Elm_Hoeing_crop2007 – Founded in 2007, Pogo Park has been working to transform little-used and abandoned Richmond city parks into vibrant public spaces that provide rich play opportunities for Richmond’s most vulnerable children.

Beginning in 2008, Pogo Park focused its efforts on transforming Elm Playlot, a half-acre “pocket park” in the middle of Richmond’s Iron Triangle–a neighborhood devastated by the effects of poverty, unemployment, violence, beleaguered schools, blight, and a widespread sense of hopelessness.

To re-imagine and rebuild Elm Playlot, Pogo Park recruited, hired, trained, and empowered EPAC (the Elm Playlot Action Committee), a core team of Iron Triangle residents–the people who know their neighborhood best–to plan, design, build, and manage Elm Playlot themselves.

In 2009, Pogo Park and EPAC created a radical new design for Elm Playlot.

In 2010, Pogo Park partnered with MIG, a Berkeley-based design firm, and the city of Richmond to secure a $1.94 million capital grant from the State of California Parks Department to rebuild Elm Playlot based on EPAC’s design. In the summer of 2011, while waiting to secure the permits to begin construction at Elm (a process that ultimately took two years), Pogo Park built a “Pop-Up Park” of temporary play structures (a sandbox, hillside slide, stage, and “global village” of child-sized houses from around the world) and offered free play programming at the park Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Pop-Up Park was an instant hit.

Also in 2011, Pogo Park led the effort to secure a second State Parks Department grant–this time for $5 million–to design and build “Unity Park” on two sections of the Richmond Greenway that lie on the bottom of the Iron Triangle neighborhood.

IMG_1666In 2012, Pogo Park continued to build and operate its Pop Up Park at Elm Playlot to serve local children and their families. Efforts included building a sandbox and acquiring a 700 foot house that lies adjacent to the park and turning it into a park office.

In 2013 Pogo Park began a partnership with the Trust for Public Land and the city of Richmond to transform a two-block section of the Richmond Greenway into Harbour-8 Park. 

In 2014, Pogo Park completed its $2 million renovation of Elm Playlot. This new park features a community center with a kitchen, bathrooms and meeting room; zip-line and disc swings for active play; a “Global Village” of child-sized houses; a separate tot-lot for toddlers; the “chill zone” where children participate in arts and crafts activities, play chess, or build with blocks. Today, Elm Playlot is a dazzling community jewel – and home to hundreds of at-risk children who come everyday to play.

In 2015, Pogo Park provided staffing and play programming at Harbour-8 Park to serve children who live within walking distance of this park. Pogo Park also submitted at successful $6.2 million grant to Caltrans to build the first leg of the “Yellow Brick Road” (a project to build safe streets in the Iron Triangle for children to walk and bike). As one of only 86 of 617 projects funded, the Yellow Brick Road will connect Elm Playlot directly to Harbour-8 Park, giving local children a safe, clean and green pathway to walk or bike to and from our two parks.