For almost a decade now, Via International has been proud to serve as fiscal sponsor to the Friends of Friendship Park, a community-based coalition of individuals and organizations advocating for expanded public access to the US side of Friendship Park, the historic meeting place overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the border between San Diego and Tijuana.
Friendship Park has been in the news recently, because U.S. Border Patrol officials recently informed local leaders that Department of Homeland Security contractors will soon replace existing 18-foot barriers at this historic location with 30-foot “bollard”-style walls. Via Executive Director John Fanestil, a founding member of the Friends of Friendship Park coalition, told KPBS on December 14 “The whole purpose of this place is binational encounter. To build these intimidating walls and to make it feel more like you’re visiting in prison is to really undermine the spirit of the place.”
While federal officials may be dreaming of more walls, the Friends of Friendship Park are pursuing an entirely different dream, and in January 2021 are launching an ambitious project called BUILD THAT PARK! Architects, artists, planners and designers will compete in a series of design competitions and local architect James Brown will assemble the winning ideas into a visionary plan for what a truly binational park might look like at this location. (The idea may seem far-fetched, but several such binational parks already exist on the US-Canada border.) The Friends of Friendship Park will unveil this visionary design on August 22, 2021, the fiftieth anniversary of the occasion when then-First Lady Pat Nixon inaugurated the surrounding area in the United States as California’s Border Field State Park.
Would you like to join the effort to preserve this important cultural monument in the San Diego / Tijuana borderlands? Contact the Friends of Friendship Park for more information.