The Urban Collaborative Project (UCP) is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that focuses on improving the quality of life for residents in the communities of Southeast San Diego and Encanto. Their resident driven projects center around Health, Safety, Neighborhood Art and Civic Engagement and help all to enjoy healthy, beautiful, and needed improvements within our neighborhoods. As part of the process they introduce the concepts of community engagement and Collective Impact as tools for residents to initiate change in their neighborhood.
Past UCP projects have included:
All of these projects have been resident driven.
The Resident Leadership Academy project has been the spark that began the community engagement process in their area. Through the Academy, residents were instructed on various techniques they could use to activate neighborhoods around a project or issue and to help move their ideas forward. Their RLA involved 25 residents from various neighborhoods in the Southeast San Diego community. Throughout the 9 week training, residents were instructed on small group meeting facilitation, conflict resolution, infrastructure processes and were given examples about projects being done in other neighborhoods throughout the City of San Diego. Most of the projects listed above were initiated through the UCP RLA.
The communities of Southeast San Diego and Encanto are two of the most diverse in the County. To reflect this diversity, UCP Project Teams involve resident volunteers from different backgrounds, ages, races and socio-economic status thus allowing them to have a wide range of opinions and ideas. Project Team volunteers are passionate about their projects and commit to participate in either short-term or long-term assignments. Together these Project Team leaders have started a process that will help residents design, implement and maintain projects aimed at improving the quality of life for their neighbors.
To truly and positively affect improvements in local neighborhoods, it has to be done by civically engaged residents. Resident-led projects empower citizens to improve their own neighborhoods and infuse a sense of pride and “ownership” into communities. By omitting residents in the process, one risks losing the chance for long-term change and improvements in neighborhood quality of life.
UCP neighborhood improvement projects have proven to be the start of a movement in the Southeast San Diego community. Residents are pulling together, getting to know each other and, in turn, are looking out for each other. By working together we can make conditions better for everyone.
Story submitted by Brian Pollard, Executive Director of the Urban Collaborative Project