Proposers break into different stations at the Transformative Climate Communities Collaborative’s proposal kickoff workshop. The Steering Committee held the first of two such meetings at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Fresno on Tuesday. Photo by Donald Promnitz
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
As part of its effort to revitalize downtown, Chinatown and the west side, the Fresno Transformative Climate Communities Collaborative (FTCCC, or TCC) held two proposal kickoff workshops this week.
The meetings, which were held Tuesday night at First Presbyterian Church at 1540 M Street, and Wednesday at Westside Church of God at 1422 W. California Ave., were held by the Collaborative Steering Committee to prepare residents and workers to propose ideas for the community transformation project.
“We’re putting the proposers in the driver’s seat,” said Fresno TCC facilitator Steve Rasmussen Cancian. “We’re not asking folks to give us an idea and saying: ‘city, do this.’ We’re saying: ‘if you want to propose a park, or propose a supermarket—or new, affordable housing—we want to help you make that project happen.”
The State of California has committed $70 million to Fresno to put together a revitalization plan and create projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, creating public and environmental benefits, enhancing economic opportunities and creating shared prosperity. The money is coming through the state’s cap-and-trade revenue.
“It’s exciting to be able to be part of the process where we can take $70 million and invest in our neighborhoods,” said Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria. “So we can really do a transformation of our communities.”
Following a briefing, those in attendance were broken off into various groups to go over the proposal process.
Among those wishing to make proposals was local Conservation Corps Director Shawn Riggins of the Fresno EOC. Riggins expressed his hopes of setting up a park project that his workers could be involved with in the west side to help those in the Corps develop job skills.
“I’ve attended a couple of the community meetings that they’ve had on the west side,” Riggins said. “And so just involving the community at large, I think this has a pretty interesting process, so I have really gotten a lot out of it.”
Others still were skeptical about the prospects of the TCC effort. One person at the meeting, Enrique Reade of “The D.U.I. Newspaper,” expressed his doubts, saying that he believed that the community would be cut out of the final projects.
“I promise you, half of the things that are going to come out are not going to be things that we asked for,” Reade said. “I think they’ve got us here just to shut us up.”
Cancian, however, said while such doubts are understandable, the TCC has the best interests of the community in mind, and seeks to work with them in creating a working plan.
“Their skepticism is based on experience and over decades, local government hasn’t always been able to deliver in promises,” Cancian said. “So now, rather than just trying to deliver, we’re asking people to take the driver’s seat and help do what we haven’t done successfully in the past.”
Calls for project concepts will close on Sep. 12. The final plan will be presented by the City of Fresno to the state.