In 2012, resident leaders from the Canal community in San Rafael, California came together to form Voces del Canal to lead an unprecedented community-driven research project to help achieve their collective vision for social change.
Residents affirmed their role as authentic, local experts and gave power to the lived experiences of community residents. The Canal Alliance, DataCenter, Dominican University, and a network of community organizations in the Canal joined forces in this project.
“We are working hard but it’s difficult to get the better paying jobs because of our limited English or we don’t have the right experience.” — Darlin, Canal Resident
DataCenter led a dedicated team of 13 resident leaders in training workshops so the residents could design and implement their own community survey project. Together, they conducted a total of 678 survey interviews documenting the residents’ personal stories, opinions, and visions for a healthier Canal.
Through this community-led project, Canal residents identified public safety as the most immediate issue preventing the community from thriving. They understand that public safety is correlated with strong communities and social equality.
Canal residents offer recommendations to improve safety in the Canal: better quality education and after-school programming, more parent resources, and improved coordination and delivery of family services. To achieve community transformation, residents are calling for more meaningful community engagement and collaboration with local institutions and agencies.
“Despite all of the challenges that we are facing in the Canal, there are still real people who are concerned and want to make a change.”
— Jose, Canal Resident
Residents want to work in partnership with key decision-makers and actively participate in the development of community-determined priorities and solutions.
They also seek to strengthen community cohesion within the Canal, empowering families to take a proactive role, becoming community social change agents.
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