I have to give credit to the great capacity that Casa Familiar has built for community organizing. We get the word out through a real strong network of direct contact from our services. What has successfully brought people together is that we’ve gone out of our way to make sure that from the outreach, to the presentation, to our request for community participation, that our presence is not overreaching or presumptuous. And to make sure that we listen to every comment or concern, no matter how difficult, but then making a point of moving forward. The “Sin Limites” sessions are special in that depending on the topic and what we set up as goals, we always ask for some interaction. There always seems to be some expression for the list of desires you mention above and I always try to remind attendees of what it takes to get some of those ideas to become reality. We have formed coalitions across organizations and interests where each has headed up some portion of the work — or at least as much as can be tackled.

Through the planning group I try to ensure that those community elements are at least given a chance to be integrated into development projects, whether it is a private developer, an organization or government entities. We have begun with basics, like adding street lights for better lighting and security, done several walking tours to highlight what to us designers/planners might be easy to spot issues but really highlight lack of investment or removal of impediments. Then comes the hard part — integrating all of this work through the local committees, organizations, plans and processes and constantly checking, updating and obtaining more community participation to ensure a good faith effort.

— DAVID FLORES

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