Community Advocacy

sofrito garden

Community advocacy in the Marketview Heights neighborhood is visible in both formal and informal ways. As in many communities, churches in Marketview Heights existed to provide a kind of cohesion or anchor. Father Ozzie is someone remembered for working in various ways on behalf of community members. Other community leaders have also been recognized for their advocacy in the neighborhood. Pedro Pedrazza was a man well known and loved for help he provided to residents in the neighborhood. He visited migrant workers and held prayer meetings with them, as well as helped them with whatever they needed. Later he was one of the individuals who formed what today is called Ibero.

Ibero now describes its work as “a dual-language human services agency that focuses on building stronger families and greater self-sufficiency through hands-on learning and experience.” The organization serves “individuals and families of all ethnic backgrounds with the unique ability to target multiple audiences in both English and Spanish” through programs that “prepare children for school, provide academic and social support to high school students, work with parents to strengthen their family unit, and ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities have a high quality of life.”

Residents of this community formed the Marketview Heights Collective Action Project in 2002. This Project has organized to raise concerns and serve as a collective voice in a challenged neighborhood for the benefit of its residents. The main-body of the Marketview Heights Collective Action Project is made up of residents who live in the community. This is an open group and all are welcome to attend the monthly meetings, participate on committees and events. To facilitate communication, there are block-captains assigned on every street. These block-captains rally residents when the need arises (eg. To attend meetings with issues that may impact the residents themselves), relay information for those who did not attend and assist the Collective Action Project in consolidating manpower (eg. Street cleanups, harvest and planting days, garden preparation and closing-down.)

The Marketview Heights Collective Action Project builds and maintains the community gardens which are the pride of the community. Yearly planting and harvest days are always well attended and bring forth community socializing and engagements. The gardens are also a place for community advocacy. People talk about issues and action while working with dirt and plants. The gardens beautify the neighborhood by providing greenspace and they cultivate the relationships among community members.

Sometimes community advocacy can be generational. Pedro Pedrazza has been awarded for his efforts in aiding others. His son Martin carries on that tradition, especially in the Marketview Heights gardens. He helped build the First Street Children's Garden, teaching children how to plant gardens and care for crops. He also plants yellow lilies in the neighborhood: ““I tell people if you want to change the neighborhood, start by planting flowers, trees and things like that because you notice that right away. Right away. And say, if you start there, the rest will follow.”

Community Advocacy