Since August, we’ve been putting together a series of stories highlighting community success stories — tales of everyday people, organizations or businesses that have identified a challenge in their community and taken it on head first.

I need your help in coming up with the next batch of stories.

So far, we’ve shown how one woman with a knack for history has restored precious homes in National City and, in the process, helping locals get their own small-business dreams started. We told the story of another woman who fought hard to keep open space untouched in Golden Hill.

We profiled an architect who is designing a lot more than just buildings in San Ysidro and a public servant trying to take back a local park from gangs. We’ve also highlighted a local educator who’s taking struggling teens under his mentorship, a retiree who’s trying to reclaim the Otay River Valley with help from community cooperation and the generosity of strangers, and a City Heights martial arts instructor/preacher working to get kids off the street.

Check out the project’s homepage for all of the stories, as well as Spanish-language versions of a few of them. (We’re translating them into Spanish to run in La Prensa, and we’re posting the Spanish versions as well as we get them. I’m working on an intro for that in Spanish but my wife’s been too busy with law school finals to give me a good proof read.)

So, like I said, I need your help finding the next batch of inspiring community success stories.

Here’s the pitch:

Every day we read and write stories about things that are going wrong in the San Diego region. We read about problems in the housing market. We find out about unaffordable transportation, problems with parks and the environment. We learn about fraud, malfeasance or apathy.

This is important. But it’s not all that is happening in San Diego. In communities all across the county, people are joining together to improve their corner of San Diego. They’re creating housing solutions. They are repairing public spaces. They’re figuring out how to make their communities more livable, more accessible and more prosperous.

The San Diego Foundation is sponsoring the year-long effort by reporters to find and tell the stories of these people. The writers will learn what particular problems the residents faced and how they decided to confront those challenges. What tools did they use? How did they work with governments, businesses and their neighbors to find solutions? And how did they succeed?

This is the essence of the stories: Residents facing a challenge in their neighborhood and overcoming it to create a better place for them and their fellow citizens.

In addition, we will invite the people we encounter not only to submit to interviews for our stories, but to discuss with our readers what they have done and how they did it. The package — the stories, videos, audio and forums — is meant to share optimism and assumptions. In other words, we want to create more of a collective understanding not only of what is wrong with some of our neighborhoods, but what can be done about it and what has worked for people right next door.

When we started to prepare, we asked you to tell us your stories. We were flooded with excellent ideas. But we can’t do this for the whole year without more of your suggestions.

Please look at your own community and see if any of what we’ve just talked about sounds familiar. Have you or some of your neighbors tackled problems (and solved them) in a way that could provide a model and hope for others in the region?

If so, please, send your stories to and we’ll consider them for the ongoing series.

But most importantly, keep your eye out for these stories over the coming year and perhaps we can all learn something about how not only to worry about our problems, but learn ways to solve them.


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