At the heart of our work are the teams of residents that GAVA builds within micro-neighborhoods. These teams are called geographic teams, or geo-teams for short, and represent groups of people living together who want to make their area a healthier, safer place to live.
GAVA's two generalist organizers, one for each zip code, help residents form teams to address health concerns in their micro-neighborhoods. They focus on the sectors that are most relevant to their neighborhood, which can include issues of traffic, walking safety, food access, physical activity access, schools, and/or childcare.
GAVA's organizers conduct block walks around neighborhoods to identify people who might be interested in taking leadership to address health concerns on their block, at their local corner store, or at their local park. Once we have identified enough residents, we form a geo-team and help them establish monthly meetings called house meetings. At the meetings, residents identify the issues they're facing in living healthy lives, and create action plans to address these issues. Through partnering with many local organizations and resources, geo-teams are able to bring health infrastructure to their neighborhoods.
GAVA geo-teams have partnered with numerous organizations. We have partnered with Austin Tenants Council to address housing concerns, as many residents have struggled with bedbugs and lack of apartment repairs for years. Our teams have also partnered with the Sustainable Food Center and owners of the local corner stores to bring healthy food access to the neighborhoods in a sustainable, culturally-sensitive way.
GAVA resident leaders have also provided testimony at public budget hearings, boards & commissions meetings, and committee meetings to educate our civic leaders on the issues their constituents face on a daily basis. They have worked with the Austin Code Department to coordinated more frequent bulk trash removal to solve bedbug and rodent issues and petitioned for street lighting improvements to allow residents to feel safe while walking after dark. They have also partnered with Austin's Police Department to build trust among residents, reduce neighborhood crime, and increase physical activity programming through the Police Activities League. Many teams have also worked with the Neighborhood Partnering Program to successfully advocate for and fund crosswalks, stop signs, and traffic calming elements to increase pedestrian safety in the neighborhoods.
The geo-teams are GAVA's generalist organizers, working to unite their neighbors to advocate for their health needs in their neighborhoods. They provide the backbone neighborhood support to many of our more specialized sector teams!