SOMOS Mayfair
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The Power of Authentic Community Engagement

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Bike Panel.jpg

Thank you to the #SVBikeSummit, for inviting us to open up a conversation on equity in public spaces. When it comes to gathering public feedback, we hope to challenge agencies to consider how they can make their strategies more inclusive. There is deep value in partnering with organizations who have built long and trustworthy relationships with community.

Our Associate Director Zelica was a part of this panel, and is quoted by Streetsblog USA:

"A presentation from Zelica Rodriguez-Deams at the same session held some hints about just how difficult and time consuming—and worthwhile—true public engagement is. She talked about the work of SOMOS Mayfair, a community group in East San Jose that not only gathers people to talk about issues from transportation to education, but also trains community members to become leaders and do the same work themselves. [...] she pointed out that

“it’s important to get people to engage sustainably over time. It doesn’t make any sense to have a single meeting and expect to get everything done.”

SOMOS Mayfair’s hard-learned lessons contrasted strongly with the presentations by the government agency reps, who have to conduct their public outreach with limited time, limited funding, and usually only a surface knowledge of the communities their plans affect."

In order to create impact in the communities we are serving, we all have to do our part to intentionally engage community.  For many organizations, this may mean allocating funds, but for many of us, it means reorienting how we conduct outreach and include input. 

Spending more money isn’t always the best way to make sustainable change—- often, it requires being more strategic with the funding we do have, and integrating the voices of residents.

All in all, a fascinating conversation that generated great conversation. Thanks, SCVB!

Chelsey Cartwright