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February 13, 2013

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February 13, 2013

I picked up a flyer about Self Sustaining Communities, during one of their fruit tree giveaway programs last year at the Richmond Farmers' Market. I got in touch with Linda Schneider, the director, because I was interested in working with the aquaponics system, at the farm location in Richmond's Panhandle Annex.

Over time I came to know Linda and found that the whole thrust of Self Sustaining Communities' work interests me. I learned of her program of rehabilitating blighted lots in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Richmond into urban farms. What truly impressed me was that she has been knocking on doors, asking the neighbors of each urban farm location, what sort of green space they would like to have there, fruit orchards, community gardens, play space for kids? Neighbors then start to plan their green space, and ultimately title of the land is given to the neighborhood people.

Richmond really needs these little urban farms ... ! They boost the quality of life for the whole neighborhood.
I have seldom seen such a beneficial and openhearted plan as this, put into action. It is such an obviously good idea, and I feel inspired to do what I can to help make it happen.

Linda strikes me as a person of great integrity and discipline as well. in fact this altruistic vision of hers seems to bring out the best in volunteers who take part in SSC's projects.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

October 25, 2012

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October 25, 2012

Self-Sustaining Communities has received small grants from The Strong Foundation for Environmental Values. We support the goal of this organization, working to better the lives of Richmond residents through sustainable living and community participation. Under the visionary and collaboratory leadership of Executive Director, Linda Schneider, Self-Sustaining Communities has quickly become an effective community organization that is creative in its responsiveness to community needs.

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Was your donation impactful?

Likely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

October 25, 2012

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October 25, 2012

Self-Sustaining Communities is an amazingly effective non-profit that engages directly with underserved populations and produces significant visible and social impacts on the communities it serves. The dynamic Executive Director, Linda Schneider is especially effective at leveraging community, municipal and industry support to increase the backing of projects and their likelihood of success.

I became involved with the organization from the academic research side when I included Self-Sustaining Communities projects in my Community Design Outreach architecture studio classes at the University of San Francisco. These courses have upper level students working on real projects for local and international communities in need. Bay Area projects generally center around food desert/food security gardens and community environmental issues. The ongoing projects with SSC are a rain garden project that accomplishes both flooding remediation and crime reduction by converting a hidden loop road into a California natives natural habitat; the design of a community tool shed built of natural materials, and a rain catchment bench. These projects are now leading to a focus on integrating more community needs into future projects, including self-built shelter dwellings combined with urban farming, alternative energy installations, and the associated skills training.

It is important to note that Richmond California is an urban city with significant problems of generational poverty, environmental pollution from local industry, two major freeways, freight trains, storm water and sewerage releases from low elevation interaction with the tidal flows of San Francisco Bay, substandard, absentee landlord housing, and drug/gang activities and violence. There are enclaves of middle class areas on the peripheral hills along the edges of the city, but the flatland majority of the city is rife with difficult social and environmental issues. For decades the city has thrown tens of millions of tax dollars at each of the problem areas, with little effect. It is this context that makes what Self-Sustaining Communities is doing all the more amazing.

What we have here is an authentic working model of a grassroots non-profit, successfully encouraging and guiding communities in low income, high crime areas of Richmond to create, expand and maintain natural landscapes and food-growing gardens on empty urban lots in their neighborhoods. Executive Director Linda Schneider’s goal with these projects is that they be hands-on, where the members of the community are learning to design and build for themselves, toward eventually taking on management of each site as they are completed.

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

October 24, 2012

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October 24, 2012

If you are looking for a non-profit that actually makes a difference. Look no further! Self Sustaining Communities takes on some of the greatest challenges facing the city of Richmond- access to affordable housing, availability of healthy food, building safe communities, etc and addresses them head on with great heart and ingenuity. Volunteers learn a lot and are greatly appreciated. Wonderful people involved!

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

October 24, 2012

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October 24, 2012

Self Sustaining Communites takes a caring and wholistic approach to elevating the lives of people in the community. By providing resouces like providing thousands of fruit trees to impovrished areas and ideas like developing an aquaponics system, this non profit has created a real and meaningful difference.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

October 16, 2012

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October 16, 2012

I have worked with this organization as an engineering resource, helping them actualize some of there more mechanically ambitious projects. The biggest project I have helped them complete is an Aquaponics system that lets them grow fruit, vegetables and fish in a highly efficient closed system. This project not only helps provide food for the local community but also shows how much can be done and grown in a very small space. Our completed project used a lot of found and re-used materials showing that you don't need massive amounts of resources to set up such a system. I am really looking forward to helping this organization provide other working systems (conventional gardening, more aquaponics, honey production, composting, chicken raising, etc...) that will serve the double duty of providing service to the community as well as modeling how more of the same can be built and maintained in an underserved urban setting.

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

October 16, 2012

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October 16, 2012

Linda is empowering the communities around her (in problem-plagued Richmond) to become more self-sustaining in terms of food (raised beds, fruit trees, chickens, fish&veg (aquaponics), building with local materials, collecting rainwater... and doing it all on a shoestring. People are getting inspired and fed while they find real community...

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

October 15, 2012

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October 15, 2012

Love to garden, give back, and raise chickens. Perfect Place.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

October 15, 2012

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October 15, 2012

For months I just passed by and enjoyed seeing the chickens and bunnies, and hearing the rooster crow from my apartment next to the freeway. I thought it was great to see an urban farm in an otherwise blighted neighborhood. I finally visited the farm on an evening when neighbors were invited to celebrate the new aquaponics system and the addition of the baby fish to provide some nutrients for the vegetables being grown in the little clay pebbles rather than being planted in soil. The majority of the vegetables are being grown in raised beds screened in with chicken wire. Varieties of lettuce, kale, tomatoes, carrots, beets, beans, and squash are growing. There are beehives, compost, and vertical towers growing potatoes. The hens knew when it was time to go into the henhouse for the night, and they started going in and lining up in a row on the perch of their own volition. I visited again a few weeks later and was amazed at how much the vegetables planted in the aquaponics shed had grown since the night we planted them. I also enjoyed some delicious honey harvested from one of the beehives. And I was delighted to learn that volunteers with this organization have planted fruit and nut trees along the sound wall on the neighborhood side of the freeway . In a society where it's cheaper to buy a fastfood burger than a salad, I think that making fresh vegetables and fruit available to folks in low income neighborhoods and familiarizing them with the process of growing good healthy food and the idea that this is something they can be involved in is really worthy project.

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

October 15, 2012

more

October 15, 2012

I have coordinated several community events with this organization on behalf of a local government. They show the ability to produce resources and ideas that allow us to have a positive impact in the community.

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How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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3 hours of volunteer time for this nonprofit will...

Plant vegetables, fruit trees, clean a chicken coop, harvest honey from a beehive, build Volunteer