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Parks and Green Spaces, For the People and By the People

By Toody Maher

Richmond, CA. October 25th, 2021 — Communities should be empowered to create safe, green, vibrant spaces and parks that everyone can access. Read how a group of citizens pursued this vision, and learn about a $7 million funding opportunity to support park equity and racial justice.

The first time I visited Elm Playlot was on a bright, sunny afternoon in May 2007.

Elm Playlot is a small, one-half acre pocket park in the heart of Richmond, California’s “Iron Triangle” neighborhood. It is one of the few city parks and playgrounds in the Iron Triangle. The park serves a densely populated, diverse neighborhood that I knew was chock-full of children. However, when I visited Elm Playlot that afternoon in May, I didn’t see a single child playing there.

It wasn’t hard to figure out why.


Click here to read the full article. 

Harbour-8 Park

How one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s toughest neighborhoods is creating new recreational, health and economic opportunities for its residents.

Richmond, CA. August 9, 2021 — Getting its name from three railroad tracks that form its boundaries, the Iron Triangle section of Richmond, California, has a reputation for being the “wrong side of the tracks.” Poverty, crime, gangs and pollution have held this community back, depriving its youngest residents of safe places to play.

Over the last 30 years, California’s land conservation community has protected millions of acres of forests, grasslands, rivers and working lands that define the State’s natural grandeur and abundance. It is a remarkable achievement. However, as California’s population becomes increasingly diverse and urban, the need to provide accessible open space and safe places to play in communities like the Iron Triangle has become apparent and urgent. Yet, the traditional approach to conservation is not up to this new challenge—a 2015 report by the California Council of Land Trusts noted that: the state’s land trusts generally do not reflect the demographic make-up of California; existing protected lands are not readily accessible to most Californians; and they do not provide the range of outdoor experiences many Californians seek. In short, we have been challenged to find a new approach to conservation, one that marshals our resources, expertise, and funding to create new parks and open space that meet the needs of urban and other underserved communities.


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RICHMOND STANDARD: Groundbreaking celebrated for Yellow Brick Road project in Iron Triangle

RICHMOND STANDARD: Groundbreaking celebrated for Yellow Brick Road project in Iron Triangle

By Kathy Chouteau

Richmond, CA. June 10, 2021 — Richmond officials joined the nonprofit Pogo Park and other stakeholders in the Iron Triangle neighborhood on Wednesday to celebrate a groundbreaking for the long-planned, youth-inspired Yellow Brick Road project, which aims to create a safe pedestrian and bike route in the neighborhood that will connect schools, parks, stores, churches and other key community places. Yellow-stenciled bricks along the route will help designate the path.

Backed by $13 million in funding from the State of California and Caltrans, Yellow Brick Road project transformations will impact 25 intersections in the Iron Triangle, according to organizers, employing procedures to slow traffic, including extended curbs, elevated crosswalks, stop signs and roundabouts.

Other project enhancements will include a “Green Street,” where a six-block area on 8th St. between Pennsylvania Ave. and Barrett Ave. will have 93 new trees to “filter the air, storm water planters to filter runoff water and 11,000 square ft. of planting to beautify a neighborhood that suffers from a critical lack of green space,” say organizers. They pointed to living wage-jobs and opportunities for local residents to develop workforce skills as other project benefits.


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Groundbreaking Ceremony for Yellow Brick Road Marks Milestone Achievement


Groundbreaking Ceremony for Yellow Brick Road® Marks a Milestone Achievement in Richmond

Richmond, CA. June 4, 2021 — The City of Richmond and nonprofit partner Pogo Park announce a groundbreaking ceremony for the Yellow Brick Road® to take place at noon on Wednesday, June 9, 2021 at 8th Street and Ohio Avenue.

The Yellow Brick Road is a safe bike and walking route through Richmond’s Iron Triangle neighborhood that connects important community assets such as schools, parks, stores, and churches together.

The original idea for the Yellow Brick Road was born in 2009 when youth from Iron Triangle participated in a summer program that challenged them to dream up solutions to problems that plagued their community. As an answer to high levels of gun violence, blight, dangerous streets and speeding cars, the youth proposed stenciling yellow bricks across roads and on sidewalks to create a designated safe bike and walking route through the heart of their community.


Click here to read entire press release



Land Transfers Make Way for Harbour-8 Park Expansion

October 9, 2020

The pathway to a major expansion and enhancement of Harbour-8 Park on the Richmond Greenway has been cleared after land adjacent to the park was transferred this week to the City of Richmond and Pogo Park.

The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit, acquired the property in 2016 with a loan from the David & Lucile Packard Foundation and held the site until funding was available from a Prop 68 parks grant awarded earlier this year. In two simultaneous transactions this week, The Conservation Fund completed the land transfers.

Read the rest of the article in the Richmond Standard here:

COVID-19 Update

The Contra Costa Health Department’s recent order dated September 4, 2020 mandates that playgrounds in city parks must be closed for use. However, they do allow the public to use picnic and bbq areas in city parks.

Pogo Park is following these orders.

To help prevent the spread of coronavirus by children playing on the same play structures, we put caution tape around Elm Playlot’s (Pogo Park #1) Zip Line, Global Village of playhouses, and Disc Swings. Still, Elm Playlot is open to the public – provided people stay at least 6 feet from others.

During COVID, we see community residents come to Elm Playlot every day to walk multiple times around the trike path for exercise. Families bring their children to the park – the only safe, green space in this community – to run around and play tag. Others come to sit in the garden by the mountain stream to listen to the sound of gurgling water, watch the world go by, or read a book. Elm Playlot’s community garden is thriving: more and more people are coming to harvest peppers, red chard, kale, collard greens, cilantro, Italian parsley, lemons, persimmons, and cucumber.

The Pogo Park staff continue to watch over Elm Playlot on a daily basis, rake the leaves, clean the park and surrounding streets, and disinfect the entry gates, benches, and picnic tables. Our goal: to ensure that, even during COVID, thousands of Iron Triangle residents continue to have access to a beautiful green space – and a place to connect with the natural world – in their own neighborhood. Being in a natural green space helps everyone – children and adults alike – endure the strains that COVID is putting on our daily lives.

$8.5 Million for Harbour 8 Park


CONTACT: Adrian Maher –– –– (310) 922-3080

Richmond Wins $8.5 Million State Park Grant to Develop Harbour-8 Park.

March 3, 2020: Pogo Park partnered with the City of Richmond and The Conservation Fund to secure a highly competitive $8.5 million Prop 68 parks grant to expand and improve Harbour-8 Park on the Richmond Greenway. The grant funds will make possible a new community center, a children’s play area, two ziplines, a bbq/picnic area, and public art, as well as security cameras, lighting, and a restroom.

According to the State’s website, the Prop 68 park grants are “the largest investment in grant funding history targeted for underserved communities.”

Pogo Park’s Harbour-8 Expansion Project will create an improved park and playground for children to play. The Project will also create jobs and training opportunities for 150 community residents living in one of Richmond’s most under-resourced communities.

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Click here to read the entire Press Release

$12.7M in State Grants to Significantly Enhance two Richmond Parks.

February 26, 2020

Two Richmond parks are set to be significantly enhanced via a combined $12.7 million in Prop. 68 grants, the California Department of Parks and Recreation announced on Tuesday.

Of those funds, $8.5 million will be used to continue expansion at Harbour-8 Park located on the Richmond Greenway between Harbour Way and 8th Street. The funds will be used to construct a community center, children’s play area, two entry gateways, two ziplines, a bbq/picnic area, public art, security cameras, lighting and a restroom, according to Pogo Park, the nonprofit staffed by Iron Triangle residents that also built Elm Playlot and Unity Park.

Pogo Park partnered with the City of Richmond and The Conservation Fund to secure the $8.5 million grant.

Read the rest of the article in the Richmond Standard here:

Pogo Park’s Yellow Brick Road Featured in 2018 CARB Report

March 31, 2019

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) featured a profile of Pogo Park’s Urban Greening Project: “Greening the Yellow Brick Road” in their annual report. The goal of the profile is to humanize projects on the ground by telling the story of how Cap and Trade dollars are helping real Californians and their communities. The Urban Greening grant is a $4.1 million grant to “green” the Yellow Brick Road – a safe walking and biking street in the Iron Triangle.

Read an abridged version of the report here.