Project Fortaleza is proud of the process that has been taking place in the San José Palmas neighborhood (colony), particularly in the upper street where the first Citizen Committee was formed. This committee successfully installed a network of water as their first community seed project, and the committee has now enjoyed unanticipated growth. It started off in October with 22 family representatives, and as of December there were 44, with the majority of neighbors participating actively in the community work as well as the weekly meetings where the entire committee comes together to make decisions. The second Citizen Committee chose electricity and water access as the issues their seed projects would address. Electricity has never been officially installed by the power company on their street, so the community had installed their own provisional power lines in order to have electricity in their homes. When a truck crashed into one of their posts and knocked it down, the entire neighborhood was left without power. It was going to take two new posts in order to restore the power and, after going through a community engagement process with the committee members, ConeXión Mosaico agreed to pay for one of the posts on the condition that the community pitch in and purchase the other. This did, in fact, happen, and in December electricity was restored to the neighborhood. As far as the second project is concerned, the homes on this street do not have running water either, because they do not have underground pipes or the underground reservoirs (cisterns) in which water is stored in Mexico. People are forced to buy water from a privately owned truck which distributes water to them in containers, but this is very expensive. Since this street still does not have the necessary infrastructure to install a water pump, ConeXión Mosaico helped the community to draw up a petition to the municipality demanding their right to have access to water, which the community members then took and turned in to the municipal governmental offices.
There were obstacles, but there were also many successes, and one of those is personified in “Anita,” who is the only woman representative in the first Citizen Committee. At the beginning of the process, “Anita” was somewhat skeptical of the new work being launched in her community, but as time has gone on she has shown tremendous growth as a community leader. As a housewife she is always home, which has led to her assuming a greater responsibility in the committee. She is the representative who has met with the project Fortaleza staff on several occasions when the other male representatives were not home, since they all work some distance away from the community. “Anita” describes the changes that she has seen in her community in the following manner: “Since you (ConeXión Mosaico) people have started to participate more, to become interested in attending the Sunday (committee) meetings.” Additionally, the day that both Committees came together to celebrate a “posada” (a community Mexican Christmas tradition, ritually reenacting Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem), “Anita” brought a huge pan of tamales big enough to share with the entire neighborhood as well as the project staff.