NORTH FAIR OAKS EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE
Once a vibrant and thriving community, years of segregation and divestment dramatically changed the NW corner of Pasadena due to historically harmful Federal policies: racially restrictive covenants, the 1949 Federal Housing Act (which funded “slum clearance” aka “Negro Removal), predatory banking, eminent domain, and more. The 1956 Highway Act, which released federal funding for highways across the US, has sliced through African American neighborhoods and thriving Black business districts across the US, and that was also true of NW Pasadena with the 210 freeway.
Due to “red-lining” by banks, Blacks were prevented from obtaining home loans, so they opened their own bank to obtain mortgages, called Family Thrift, today called One United which was on N. Lake and Washington. Once the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, allowing Blacks to live outside of North West Pasadena, those with means moved to other parts of the city. This divestment vacuum opened way for gentrification in the NW, where homes were still affordable.
Today, over 25% of African Americans in Pasadena have been displaced. They have either been priced out or have cashed out due to increased property values. Black churches have become commuter churches. One African American church has 8 members left.
This community has been deeply wounded by these unjust policies.To help prevent further displacement and reweave a once thriving community, Jill Shook began a listening campaign in 2010, resulting in 150 surveys within a five-block area on N. Fair Oaks. Simple questions were asked like, how long have you been in the area? What are your dreams and concerns for the community? Most of the 10 churches, 18 businesses in this five block stretch participated, as did a number of the residents. The results were telling.
Some felt it was a waste of time to imagine an improved community because they felt the city would never agree to make any changes. We needed to resurrect hope.
In 2015, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA) voted to allow Jill Shook, who was a long-time member of the IMA, to plan the employment fair that year, with and by the community. So she chose the area that was being surveyed to host a fair. The planning team decided to close down Treemont Street with booths representing all the local businesses, and churches, local resources, employment opportunities, and featured the skills within the community with local barbers providing free haircuts once people applied for a job, then free dress shirts and ties. Even Judy Chu, our local congressional representative, and Mayor Terry Tornek showed up.
Over 500 members of the community in this N Fair Oaks corridor, from Washington Blvd to Woodbury, attended this NW Jobfest. Hope for change began to emerge. The community met to unveil the results of the survey. The biggest concern was the street, not feeling safe due to the traffic, cars speeding by, the lack of lighting and good sidewalks. Others were concerned with economic development, wanting coffee and ice cream shops and thriving businesses.
Members of the community partnered with the Complete Streets coalition to create focus groups that visually imagined what they wanted, and they identified 15 specific items they hoped the city could address. Today, seven of these requests have been placed in the city’s budget to be completed, including signage, more trees and sidewalk repairs. As recently as 2017, the Pasadena City Council unanimously voted to put a $268,000 traffic signal to help slow traffic and bring safety. Seeing this signal in place has resurrected more hope.
There is still much more work to be done. We would value your partnership. Contact us today to find out how you can participate in our efforts to revitalize North Fair Oaks!
Download our Powerpoint presentation HERE to learn more about GPAHG's history within this community and how you can get involved!
“To beautify and not gentrify”
“Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” Zechariah 8:4
“To be repairers of the broken walls and the restorers of the streets with dwellings.” Isaiah 58:12
To create a team of empowered leaders to restore this blighted neglected area of the city, from Howard to Woodbury on N. Fair Oaks to its once vibrant and thriving business community that is safe, beautiful and affordable for its residents.
Phase 1: Listening-Surveys
Phase 2: Discerning a common goal, planning and executing the resource fair
Phase 3: Create an ongoing “dream team” to address concerns and make the dreams happen.
To create a dream team, core of leaders, who are actively engaged seeking to carry out this vision.
To engage N. Fair Oaks Churches, Business Owners and Residents in the revitalization and beautification of their community as they see it.
To secure city’s support in the revitalization and beautification of this neglected part of the city.
This will ultimately result in Beautification without Gentrification and Displacement
This community needs to be ahead of the curve. Participation in creating a plan can and will accomplish that.
1.A Caution sign near the Boys and Girls Club
2. Repaving the street with noise reducing pavement
3. Secure more parking so the business and thrive—perhaps shared parking with some of the churches.
4. Pocket/angled Parking
5. Cleaner streets
6. Wider sidewalks for outdoor dinning
7. Store front improvements with distinctive color scheme and style
8. More business i.e. Coffee shop, frozen yogurt/ice cream to create jobs
9. A Job training Center in partnership with PCC
2015 - 2016
•We have been steady and diligent since January of 2015, when the IMA voted to give us the opportunity to plan that years’ employment fair with and by the community.
•In April 2015 we launched with a potluck to raise funds to hire part-time staff to help develop and translate the survey, to set up survey orientations held at some of the ten churches, mobilizing people to conduct 150 surveys. This enabled us to discover the concerns and dreams of the 18 businesses, 10 churches and residents between Woodbury and Howard.
•After surveying about 30% of our target population, we held a potluck at Bethel Church July 11, 2015 to unveil the survey results and begin a discussion on the results, and begin to identify some of our first projects.
•From this effort community leaders emerged to help plan the highly successful Northwest Job Fest which took place November 21, 2015, where we closed down Tremont, set up 20 booths, and 500 neighbors from the community came together for a fun festive day applying for jobs, free haircuts, dress shirts, games for kids of all ages, audition for adults to be on the stage where pastors and dignitaries also stood celebrating the neighborhood and its history and talent.
•In response to the 150 surveys the top concerns were about the 65,000 cars speeding down Fair Oaks, the lack of parking, trash and not feeling safe. So July 23, 2016 we hosted the NW Community Gathering in partnership with the Complete Streets Coalition began efforts to gain the support of the North West Commission and Councilmember Hampton so we could realize our dreams for North Fair Oaks.
2017 - Present
•In January, 2017 we walking our corridor with Council member Hampton and other city staff who shared information to assist us in our efforts to move forward. The Transportation Advisory Committee voiced unwavering support. We wrote to the Pasadena City Council and attended multiple Council meetings to present our letters with 87 signatures of people within our N Fair Oaks corridor.
•In March , 2017 We enjoyed the Damascus Road Church Mission Team that came from Tucson, AZ during spring break for a week. They painted over graffiti, played with kids, spent time with elderly disabled neighbors in two N Fair Oaks nursing homes, and to roll up their selves to clean up on the street. Estella at Rio Meat Market’s opened her doors.
•The community came out and spoke at the NW Commission, the Public Safety Commission and the City Council presenting a list of 15 “ASKS” at numerous public meetings.
•May 8th, 2017 Council victory winning five of our 15 requests and beyond what we requested—a $268,000 traffic light!
OUR CURRENT NEEDS
We need to employ staff to get the job done! We Need to Collaborate with Complete Streets to secure:
God is at work undoing years of discrimination and resurrecting hope!
“Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem,each of them with cane in hand because of their age.The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” Zechariah 8:4
We invite You to Support our Efforts! Ways you can help
1. Pray 2. Participate 3. Donate