Liberty City – For the last few months, NewFM has worked with Liberty City residents and leaders to “occupy” a local park that they feel has been overlooked and misused. Together, we’ve held a series of events and meetings at Alonzo Kelly Park with hopes of creating a safe and clean space for residents to gather. NewFM and residents came together to create a letter of demands, gathered over 230 community signatures in support of a clean up and presented them to Commissioner Audrey Edmonson’s team.
We interviewed our Liberty City Organizer, Jose Gonzalez below on how “Occupy The Park” began and what the community has been able to accomplish so far.
How did “Occupy The Park” begin?
NewFM re-did our organizing strategy in order to really get to the meat of what the communities that we work in want and need. We knew that the people in our communities see organizations come in but don’t see anything change and they often don’t get anything back. We canvassed, we asked questions and we listened to what the people said they wanted. Some of the chapter members live on the corner of the park and they knew first hand how horrible it looked and that’s how everything was started. Every idea came from the community.
How did the park look when you first entered the neighborhood?
The park was unattended, had dirty diapers and trash everywhere, needed to be repainted and was drug inhabited.
How did you assist?
My job was to guide the community in doing something attainable but also visual for everyone inside and outside of the community to see. Someone in the neighborhood said: “The drug users are there because no one is using it.” That’s why we decided to have our meetings and events in the park. That’s where “Occupy The Park” came from.
What does the community ultimately want to see?
In our chapter meeting, the community members said that they want ramps in order for the park to become wheel chair accessible, swings, a kid friendly space like a jungle gym and a picnic area.
What happened when you presented the petitions to Commissioner Edmonson’s team?
We got to get a lot of political knowledge on how things are run. We were doing our own clean up efforts before our meeting. By the time we went to clean up the park a few days later, the city had already cleaned it up. Since then the park has been kept and painted. We even held the first annual Easter Egg hunt at the park on Easter weekend.
How did the community react?
The community saw the NewFM team there from the very beginning. We’re consistent and now they know that whatever we want to tackle together, we will get it done.
What’s NewFM’s vision for Occupy The Park?
We want to get the swings to Alonzo Kelly park and make it a safe and beautiful park that the community can enjoy. We want to make the community aware that anything is possible if we come together and take action. We want to empower the community. We would love for Occupy The Park to become a model for other people to do in their communities.
Check out more pictures from “Occupy The Park” below.