On Thursday, August 8th, the Students for Inclusive Communities Project held its first Info Social for youth to get involved with community planning. Veritable Good Consulting, a local organization focused on environmental justice within the Sacramento began the project to uplift youth voices in the 2040 General Plan. There, Community leaders and youth members discussed the needs their neighborhood. Together they began to strategize how they would improve and make South Sacramento a safer and more inclusive area.

 

The info social started with Icebreaker activities, where attendees drew out maps of their communities,then used Legos  to represent what they would do to improve and decrease hazards. Many of the students expressed worries about their safety during their commutes to school. Building and fixing sidewalks, adding stop lights, crosswalks, and protected bike lanes were the kind of solutions that were proposed. 

 

In addition to fixing routes, The students also proposed enhancing the parks in their neighborhoods. Together, they discussed the differences between the parks in South Sacramento, to parks in East Sacramento. SIC, the youth-led organization that held the social even presented a past project they had done which showed how the lack of upkeep in South Sac parks has led to the decrease of community usage. SIC also told the participants how they presented their project to local decision makers, which eventually led to The City of Sacramento cleaning, fixing and upgrading a parkin Meadowview. That park had been an abandoned, empty, safety hazard with boarded up play structures, but is now frequently busy with families, and even has events that take place there. 

 

SIC used this exhibition as an example of you can make differences within their communities.  The project had taken them a year to complete, and even now, 2 years later they are still seeing the benefits of their labor. The youth-led organization plans to utilize the same strategies to continue to enhance neighborhoods in South Sacramento, to improve commuters routes,  clean up trashed lots and parks, make the creek accessible, and more.

 

The community leaders also taught the students lesser-known history about South Sac. They explained what redlining was and how the community gained its primarily poc demographics.  they also said that the same issues were being fought for back in the day when the neighborhoods had just started, that resident families wanted sidewalks and commuting routes, as well as safe places to gather like parks and creeks. They also discussed how a gas company had tried to store gas directly underneath houses in 2008, that’s how the community had to fight against that, and how long it took for the gas company to leave the neighborhood alone. 

 

Many of the students involved said that it was their first time hearing about the history of the land they grew up in and that learning was an eye-opening moment for them. Learning brought out passion in the students, which made them discuss further developmental ideas to enhance their neighborhoods. 

Veritable Good and Students for Inclusive Communities is planning an open training opportunity on August 24th, for high school students and adults who want to get involved. There they will further educate participants on the topics of environmental justice, youth partnership and empowerment and photovoice projects to bring change. To stay up to date with Veritable Good and the Students for Inclusive Communities project, go to their website 

and follow @YouthPower4Sac on Instagram.