Listening to ….
As an important part of the process for making grants from the Hazel and Roland Todd Trust, Community Foundation Sonoma County employed two community organizers from the North Bay Organizing Project to build relationships with residents in very low income communities in the Springs area of Sonoma Valley. Our goal: to help overcome cultural and language barriers to accessing health services. We knew from our conversations with Valley residents how important it was to increase services in the Springs, but we wanted to hear directly from Springs residents what they needed in order to get the most impact from the legacy gift left by Hazel and Roland Todd.
Community organizing is a process of building leadership through relationships of trust, engaging people around their values and priorities, and then figuring out what can be done to make things better. Through that process, residents have come to understand how to voice their ideas for making the Springs a better place to live. It has taken a year of community building to reach the point where residents are now convening their own public meetings, asking questions of the organizations that serve them and working out agreements with those providers about what can be done to improve services.
There is a growing sense of community pride and excitement within the Springs that their voices are now being heard. “Residents are beginning to realize that they have the power to change the circumstances around them,” says Davin Cardenas, community organizer. “Collectively, they represent common interests and values that need to be and will be addressed.”