How has communication, cooperation, and collaboration helped move the San Leandro Creek Greenway project forward?

Author: Chritina Edwards
Community Engagement on San Leandro Creek, is an excellent example of a project that thrives on communication, collaboration, and cooperation. The creek hosts a number of urban conservation projects including an outdoor classroom, volunteer creek clean up days, and community murals. Two years ago, the leaders of these projects convened at a stakeholders meeting that opened the floor for discussion and open communication with the public and municipal entities. The meeting led to may collaborations and partnerships between various groups that were in attendance at the meeting. Organizations that paired up were able to actively work toward their goals together. The partnerships now had added manpower and brainpower, which allowed progress to come about more quickly and efficiently. 
One group, the Brower Dellums Institute for Sustainable Policy Studies, has won several grants to create a greenway along the creek. After speaking with the director of the program, he said that one of the primary reasons funders were attracted to his project was the fact that such a diverse group of stakeholders were represented by the Institute’s proposal. Because of the collaboration of all of the stakeholders at that initial public forum, the groups were able to reach a shared vision for the creek project, which won the financial support of CalTrans, the National Park Service, and other funders. This success is allows the groups to work toward their goals while also making significant advances toward a healthier urban creek. 
San Leandro Creek is unique, in that, unlike many other urban creeks, it is unculverted.  This makes it an incredibly valuable green space in the urban setting of the cities of San Leandro and Oakland. The “open air” creek has greater opportunity for recreation and public access, making it not only an environmental treasure, but also a great space for humans to utilize for outdoor education and activities. Communication, collaboration, and cooperation have allowed local residents to take charge of this local gem and preserve and protect the creek as their shared space. Their efforts are manifestations of the benefits of working together as a team. Changing San Leandro Creek would be a huge task for one individual, or even a few individuals, but with many groups teaming up to achieve one goal, greater success is possible.
The greenway project will work toward increasing recreation on the creek while promoting environmental education. The creek is plagued by issues common to urban streams – dumping, pollution, and littering all negatively affect San Leandro Creek’s ecological health. Although these issues still exist on the creek, they are becoming less prevalent as the stakeholders continue to invest together in the creek. The progress and support that this project experiences is entirely due to the communication, cooperation, and collaboration at that initial stakeholders meeting. The meeting started off on the right foot with the “three C’s” and it continues to enjoy success because the project did not stop communicating, cooperating, and collaborating after that first meeting – the stakeholders continue to work together in an ongoing conversation about the future of their shared natural resource.