Envisioning Our City’s Future: What Does Positive Change Look Like?

Carrie Williams: “Okay, positive change is what we got going right now. This is positive change because all y'all came out to see who was doing what. So now we all know what everybody's doing, that's a positive change.” (Photo: Kurt Schaffner)

Cindy Bernard: Well, that perfectly transitions into the next topic, What Does Positive Change Look Like? Maybe it looks like those kinds of small offers of space to start something. Which is what that was. Carrie, I think that that was your topic to kick off. Positive Change.

Carrie Williams: Okay, positive change is what we got going right now. This is positive change because all y'all came out to see who was doing what. So now we all know what everybody's doing, that's a positive change. 

The positive change that I would really like to see is the small businesses that are in Twentynine Palms that are family owned – I'd like for them to hold on for as long as they can. So this way, we don't get a constant turnover. So we need to support the local businesses, the mom and pop stores that we do have down there, so that they'll know that they’re part of the change that's coming. 

Okay, we know there's a change coming, because I'm getting older. And there's a few of y'all that are getting older that don't want to say it, okay, but we need the young people to step up. So that's the positive change is what we're doing in the community. And the only way it'll work if we all step up and say, we want to see a change come to 29. We're not looking for it to be a big city. I don't want the big city feeling, because I am the city. 

Okay, what I need now is what we got now, a nice quiet knit community, where I can see the stars now I can go outside – I mean, it's so quiet out here. Excuse me, but I can actually hear a fly piss on cotton. That's how quiet okay? So we don't want to change that. Okay, we don't want to change that. We want it to be quiet. I'm getting older now. So I want peace and quiet. But in order for that to happen, I gotta get the young kids to step up. And for me to step down. That's going to be the change that we see. 

We got new businesses that are being run by younger folks. My hat's off to you, I give you a pat on the back, just hold on, because it's going to change eventually. Be encouraged. That's the change we need to see in our businesses. We need to see change in the community, whether the whole community comes together, just like we did today. If we do this again, we need to pack this place out. Because we know what is going to take to make the change in this community. It is open for questions. Help yourself.

Octavious Scott: Thank you so much Miss Carrie and thank you for what you do with your store. I don't know if you guys know this, but Miss Carrie actually works with the high school to employ a lot of youth at her store. And if any one of you guys are interested in hiring youth at your stores, I'd reach out to Miss Carrie and see how she does that. 

I also want to thank you for your work, with your nonprofit Women of Color. She recently actually proposed a great partnership with the City of Twentynine Palms  to create infrastructure and a building to help build resiliency in our community.  And it was met with some skepticism. But the city is still reviewing it and seeing if it's something that we want to move forward. It's something certainly that I want to move forward on. Because I believe it's going to help build that infrastructure, those buildings that are needed, and to be able to host some of these things. 

And so I just want to say that and maybe Miss Carrie. Maybe Miss Carrie could speak a little bit or any of you who speak a little bit about it. And I don't know if you've heard it, but the community resilience hub, if successful, the city of Twentynine Palms, in partnership with several nonprofits could receive a grant from EPA, up to $20 million. I think that positive change actually has to start with investment in our community. And sometimes we have to put a little bit of money in there to get a lot out of it.

Carrie Williams: The resilience center that my organization was asking about was for hot days disaster – when disasters take place out here, that there'll be a place for people to meet. And that we'd have rooms to teach them how to cook, eat nutrition, have nutrition meals, to get the homeless off the street – it's open to everybody. It's not for some of us, and not for the others, but it's for everybody. And it's a place where these young kids will have a place to go and they could be mentored by the older generation. It's a place where we also wanted to do a community garden.

I took that to heart for the simple reason is COVID did a lot of damage, mentally and physically. And I know that there's a lot of older people that would love to come out, but they're isolated. And if we had a community garden out here, guess what? They would come out whether they took part in planting or seeding, they would still be out of their house, they would not be isolated. And I believe that if the city will partner with, not only my organization, but another organization, we could really do some really nice things in this community.

Cindy Bernard: Other comments on the topic of positive change? What are some of the positive changes that you feel could come out of this meeting?

Lieutenant Colonel William Sumption: “But as you guys go forward, and you define what does success look like or what is positive change look like? That you just say the recommendation is to not lose the value that's here, right? When you make decisions on what businesses are coming in and doing their zoning laws and where things go – all of that  – is that you have this unique value here in Twentynine Palms and to  keep that.” (Photo: Natalie Zuk)

Lieutenant Colonel William Sumption: My name is Lieutenant Colonel William Sumption – I’m an active duty marine at Twentynine Palms here. Today actually marks – I think – one year exactly since we moved here. Came from Fairfax County up near DC. Before that, we were in Japan and a few other places before that. So well, it's my son and my other one Jack is behind me, they're both either current or going into 29 Palms High School.

I had a comment or an observation as you guys start leading into your general plan principals in the next 10 to 12 years or so of this town. Just a comment on value. So there's a difference between cost and value. And there's a lot of value here in 29 Palms, I can see from the conversations we've had from the people that are here, the small business owners that are here. It's not the price of something, it's not finding a good deal on something. And my mom always told me, it doesn't cost anything to be nice, right? But there's value in being nice. As we felt very included and very welcomed here.

But as you guys go forward, and you define what does success look like or what is positive change look like? That you just say the recommendation is to not lose the value that's here, right? When you make decisions on what businesses are coming in and doing their zoning laws and where things go – all of that  – is that you have this unique value here in Twentynine Palms and to  keep that. And part of that I think too, is holding accountable whatever decision makers are out there and and whether its the city counsel or if it's a zoning board or whatever, communicating what you guys define your value to be to them so that they make those decisions on your behalf so you don't lose that. 

When we were in Northern Virginia, I can't recall a single sole proprietorship business that we would go to – everything had turned into a massive chain. And we love shopping in Twentynine Palms and getting what we need here, and the Ace Hardware store and all of that, for the people that work there and the interactions and the value that's there. So as just as a kind of semi outsider, that may be here another year, maybe less, appreciate where you guys are at with this and I just encourage you to stay with that and really define what that means for you all. As you head forward.(applause)

Janet Kodesh: I have a couple of ideas. What could come from this one is for the business, I was really struck by the folks who have businesses and tourist oriented businesses and how things dry up in the summer for us. Well, summers always slow but it's really busy around swamp cooler maintenance (laughter). So one idea would be, you know, the work of those of us in the business community could work to do some sort of event or some sort of something to help locals patronize the local stores.

And and I'll just put it out there – there are some locals that just see those downtown businesses as for tourists, and they don't perceive the value. And so it could be a discount, or it could be I don't know, we can figure it out.But but that's when I'd do a scavenger hunt, you know, buy something and it'd be every local business in town. So that's like a short term idea.

And then kind of longer term that could be built on is is, you know, to take a look at really knowing what the drivers are of this economy in addition to tourism, including tourism, but also I had mentioned you need contractors of all kinds, electricians, plumbers, carpenters. I know Copper Mountain College now has a program. Brian Benton started for folks who are interested in the construction trades.There is a lot of funding statewide for what's called career partnerships where you help identify, starting in high school, a career, that the local business community, along with community leaders, identify that is needed in that community in terms of jobs. And then you partner with the high schools and the community college to help create a career path for young people so that they do stay here and they have a real job, right. So it might be in the building trades. It could also possibly be in, I don't know, desert ecological management.

Sara Lyons: Hello again, I just wanted to thank you and piggyback on what you're saying. I'm looking at the president of our organization here and making sure this is okay. I would just like to say Rediscover 29 is an active business Association here in Twentynine Palms. We are officially called the Downtown Business association, but that is a misnomer and we are incredibly supportive and open and encouraging not only for all local businesses but also for anyone who wants Twentynine Palms to succeed –  to come and take part in our meetings. 

We are actively working on summer programming that will bring out our locals during the offseason at night in particular, when it's not as hot. And if you are already receiving our emails, I am sorry that you hear from me so frequently, and you have this already. But if you're not receiving our emails, I just reiterate this to our group, but last summer Rediscover took a hiatus for the entire summer and we did not meet from June through September. This year we are meeting not only once a month, but every two weeks because we have so much going on. We have a monthly meeting – we meet every first Monday at 10am at GRND SQRL. So this next one is this coming Monday (July 1) at 10am at GRND SQRLand everyone is welcome – whether you own a business or you're just interested in what's going on in the community and you want to be involved. We really want as many people to come as possible and we are really, really committed to fostering an inclusive, thriving environment for the community. So I just wanted to make sure if you're not aware of that, that we are doing that and we want everyone to be involved in it.

Paul Razo: And Rediscover has done really great work too. They did, earlier this year, Cash Mile, which was a raffle that drove people to different businesses across the city. Our store just had a poker run which was you get a card at each participating store and whoever has the highest card wins a raffle from all the businesses.

And I think really, in terms of starting needs, we were just sort of a small part of who was already a part of Rediscover 29, almost just as a proof of concept, because we don't want to pull anybody into it unless it's gonna be a win, but I think they've been successful. And you know, the dream has definitely expanded to reach out to more businesses, more of  these longer standing businesses, and not get them to be just a part of Rediscover 29 and have a voice in these matters, but also part of these chains that get people moving around the city in a greater capacity. So it's definitely on their radar, on our radar.

And we're definitely making pushes towards it, because we definitely realize that we are sort of central because of the downtown location – or they are central because of the downtown location. A lot of people pass through there but really, the focus is the greater business culture of Twentynine Palms and bringing everybody into the fold and making sure everybody's voices are heard. And then as that develops more, as more and more people are brought up, there’s a perfect opportunity for the Youth Council to come and talk to these businesses directly. Especially if they're interested in one specifically and saying is there anything I can do to participate? Is this is what I want to do and can you point me in the right direction? So I think Rediscover 29 is actually going to end up being – not to put more work on your guys's plate – to become a gateway for a lot of positive change going forward. 

Cindy Bernard: Do we have any final comments from our esteemed residents that have come today? If not then I would say it's a little after five….  

I forgot to say some thank yous at the top so let me do that now. This forum was supported by the paid subscribers of the Desert Trumpet. As well as the Desert Trail in particular, Stacy and Kurt. I really want to mention that I actually just re-upped my subscription to the Desert Trail. And it's possible to subscribe to the Desert Trail and the Hi Desert Star for $35 digitally. So in terms of supporting your local press, that's a really great deal and I encourage you to do it. 

We also were lucky to receive one of those rare fee waivers from the City of Twentynine Palms Department of Parks and Rec for this building and Kary and Scott were really helpful with that. Aha Projects, our fiscal sponsor – Cheyenne had to leave. They've been great. 

Thanks for the Desert Trumpet staff members Heidi Heard, Kat Talley-Jones and  Natalie Zuk, who are all here today. And to our volunteers. Chuck Heard, John Talley-Jones and Viviana Hermosillo, William – mispronounced that last name – Sumption. William Sumption and Jackson Sumption –  thank you guys for coming to help out. 

Thank you all for attending. I want to let you all know to save the date for our District 1 and 2 City Council Candidate Forum which is happening in this space, at this time on September 14. So mark your calendars. We are extremely hopeful that we will have two competitive council races with more than one person in each of those races. (laughter) It's looking very promising, but we'll let you know how that goes when people pull their papers on July 15. 

Subscribe to the Desert Trumpet at  www.deserttrumpet.org Just getting that last plug in! 

Really this has been so fantastic. So we'll generate the transcript and Desert Trumpet will write it up – we'll post the transcript at deserttrumpet.org. And we're going to give it to Kurt so he can write up the meeting for the Desert Trail as well.

Thank you all for coming and for participating. And hope to see you around town (applause).

Chris Clarke: On July 20 at Nydia’s1 on the highway between here and Stater brothers, there is July 20 a benefit event for Palms and Paws. Animal Shelter. They do such amazing work and they are so so low budget – everything we can do to help them is going to be good. (applause)

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Nadia’s has been renamed Outpost 29.