When our local transit authority unveiled plans to build a mega-parking structure on the site of a future Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station, community members were dismayed at their exclusion from the decision-making process for a major development project. CommUniverCity served as a trusted convener, bringing together a broad spectrum of community residents to explore a collective vision for their future. This process helped to uncover the talents, imagination, and skills of those whose voices often go unheard. It was local high-school students who developed the idea for a “town square” next to the neighborhood’s iconic Five Wounds Church. Their idea became the central organizing principle for the community’s BART concept plan. Through this partnership, residents charted a new course, and continue to celebrate their new-found organizing power.
In November 2013, the Five Wounds Urban Village Plans were approved by the San José City Council and Planning Commission for adoption within the San José General Plan. City planners and elected officials were so impressed with this participatory planning process that, in the words of City Councilman Sam Liccardo, “the Five Wounds Village . . . will become a model for the rest of our region, as it becomes the first village plan incorporated into the new general plan for the City of San José.”