Creating safe, green, and vibrant city parks in the heart of one of America’s toughest inner-city neighborhoods makes a positive impact on the community in multiple ways.

Testimonials about Pogo Park

“As Pogo Park staff worked on the redesign and renovation of the park, the character of the neighborhood changed significantly. The presence of responsible adults at the park made local parents feel comfortable in bringing their children to the park to play and exercise. Pogo Park staff maintained regular communication with the Richmond Police so that residents could report suspicious activity to park workers, knowing the police would be informed. As a result, the reduction in incidents of violent crime, drug dealing, and vandalism in the immediate neighborhood of Elm Playlot has been dramatic.”
– Chris Magnus, Richmond Police Chief  

“What this park has brought me now? It’s a transformation. This is a special park.”
– Doris Mason, Former Congressman  

“Pogo Park is the new Richmond – the Richmond that doesn’t wait for someone else to come and do something for us. This is the Richmond that rolls up our sleeves and we do it for ourselves. I’ll look for this to be replicated all over town.”
– Tom Butt, Richmond Mayor

“For so many years we worried about this community, we lamented, we didn’t pay attention, we didn’t empower people. We came in and out, in and out, but we never created stability and growth. Nothing has moved me like being a small part of this project and seeing the growth that has happened in this community. It’s a magnificent gift that this neighborhood gave to itself. Pogo Park is the best investment we’ve made in the neighborhoods in a long, long time. It’s the best thing I have participated in in my 40 years in Congress. It’s just that simple.”
– George Miller, Former Congressman 

This is a community that has been hit by so many social economic issues, poverty and crime. We’re thankful to the Pogo Park movement for bringing Elm Playlot back to life and giving a place to the people of the Iron Triangle to enjoy in their community. More than 60 people helped to build Elm Playlot. Those are people who earned a decent wage, doing great work that they can always point to in their community, ‘this is something that I helped build.’ Parks are a natural partner for helping to augment what can be provided to our kids, by ensuring they have safe places to play. Parks have the opportunity to help us address all kinds of issues from physical health to enjoying the beauty of nature.”
– Tony Thurmond, Congressman

The Pogo Park model really stands out for how it empowers and involves residents in all three phases of a project: design, construction and park programming. Many times projects fail because there’s lack of ownership by the community. But Toody and her team understand how to work with the community to create what the community needs. Toody not only involved residents in the design of the park, but she was also able to employ them to build it, as well as to supervise and run activities in the park today. This is a unique form of community involvement and local stimulus that’s really rare to find. I have been working in the field for 16 years and have traveled to multiple projects, and I think other cities can benefit from learning more about how the Pogo Park team was able to make the project successful. I’m not really aware of any other model in California that does such a good job.”
– Viktor Patino, Manager, California Parks Department

“Pogo Park is a heart that pumps life into the hardest-hit area of Richmond.”
– Dr. Jason Corburn, UC Berkeley School of Public Health

“Kids didn’t used to take their bikes to the park because they would get stolen.  Now, because we have more people coming to the park and watching, kids can fix their bikes here and leave it without it getting stolen.”
– Oscar, 13-year-old resident

“We’re next to Pogo Park where we feel safer.  In the old park we weren’t really that safe because anything could have happened.  Now more people come and we make new friends. More and more people came to the park and we started meeting new people. The old park was rowdy. A lot of trash. It wasn’t very quiet.”
– Markel Anderson, 12-year-old resident

“I come to the park every day. It lives right by me. I like to come to the park because I like to play on the swings with my friends. My friends push me on the swings. It’s fun to stand up on it and you get to sit down. And I like the zip line because it’s fun when people push you.”
– Ashanti, 6-year-old resident

“The park is beautiful. We love it! It’s secure, safe, and clean and you can always find nice people here. I was scared to come here before it was made so nice.  Now it’s safe and all the children are happy. I like meeting my neighbors. I didn’t even know them before. Now we can get together, talk, and the children can play.  My family comes all the time and my daughter say, “what a beautiful park!”
– Eva Tabos, Grandmother and local resident

“Before Pogo Park I used to stay home.  My mom used to say no because there used to be a lot of stuff happen over there.  And now I go there every single day. I used to be scared to go over there but once [Pogo Park] opened I went over there every single day. Pogo Park used to be messy and there used to be a lot of stuff, fights and shootings and everything.  Now it feels safer to go to Pogo Park. It feels safer. It’s fun. They got a zip line. And swings. And a tree house.”
– Boo Anderson, 8-year-old resident

“What do I love best about the park? I love the staff because they are always there and because so many parents now are at the park, I can take a break in the house without worrying about the kids. I like the bathrooms and lunch. My kids get lunch every day. The neighborhood crime has gone down because of Pogo Park. The staff and the neighbors are watching out for the park. And because it’s full of kids, the troublemakers stay away.”
– Yiness Tolbert, Mother of three and local resident