Bevelynn Bravo is a 35-year-old wife and mother of four. She’s lived in the Diamond neighborhoods of San Diego for most of her life. “A few years ago, I was a girl with a chip on her shoulder,” she said. “I didn’t have anything to look forward to. There wasn’t anything around my community, no opportunities at all. Now I can really say I’m a woman with a future.”
This change came through Bravo’s active partnership with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, beginning in 1999, when she took part in a community-wide survey the center conducted to help shape a 10-acre commercial real estate project, Market Creek Plaza, to meet local residents’ needs.
Eventually Bravo joined the Neighborhood Coordinators, a program to help people in the area come together, plan, and collectively take action for their community. She learned how to do house visits and surveys to build relationships with neighbors, received classroom training in facilitation methods and organizing, and made site visits to governmental offices and other community resources. Bravo has been instrumental in projects that include tree plantings, graffiti removal, cultural appreciation events, and petitioning the city to install streetlights or stop signs at dangerous intersections. She also took a stand against gun advertising on billboards in her community.
A team of residents that included Bravo planned a groundbreaking community-development initial public offering that transferred partial ownership of Market Creek Plaza to the community. She was one of 416 local residents who invested.
“It’s something I can leave for my kids,” she said of her investment.
“I used to live day by day,” adds Bravo. “Now I’m back to school. I have hope again. My kids are participating in everything that is going on, and I’m teaching them to value their community.”