The FPYA began training the NNYA during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are now working as consultants with the Grassroot Leadership Opportunities Ambassadors Program (GLO) to train new Ambassadors in Green Valley Ranch for the High Line Canal Conservancy.
GLO - FPYA
The FPYA was recognized at the American Society of Landscape Architects’ annual awards. They won in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion category.
Even with several private donations to the project, there was still a shortfall. It was determined that if Pioneer Landscape Centers donated the landscaping materials, they would be close to their fundraising goal of $150,000. Since giving up wasn’t an option, the FPYA organized community “build days” and gathered volunteers to support the effort. They received overwhelming support from Denver Parks and Recreation who supplied planting equipment and RiNo Beer Garden who supplied food for the attendees. The Greater Greener Conference had 30 volunteers join the community, Ambassadors, and other team members to complete the planting, mulching, and site cleanup before the grand opening.
After years of hard work and months of construction, it came the time to finally present the St. Charles Place Park to the Five Points community. A momentous occasion representing the achievments of the FYPA and the community as a whole was presented from the top of the new staircase connecting the Industry RiNo building and St. Charles Place Park. The grand opening showcased speeches from the FYPA and Mayor Hancock.
Instead of a ribbon cutting, the symbolic release of butterflies as Laviana and Zariah slid down the slide to honor Khobi was the official opening of the park.
The last stage needed to complete the desired park for the community was raising the funds necessary for construction. This would lead to the team’s next chapter in planning fundraisers. The FPYA found great success, not only with finding donors, but creating partnerships with multiple groups as they too began to believe in this new form of youth advocacy and community representation. Denver Parks Trust, Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, and Valerian Landscape Architects, and Industry RiNo Station made significant contributions during this phase of the project.
After taking all the gathered data from the community and collaborating with all design and construction experts, it was time to unveil the design renderings of the new park to the neighborhood. This was done in the FPYA’s second community event, held in the St. Charles Place Park, as a last celebration of the old park and a symbol of next steps for the community space. There were a multitude of activities, ranging from tricycle races, a face painting table, volleyball games, and more. The FYPA took the opportunity to thank all attendees and to inform them of all the changes to the park and requesting their continued support. The event ended when the community gathered to enjoy a movie and snacks. This was a huge milestone, not only for the team, but for the community.
FPYA works closely with many companies to make the community’s visions a reality.
They worked with Iron Horse Architects to design the park entry ways.
Michael Ford and Pioneer Landscape Centers invited the Ambassadors to select the materials used for pathways and natural play components within the new park. The team also met with Adam Bienenstock from Bienenstock Natural Play who discussed the science behind natural play, and showed the Ambassadors a variety of options that they could use in their park.
Stacey Stickler and Will Kern from Valerian Landscape Architecture worked closely with the Ambassadors showing them design concepts and alternatives to fit within the budget. The Ambassadors were able to create the park that they envisioned using standard design development techniques.
Taking the data gathered from their first community meeting, the FPYA began to formulate the groundwork for what the new St. Charles Place Park and the connection to Industry RiNo Station would look like. During this period the Ambassadors learned how to lead design development meetings, evaluate budgets, and make critical design decisions. Eventually, they would face many hurdles on the journey to making the best park they could for their community. Such hurdles ranged from underground water lines to telephone and electric wire relocations which affected design and budget decisions.
After being tasked with community outreach ranging from social media posts to door-to-door outreach, the FPYA led their first community outreach meeting in Industry RiNo Station and had an audience of over 100 community members, each one advocating for changes they sought for the park and parking lot. The FPYA was responsible for every aspect of the meeting, from public speaking to data collection. It was a huge success, even attracting important city leaders like Mayor Hancock, Jason Winkler, and Happy Haines, with each giving their stamp of approval. This success opened the team’s eyes to the importance of community and their work.
The core group of the FPYA was solidified near the end of 2017. Over time, the team learned the fundamentals of public speaking, professional meetings, and gauging ideas for community engagement from their leaders and mentors.
A group of youth gathered at the St. Charles Recreation Center to gauge their interest in meeting with their new neighbors in Industry RiNo Station to discuss improvements to the St. Charles Place Park. Sloane Bullecks with Denver Parks and Recreation and Susan Brown with Valerian landscape architects formed a partnership with the youth of St. Charles and the growing minds of the occupants in Industry RiNo Station. After creating their partnership, the discussion of rebuilding the mutual space of the park and the connection between the two buildings began.
Khobi Eiland was a friend of the Ambassadors, killed due to gang violence just as they were beginning to talk about the renovation of the park.
As community youth Ambassadors, they dedicated their hard work to creating the opportunity for a safe place for everyone in the neighborhood to enjoy. Khobi had a daughter named Laviana who was born at almost the same time as Ambassador, Tomas Salazar, became a father to Zaraiah. We all hope that both girls will grow up to love this park and play together in a safe space.