Today Elm Playlot is a visible symbol of hope and change in a neighborhood where literally every other public works project has failed. Pogo Park’s process for rebuilding Elm Playlot – “from the inside/out” – is being hailed by the State of California Parks Department and others as a national model for what real, deep, and authentic community engagement looks like.
In 2017 Pogo Park was recognized with a “Community Leadership Award” from the San Francisco Foundation, and was featured among other outstanding parks around the world in “The Field Guide for Parks and Creative Placemaking.”
In 2016, Pogo Park was named an exemplary model by the State of California for its ability to engage the community in grassroots projects. The State Park’s Department is funding a research project to study the multiple impacts of Elm Playlot on community well being. Pogo Park partnered with The Conservation Fund to acquire 17,500 square feet of land adjacent to Harbour-8.
In 2015, Pogo Park staffed Elm Playlot with members of the Community Resident Team (CRT) in order to serve thousands of children who live within walking distance. Pogo Park also wrote a winning $6.4 million grant on behalf of the City of Richmond to build the first leg of the “Yellow Brick Road” – a project to build a safe walk-bike street through the heart of the neighborhood.
In 2014, Pogo Park completed its major renovation of Elm Playlot. The new park includes a community center with a kitchen, bathrooms; zip-line, disc swings and a “Global Village” of child-sized houses; a separate tot-lot for toddlers; the “chill zone” where children participate in arts and crafts, play chess, or build with blocks.
In 2013, Pogo Park partnered with the Trust for Public Land and the city of Richmond to transform an abandoned, two-block section of the Richmond Greenway into our second “Pogo Park” – Harbour-8 Park.
In 2012, Pogo Park takes possession of the house at 720 Elm and discovers that the 700 square foot home has historical significance. The team meets with local architect and restoration experts to reimagine this house in the framework of a park office and community center, and bring out its long lost historical features. Adding a house to Elm Playlot location changes the design plan for the park, and so the design has to be recreated.
In 2011, while waiting to secure the permits to begin construction, Pogo Park built a “Pop-Up Park” at Elm Playlot comprised of temporary play structures (a sandbox, hillside slide, stage, and “Global Village” of child-sized houses) and provided free play programming for children on a drop-in basis. The Pop-Up Park was a hit.
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 the community’s design.
In 2009, Pogo Park and EPAC created a design for Elm Playlot.
In 2008, Pogo Park focused its efforts on transforming Elm Playlot, a .5 acre “pocket park” that lies in the heart of Richmond’s “Iron Triangle” neighborhood. To re-imagine and rebuild Elm Playlot, Pogo Park hired, trained, and empowered a small team of community residents to plan, design, and rebuild Elm Playlot themselves. This 8-member team dubbed themselves “EPAC” (Elm Playlot Action Committee).
In 2007 Pogo Park was founded on a $29 desk from IKEA.