ENCINITAS — Just weeks after stepping away from the Encinitas City Council, Teresa Barth said she and others in the community wanted to find a way to strengthen civic engagement without the tinge of partisanship.
It was something that she had been discussing for nearly a year with a number of residents.
From those conversations, Barth and three other local women — Liz Taylor, Tiffany Fox and Mim Michelove — have launched a new nonprofit whose name succinctly summarizes the mission: Engage Encinitas.
“We had been talking about it for a year and half about the need to have an opportunity for the community to interact without politics or personal agendas getting in the way,” Barth said.
Engage Encinitas held its first function on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a cleanup of Moonlight Beach. Barth said the group’s mission is to broaden the perception of civic engagement.
“Civic engagement isn’t just voting in an election,” Barth said. “It is being part of your broader community, and not just your own self interests or your own neighborhood. It’s about the big picture.”
The response, so far, has been overwhelmingly positive, she said.
“It seems like a lot of people see a need and a value in this opportunity to interact with each other,” Barth said. “We launched our Facebook Page and we have almost 200 likes, so I think that is a good thing.”
On Engage Encinitas’ website, engageencinitas.org, it lists several ways the nonprofit will accomplish the group’s primary goal in the future: community pot lucks, citizen academies and “shop local” events to promote local small businesses.
Between the foursome, Barth says the contacts are there to develop a very robust activities — Michelove is the co-president of Healthy Day Partners and one of the driving forces behind Encinitas Union School District’s burgeoning farm lab; Taylor is board president of San Diego Coastkeeper and is the staff attorney for UC Irvine School of Law’s Center for Land, Environment and Natural Resources and Fox is a former reporter at U-T San Diego and currently a public information representative at UCSD.
The group, however, is also seeking the input of residents as to the type of activities the group should do.
“We want to know what do you see as a great community project,” Barth said. “It could be something informative or maybe something fun, say, if you are looking for opportunities to organize hiking groups, and maybe we could do that and host something once a month. There are no boundaries.”
Well, there is one boundary — partisanship. Barth reiterated that the nonprofit is not going to be used as a political springboard for any of its members.
“We decided to wait to launch this until I was no longer in elected office partly to send the clear message that this group has no political motivations,” Barth said.