Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek

Groundwork San Diego Chollas Creek logo
  • Highlighted Program:
  • Looking for volunteers
  • giv4 Category: Immediate Physical Impact
  • Contact for more information:

    Leslie Reynolds
    Executive Director
    [email protected]

What makes your organization unique in its approach to addressing climate change?

We are a grassroots organization driven by the needs of our under-served, under-invested local communities of the Chollas Creek Watershed: City Heights, Eastern, Encanto, and Southeastern San Diego, to address heat, pollution, flood and rising sea level risks related to climate change.


How do climate/environmental changes affect the San Diego region specifically? How can people in San Diego become a part of local solutions?

As climate change threatens to make cities hotter and wetter – through rising temperatures and extreme precipitation – not all cities or even neighborhoods within a city will be impacted equally. The under-served, under-invested communities of the Chollas Creek Watershed have experienced historical actions, such as redlining and other discriminatory housing policies, that have resulted in neighborhoods that lack tree-canopy coverage, have high proportions of impermeable surfaces/flooding/heat islands, and poor air and water quality.


While redlining and housing discrimination were deemed illegal in 1968, formerly red-lined communities continue to be on average 4.7 °F hotter than their wealthier, greener counterparts. Residents in these communities struggle disproportionately with poverty and are the least likely to be able to afford the economic, health, and social costs of rising temperatures and flooding.


When was the organization founded?

Chollas Creek, San Diego’s most neglected waterway, runs through its most ethnically diverse and lowest-income communities. Rain sweeps pollution from its 25 square mile watershed into the creek, with bacteria from homeless encampments the most critical pollutant. Chollas Creek, once pristine Kumeyaay land, and then a treasured recreational resource to San Diego’s earliest African American community, has deteriorated due to urbanization; public infrastructure projects; and an ill-advised government 1960 creek channelization project.


In 2000, residents proposed a vision for the Chollas Creek and its neighborhoods, codified in the City-approved Chollas Creek Enhancement Program. In 2007, these community leaders launched Groundwork to lead this vision. Groundwork’s community-driven Board has worked tirelessly to build, educate, and engage stakeholders within and outside the watershed. Internal groups include sister nonprofits, neighborhood planning groups, resident associations, and healthcare delivery organizations. External partners include major regional universities, foundations, environmental justice and climate organizations, and government at all levels.


Are there any recent news articles/publications/videos by or about your organization that you’d like to highlight?

Leslie Reynolds, Groundwork Executive Director recently appeared on San Diego's NBC local news about the Chollas Creek watershed challenges, the infrastructure improvements coming, and what is needed to "give back to the residents what they once had."


Future Chollas Creek Project Part of Bigger Plan to Transform Communities Along Watershed – NBC 7 San Diego (nbcsandiego.com)



Is your organization looking for volunteers? Are you looking for committee/board members with particular skill sets? Do you need in-kind donations of any sort?

Groundwork seeks volunteer mentors in Blue/Green industries and businesses to support the high school Green Team school-to-career internship program. Groundwork also seeks volunteers to serve on both its Board of Directors and Advisory Committee, providing support to the Groundwork mission.


I would love to learn more directly from Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek
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