Category Archives: CLP-Grow

CLP@Lincoln youth raising his hands during a hike on the first day.

Cultivating Youth-Led Community in Eastside

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Riverside, CA – Child Leader Project (CLP) is proud to announce the start of its new ecological and social justice leadership program, CLP@Lincoln. The program begins this May 2013 with youth leaders from the Advancement Via Individual Determination Program (AVID) at Lincoln Continuation High School in the Riverside Unified School District.

In collaboration with AVID, CLP mentors will provide seven sessions of experiential learning on social, ecological and food justice in the Eastside community.

Riverside’s historic Eastside community has been the focus of extensive efforts by health leaders in the HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Zone Initiative. Eastside’s 17,541 residents have little to no access to healthy food or physical activity due to the social and environmental obstacles inherent in lower income communities. It is also home to one of Riverside’s food deserts, a USDA-classification for low-income communities with little or no access to healthy, affordable food.


Map of food deserts in Riverside

This USDA map of the Food Deserts in Riverside. Green represents census tracts who are Low Income (LI) and have Low Access (LA) to healthy food within 1-mile. Orange are LI and LA within .5 miles. The red dot marks the location of Lincoln High School in Eastside.

“This program will engage young people as allies and leaders in community change by exploring  how data and research can help us understand and communicate what injustices we already experience about the communities we live in,” says Samantha Wilson, Executive Learner and Founder of CLP and co-facilitator on the program.  “Youth know what’s up in their communities—the role of adults as partners is to provide support, access and language to share their knowledge in ways that make change.”

The program will be co-facilitated by Daniel Aaron Francis and Samantha Lynne Wilson. Daniel Francis brings fifteen years of experience in regenerative and sustainable design and holds a consulting role in the design of community gardens throughout Riverside. Samantha Wilson is a UCR alumna and has served as CLP’s Executive Learner for five years, assisting in leadership development programs for over 500 youth from Riverside to Mexico and South India.

Impacts of Exposure to the Natural World on Student Achievement and Health

Ecological justice and nature-connection is an essential part of individual and community health. Richard Louv, auther of “Last Child in the Woods” and “The Nature Principle,” writes, “Research suggests that exposure to the natural world – including nearby nature in cities – helps improve human health, well-being, and intellectual capacity in ways that science is only recently beginning to understand.”

Louv has also noted  increased  test scores, improved critical thinking skills, problem solving and decision-making as result of time in natural and wildnerness settings.

The CLP@Lincoln Program


Daniel Francis and CLP Lincoln youth at the Arlanza Garden

Program facilitator Daniel Francis with CLP@Lincoln youth on the first day of the program.

CLP@Lincoln is an innovative program designed to bring young leaders in touch with the natural world in a way that inspires them to cultivate health and community in their own neighborhood.

Participants in the program will:

  • Observe and explore their relationship to their high school environment.
  • Hike Box Springs Mountain and engage in observation of social and environmental patterns in Riverside.
  • Meet student leaders at UC Riverside’s R’Garden and learn the story of student organizing in advocating for green spaces on campus.
  • Map and engage liquor store and corner market owners in Riverside’s historic Eastside neighborhood with lessons from the Cx3 Collaborative of the County Department of Public Health.
  • Help out at the Arlanza Community Garden, Riverside’s first permaculture-designed and youth-led garden initiative on Parks and Recreation property.
  • Meet public officials and address city leaders on the issues of their community.
  • Celebrate with family and friends and make plans for next steps as volunteer leaders.

Donations and Support:

RCHF logo

The program is funded primarily by a grant from the Riverside Community Health Foundation ( RCHF has provided $3,000 towards the $4,000 needed to support staff, transportation and program costs. CLP currently invites community supporters and allies to give towards this program. All supporters are invited to our closing celebration to learn more about the experience of youth first hand.

To donate online, click here.


To donate by check or cash, please send your gift to C/O CLP@Lincoln, Child Leader Project, P.O. Box 51333, Riverside, CA 92517. 

Arlanza Community Garden banner.

Second Annual MLK Day of Service

On January 21, 2013, CLP hosted our second annual MLK Day at the Arlanza Community Garden. It was a complete success with 80 plus leaders in the garden assisting with irrigation, gate design, weeding and clean-up. Other activities included parents for Norte Vista High School’s Padres Unidos (United Parents) organization selling pupusas, CLP youth raising funds for the 2013 Confronteras trip and Operation SafeHouse representatives sharing information about their work. Make sure to mark your calendar for next year’s event!

Check out all the photos at: Second Annual MLK Day of Service


CLP MLK Day of Service t-shirt hanging on the Arlanza Garden fence.

If you missed out on the event, make sure to Save the Date for Earth Day 2013 (Saturday, April 20th) when we will be hosting a work party in celebration of Earth Day. More details to come soon.

"Grow" in bold letters.

Arlanza Community Garden Agreement Signed

After almost two years of planning, designing, working and gardening, CLP leaders Samantha Wilson, Cheng Ung and Toby Walker officially signed the Arlanza Community Garden agreement with the City of Riverside. We are incredibly thankful for all the support from CLP youth, CLP staff, the City of Riverside and the countless community members who have participated from the beginning of our efforts to today. We look forward to many more years in the garden to come!

For updates on the garden, make sure to like us on Facebook: Arlanza Community Garden

Image of the signed Arlanza Community Garden agreement.

"Arlanza" in big bold letters.

UCOP Video In the Arlanza Garden

Check out a video by the UC Office of the President about CLP Executive Learner Samantha Wilson, Cheng Ung and the beginnings of Child Leader Project. Shot in the Arlanza Community Garden, Samantha speaks about privilege, power and accountability with international projects (which is highlighted in the previous blog post).

Samantha Wilson in the Arlanza Garden getting filmed for the UCOP video.

Here is the official summary on YouTube: “A medical evacuation from India due to malaria didn’t deter UC Riverside student Samantha Wilson from wanting to make a difference in the country. Upon returning home, the then-junior began working with schools in South India to develop a curriculum that would shift the focus from creating child laborers to creating child leaders. With the program now serving over 100 children in South India, Wilson has now brought the Child Leader Project home to Riverside, serving local youth through a community garden and an exchange program that brings the youngsters to India to connect with fellow participants.”

Gardens for Good

Help CLP Win $15,000 for the Arlanza Community Garden

Child Leader Project is currently participating in Gardens for Good to be one of three organizations to win $15,000 in grant funds to support gardens. This money would help fund the Arlanza Garden by allowing the purchase of necessary equipment to keep the garden running, including produce storage, gardening tools, kitchen stations for food preparation, and many other pieces of equipment.

In 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture classified the Arlanza Community of Riverside as a food desert. It was called, “a low-income census tract where a substantial number or shares of residents have low access to a supermarket or large grocery.” As noted by CLP youth leaders, the community is filled with fast food restaurants and liquor stores without many healthy alternatives. Our goal as individuals invested in the Arlanza community is to work towards providing residents access to fruits and vegetables, while also encouraging a community of healthy choices. We want to make the land as productive and fertile as possible, while incorporating permaculture design and other sustainable practices that will increase garden productivity, and create a self-sustaining environment. This commitment to permaculture methods will further ensure the longevity of the garden as its designs integrate increasingly with the existing landscape.

Partnering with the Riverside Community Health Foundation, Growcology, students from University of California at Riverside and La Sierra University, and the Riverside Public Works Department, the Arlanza Garden can truly flourish under the guidance and support of a community. The garden will incorporate space for sharing food, in a safe environment that encourages human connection and togetherness, a feature not shared by all spaces in Arlanza. We do not want to provide a “social service,” instead we would rather promote social change. The community will come together to feed one another, which differs from a traditional food program.

Helping CLP win the Gardens for Good funds only takes a few easy steps:

  • 1) Log into your Facebook account.
  • 2) Click on this link for the CLP/Arlanza Garden entry.
  • 3) Share the link on your Facebook wall and encourage all your friends to vote.
  • 4) Make sure to vote daily. You can vote every day until June 30th.

Winners are selected as follows:

  • 1) Top 6 USA non-profits will enter the final round.
  • 2) These 6 will be reviewed by judges for (1) inspirational garden and (2) votes. Two USA organizations will be selected and each will receive $15,000 for their garden.

Spread the word! We can win this and we can Grow Arlanza!

Child Leader Project Goes to Sustainable Vocations

Sustainable Vocations: July 25 – August 11

Applications are now open for five youth leaders (age 15-24) to participate in a three week residency program with Sustainable Vocations in Maricopa, CA. The program will take place at Quail Valley Permaculture Farm from July 25 to August 11 and is co-sponsored by Sustainable Vocations and Child Leader Project. Youth who are selected to attend will receive a $2,000 scholarship to attend, a Permaculture Design Certificate and will help lead in the Arlanza Community Garden effort in the 2012-2013 school year.

You can access the application here.

Deadlines and Important Dates

Applications are available online and can be emailed to between June 1st and June 6th. Applications will be reviewed on a first-come basis.

Participants will be expected to pay $500 of the program. The first deposit is due July 1 ($150) and the second deposit is due July 20 ($350).

A mandatory orientation for all selected participants will take place on Friday, June 8th from 6PM-7:30PM in the Arlanza Community Garden. Participants will also be invited to participate in the CLP Summer Skool from June 25th-June 28th. More deadlines are outlined in the application.

What is Sustainable Vocations?

Sustainable Vocations ( provides an experiential introduction to green vocations and prepares young people (ages 15-24) for diverse leadership roles that integrate sustainability into their communities. In addition to serving as a holistic education and leadership program, graduates receive an internationally recognized Permaculture Design Certification. This three-week residential course provides basic training for sustainable living, with an introduction to green employment opportunities and entrepreneurship. Sustainable Vocations weaves science, economics, environmental ethics, and social dynamics into a practical leadership training program in ecological design and application.

Please see the Sustainable Vocations brochure for more detailed information about the program.

Staking out the garden design

And Design Marches On

The Arlanza Garden Council continues its work in organizing community members and resources towards the opening of the Arlanza Community Garden. Celebration around the garden’s future opening and garden registration will begin this April 21-22 during the weekend Earth Day Celebration hosted by the Council, Child Leader Project, Riverside City Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services and Riverside Community Health Foundation with support of students from UC Riverside, La Sierra University and Sustainable RCC.

Over the passed five Fridays, community members from across Riverside have gathered at the Arlanza Family Health Center to continue designing the Arlanza Garden in preparation for Earth Day 2012.

“The garden will not only provide a positive space for community members, but it will also reawaken and contribute to the natural cycles that already exist in the Arlanza environment,” noted Elizabeth Gin, CLP’s web and graphic designer and member of the Garden Council.

“The garden will rejuvenate soil, capture rain runoff, provide cooling shade and refreshing air, and establish habitat for birds.”

The design will include a market/nursery space, children’s space, classroom area, stage, meditation/wisdom tree, community/individual growing areas and numerous fruit trees scattered throughout the property. On Saturday, April 14, representatives of the Garden Council joined permaculture designer Daniel Francis in “staking out” the first outlines of these spaces.

Along with staking out future pathways and staging areas, participants also made two important discoveries: a Killdeer’s nesting area and an almond tree.

Garden Council meetings have been buzzing with energy– not only in preparation for Earth Day, but also with energy and support for the garden. New participants have included La Sierra University students from a Service-Learning course on Humans and the Environment as well as representatives from other neighborhood groups, Padres Unidos and the local health clinic. The attendance of the last meeting reached over 35 people.

April 14th Garden Council meeting

“It is amazing to see this many people from this area and across Riverside here and invested in the success of this garden– I truly feel like this is such a testament to the power of community organizing and rebuilding the relationships that make a foundation for justice and flourishing in our communities,” writes Samantha Wilson, Executive Learner of CLP.

Samantha and Micah Carlson, an RCC student leader of Sustainable RCC, co-facilitated a special 2-hour presentation on the history of the neighborhood, the community and the garden project. The presentation encouraged volunteers to move from a place of “ignorance or enlightenment” and into the role of “responsible engagement” and hopefully “transformation” into a life-long engaged community member. Micah continued the presentation with a review of the 12 Principles of Permaculture and their role in the development of Arlanza’s garden.

The Arlanza Garden Council is chaired by Maune Vaca, a community educator for the Arlanza Family Health Center and CLP mentor. For more information or to get involved with the next meeting, contact Maune at

Arlanza Community Garden Design Begins With Permaculture

Over the past two weeks, CLP youth and community members have gathered around maps and tables to finalize the design of the Arlanza Garden–but this isn’t an ordinary process, this is permaculture.

Led by local permaculture specialist, Daniel Francis, this garden will take a different “shape”– one that creates a “permanent culture” of secure, clean and sustainable communities.

Daniel, a Riverside native, is currently engaged in several permaculture projects across southern California as well as leading the development of an “Inland Empire Permaculture Guild.” In reflecting on his motivations for facilitating this permacutlure movement across Riverside, Daniel shared his favorite quote from Bill Mollison, the co-founder of Permaculture:

“There is one, and only one, solution and we have almost no time to try it. We must turn all our resources to repairing the natural world, and train all our young people to help. They want to. We need to give them this last chance to create forests, soils, clean waters, clean energies, secure communities, stable regions and to know how to do it from hands-on experience.”

Together, youth first explored the way that people and “energy” would move across the garden, considering streets, cars, pedestrians, businesses, wind, rain, run-off, climate, winter and summer sun patterns. In our second week, youth leaders and community members understood zones in the garden and the ways that people will gather, move and garden in that space as a way to design the most effective patterns for the garden itself.

Arlanza Garden Council Meeting

Intentional design of space has been a new experience for most of the garden leaders. Upon reflection of the design meetings, Maune, the Seasonal Chair of the Arlanza Garden Council noted the following:

“The most interesting thing about doing permaculture design has been learning about all of the dynamics involved in the development of a design. Prior to my involvement with the garden, I had never thought to consider energies such as prevailing wind, rain, proximity of surrounding structures, foot/car traffic, fire hazards, and slope of the land.”

Maune, a local non-profit worker for the Arlanza Health Clinic appreciates the linkages between health and community. “The development of this garden is extremely beneficial to the Arlanza community. The garden will allow for the exchange of healthy foods, knowledge, art, ideas and will create an environment where people can feel safe to gather and enjoy the beauty of Arlanza.”

A local Norte Vista High School youth leader, Eagle Scout and Arlanza community member, Nicky Erices, enjoyed the process of designing for mutual benefit most:

“The most interesting thing about permaculture design for the garden was that we needed to put each item we wanted in the garden to help every other thing prosper as well.”

The garden, however, isn’t just about design. Nicky also appreciates the connect of the garden to understanding Arlanza history and imagining a future of healthy food.

“This garden is important to Arlanza because today’s generation should learn the history of Arlanza a place where they live as well as how to grow their very own garden– which could help keep cost for food down and to actually know where your food comes from,” explains Nicky.

Nicky plans on doing his final Eagle Scout project in the garden this summer. His vision? A shade structure for the stage area.

Get Involved

Arlanza Garden Council meets every other Friday from 5pm-6pm at Bryant Community Center.

You may also contact or for more information.

Daniel Francis can be reached at

Shovels provided by KRCB

Keep Arlanza Clean & Beautiful: March 3rd Volunteer Day Success

On March 3, 2012, nearly 30 youth and young adults met in the Arlanza Community Garden for a volunteer clean-up day. In collaboration with Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful, participants swept, dug, watered, trimmed, removed limbs and plastic, sorted compostable material and made friends with a pot luck picnic lunch. The event was co-sponsored by CLP, UC Riverside’s Cultivate R’Space, and Inland Empire Freedom Skool, with tools and supplies sponsored by Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful (KRCB).

After serving in the garden and sharing lunch, Inland Empire Freedom Skool facilitated a one-hour dialogue on the history of our food and our relationship to food. Participants reflected on what sustainability meant to them, how their relationship with food related to what their parents and ancestors had taught and how new relationships might be built.

IE Freedom Skool, Cultivate R’Space and CLP will be collaborating on future projects related to deepening youth understanding and consciousness about the foods we eat, where they come from and how they relate to the social justice issues that matter most to us.

If you are interested in volunteering in the garden or engaging in food justice projects with CLP, contact Future volunteer events will be posted on our calendar.

March 3rd Volunteer Day

MLK Volunteer Day

MLK Day Brings 100+ Community Members to the Arlanza Garden

On Monday, January 16, 2012, CLP held the Grow Arlanza!/Cultiva Arlanza! Martin Luther King Day of Service event at the Arlanza Community Garden. The event was co-hosted by CLP, Growcology, UC Riverside Community Garden students (Cultivate R’Space) and UCR’s Undergraduate Research in the Community office. Days before the event, nine volunteers walked the neighborhood around the garden site, handing out over 230 letters of invitation to community residents. 

This was by far the largest community event that CLP-USA has ever hosted, as over 100 community members joined us in the garden picking up trash, painting rocks, planting, and mural/sign painting.

We are also grateful for the presence of Trust for Youth and Child Leadership (CLP-India) Executive Learner MDS Shiva and Director of Parks and Recreation Ralph Nunez for their speeches of support and hope to usher in the new year in the garden!

We look forward to the future in the Arlanza Garden and hope to see you there at the next event!Organizations that attended/were represented include:

  • Padres Unidos and Parents United of Norte Vista High School

  • Arlanza Family Health Clinic / Riverside Community Health Foundation

  • Operation Safehouse

  • Master Gardeners

  • Inland Empire Freedom Skool

  • Riverside Neighborhood Partnership

  • City Councilmembers Rusty Bailey and Andy Melendrez

  • City Commissioners

  • Parks and Recreation Director Ralph Nunez

  • Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful

  • Arlanza Community Center Director, Raymond Aguirre

  • Riverside Food Co-op


If you have any questions/concerns/would like to learn more about the Arlanza Garden, please feel free to email Samantha at