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Our News Literacy workshop series kicked off last week with a group of 25 parents from the Castle Park and Hilltop neighborhoods of Chula Vista. VOSD’s Scott Lewis asked the crowd of mostly women to open up about what’s going on in their community. Here’s what came of our conversation.

Chula Vista residents have a lot to say. You just have to ask.

Most of the attendees were folks who have become community leaders through participation in South Bay Community Services Promise Neighborhood, a program that brings together a diverse group of community partners focused on a holistic approach to family, education and health in the spirit of getting Castle Park kids on a college track.

The workshop crowd was made up of mostly mothers and grandmothers who said they are especially concerned about their children and grandchildren.

They said there’s a lack of affordable extra-curricular sports and activities for middle school and high school students to participate in once the school day is over. They’re worried that without opportunities after school’s out, kids will get involved in gangs and tag up the neighborhood – another major concern on the top of their list.

Infrastructure problems have left residents in the dark.

Parents said there’s a severe lack of streetlights in their community.

One woman said her neighborhood near Palomar is so dark that she feels unsafe walking her dog at night.

There was also concern about street and sidewalk maintenance in the South Bay. The SeeClickFix website run in collaboration with the city of Chula Vista allows residents to note local infrastructure problems by locating them on a Google map. But the site’s effectiveness, and whether the city really uses it to make repairs, has been contested by locals.

They don’t see enough of themselves in the media.

When asked why they thought the community problems they outlined hadn’t been covered well by local media, the mood in the room shifted.

Many attendees spoke under their breath. One woman said, “We have no voice.” Another said the fact that their community is low-income contributed to the problem.

“It’s because we’re treated as dispensables,” said another.

They’ll be a big part of the solution to community problems.

Moving forward, I’ll be working with both parents and students from the Castle Park and Hilltop neighborhoods to develop community blogs where they’ll strengthen their skills as citizen journalists. Their thoughts, concerns and calls to action will be documented online. Residents will hold a mirror up to their community, reflecting the problems they experience in their everyday lives, and how they measure their neighborhoods.

Bianca Bruno

Bianca Bruno is Voice of San Diego's News Literacy program manager. She works with Chula Vista residents, promoting equal access to news through civic...

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