Illustration by SW Parra
Commentary by We’Ced Youth Reporters
Ed Note: Early this year, the City of Fresno announced its $5.8 million plan to renovate city parks during the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Building Healthy Communities Fresno had simultaneously begun an advocacy campaign around reducing the disparity in access to public green spaces between north Fresno and south Fresno, the former being more and more known as the affluent side of town while the latter being an area with highly concentrated poverty.
A Fresno FAX bus advertisement, commissioned by BHC Fresno, that depicts the difference in green spaces between the two parts of the city through public information, has been rejected by Mayor Ashley Swearengin as ‘political’ and in violation of city codes for bus ads. Below, We’Ced youth reporters reflect on the issue occurring in our neighboring city and question the validity of Mayor Swearengin’s decision.
Guadalupe Reyes, 17
After reading about the bus ads in Fresno, my opinion is that the city of Fresno doesn’t seem to want to let its people know how much of the budget is going to which part of the community. By censoring the ads, the city is making people think they don’t really care about the south side of Fresno. Thinking about Merced, we obviously have the same issue where our city government invests more into the north side and ignores the necessities of the south side.
Parks are important for people, it can be easy access to healthy living. Parks help community members have a healthy environment outdoors. The city of Fresno should invest more in renewing parks and communities in the south side. Mayor Swearengin should address why she thinks the ads are political. I hope people organize and talk about the issue so the Mayor changes her mind.
Gabriel Vasquez, 17
I think the censorship of the park bus ads in Fresno is unnecessary and are a violation of our constitutional rights for the simple fact that the city public is being informed on things that are public information. The lack of green spaces for people is a flaw affecting the entire city. It’s important that people are able to go to a partk and interact with nature and their beighbors. It’s difficult when one part of the city is being favored over the other. I think the people of the city of Fresno should resort to going to the city council and getting the Mayor to change her decision.
Alex Salas, 16
I agree that the bus ads should be kept appropriate but not censored. The bus ads should be allowed so the public can better understand the park issue in their communities. It’s important to have access to open areas like parks because it unites the community. Those spaces bring people together. A park is where people grow up as children, I remember having fun and meeting new friends in parks. The ads show no political issue but the truth of living in Fresno. The city should support the ads and let people know the reality and open people’s eyes.
Cheyenne Chaddock, 17
My personal opinion of Fresno’s poor choice to censor the bus ads, is that it’s wrong. It’s censorship. Fresno should take down the ban and allow its citizens to know the harsh reality they live. The importance of parks is hard to overstate. They’re important for physical and mental health as well as the image of the city. The happier the citizens, the better the city looks.