By Gabriela Estrada, Program Manager
The Vallejo Resilient Neighborhoods pilot program came to a successful conclusion at the end of December 2020 with the establishment of two Resilient Neighborhood hubs in Vallejo. The program focused on heat mitigation and looked to nature as a guide to better equip neighborhoods to adapt and thrive in the face of environmental, social and economic change. This pilot program in Vallejo successfully created hubs in Central Vallejo and South Vallejo that incorporated rainwater capture, laundry-to-landscape greywater systems, shade trees and structures and permaculture garden principles while bringing neighbors together to work on the projects. While this pilot project might have come to a close in Vallejo, the program will be expanding to Suisun City this month. While Vallejo and Suisun City each have their own challenges, opportunities and needs, the lessons learned in developing the first two Resilient hubs in Vallejo will help inform the next steps of the program.
Here are some of the important lessons learned:
Lessons Learned and Future Considerations
Organic Development of the Neighborhood Model
The organic development of interest and engagement that occurs once the installation process is underway at homes in a new Resilient Neighborhood now informs our approach to building additional Resilient Neighborhood Hubs across the county. While we initially thought that the only way to move forward was with a team of four neighbors at the same time, we discovered that sometimes it is OK to just find one or two neighbors who are initially interested. Working with them will build momentum and community interest and will create a more organic approach.
Expanded, Adaptable Offerings
Our initial site selection and program scope did not allow us to support a vast majority of the community interested in participating in the program. We are exploring how to create a more accessible, tiered offering system — installing just certain elements that fit a site, rather than looking for sites that can support all of those elements — that allows us to provide resources, support and continued engagement.
Building Resilience Through Collaboration and Shared Goals
Community collaboration around shared goals and trust building was proven powerful and effective. It was inspiring to see the impact of the process of bringing neighborhoods together to work towards shared solutions, and in the valuable social network building it provides. We will continue to use this model to inform our approach in working with the community to support their vision and goals.
Fostering Community Ownership of this Model
Developing ways to encourage deeper relationship-building with our participating neighbor-teams, both in offering more support through the establishment period and in nurturing organic leadership within the Hubs to help drive expansion is key. As such, we will work to identify offerings and tools that can support community development beyond our initial partnership.
To read more about the lessons learned, see the full report here.
Although it might seem like our work in Vallejo is done, we will continue to support members of the Resilient Neighborhood Hubs as best we can through our other programs. The Solano Gardens program, for example, will fund monthly gardening classes in the South Vallejo Neighborhood garden in collaboration with the Emmanuel Temple Apostolic Church. This church is a seven-minute walk from the South Vallejo Hub. Here, Sustainable Solano will be hosting monthly educational classes and seed giveaways in an effort to teach people about sustainable gardening techniques. Classes will be held from 9-11 am starting April 24 with a class about companion planting. These classes will be open to everyone.
If you are interested in participating, be on the lookout for more information!
The Resilient Neighborhoods program is generously funded through the PG&E Corporation Foundation.