Last updated 12/29/2021 at 1:48pm
On December 10, the Borrego Valley Stewardship Council (BVSC) invited Borregans to dream about the future of the village, and the community came prepared. The public forum was held at the Borrego Library, with a virtual online platform for others to attend.
In what was intended to be the first of many gatherings to collect and correlate data about community priorities, rising from the grassroots, residents made recommendations in three categories: preserve, create, and change. Attendees posted comments from the three categories in the topical areas of Borrego’s economy and jobs; public health and safety; natural resources; and housing.
Groups rotated through four tables with a facilitator in each topical area. Under the category “Preserve Borrego’s Assets,” participants shared pride in Borrego and the surrounding desert. From Dark Skies, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, native trees and plants, people and wild life, to paramedic’s services, and local businesses were named as essential to protect.
When it came to “Creating” in Borrego, attendees had long lists including, transportation for students to colleges, seniors to health care, infrastructure for electric cars, access to government social services, program to match jobs to seekers, education and job training for students, more organized recreation for teenagers, more health care services, senior assisted living, a plan for litter and dead tree removal. In addition to improving the internet, affordable four-bedroom housing for middle income families scored high in the “Create” category.
One suggestion said it all: “Increase and encourage more citizen volunteer participation.”
“Something the organizers of the meeting were hoping to accomplish by bringing people together to learn how and where to participate; and inspire collective action through this and future community forums,” David Garmon, Consultant Emeritus to the BVSC Leadership Team, said.
“Participation only happens when people believe they have a voice, and that their voice makes a difference. Through the BVSC, we hope to give people both the voice and concrete results.”
The participant recommending more citizen involvement explained, “Too few people – the same people – are always expected to do the heavy lifting in the community. More people should take pride and encouraged to take responsibility for making Borrego the place where everyone dreams of living.”
The category of things to “Change” in Borrego also had robust responses. Recommendations in the category were: Lower dumping fees, stronger internet service, more rangers for park, clean up neighborhoods, and add consistent visible home addresses for emergency vehicles, road safety and reduce traffic speeds. Additional changes included, better sheriff coverage and hours, better trafficking of motor recreational vehicles and motorcycles on roads, keep three and four wheelers, like Jeeps, from damaging the environment, stop sand spread from off road riders, and improved communication with the Hispanic community to encourage participation in local issues.
To meet a goal of involving the Hispanic community, the BVSC is holding an in-person forum using the same format with parents of students at the Borrego Springs High School.
“We share the community, and it’s up to us to make sure all our neighbors feel they have the information they need to be involved, as well as opportunities where they feel welcome to do so,” Jim Wermers, mall owner and member of the BVSC Leadership Team, said.
At some point the BVSC, will collate and share the common priorities and themes with the public and use the collected information as a point of action for organizations involved in planning, providing services, and economic sustainability as a hometown generated map of future progress and long-term vision for Borrego Springs.
The BVSC is democratically structured with 50 organizations represented. The mission is, “To celebrate, promote and protect the unique character, irreplaceable resources, and economic vitality of the Borrego Springs Community and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for residents, businesses, visitors and future generations.”
According to the BVSC website, this is accomplished by: Supporting long-term economic vitality, social equity, and well-managed growth for the community and park by facilitating and supporting the integration of planning, natural and cultural resource management, land use, and economic development. Facilitating the development of a shared vision for the community and region with an emphasis on sustainable tourism, and destination management. Promoting inclusiveness through a commitment to citizen involvement, diverse membership, outreach, partnerships, and collaboration. And Serving as a forum for discussion, input, and community action on topical issues, opportunities, and challenges related to the mission.