Sometimes it takes a village, other times it takes a group of engineers…and those who love them.
San José’s Coyote Creek Neighborhood Association (CCNA) was born in the 1970s by a cadre of engineers concerned about the impact of noise from a highway being built on the edge of the neighborhood. Darryl Ospring, whose husband and father are both engineers, organized a group to perform sound tests, create plans and ultimately convince the necessary agencies to build a sound wall.
She’s still at it today. Thanks to learning about Every Voice Engaged® Foundation’s “Great Neighborhoods” program from her council member Ash Kalra, Darryl has a new set of tools at her disposal to keep up the good work. “Nothing activates motivation like success. Great ideas alone, however, aren’t enough. Every Voice Engaged has given us new ways to involve neighbors from the planning stages all the way through the commitment and completion stages.”
All of the City’s 70 neighborhoods are unique and face special challenges. Coyote Creek has often been referred to as an “island” because of its complex set of borders…a major highway, county park, city roads, state bike trails and a water district.
There’s also a Native American burial site where remains are being repatriated. So, a seemingly simple initiative can require coordination and communication with multiple local, state & Federal agencies. This requires finding and managing resources, both financial and in-person volunteers.
Daunting? Yes. Impossible? No way, says Ospring.
Current neighborhood programs include anti-graffiti projects as well as safety initiatives. Ospring and the CCNA are active participants in the City of San José’s “Great Neighborhoods” program and have been awarded numerous grants to fund specific projects.
Most recently, they have piloted Every Voice Engaged’s Make My Neighborhood Great event (both in-person & online) to generate neighborhood improvement ideas. The priorities identified- Clean, Beautify, Safe, Engaged will drive and shape projects for the next six months.
Every Voice Engaged returned for the “resourcing” portion of the project and led structured activities for neighbors to commit volunteer hours as well as financial resources (including sources for outside funding, if necessary) required to implement the original ideas. This gives neighbors a mechanism to commit to their favorite projects and contribute time to others as they see fit.
Every Voice Engaged producers and facilitators have worked closely with Ospring and other neighborhood leaders to prepare for and conduct the events. It doesn’t stop there, however. Volunteer staffers developed monitoring and reporting plans for project results and will work with the CCNA to present and share “best practices” at the upcoming Neighborhood Development Training Conference at the end of September. After September, the CCNA hopes to partner with Every Voice Engaged to train a number of neighbors to become facilitators and continue engaging the power of every voice in the neighborhood.
Not every neighborhood will require a group of engineers to get the ball rolling. However, it never hurts to have the right tools.