Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Making Community Improvements

Is it hard to make major community improvements? The Hewlett Foundation recently released a report that said it is. The report covers the foundations' 10 year, $20 million effort, through its Neighborhood Improvement Initiative (NII), to bring substantial improvements to three local low-income communities: West Oakland, East Palo Alto and the Mayfair area of East San Jose.

The NII was "an ambitious effort" that was designed to bring community change by reducing poverty and developing new leaders, better services, more capable organizations, and stronger connections to resources. One of the report's conclusions is that the effort to bring community change is not for everyone or for every foundation. The report stated, "Some will find the work too messy, politically charged an/or hard to assess."

Do you agree with the report's findings? Is it hard to bring lasting community changes without a lot of strife and political infighting?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The East Palo Alto Levee is fixed!

photo by Mike Alexander, MPact News 2003

It has been a project that has been underway for years. Now the East Palo Alto Levee has been repaired. After last year’s winter storms left a 37 foot crack in the levee, the East Palo Alto City Council declared a local emergency and called upon the Governor of California and the U.S. Government to provide financial and technological assistance to get the levee repaired. Officials feared that further breaks in the levee during a major storm would put one third of East Palo
under water.

In announcing that the levee repairs are now complete, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo said, "I'm thrilled that the repairs are finished and that the residents of East Palo Alto are now better protected from catastrophic flooding."

Are you relieved to hear that the levee has been repaired? Did the break in the levee and the state of emergency that was declared worry you in anyway? Did you fear that the worst would happen? Or, do you think the work should have been done sooner?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Do poverty programs cause more poverty?

In the East Palo Alto City Council meeting held on May 1, City Council member Peter Evans said that he did not support the existence of nonprofit programs in East Palo Alto that feed the hungry and help the poor. He said that these programs cause the people who use them to become dependent upon them.

In Mr. Evans' words, " As long as we support nonprofits saving us, we will never be saved." Do you agree with Council member Evans? Do you think poverty programs lead people into poverty by creating the very problems that they are designed to solve?