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The Spring Festival began 4 years ago as a means of revitalizing the primary open space within the South University Neighborhood at O’Donnell Garden Park. The festival is a collaboration between residents, CommUniverCity, and San José State University students and faculty. The annual event has been instrumental in combating the unsafe and “negative” environment that once consisted of drug dealing and prostitution in the neighborhood area. The festival had two primary goals, (1) to create service learning engaging the local neighborhood coalitions to address this community-identified need, and (2) to plan and implement specific activities to reclaim the park for neighborhood families.

This year featured the Horace Mann Elementary School Mariachi band at their first performance outside their elementary school. The Environmental Services Department, Friends of the Library, SJSU Urban Planning Department, SUN Association, Victorian Preservation Association, Momentum for Mental Health, Home First, and the Health Trust were a few of the groups that shared information with  residents at the festival.

By the Numbers | 2016-17

4 SJSU students engaged

100 residents engaged

209 hours of service

$5,045 value

Project Impact

  • This annual festival continues to create a positive use for O’Donnell Garden Park in building a sense of community between SJSU student and SUN resident interaction.
  • Several neighbors living in the SUN community reported they now had a comfortable space to meet and interact with each other for the first time
  • 100% of surveyed residents said that they met a neighbor that they didn’t know before
  • The event proves that an open space, once blight, can be revitalized and continue the promotion of social capital through community building, awareness and social justice.
  • 83% of survey participants strongly agreed that they were more interested in getting involved with the community as a result of attending this event
  • Many local groups participated and taught residents about mental health, sustainable living, environmental services, and more.
  • 100% of survey participants agree that the festival increased their understanding of how to live more sustainably.

Community Stories

“It is perfect how it has been done, many thanks to all!”
–SUN resident

“[I would like] More friendly events in the neighborhood so that neighbors can get to
know each other.
–SUN resident

“I experienced the passion and commitment that both CommUniverCity and residents
have for neighborhood events. The preparation leading to the event and the last minute
adjustments on the day of the festival proved to be rewarding in itself. Rain or shine, it
meant a great deal that residents appreciated the hard work that coordinators and leads
put forth to make the festival possible by attending and being patient with the rain
delay!”
–Project Coordinator