The diversity of the Richmond District is a huge part of what makes it special, but our differences are also what can separate us if we don’t look for the similarities beyond. By tapping into our similarities and opportunities to improve our community, we can all live better, more supported and integrated lives. At Institute on Aging (IOA), we advance these best practices every day, so partnering with San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer’s team and the Richmond District Neighborhood Center (RDNC) in a community development campaign is a fitting honor.
“One Richmond” is an initiative that originates with former Supervisor Eric Mar and continues with the office of Supervisor Fewer. The goal is to empower District One residents to speak up and effect change in ways that really matter to them. The strength of this project comes from having so many interested partners who pull together their similarities and their differences. These partners include not only influential offices and organizations, but also local business owners, service providers, and any and every resident who wants to be a part. Together, we are interested in preserving and promoting Richmond District’s rich cultural diversity and identity while knitting the community together more effectively, making resources and services more plentiful and accessible, and fortifying its sustainability by promoting local commerce.
The foundation for “One Richmond” will be getting people involved in roundtable conversations about what is important to them and what they want to see change in their Richmond District neighborhood. For example, we might want to make public transportation options more accessible for disabled individuals or install more restrooms in our parks. We can’t know quite what this campaign will bring, but we do know that the more people who can get involved, the more we’ll get to the bottom of the projects that can make a real difference for our residents. To help us get started, there is currently a survey circulating that allows District One residents to share concerns, ideas, and hopes for the neighborhood. Once we understand our residents’ values and priorities better, we can start planning next steps to implementing progressive solutions. “One Richmond” is a revolutionary model of community development in San Francisco that can reinforce and expand on our community identity and values for a brighter, more integrated future.
Working Together to Achieve Real Community Development in San Francisco
As Supervisor Fewer is working to get “One Richmond” off the ground, IOA was thrilled to host a roundtable discussion, open to the community, to help kickstart the campaign. On January 30, 2018, professional and civilian partners gathered to engage in communication around the four core values Fewer’s office has identified for the neighborhood:
- Community Pride
- Shopping Local
Participants sat at round tables of 10 people each and spent 60 minutes talking about these four values. They brought their wide-ranging knowledge and life experiences together to brainstorm pain points and ways we might be able to improve our public spaces, our social cohesion, and the clarity of our collective identity. One question that came to light is: “What stores are most sensitive to the needs of older adults in District One, and how can other businesses follow suit?” Questions like this one focus beyond the problems; they turn our attention toward creative solutions and open our eyes to the bright, productive possibilities for our neighborhood. By creating space for this proactive dialogue, “One Richmond” can help ensure that the voices of our residents are heard and provide opportunities for positive change.
This dynamic discussion format mirrors the way the campaign is set to progress overall.
Candid Conversations with Diverse Stakeholders
Collaborative Brainstorming Around Pain Points and Solutions
Escalation of Issues for Effective Implementation
There is an incredible wealth of knowledge and creativity within our neighborhood population and our roundtables serve as opportunities to capture those resources and create new ideas for our shared future. At the same time, if we discuss great ideas but aren’t committed or able to turn them around for real change, our efforts will fall flat. That’s why wide-reaching involvement from community partners at every level is critical for “One Richmond”’s success: Only with grounded discussions can we identify the authentic and varied needs of community members and develop practical solutions. At Institute on Aging, we are committed to providing opportunities to talk about what isn’t working and how we can make it work, as well as what is working and how we can transfer that success in meaningful ways.
We look forward to many more discussions like the one Institute on Aging hosted. We hope that as the campaign gets further underway, we will connect with individuals and organizations that can bring even more experience and unique perspectives to the table. Together, we can achieve the goals of real people for real community development in San Francisco.
What Do These Community Values Mean for Aging Adults in San Francisco?
“One Richmond” isn’t just about institutional transformation. Through forums that support equal participation, community members become agents of change, helping each of us grow in the process. And when we all come together to explore our shared interests, we are improving our community already with social cohesion and activation. It is a bright opportunity to unify the district’s diverse communities and empower residents.
Institute on Aging feels a particular affinity with this community development project and its values because it is so closely related to our ongoing work in the neighborhood:
- For inclusiveness, IOA aims to dissolve the barriers to aging adults who want to continue to live in their homes and their home communities. We make resources and services available and accessible to help older adults, their caregivers, and their family members thrive. We also host a Social Day Program to foster a similar kind of productive, healing collaboration and support that aging adults—indeed, all of us—need to thrive.
- With compassion we lead conversations to revise the ways our community perceives and respects their aging neighbors. We advocate for equal and compassionate treatment of older adults and their inclusion in decision-making that matters to them.
- In the interest of community pride, Institute on Aging hosts events and programs to celebrate the strengths of our San Francisco community. But we also keep our eyes open for areas that are ripe for improvement because continuous constructive attention is the kind of involvement that makes everyone feel proud of and connected to their community. The more people can connect with others in their neighborhood, the more we can come to understand our collective identity.
- In the interest of sustainability and shopping local, we see amazing value in residents being able to remain in their homes and continue to support a community of which they are an integral part. Just as we partner with local organizations and stakeholders, we promote the good work of these groups in the community. We connect aging adults with local resources, and initiatives like “One Richmond” will allow more resources to emerge to meet the needs of community members.
We’re excited for the important work we do for aging adults in San Francisco to gain even greater reach. “One Richmond” helps us toward that aim by facilitating fresh and innovative partnerships. Through community dialogue, we’re gaining a clearer understanding of how initiatives for the needs of aging adults can knit together with initiatives for other segments of the District One population to create a stronger, healthier, and more inclusive community for all of us. Stay tuned with us to find out how “One Richmond” blossoms.
Do you want to get involved? You can. Take part in an online survey to share your thoughts, concerns, and ideas and encourage your neighbors to do the same. You can also contact Sandra Lee Fewer’s aide, Ian Fregosi, at Ian.Fregosi@sfgov.org for more information about #OneRichmond and opportunities for collaboration.
If you want to find out more about Institute on Aging and how our established home care, health care, and social programs can help you and your family, give us a call at 415-750-4111. We are excited to be a welcoming community hub, to learn from the wisdom of our neighbors, and to start breaking ground on solutions for our collective quality of life.