carrie Center will also be used for afterschool programs and meetings of other nonprofits in the community.
Habitat for Humanity Houses
Habitat for Humanity is nearing completion of a new house on Edith Street. The house will belong to a well-deserving family who is has been getting to know their new neighbors as they pitch in on the construction.
Habitat for Humanity has announced plans to build three more houses, all on Carrie Street. These construction projects are being done as a partnership with BMAC. Habitat's projects are an exciting development for the neighborhood. They will give deserving families, and volunteers, the chance to build houses and build social capital.
Playground and Basketball Court
At the Edith and Carrie Neighborhood Park, neighbors, community volunteers, and C2C staff built a half size basketball court and playground equipment during the summer of 2010. This was made possible with a donation from the Walla Walla Noon Rotary Club and a neighborhood match fund grant from the Sherwood Trust.
Since the fall of 2008, the Edith-Carrie neighbors have volunteered their time to maintain and beautify their park, located on Carrie St. and 9th Ave. At one of the neighborhood meetings in the spring of 2009, neighbors requested garden tools and a safe place to store them. C2C Outreach Organizers worked with the neighbors to assist in the development of an action plan. Neighbors built a 12’X16’ storage shed and also purchased garden maintenance tools, including a power mower.
Infrastructure Repair and Replacement Project (IRRP)
Early in 2012 we started getting ready for the Infrastructure Repair and Replacement Project (IRRP) in Edith in Carrie. The IRRP is the city’s plan to fix the old failing water and sewer pipes around the city. Due to a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) there was extra funding to repair the streets, add sidewalks, and more street lighting in the neighborhood. There were three public meetings held by the City of Walla Walla, Anderson and Perry Engineering Firm, and Commitment to Community to inform residents about the project and provide them with the opportunity to ask question or address any concerns. The construction phase was started in June. Construction was completed by mid- November.
C2C was about a year old as an organization when it first became involved with the Edith-Carrie Neighborhood (ECN). This isolated neighborhood is immediately adjacent to the Washington State Penitentiary, at the northwest edge of town. An industrial and commercial zone cut this neighborhood off from others; and it seemed as if drugs, crime and slum housing were the norm. The Police Department often dealt with complaints and code violations, while long-term residents stayed behind closed doors not bothering to get to know their next door neighbors.
The first neighborhood meeting was on March 16, 2006. Due to the nearly 50:50 mix of English and Spanish speaking neighbors in this neighborhood of eighty households, one neighbor acted as translator and helped both English and Spanish speaking folks to engage in conversation. One meeting led to many, and soon many neighbors came together to express their concerns. Neighbors agreed that the neighborhood lacked a park or a common gathering space, where children could play safely and where neighbors could enjoy each other's company.
"When you first asked me, 'What is my dream for my neighborhood?' I thought you guys were crazy. People like us don't dream. Now, I've changed my mind about that!"
~ECN long-time neighbor
This lead to the creation of the Edith Carrie neighborhood park. By July of 2007 the neighbors' concerns of the condition of properties in the Edith-Carrie Neighborhood (ECN) sparked an interest. With support from the Donald and Virginia Sherwood Trust, Blue Mountain Action Council (BMAC) purchased eleven dilapidated properties in the ECN. BMAC requested the help of a non-profit firm that specializes in creating common space, that incorporates community-oriented design, an emphasis on art, the environment, and ecology . This firm, Pomegranate Center, was involved in the first Community Forum in March 2004 that planted the seed that later became C2C. The Executive Director, Milenko Matanovic, was delighted to re-engage with Walla Walla. A second major neighborhood meeting was planned to incorporate neighborhood ideas of common space with Pomegranate's experience of designing function and form around ideas.
For more information about the Pomegranate Center please visit their website: www.pomegranate.org
The Splash Pad was built in 2015 as a joint effort between the Noon Rotary, City of Walla Walla, Commitment to Community and residents. It is the first one of its kind in Washington State.
Every April, C2C and the Washington Park neighborhood host the Dia de los Niños, or "Children's Day," in Washington Park. This event has grown to encompass the whole community and includes much good food, music, dancing, games, and local partners offering information and services to those in attendance, as well as activities for children.
Since 2006, Washington Park has held a Christmas party in the Housing Authority gym every December. It is a lovely event with neighbors bringing homemade tamales and lots of games for the children in the neighborhoods. Santa always makes an appearance too, helping to achieve the goal of the event: to provide a gift to all the children in attendance.
“C2C is not an organization that works independent of the local neighborhood. Rather, it seeks to bring people together and empower them to take control of their neighborhood. One way C2C has helped to bring community members together was to paint murals at the underpasses of Highway 12 on 13th and 9th Streets. The murals were really a device to get people to work together. The interesting thing is that the children were really intimidated by art because they had never done anything this big, but once they got started, they got really into it. It was a vehicle for building relationships."
~ Federico Diaz, former Neighborhood Outreach Organizer
Helping to maintain the murals and keep the underpasses clean is another way C2C continues to bring neighbors together around a common goal.
The Washington Park neighborhood was the third and largest neighborhood taken on by C2C, beginning with the Children's Art Wall and followed by the installation of playground equipment. Both projects were completed by the Sherwood Community Leadership Classes of 2005 and 2006. The Art Wall created the first sense of neighborhood connection. Of the three neighborhoods, this one has the highest ethnic diversity and a larger concentration of youth.
During the summer of 2009 in the Washington Park area, neighbors partnered with neighborhood organizer Federico Díaz to repair sidewalks and remove dead trees. Throughout the summer heat, a small work crew could be seen on different blocks —N.7th, 6th, Pine Streets— jack-hammering, pounding gravel, and smoothing concrete.
Washington Park Project (Common Gathering Place)
C2C was lucky enough to welcome Milenko Matanovich with his team from the Pomegranate Center to Walla Walla for a third time in 2010. “The personality of a community springs to life when local residents come together to create a place of significance that will bring them together over and over again,” stated Milenko. In February 2010, with the help of Milenko, the neighbors in Washington Park started the process of enhancing the park. With the neighbors, Milenko and his team have helped create a plan to bring a stage, outdoor dance floor, seating, picnic places, and walking paths to the park. Pomegranate Center works with local residents to discover their inherent talents and imagine a place that welcomes everyone. C2C, in partnership with the City of Walla Walla Parks & Recreation Department, neighborhood volunteers, and the Pomegranate Center staff built the new “ Gathering Place ” at WA Park the week of September 11-19, 2010.
To learn more about Pomegranate Center, please visit their site at http://www.pomegranate.org/.
Walla Walla Area
Commitment to Community’s mission is to build a strong community through building strong neighborhoods. As such, it is designed to serve all neighborhoods in the Walla Walla area.
C2C’s current focus is on neighborhoods in the westerly portion of the City of Walla Walla from the County Fairgrounds to Washington State Penitentiary. However, through its relationship with the Sherwood Trust, a supportive infrastructure of programs is in place to assist C2C’s work in certain neighborhoods, but is also available to other neighborhoods throughout the Walla Walla area.
These supportive infrastructure programs include the:
Community Leadership Program
Beginning in 2004, the Sherwood Trust has offered an annual Community Leadership Program, which consists of a 12-month, skill-based curriculum focused on the concept of community leadership.
Each program invites 20 to 25 participants from throughout Walla Walla with diverse backgrounds and life experiences and includes (16) 3-hour modules of training over a period of 9 months. The program also includes a 2-day workshop in Central Oregon, where the class joins with 4 other communities, sponsored by The Ford Family Foundation of Roseburg, Oregon, for further training.
As part of the curriculum, each class goes through a process of selecting a real class project to complete. This creates an opportunity for class members to apply the leadership skills being taught by the curriculum to a real life situation. Plus, to provide additional incentive, the Sherwood Trust matches what each class fundraises on a 1:1 basis up to $10,000 toward the class project.
Examples of class projects are many and include playground equipment at the Farm Labor Homes (2005) and Washington Park (2007), the Planet Walk at Fort Walla Walla Museum (2008), and public art at Walla Walla Community College and Lions Park in College Place (2009).
Neighborhood Matching Fund
This program is an outgrowth of the Sherwood Trust’s Neighborhood Grant Program (see above) and was created specifically to support neighborhood residents working with Commitment to Community. Its purpose it to:
- Encourage neighborhood grassroots groups to take ownership of their neighborhoods through self-help projects and
Grants of up to $15,000 can be awarded to neighborhood residents, who come together for any project project that provides a public benefit and enjoys broad-based support within a neighborhood. For every $1 of grant funds, the neighbors must raise $1 match in the form of cash, volunteer labor at $16.00 per hour, or donated in-kind professional services or materials related to the project.
- Build a strong sense of community – particularly within residential neighborhoods as part of the larger Walla Walla community.
Examples of Neighborhood Matching Fund grants include funding for playground equipment in Menlo Park (2007), sidewalk repair in Washington Park neighborhood (2009), and playground equipment in the Edith and Carrie neighborhood (2010).
Collaboration works! As a result of Commitment to Community working with the Sherwood Trust, all neighborhoods in the Walla Walla area have the opportunity to benefit from an infrastructure of programs that are designed to support C2C’s mission of building a strong community through building strong neighborhoods.
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