History of C2C:
Sherwood Trust co-sponsored a community forum entitled "Commitment to Community" to foster awareness of the problems and challenges that endanger neighborhood stability, with the goal of setting in motion a community-wide effort to address these areas of concern in an effective and sustainable way. Housing and family issues ranked as the top two priority challenges, with neighborhood identity and health issues tied for third priority. The top three priority solutions focused on reducing blight and deterioration, creating or strengthening neighborhood identity, and developing youth/community centers and activities.
Since that time, Commitment to Community (C2C) has shaped itself as a grassroots initiative to build a strong community through building strong neighborhoods. The Community Network, in partnership with the emerging C2C process, researched national and regional models of community organizing. The success of the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods in organizing hundreds of neighborhood projects, (The book “Neighbor Power” by Jim Diers captures this history) was one process that captured the neighbor to neighbor focus C2C envisioned. Using Diers' tenets of "start where the people are," "organize around what interests them," and "meet where they are accustomed to gather," C2C began to walk the streets of priority neighborhoods to develop the capacity of the residents to lead themselves, through ownership of their own agendas. Many other sources helped to shape C2C in its formative years, particularly the work of the Community Network in Bellingham, WA. As a result, C2C has evolved into a learning organization that is guided by a mission statement: "Building a strong community through building strong neighborhoods."
Relationships are the primary focus and starting point for C2C's engagement stage, which is dedicated to developing "hubs of trust" within neighborhoods through relationship-building. Tied to this is project development, ranging from neighborhood trash clean-up days to revitalizing neighborhood parks with new playground equipment. Relationships and projects work hand-in-hand as each sparks development of connections, pride, ownership, and engagement.
C2C has partnered with neighbors, local businesses, city departments, county commissioners, and many more to create a sense of community via positive change in the Jefferson Park, Washington Park, Menlo Park, and the Edith-Carrie neighborhoods. In both Jefferson Park neighborhood and Menlo Park neighborhood, residents worked together with local organizations to build new playground equipment. In Washington Park there have been numerous murals and clean-ups that have increased neighborhood pride. While in Edith and Carrie, neighbors’ dreams began to come true with the construction of a local neighborhood park, community garden and neighborhood center.
C2C is committed to serve all neighborhoods in the Walla Walla area. C2C's current focus is on serving residents living in the westerly portion of the City, from the County Fairgrounds to WA State Penitentiary. C2C will actively assist any neighborhood (especially those with individuals committed to community leadership) by connecting them with resources that will lead to and encourage a greater sense of ownership among residents of their neighborhood and the issues within it.
C2C Neighborhood Outreach Organizers work with neighborhood residents, their ideas, and vision. This approach represents a process of revitalizing neighborhoods that is comprehensive, collaborative, and grassroots in nature. C2C’s work is an investment in a community process rather than in individual programs and will have positive, sustainable implications for the community at large.