California Culture


One Square Mile-A Journey of Community Empowerment

By Jack Shaw

Reviewed by C. MacDonald

"One Square Mile" is a fascinating book by Jack Shaw, a longtime management consultant and former Dean of the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. Readers find out about the incredible effort of empowerment and renewal in Oak View, a one square mile area bordered by Warner, Slater, Gothard and Beach in Huntington Beach, Ca.

It once was a farming community (part of Wintersburg) where the Families Slater, Gothard and Heil lived (streets still bare their names). Now, Oak View is home to 10,000 people, nearly all Hispanic/Latino, who live in 20% of the square mile, with more than 5 individuals in each household. About 32% live below the poverty line.

Shaw's "guidebook," which certainly would be useful to others trying to help in similar communities, talks "straight" about the triumphs and struggles over the past 15 years.

In retirement, Shaw and his wife had a dream to help underprivileged kids get to college. In 1997, they heard about Oak View and started El Viento, a college prep program that starts with 4th graders and stays with them through college.

"El Viento's success led us to wonder why the area was still mired in poverty," he said.
Using his five decades of management practices and experiences, he worked with others--corporate, non-profit, city and especially local residents-- to turn things around. It was definitely a team effort with many unsung heroes. The result was the creation of the Oak View Renewal Partnership, a not-for-profit, public benefit corporation—a catalyst for change—to narrow the cultural, social, educational and economic gap between the community and the rest of Huntington Beach.

It's an interesting story about people working together to build credibility, trust, community involvement and safety. It's a story of trying, then trying again and again. It's a story of people helping people, building local pride by creating Community Cleanup Days, a Soccer League (with fathers' coaching), Community Gardens and more.

It's a story about trying to figure out how to bring, then bringing much-needed services to Oak View, such as a branch library, family resource center, community service program, police sub-station, medical and dental programs, including a mobile health clinic, fitness and educational programs, training for jobs and creating new businesses.

There are lots of heroes in this book, including Rainbow Environmental Services, a partner in community renewal from the start. Rainbow, located within the one square mile, hires Oak View residents. Goodwill Industries provides onsite training on entrepreneurship and then helps graduates find jobs. Oak View Elementary School, Ocean View High School, Golden West College and other schools are actively participating in the success story.

Iosefa Alofaituli, the dynamic executive director of the Oak View Renewal Partnership, has helped raise more than $600,000 in private funds from Wells Fargo, Edison International, The Allergan Foundation, The California Endowment, US Bank, Union Bank, Kaiser Permanente, Edwards Lifesciences and many more.

But the real heroes are the many Oak View parents and kids who are taking responsibility for changing their community by becoming actively involved in helping make it a better place to live. "The community has to take responsibility for achieving change," Shaw said. "Based on the progress so far, Oak View will continue to become empowered and renewed!" To find out more about Oak View, go to

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