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Fit For Life

Richmonders

A Real Richmond Success Story

Doria Robinson and Urban Tilth

Panel 5
The last panel of the mural features Doria Robinson with other Richmonders who have helped define the City past to future.

Doria was born and educated in Richmond. Until age 13 she lived at 5th and Nevin. Drive-by shootings prompted her mother to seek a safer place in Richmond  to raise young black children so they moved  to 32nd street.  

 

Doria grew up with a  large extended church family on Richmond's South Side. Her grandfather, Elder Vernon V. Robinson, was the Pastor of Apostolic Temple of Truth Church on Ohio and South 13th.

 

  Struggling with the public school system Doria went to many schools: Peres, Seaview, Wilson, Portola, Kennedy, Independent Study and finally Maybeck High where she graduated with honors. She graduated Hampshire College in Western Massachusetts where she worked on the school's organic farm and studied the environment, multimedia, and philosophy with a focus on Madhyamike Buddhism. 

Eight years ago, after extensive travel to many countries, she returned to Richmond  to work for the Watershed Project and  Urban Creeks Council She became director of Urban Tilth in 2008.

 Doria Robinson

Urban Tilth has become an important resource all over Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo  giving technical assistance to  various efforts at urban gardens, public schools, and three churches.  The most developed gardens are Berryland and the Greenway Community Garden, on  the Greenway at 6th. Edible Forest  is now producing at 16th and the Greenway.  Other projects are  at  Richmond High, North Richmond and AdamsCrest Farm in the Richmond Hills.

 

Growing People  

Less known than the gardens of Urban Tilth is the success in "Growing People".  All of the staff of  Urban Tilth come from Richmond or San Pablo.  Under Doria's leadership the staff intentionally trains itself  in the skills they need to take more responsibility. In addition to the technical knowledge required for farming and healthy food, staff members also learn project management, budgeting, how to read profit and loss statements, conflict resolution and public speaking.

 

Urban Tilth raises money from foundations and believes in paying staff a decent wage.  "You cannot pay attention to improving yourself if you're struggling with how to get money to buy your food," Doria says. Typically people get involved with Urban Tilth by volunteering for specific projects, perhaps through one of the schools Urban Tilth works with.  Many move into the paid summer apprenticeships  and from there to the paid staff apprenticeships and then the full time staff.  Senior staff like Jesse Alberto, Teresa Jimenez, Tania Pulido, Adam Boisvert and Sherman Dean  take  on whole projects  and often represent Urban Tilth to funders or at out-of-area conferences because there is national interest the Urban Tilth programs.

 See Jovanka Beckles Interview with Urban Tilth's leaders
See Jovanka Beckles Interview with Urban Tilth leaders

 

This summer there will be 17 staff and 40 apprentices working on developing their leadership skills while they are improving the health of Richmond and beautifying the city.

 

Urban Tilth's work reaches out and brings together all races in Richmond while being sensitive to and supportive of cultural identities.  It was a major force behind the Martin Luther King Day of Service on the Greenway in January and Caesar Chavez Celebration last month.

 

What’s Good About  Richmond

In  early June reporters from KQED  set up in a Laundromat on Macdonald to hear what the community thought.  One thing they heard was that the media only covered negative events in Richmond.  A reporter, Jon Brooks, invited the community to send him a few lines or paragraphs about what we felt was good in Richmond. A number of people responded. Here are a few that were copied to us.

 

Loads of positive things happen in Richmond all the time around three particular themes that come easily to mind (Surely there are more): its beauty, its history, and its diversity.  Residents work diligently to preserve and expand Richmond's beauty, particularly that of our 32-mile bay front coast-line.  We saved Point Molate from being obliterated into a Las Vegas-style casino. TRAC (Trails for Richmond Action Committee), mile-by-mile relentlessly stretches the Bay Trail.


As for our history, to quote Tom Butt's May 23 E-Forum to share just a touch of flavor, "Richmond is embracing and celebrating its history as never before as excitement builds toward the opening next month of the new visitors center at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. Those attending the annual gala for the Rosie the Riveter Trust on Saturday [April 28] will get a sneak preview of the center before dinner at the Craneway Pavilion."  Residents also commit similar enthusiasm to the Richmond Museum, the Red Oak Victory Ship, revivification of the historic Natatorium. On and on.
The diversity of our people means we bounce around off and into each other with our passion for solving problems.  Name a problem: differences between black and brown women, homelessness, the reintegration of incarcerated people back into the community, insufficient job creation, unattractive public spaces and limited access to fresh foods - the people of Richmond form organizations to solve problems.
For these and many, many other reasons Richmond is a great place to live.

Kathleen Wimer

 

Richmond: I’ve lived here for 23 years. I have a nice garden, pleasant neighbors, a view of the hills, decent swimming pools, walking distance to stores, 2 blocks to the San Pablo Avenue bus, a few minutes to BART, nobody complains about my pet chickens (no roosters) that give me eggs, my neighbors come from all parts of the globe. We have good street parking, and a great Art Center. I personally know many of the local politicians, business owners, teachers, staff at the local Kaiser medical center, life guards where I swim. I taught in this district for almost 30 years, run into my old students (not so old), their families, kids, grannies, and we are happy to see each other. Fruit trees thrive, the train stops here, the city supports art, many artists live and work here. Houses are affordable, we have an elected Green Mayor, and many folks challenge the status quo in an attempt to achieve a safer, healthier, more inclusive city where our diversity is respected, expected and appreciated. Many of us choose to live here, even came from somewhere else, and experience a certain amount of small town friendliness that one does not find in many other places.

Susan Wehrle

 

I heard you were interested in hearing from Richmond residents about the positive aspects of our City.
My husband and I bought a home in Richmond 14 years ago, and our 10-year-old daughter attends a local public school.

We have seen a major transformation in the city in the past decade -- a wave of progressive changes with which we are very proud to be involved.

A city that was once infamous for its crime, poverty, and domination by the Chevron oil refinery, is now seen on the forefront of exciting, positive initiatives -- insisting that Chevron pay its fair share to the community and operate in more truthful, transparent ways; saying "no" to a mega-casino on the beautiful Pt. Molate shore; supporting the development of worker-owned cooperative businesses; promoting solar energy and training youth to install solar equipment; protecting public health and preventing child obesity with a soda tax; promoting community policing; respecting the dignity of undocumented residents with a municipal ID card.  Among the outside observors who have taken notice and applauded Richmond's wonderful progress are Michael Moore, Robert Reich, Van Jones, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Los Angeles Times, Scientific American, and the New York Times.  We credit much of our renaissance to the grassroots progressive organizing of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA).  The RPA is a completely volunteer group that has worked on every level of Richmond's civic life -- from soccer fields to community gardens to electoral politics. 


The endemic problems that plague Richmond (poverty, pollution, violent crime) endure, but residents truly sense that after decades of corrupt "business as usual," Richmond has turned a corner.  I'm proud to live here.  I am hopeful about our city's future.  I hope KQED can help us tell our stories.
 
Thanks,

Kay Wallis


I have worked as a cardiologist at kaiser Richmond for thirty years and presently serve on the Richmond City Council.

What's good about Richmond:
Richmond is becoming the city of firsts.  We are first in solar installations per capita.
We can become the first city in the nation to pass a sugar sweetened beverage tax to reverse the obesity epidemic.  We were the first city to endorse the Millionaires Tax. 


We are a leading city in historical preservation.  We were awarded the LBNL second campus because our community actively supporter this project more than any other of the communities vying for it.  We have a transit company, CyberTran that has the potential to change transit globally. 

Jeff Ritterman



Richmond is the Little City that Could.  Its neighborhood councils, community organziations, and progressive city council have  been reclaiming our city from the wealthy corporations and developers who used to treat it like a garbage dump. We are making our shorelines,  hills,  and community services open to everyone.  It is a city that prides itself in diversity and fighting racism in all of its forms. Richmond does everything  it can to fight the impacts of the disastrous national economy and reaches out to help those hardest hit. A program of community policing has reduced crime. The city succeeded in attracting LBNL to Richmond  and the city has pioneered training programs to help residents get what jobs are available.  Richmond  is leading the way in challenging childhood obesity and diabetes that disproportionately hit our Black and Latino communities. It is a city that takes pride in its history and its future.

Mike Parker

Fred Jackson

In Memoriam:  Fred Davis Jackson

In Memoriam: Fred Davis Jackson

In this clip, Fred speaks at a 2008 demonstration in response to an anti-Latino racist hit-piece put out just prior to the election.  Afterwards, Fred sings  "If the Ozone is Gone" at the kick-off party for Jovanka Beckles' 2010 campaign for Richmond City Council..  Thanks to djoVida who posted this clip on YouTube.  See his website at www.djoVida.com  

 

Fred Jackson Book Cover

Fred's recent book

Fred Jackson

February 6, 1938 - September 8, 2011

Fred Jackson's life was celebrated at two public ceremonies last week -one at the North Richmond Missionary Baptist Church on recently named Fred Jackson Way in Fred's North Richmond Community and the second at the Richmond Auditorium. Both featured Fred's music and poetry along with very moving testimonials from people who worked with him and whose lives he so greatly affected as well as political leaders. His extended family well represented Fred in their love, vision, music, and humor.

Here are the remarks of Mayor Gayle McLaughlin at the celebration.

Fred Jackson was one of the most unique people I have ever met. I'll never forget the first time I really came to know Fred. This was at a RPA forum, where Dennis Kucinich who was a 2004 candidate for president, came to speak. Fred was one of the artists that performed at this forum. He sang one of his incredible songs that so many of us know. He sang Too Early Too Young. He referred to the lives of young people being lost to street violence. He sang his heart out that night, as was always his practice.

 

But Fred know all too well that street violence is rooted in the inequities and injustices of our society and worked his whole life to reverse those injustices and inequities.

Fred was the kind of person that we aspire to be - a person of deep conscience who understood that unity is the only way forward. Fred was an educator and a social activist. I remember how he marched all the way to Sacramento in 2004 in the March 4 education to speak out for equitable school funding. Following that, I remember how he participated in the Fast for Education for 19 days.

Fred with Gayle

Fred was a peacemaker and community builder. He stood strong both against the death penalty and against violence in our streets. He stood for young people and for seniors, giving of himself, his resources, his voice and his commitment on countless causes, projects and activities.

Whenever there was an injustice to turn around, Fred was there. He marched, he talked, he sang, he wrote, and he stood up for those whose experience left them marginalized. He spoke with love; he spoke with kindness; he spoke with passion and sometimes with frustration. But he never lost his belief in the human experience. Fred understood that being a human being was something very special and it had to do with cultivating and shaping the human race, and that being a human being did not mean simply being one of the competing members of our society. As a result of this deep understanding, I believe Fred came so very much closer than most to exemplifying what a real human being looks like.

Fred at Climate Justice Rally
Fred at Climate Justice Rally

And Fred was also an artist - he so loved the experience and joy of creating. You could see his face light up when he spoke about his creations - his songs, his books, his plays. I was deeply moved by his art because it was so rich, so thoughtful, so vibrant, and so uplifting. He had the ability to make others enjoy what he enjoyed... and it was so clear to me that he enjoyed creating art that was socially meaningful. He was able to reach out and touch that universal thread of humanity that exists in us all, no matter how deeply it may be hidden. And when he captured our attention, he smiled that all-knowing smile that yes he had succeeded in reaching another human being. I thank you Fred for reaching me.   

--Gayle McLaughlin  

Richmond Honors Fred Jackson  

Fred Jackson Book Fred Jackson at Richmond City Council

On Tuesday, February 15, at the City Council meeting Mayor McLaughlin presented our beloved friend and community activist Fred Jackson with a proclamation honoring his exemplary service to the Richmond community.

Fred has shared with us that he was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, yet he remains upbeat and welcomes the company and moral support of friends, family and fellow activists, as he faces this serious challenge.

At the Council, Fred's theme was how "hounds of conscience" --the rest of us-- kept him doing the right thing. There was an outpouring of love and respect from the community.

Above: Fred responding to Proclamation at the City Council meeting.

Right: From Fred's soon-to-be-published book, Thoughts Set Free on the Wings of  Expression, a collection of his essays and reflections.

Below: Fred  with Mayor McLaughlin at the 2010 Juneteenth parade. (photo by Ellen Gailing)  

Fred and Gayle Juneteenth