ECC 2018 Catch Up: San Jose

Emerging City Champions (ECC) is a fellowship program led by 8 80 Cities. ECC provides young civic innovators with leadership training and $5,000 in seed funding to launch transformative projects to enhance public space, urban mobility, or civic engagement in their city. ECC is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Visit for more, and look for the next application call-out in spring 2020.

This week, we’re catching up with the ECC 2018 cohort to learn about what they accomplished during their 2018-2019 fellowship.

San Jose, California

Image c/o Emily Schwing

Emily Schwing is a native of the Jersey Shore, and came to the Bay Area by way of the University of South Alabama where she earned a B.S. in Meteorology. Emily earned a M.A. in Communication Studies at San Jose State University with a focus on Environmental Communication. She joined Veggielution Community Farm in 2014 where she coordinates Veggilution’s storytelling strategy as Marketing and Impact Manager. Emily believes that creating unique ways for people to tell stories will help create empathy in a society where we are all connected but do not fully understand each other.

For her ECC project, supported by Veggielution, Emily created a pilot version of a Choose Your Own Adventure Map for Emma Prusch Farm Park in East San Jose. The official park maps ends at the fence surrounding the park and does not encourage a sense of exploration or connection, while Emily’s Choose Your Own Adventure Map offers visitors multiple decision points with fun, engaging suggestions to guide them through the park and even into nearby neighborhoods, depending on what they want to feel or learn. With a one-mile walking radius that blends into the surrounding area, the map encourages repeat visits as visitors try new ways of experiencing the park and community. Final signage that is aligned with city design guidelines will go up by the end of January 2020, with messaging encouraging visitors to document and share their story through social media. Visitors can also suggest additions to the map. After the pilot in Emma Prusch Farm Park, the Parks Department is interested in implementing this type of wayfinding in all regional parks.

Photo c/o Matthew Quevado

Matthew Quevedo is a lifelong resident of the City of San Jose. In his professional life, he works as the Senior Associate for Housing, Transportation and Community Engagement at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. In this role, Matthew works with leaders in both the private and public sector on Transportation and Housing policies that support the valley’s continued success. He has participated in 15 political campaigns in California, the San Francisco Bay area, Santa Clara County and the City of San Jose. Outside of work, Matthew enjoys his community work in the neighborhoods throughout the city and works with residents and community organizations to make San Jose a thriving community. Matthew resides in San Jose with his wife A’Dreana and son James.

Matthew’s ECC project, Our History, Our Story – San Jose, is based on the concept that communities, like people, have a story to share. What are the stories within San Jose that are not generally known but have lessons for what we are experiencing today? This project hopes to bring out unique stories from San Jose’s history to help residents find meaning in the place they live, build stronger communities, and create new stories for the future. Matthew partnered with the San Jose Woman’s Club, ECC alum Amy Chamberlain, and other local leaders to put on #FeministCapital, an event celebrating San Jose’s history as the feminist capital of the country. #FeministCapital included speeches, a panel, and a fireside chat with San Jose women leaders talking about San Jose’s past, present, and future. The event was attended by over 150 individuals, including former Mayor Susan Hammer, former Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, Councilmember Pam Foley, and Supervisors Cindy Chavez and Susan Ellenberg. Matthew now plans to continue telling San Jose’s stories surrounding Japantown, the Almaden Mines, the labor movement in San Jose, San Jose State University, Willow Glen, East San Jose, Alviso and the many unique places that make San Jose an amazing place.

Viviane Nguyen grew up in San Jose after emigrating from Vietnam with her family as refugees from the War. She currently works at the City of San Jose Housing Department and focuses on the development and implementation of rental rights policies. Prior to joining the Housing Department, Viviane was a fellow for JusticeCorps, working at pro bono Housing Law Clinics to assist low-income residents being evicted. For her education, she studied abroad in Bangkok, Thailand for a semester and where she also helped Vietnamese asylum seekers in Thailand. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley and is an MPA candidate at SJSU.

Viviane’s ECC project, Get Ready Rock Springs!, is focused on Rocksprings Park, emergency preparedness for the community of Rock Springs, and the impact of disasters on Vietnamese residents in particular. On February 21, 2017, the Coyote Creek flooded an entire Rock Springs neighborhood of mostly lower-income Vietnamese and Hispanic communities. In the subsequent weeks, Viviane was a Vietnamese translator at the Local Assistance Center help the flood survivors. From her disaster response experience, Viviane was empowered to focus her project on the Rock Springs neighborhood and develop ways to mitigate the flood impact. She is specifically: 1) working with the residents to help them stay informed with multilingual alerts, 2) collaborating with the City of San Jose and Office of Emergency Management on potential solutions, and 3) encouraging residents to sign up for the Community Emergency Response Team. She envisions Rocksprings Park serving as an informative resource on emergency preparedness notification and education. Get Ready Rock Springs! will launch in January 2020.

Catch up on other ECC 2018 projects from this week on our Stories & Insights page and visit for more information. The call-out for next year’s application will go live in spring 2020.

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