National City, California, one of San Diego County’s most ethnically diverse and densely populated cities, has what you could call “bayanihan” or “familia.” Bayanihan is a Filipino value encompassing a spirit of communal unity, work, and cooperation to achieve a shared goal, and familia is the Spanish word for family and the culture of a community. Those concepts are integral to the city’s efforts over the past decade to create better health and well-being for all.
People here describe a community where everyone has a connection to everyone else, even if they don’t know each other directly. Generations of families stay in the city, often living in the same neighborhood or working together in the same place, at the port, schools, naval base, or in one of many small businesses.
“I’m very proud to say I’m third generation, my daughters are fourth, and this is home,” said the city’s mayor, Alejandra Sotelo-Solis.
The sense of connectedness and cooperation has resulted in a community relentlessly focused on strengthening itself so everyone can thrive—now and in the future.
In keeping with bayanihan and familia, in recent years, National City has made efforts to let residents, regardless of their preferred language or citizenship status, determine the city’s growth. New policies require city council meetings, which many residents felt excluded from in the past, to feature two-way Spanish-English interpretation, and the city government removed citizenship requirements for residents to serve on boards and commissions. The goal is to create a city where everyone’s voice is heard.