On September 13th, Smart Growth America selected 15 community-focused projects to participate in the new Community Connectors program, which aims to repair the damage of divisive infrastructure in small and mid-sized cities.

Divisive infrastructure presents a barrier to safe transportation and economic opportunity, particularly for communities that have been historically marginalized. National City and their Southeast San Diego neighbors are represented as the one community on the West Coast chosen for the grant.

“We are overjoyed by this opportunity. Our community has been advocating for decades to create this beautiful cultural green space, and with the support of this grant, it will make it possible. I want to honor the Kumeyaay, the indigenous peoples of this land, and dedicate this project to them as well as our community in Southeast San Diego and National City. We needed this.” – Janice Luna Reynoso, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Mundo Gardens.

These projects will receive grants of up to $130,000 to build local capacity to co-design projects alongside impacted communities to advance new transportation infrastructure projects that repair damage from divisive infrastructure. The Community Connectors program will take place over the next two years.

There is a vision for an eco-cultural park within the green corridor connecting to walking and biking paths, leading to a nearby community garden, schools, and public transit. Art rendering of murals on the freeway pillars within the future park has been created by a group of local artists dedicated to the project.

This placemaking initiative will be a park that will unite people, “Maat Mataa’Yuum,” the Kumeyaay phrase for where the people gather. Under the 805 freeway and 43rd Street offramp, this area has gotten much attention this past decade.

“We can do something about it. I grew up in both the communities of National City and SESD, and I felt proud of the resiliency of our people. Along with the love of my family, It has inspired my mission for us all to thrive. I want us to reach for Blue Zone status. Let’s live long, with quality of life and enjoyment of our cultures” Luna Reynoso.

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