Live Local Marin is proud to honor Stand Up for Neighborly Novato (SUNN) with the Organization of the Year award. In the summer of 2010, the Novato community took umbrage with the City’s plan to rezone several parcels of land to accommodate different types of homes, such as townhouses and apartments. Residents expressing hostile opposition dominated the discourse, making public meetings unproductive.
In response, a group of women gathered in a friend’s living room on a Saturday morning in January 2011 to discuss how to change the conversation. From that meeting, Stand Up for Neighborly Novato was born.
Since then, the founders of SUNN—Annan Paterson, Katie Crecelius, Lynne Wasley, Marla Fields, and Reverend Pamela Griffith-Pond—have devoted countless hours to engaging their fellow residents in healthy discussion about how Novato can plan for moderately priced housing. The fruits of their labor include over 1,100 endorsements of their mission, among them the support of Congresswoman Lynne Woolsey, three county supervisors, and 14 different organizations.
In addition to SUNN’s ongoing community outreach and advocacy, the group has created a first-of-its-kind training program to elevate the voices of those most affected by the lack of housing choices in Novato. The Live Local Novato Leaders program is a six-month training program for residents of affordable housing and those who need it. Participants learn about local planning processes related to affordable housing and develop their own personal story into moving public testimony. Since its inception, the Live Local Novato Leaders program has graduated 45 people who are now effective housing advocates.