This evening, La Voz Latina is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its monthly activities in Macaulay Park. The Tenderloin non-profit, which works to build community for Latino families in the neighborhood, has held fundraisers, celebrations, and educational programming in the park each month since last August.
Macaulay Park, which sits at the corner of Larkin and O'Farrell Streets, has received little attention since it was constructed in 1983—especially compared to nearby Boeddeker Park, which underwent a multi-million dollar renovation last year. From the get-go, La Voz Latina program manager Kelly Guajardo says that the plan was to "positively activate that space via regular community building activities and events that bring residents and community partners together."
To decide exactly how to achieve these goals, La Voz Latina surveyed approximately 80 families and individuals living and working near Macaulay Park in July of 2014. The top concern among those surveyed was the park's safety, with residents concerned by unsafe activities occurring in or near the park, outdated lighting, and a lack of accessibility. Based on that feedback, the group decided to hold monthly events to liven up the space and offer resources for local residents.
For the past year, Macaulay Park has been transformed for one day each month. A fire fundraiser and safety event was held in February, in the wake of a large house fire that displaced six local families. City College class registrations have been held in the park, as have Mother's and Father's Day celebrations. One month, Jane Kim used it as a home for her "Listening Booth," to receive feedback from the community.
District 6 Supervisor Jame Kim in Macaulay Park with several La Voz Latina organizers.
Arguably the most magical event held in Macaulay Park in the past year was a Winter Wonderland, which brought 150 children and their families to the park for hot chocolate, live music, and fake snow.
"These positive activation events discourage nuisance behavior in and around the park, while at the same time empowering residents to access one of the precious few public spaces in the neighborhood," Guajardo tells us.
But community events are just the beginning. Guajardo says that La Voz Latina is working with Rec and Parks to bring some much-needed physical improvements to Macaulay Park, such as new lighting and the installation of picnic benches to allow neighbors to host birthday parties in the space. A full park renovation could begin next year.
Guajardo hopes that other community groups in the neighborhood will draw inspiration from La Voz Latina's work in Macaulay Park and hold events of their own in other areas of the Tenderloin, such as the mini-park at Turk and Hyde. "Clean and safe parks are essential to the health and wellbeing of our community, and this should be a neighborhood-wide initiative," she says.
If you'd like to get involved with the programming at Macaulay Park, there's always a need for volunteers to organize kids' games, provide entertainment and serve food. Donations to the program can be made through the Tenderloin Housing Clinic's site.
Tonight's one-year anniversary event will take place from 4-6pm at the park.
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