Citizen Scientists?

I was talking with Diana Ruiz, Public Affairs Manager for the Riverside – Corona Resource Conservation District about a variety of opportunities  our rich natural environment provides for showing what the true nature of social capital looks like when we measure the  impact on quality of life and economic development.

Ralph Nunez, Riverside’s Parks and Recreation Director and Alisa Sramala the Trails Coordinator are well aware of the potential economic advantage a vibrant trails network could contribute to Riverside’s economy.  There’s a lot of work to do and unfortunately much of it is geared to keeping the wheels on the wagon of delivering current park & rec programs.

The Friends Of Riverside’s Hills a long time  advocate for trails and preserving and restoring our vibrant natural habitat has taken the lead on this project. With the Santa Ana River Trail project being adopted, a number of groups involved in education, health care, environment and recreation are beginning to imagine the possibility of a well used, conveniently connected  network of trails.

This is something fairly easy to implement. It’s  low cost and returns an appreciating high value community asset.  It’s no accident the focus of  UCR’s Medical School will be on raising community health outcomes. Increasing recreational options and making them easy to access is a first step toward positive health outcomes for all of us. Move it or lose it still applies when it comes to our health.

I’m told the Riverside Metropolitan Museum is developing a program for citizen scientists. I wonder how it could turn out if some of them were interested in helping to map and record the necessary data to make this a reality? When I think of turning ‘places into spaces’, this is one of the best ways we have to demonstrate what “Seizing Our Destiny” looks like.

Arlington High School just took first place at the 2010 International Canon Envirothon Championships. They are five time state champs. That tells me something about our social capital. We’re already engaged, energized and effective.

It gets even better.  Samantha Wilson, UCR’s Undergraduate Coordinator for Research in Community is actively looking for neighborhood/city  projects to match with interested students and faculty advisors. We have a living breathing think tank for citizen initiated and implemented projects designed to expand our quality of life.

I think somebody let the genie out of the bottle when they called it Seizing Our Destiny. Either that or we’re starting to get a lot better talking about what’s wanted and needed right now.

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