The "Trenton Makes" bridge is seen in this Times file photo. (Times File Photo)
In an effort to allow citizens to work independently to address issues in their community, the Citizens Campaign has created and fostered the Trenton Civic Trustees program in the city.
The group of 30 engaged residents approach the problems in their communities differently than others, said Harry Pozycki, chair of The Citizens Campaign.
"Often times when citizens feel there is a problem going on and they go to a government entity they just say there is a problem," Pozycki said.
The trustees are challenged to provide solutions to problems -- either a suggestion that is researched and proven to work elsewhere or with a draft resolution or ordinance where necessary. Pozycki calls it the "no blame" approach.
"We are empowering people to be change agents," said Darren "Freedom" Green, a Trenton activist and civic trustee. "These are people who are not looking to be elected officials. They are just engaging themselves and empowering themselves with the issues."
Pamela Sims Jones, a project coordinator for the West Ward Alliance and a civic trustee, said she believes the group can differentiate itself from other similar groups in Trenton by bringing a new energy and action to the city.
"We need some new energy or it will be business as usual," Sims Jones said.
Manuel Acosta, a civic trustee and member of the Latino Civic Forum, said he joined to allow others working in different areas of the city to understand the needs of the Latino community in Trenton. He said he also hopes that the Latino community will begin to get involved in politics and the issues facing their community.
"I see the changes that have been going on for the worst and now I'm actually proactively engaging and giving back to the community," said Acosta.
Although the group started more than a year ago, it was officially dubbed the Trenton Civic Trustees about six months ago. The Citizens Campaign is now stepping back from the group and letting them organize themselves, while still offering legal and research support.
"We chose Trenton first because there is really a deep well of civic-minded people there who want to focus on practical solutions," Pozycki said.
The Citizens Campaign is looking to start other Civic Trustees groups in New Jersey with Perth Amboy set as the next location.