A transcript, lightly edited for clarity and length, follows.
Show Guest: Jasmine Dellafosse, Founding Member of Reinvent South Stockton Coalition
Series Introduction: Welcome to voices of the community which explores critical issues facing Northern California communities. We introduce you to the voices of community thought leaders and change makers who are working on solutions that face our fellow individual community members neighborhoods cities and our region.
Series Introduction: This is George Koster your host. This episode is part of our documentary series from bankruptcy to reinvention the city of Stockton California the documentary series attempts to provide listeners with the insights points of view and personal stories from the various voices of change makers working to reinvent the city of Stockton.
Series Introduction: The interviews were conducted from August to September 2016 leading up to the election of Mayor Michael Tubbs. Who's our Central character in the series. The interviews in the documentary series have been edited to fit into our show format. The unedited full interviews will be posted on my website GeorgeKoster.com along with each episode of the series.
Show Guest Jasmine: I never knew that like some of the educational inequities we faced in school were like, Not Right. I didn't realize that all students in wherever we're all dealing with this. So, I finally at that time understood the importance of getting involved in, and like really making change in your community. But, simply just being present.
Show Host George: As was mentioned by Lange Luntao in Episode Five part of the mission of the community group Reinvent South Stockton Coalition created by than Councilmember Michael Tubbs is to empower its residents to transform their community through improving, education. A big part of improving the education is through engaging the users of the education system the youth. Our voice in this episode is Jasmine Dellafosse who shares her experience working with Michael Tubbs as well as the Reinvent South Stockton Coalition in organizing students to address the crime, safety, recreation, health and the education systems in South Stockton.
Jasmine: My name is Jasmine Dellafosse and I'm one of the student organizers with Reinvent South Stockton Coalition.
George: Jasmine, welcome to Voices of the Community, please share with the audience your background in community organizing development work and outreach in Stockton.
Jasmine: Yeah, so really it was three years ago Michael Tubbs had an internship application and a friend of mine had text me to apply because at that time I remember being, very depressed at the time. Like I don't know what I'm going to do now and so he said join us apply for the internship. And then later on received an internship saying, you know, you've been accepted to become an intern for Michael Tubbs and I'm like woohoo. This is gonna be awesome. And from there we had orientation and from that day it took off into wow, this is exactly what I want to do.
And then later from that I really learned, ugh what community organizing is. From their Michael had advisors that were really mentors to really teach us, like what is it to be change agents in your community? And what does that look like? What does outreach look like? What does it mean to serve those in your community? And so one of the first things we started was a Marshall Plan and we're talking about how does that affect young people?
And so we held a Stop the One Eight Seven Bash, which we invited High School kids. Then we held a dance where it was like it was a party but the incentive to coming to the party was to educate them on issues that they were facing in their communities. So that was the first start.
George: Can you explain a little bit about what the Marshall Plan was?
Jasmine: Yeah. So at the time the City had announced their new Marshall plan, which was addressed cease-fire and just new plans that they were to address crime and safety happening in their communities. So from that, it was just really highlighting how gun violence affects communities and how does poverty affect communities.
George: The purpose of the Marshall Plan was too?
Jasmine: Yeah. We were at a shortage of officers in Stockton at that time. We wanted to address beginning to bring a hundred and twenty officers. Yeah, we knew and part of our internship that one of the things he wanted to address was, you know, obviously the Marshall Plan and how can we begin to strategize bringing in more officers?
And what would that look like from input from us? So the Marshall Plan we wanted to address was figuring out, you know, what are hotspot neighborhoods, what are stable neighborhoods for us to bring in officers and talking about operation ceasefire as well? And we brought in guest speakers who were formerly incarcerated. Who are also doing amazing things in a communities now in Stockton.
And then we really did a call to action talking about how we move forward, umh, with empowering those who are ready to get actively engaged around the Marshall Plan. And so that's what entailed in our town hall as well as the event we held for Young Folks to come.
George: So I want to return back for a moment to your internship. So you said you did an internship with Michael. Can you please describe what the internship consisted of? What you did and how that helped launch you into reinvent?
Jasmine: Yeah, so. I began the internship with Michael Tubbs as City Councilman, umh and at that time Michael was really looking to bring together young people and figuring out what are you know in the internship we did a lot of the first beginning stages were just leadership development skills. So we did a lot of history into what was community organizing in the Civil Rights Movement.
What did organizing look like post-civil rights? And just really looking at one of the main workshops that I remember vividly was we did the drum instinct major which was basically Following Our Own Drum. And I remember we listen to a whole clip and we really debrief for a while and figuring out what is it that we want, you know, we all put together our self-interest, but how did that really impact community?
And for some of us it was literacy, for some of us it was crime prevention, some was trauma. Ugh, though really figuring out like how does that impact our communities as a whole. We later started a campaign with one of Michael's friends who came to Stockton, which was the "Ask Stockton Campaign", which was we did 25 days of questions in August of 2013.
And it was a campaign that was just asking people if they can reinvent Stockton, what would it look like? What her issues in their community? And that was one of our first biggest projects that we started. And when we interned Michael sent a group of 12 of us to Tennessee and the Children's Defense Fund which is an organization out of DC sponsored for us to go out there and I was super life-changing.
We met civil rights leaders. So everything we are learning that Michael was teaching us in the first beginning stages of development began to be a real picture. You know, we began to really meet them. And I remember there was actual tunnels in Tennessee where we were actually climbing under where the underground railroads took place. And, it was just extremely powerful in that trip is what has still kept me involved. It was just an amazing experience.
George: So then you went from the internship in to Reinvent Stockton?
Jasmine: Yeah, so I ended up going from the internship and transitioning it into Reinvent South Stockton Coalition after Michael ended up creating the Coalition.
He knew that he wanted to begin a Coalition in South Stockton and we all believed in the vision that he had set. So I kind of started taking over a lot of the youth work. And we started a youth Council back in 2014. And from then we were really just figuring out what does our Coalition look like? What would it look like? Who would be involved? And then literally took us a good six months to seven months of development. It was introduced January of 2014 and then Hector and then everyone else started coming in to play and it was an extremely fun, fun place.
George: That was really the launch of Reinvent South Stockton Coalition?
Jasmine: Yes, one of the first kind of launch that we did was we did Community assessment needs surveys back in August of 2014. We compiled a community assessment needs. Talking about you know, what would you rate the quality of life in South Stockton? What would you rate the quality of education, housing, health, economic development, access to child or youth and recreation opportunities. Umh, and from that we collected about close to 800 surveys. Knocking on doors for a month. With some weeks, we had hundred volunteers, some weeks we had 10 to 12. But we were knocking door-to-door talking with folks in the community. You know, what are you seeing in your community?
And from that we were able to collect data and just collect information to really set where we were as a coalition, and what were things that needed to be addressed. And from that we heard a lot, like the three top main priorities were educational and youth recreation opportunities, crime, and housing was also a big issue. And so we created committees for each issue and we found chair members who were actual community members from South Stockton to chair these positions. And really kind of established a strategy plan to help serve those needs.
George: Can you talk a little bit more about the Youth Council you have created? What is the Youth Council consists of?
Jasmine: Yeah, so the youth Council consists of a group of young people. From we go from seventh grade all the way to college students who up to 22 and a lot of us all.
I mean when you say youth we consider I don't know you it's different now maybes we say under 25 and then we tell them you gotta go after 25 or 23 or whatever it is. But really what the youth council is it's a group of young people and they wanted to see significant impact and change in their communities.
So we focused on. I mean when we look at the Coalition, we've always looked at as a youth as the heart of the Coalition. Just because a lot of the work that the Coalition has done has been because of the youth. They've literally been the folks who are always ready to get up and go and do something.
They've always been the ones who at random text 12 o'clock at night. "Like hey, I have this amazing idea about you know, removing graffiti at parks" or whatever it is. Like always on the go figuring out how they can impact their communities. And so that the Youth Council has been coming up with, just really talking with young people about how could they not only just impact the perception of what things look like?
One of the main things we hear from our kids is that they're tired of people saying Stockton is a bad place. There are tired of people saying, you know that we were the most bankruptcy but we've come so far. And they want people to know that like we are making amazing strides and that the City is beautiful and that there is amazing folks doing work here.
George: What would you say are the top three initiatives that have come out of the Youth Council that the Coalition has worked on?
Jasmine: Yeah, so we started a project that we called "Baby Hawk" and Baby Hawk, it was just a random name no significant. We just thought it was cute. But Baby Hawk was a project that we started.
We wanted to go into all South Stockton schools. So we went into Franklin, we went into Edison and then we went into a few Local Schools. We went to Merlot and we held Town Halls outside of schools too if not, all kids can make it.
And so we were going into the classroom talking to students about. What do you like and not like about your schools? What do you like and don't like about your communities? And if you could solve those issues, what would it look like? Do you get enough support from adults on and off campus? And so one of the things we heard from that conversation was well our parents don't let us out the house because it's not safe.
Yeah for the most part was because it wasn't safe and there was no safe places for them to go. And from that we realized that you know Parks, should be a safe place for kids to play at and be at and so we began to address Park issues. We were able to connect with code enforcement about blight issues in their Parks. But there was a lot of graffiti just a lot of activities going on in the Park.
And so we said well, let's go to a Park and let's clean it up. We went to William Brotherhood Park which is off of Airport Street and amazing Park, beautiful Park. And we began to take down graffiti and we replaced graffiti with college driven posts. We put a motivational post and just a lot of creative photos of what we thought children would like to see at a Park. Color and one of the things we knew was that one of the biggest impact to literacy was play, like kids need to play in order to have you know the five skill sets to literacy.
So by just addressing that, we were addressing multiple issues. We're addressing crime. We're addressing education and we're addressing recreational opportunities for young people. So, that was our first project. From then we've done about six Parks, really cleaning it up removing graffiti. And what we've seen from that was that by just simply, you know, removing graffiti.
There's more active children playing in our Parks. Families are coming out, families are barbecuing at the Parks now. Ugh, So it's so beautiful. And then we see a significant change in the amount of graffiti that doesn't come back. So, you know, we anticipated. Okay, we're going to do this, but give it a month or give it two weeks, graffiti is going to come right back. And we found that, people have respected the fact that you know, they see that people are coming in and wanting to change and care for their communities. For so long they've been neglected and unseen. And so now that we're constantly in these Parks, I think people are starting to feel this trust come back like there is folks here who care about you know, our Parks our kids our communities. That was one of like a really successful thing that our Youth Council have done, for me.
And then another thing was we also addressed that there's just not a lot of services coming in. And said, how can we build trust too was we held a Halloween Trunk or Treat event. Where we had candy in Trunks and there hadn't been a safe Halloween and we realized that folks weren't even letting their kids go trick-or-treating no more just because it wasn't safe.
Aah, we said well, how can we create safe spaces for families to take their kids out? And every kids deserves to have a safe Trunk or Treat and celebrate. So we held an event where we were able to bring together multiple Partnerships to supply candies, decorations, toys, arts and crafts. We gave away pumpkins and about 350 kids came out. And we're having an amazing time and that's exactly what we wanted to see.
Young people feeling like they can come to a space and be safe and know that it that this is their Community. For so long there's always been a sense of like ownership of a community and we felt that these were beginning stages of people taking ownership of their communities.
And then another thing we did was. There's so many things we've done. Ugh, we built a brand new playground actually. Liberty Square Park. And Kaboom and Kaiser had sponsored for Reinvent South Stockton Coalition to build a park. But really it was the Youth Council and multiple other folks who were really the heart behind all of that.
Show Midpoint / Show Host George: You're listening to voices of the community which explores critical issues facing Northern California communities. This is George Koster your host and if you are just joining us, in this episode we are discussing the reinvention of the City of Stockton California. Our guest today is Jasmine Della-ah-fosse the Lead Youth Organizer of the Stockton School Initiative. Jasmine is reviewing both her and South Stockton’s youth work to setup a Youth Council and address how gun violence, poverty, policing and lack of safe recreation spaces impact their lives and community.
George: Was there a really a Park there? Or just a common space? Public space?
Jasmine: Yes. It was number one or number two on Stockton Parks and Recs list to refurbish. And so there was already established playground there. But, it is very old, broken down, and that community also hasn't seen much impact there. And so when we saw the Park we said this is perfect.
But before we even began those stages, we had talked with the community about the playground. And they were like, we don't even play here. We have to go to other Parks because you know, there's not enough things for our kids to play. It wasn't safe. And so we agreed to build the playground and we went forward with it.
And we did like children design days, where we invited children who lived in that community particularly. If you can envision what your playground will look like, what would it be? And so kids were drawing their dream playground. We went into local schools and also held workshops with K through 3rd classes, having them draw out what they would envision their playground to be. From that we collected and just kind of like Post-It note. You know, how many kids said slides, how many kids said rock climbing. And from that, that is how we designed the Park. We had some designers who are professionals who designed playgrounds, but we were able to say some of the recommendations
George: And provide design input from the community itself.
Jasmine: Yeah, Yeah,
George: So what it sounds like , that through these efforts that South Stockton community members have decided to take back their Community. Would that be safe to say?
Jasmine: Yeah, definitely and I think the amazing thing about it. It's it's led by them. You know, it's not someone coming in and saying we're going to do this.
It's driven by folks who live here and young people who have been most impacted. So yeah, definitely
George: And where would you like to see it go? Your vision going forward. You've been at this for three years.
George: Which, I'm sure seems like a lifetime, laughter... What would you like to see it go? Because obviously you're starting to really get some momentum in the community itself and getting ownership from the community members. What are some of the resources that you would need to make that happen?
Jasmine: Yeah. I, god it such a big vision, you know, I want to be able to seek kids walk down their street and play because they deserve to. I want to see kids graduate from high school and be eligible to go to college because they deserve that right.
I want to be able to say for those who think that college isn't an option but their career ready by the time they are graduating high school. And that they have opportunities to go into these career fields, would be amazing. I envision more safe spaces in the community to be easy access for them.
What I'm hoping is that our young folks who we are really engaging with and Training Up would venture off to college. But, remember to come back and serve their communities. And we hear so often young people tell us. I'm going to come back and do what you were doing, or I'm going to come back and run for City Council because I want to change my City. You know, we hear kids saying I want to get into the health field, because I want to be able to serve and open up clinics and urgent cares in my community.
I've heard our young people say they want to come back and are even now they're beginning to work on a restorative justice program. That would be able to help young people seek help from trauma and at a young age. And so for me, I think if we can do all that and provide opportunities like that. That is what I'm hoping for.
This leads to that people would understand that collaboration is important and partnerships. And that if we can put whatever aside to serve our community, we could be a lot farther. And I think our Coalition has done a great job and really bringing all different kinds of folks to the table. And really knowing that collaboration is important and so I'm hoping to see that Citywide.
George: Now art is a big part of your outreach program as well. And it was hoping you could share with the audience little bit about the art but also your program that you've created "Stockton Legends". And kind of walk people through what is the Stockton Legends and how can someone participate?
Jasmine: Yeah, so from our education committee and also Youth Council, this was a project that came out with a few people at the table saying that to address that there are amazing people in Stockton who have gone to do amazing things. We noticed that there was a lack of young people being excited about going to college or getting into career fields that they had no idea about. And we knew in Stockton that there were amazing people who came from South Stockton and who are doing amazing things.
We have doctors, we have lawyers, professionals, you know athletes we have, you know musicians who've gone off and done an amazing job. We wanted to introduce students to them and give them another alternative. Yeah, so we went into the schools and we opened up an application to the community, which was a nomination application of "Who would you consider a local Legend"? And a Local Legend what we considered were those who have done amazing things, and to come from Stockton and who are in these career fields that most times a South Stockton kid may never know of. So, the idea was we bring them into the schools and introduce them students. And we created a curriculum that would serve the need of the teachers,meaning the curriculum, common core standards. So, if they are teaching science, somehow it is science relatable. Ugh, we are bringing in folks who are in the science field to come into the classrooms. So, we created a directory that will support like these Local Legends can be in science classes, or history classes or whatever their skills were.
We conducted interviews with them. We had students and they had a rubric if they would listen to that person if they came into the classroom. If it meant something to them. Would they listen to them, and would they walk away with something.
So we had the Local Legends come and do kind of a pilot run through test with this cohort of young people. And a lot of them found it very nerve-wracking. Like oh wow this is like amazing. And yeah, so last year we actually were able to get about six Local Legends into the schools. And then starting off in October we're hoping to reboot and get more Local Legends into the school this year.
George: What would you say are some of your biggest challenges to executing your vision?
Jasmine: I mean there's a lot sometimes. It's really hard sometimes to get into the schools. Or are sometimes challenges can be placement for folks and sometimes it's also communication. So we're all volunteer based for our education committee, right. And you know, we had this or everyone's doing this and we all you know, some have full-time jobs some have part-time jobs.
It is like, we are all creating this and we're getting them into the schools. So there's not one person who's hired to really move the Local Legends. It's all volunteers, you know who built relationships with these different institutions to bring in the Local Legends. So, I think the challenge is finding the time for everyone to do that with given limited capacity. So I think that's the biggest challenge.
George: So what is something about yourself that most people don't know?
Jasmine: That's a good one. See we asked these questions a lot in all our committees and I never answer the questions
George: Now it is your opportunity.
Jasmine: Yeah, I think if people don't know I really do love working with young people, laughter, Umh, just because I never really had a mentor. Who was you know, there for me, you walking me through it. I had amazing advisors who were a good spiritual support for me in high school. Mr. Morano. Shout out to you. laughter Yeah, if we had more of those I want to be one of those for folks, I guess.
George: Thank you Jasmine.
Jasmine: Thank you.
Episode Outro: That’s, it for this episode of voices of the community. You have been listening to Jasmine Dellafosse the Lead Youth Organizer of the Stockton School Initiative who shared her work with the Reinvent South Stockton Coalition in organizing youth to develop solutions to the issues and problems facing their community such as working with City of Stockton”s Park and Recreation to refurbish park playgrounds, develop an ethics studies program with Stockton Unified School District and create the Stockton Legends program to celebrate Stocktonians who have gone on to do amazing things and act as role models for Stockton’s youth.
Series Outro: Voices of the community as a labor of love. This documentary series on the City of Stockton's reinvention is a tribute to my mother Josephine Koster Wiley who grew up in South Stockton and passed away during the production of the documentary series. My mom was a first generation Italian immigrant whose family migrated to Stockton and owned a motel on the Old Charter way now renamed Martin Luther King Boulevard in the Heart of South Stockton. Mayor Michael Tubbs also grew up in South Stockton with his single mother Racole Dixon.
Throughout the series, you'll hear voices of community members who are working with Michael Tubbs in both creating new organizations as well as working with fellow community members to reinvent both South Stockton and the greater Stockton Community.
Series Credits: I want to thank my associate producers Eric Estrada and Nick McClendon as well as advising producer Malcolm Cecil. Please go to georgekoster.com to check out our next episode of From Bankruptcy to Reinvention - The City of Stockton California documentary series as well as our archived past shows which feature community voices working on solutions to critical issues facing Northern California communities. Please rate us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts and share this story with your friends. Follow us on twitter@georgekoster and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org I'm George Koster in San Francisco and thank you for listening.
In memoriam of Jo Koster Wyllie
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