Linda constantly works behind the scenes to keep City Heights clean and safe. Over the years, she’s led countless canyon cleanups, founded Project CLEAN (Clean Livable Enjoyable Attractive Neighborhoods), was trained as a Code Enforcement Volunteer and VIP (Volunteer in Policing), directed FaceLift, worked for Community HousingWorks and San Diego Canyonlands, among several other contributions. Linda is interviewed by Price below to learn more about all the ways she’s served our community.
What accomplishments are you most proud of with your work in the City Heights community?
I am most proud of our diversity in City Heights. I’m also proud of all of us for reversing the downward spiral that City Heights was caught in. I remember all too well the blight that plagued City Heights and it makes me so happy to see the vibrant community that we have become.
What has been the most rewarding and challenging in your work?
Keeping our canyons safe will always be challenging but against all odds, our City Heights canyons are beautifully maintained thanks to neighborhood stewards and the good work of San Diego Canyonlands. Hikers come from all over San Diego to hike our Orchid Award-winning City Heights Canyons Loop Trail.
What has surprised you the most over the years as a resident of and advocate for City Heights?
I have been surprised by the enthusiasm of countless volunteers, many from outside of City Heights and many local groups as well, who helped us FaceLift over 575 homes from 1993 to 2018 and who help us restore our urban wilderness areas. It has been inspirational to know how many people truly care.
What lessons have you learned throughout your efforts that you’d like to pass on to others?
Take one step at a time toward achieving that which seems daunting, even if you don’t have a map, and soon you will find yourself shoulder to shoulder with some wonderful people who share your vision and will join you to find a way.
Share a little bit about your life outside of your work: your passions, talents, and hobbies.
I abandoned my art career many years ago to focus on revitalizing City Heights and somehow ended up where I was meant to be. I love being outdoors and hiking our beautiful trails. I continue to learn more about our native plants and wildlife in the canyons. I always carry a grocery bag for trash, and it makes me incredibly happy to go from one end of the canyon to the other and not find enough trash to fill it.
What advice do you have for youth and families during this challenging time?
My advice to our youth and to our community families would be “Don’t give up”. My father grew up in extreme poverty. His parents were sharecroppers. He remembered traveling and camping in a wagon pulled by two mules across Oklahoma to get to a cotton crop to pick. My mother was one of fourteen, but they were lucky because my grandmother was Choctaw and she had her Indian land allotment where the family raised cattle and crops. Dad became an engineer, Mother became a teacher. They provided my sister and me with a comfortable lifestyle, very different from their own.