For the past few years, I have been working with my wife Jill to help our neighbors in North Fair Oaks organize so they can determine the future of their community, and not let it fall into the hands of high end developers. The residents of this area have felt neglected by the City and lost hope of being able to effect change. Our Jobfest and other activities have drawn attention to this area and given its residents hope and the confidence to ask the City for what they want. And their efforts have been successful, resulting in a traffic signal and seven of 15 items requested. That's why we are celebrating, and inviting you to join us. Here's a press release I just wrote. I hope to see you at this gala event:
The residents of North Fair Oaks, a divested corner of Pasadena, are inviting everyone in and around their city to take part in their “Green Light Victory Celebration” on Saturday, October 21. There will fun for all, including a Hat Fashion Show, music, free hot dogs, cake, snacks, bike repair, haircuts, a really free market with seeds, plants, clothes and whatever else you to take or contribute, a raffle (including a piano), complete streets and bike safety demos, health fair, and senior activities at Rosewood Courts (1888 N Fair Oaks). This gala event will take place on Saturday, October 21, from 10 am to 3 pm at 1787 N Fair Oaks, Ave, in the New Hope Church Parking Lot. The Repair Café will take place from 10 am – 1:00 pm at 1781 North Fair Oaks.
Why is this community celebrating? To say thank you. Jill Shook, one of the founders of the North Fair Oaks Initiative, explained that this event is the culmination of three years of community organizing.
“A community that has felt isolated and voiceless now has found its collective voice by successfully asking and receiving what they want,” Shook explained. “Several years ago, when we surveyed over 150 people, including the18 businesses and 10 churches in the North Fair Oaks area, we found that one of the biggest concerns is traffic, noise and feeing safe. Many who initially never dreamed that this problem could be addressed, have shown up at City Council and other public meetings. As a result, seven of fifteen items that the N. Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative has requested have been approved, including a $268,000 traffic signal by Pasa-Alta Manor and New Hope Church.”
Although the signal won’t be installed until 2018, a green light is already on, hope is resurrecting. A number of organizations have contributed to this event: Day One (a community-based nonprofit, igniting change), Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA), AARP, Complete Streets Coalition, Orange Grove Quaker Meeting, Impact, and Hannah’s Descendants
There will be a tour of each spot where the City of Pasadena will be helping to make the street safer and more beautiful.
“This is just the beginning,” said Shook. “Other items on the community’s wish list include economic development (such as an ice cream and coffee shop), affordable housing, more youth engagement, and other initiatives to address crime, safety and beauty.”
The North Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative was birthed out of the IMA, the oldest association of African American Churches in the greater Pasadena area. Its vision derives from Zachariah 8: 4-5: “Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets”
This project has been supported by non-religious as well as religious people, and all are welcome at this celebration.