Teresa Barth, Encinitas residents launch effort to engage community


Encinitas residents Liz Taylor (far left), Teresa Barth, Mim Michelove and Tiffany Fox (far right) have joined forces to create the community nonprofit Encinitas Engage. (Courtesy photo)

Ernesto Lopez

Teresa Barth, former Encinitas mayor and councilwoman, has officially taken off her “political hat” and stepped into a life of civic engagement.

She recently announced her involvement as president of Engage Encinitas, a nonprofit that aims to enrich the lives of city residents by “encouraging them to collaborate with each other, get to know each other and find opportunities to contribute with projects they feel will enhance the quality of life in their neighborhood.”

This is not a political venture. It is absolutely different and I repeat it constantly,” Barth said. “Engage Encinitas is a nonprofit because we didn’t want the confusion that this is a political group.”

Tiffany Fox, a professional writer for the UC San Diego Qualcomm Institute and secretary for the nonprofit, also made clear that “Engage Encinitas is not a political initiative.”

It is not affiliated with any political party or any candidate or politician. It is really a way for people to participate without being political in a nonpartisan way. The events will be open to the entire community,” Fox said.

Barth was first elected to the City Council in 2006, and while she was passed over to serve as mayor three years in a row, she was picked as mayor of Encinitas in December 2012, when the position rotated every year between council members.

She decided to step away from public office and not run for a third term in 2014 because she had promised family and the voters that she would only serve two terms and thought that it was important to keep her word, she said.

I also saw the need for a non-political approach to civic engagement,” she added. “We all felt this need to have this place where people can engage in a positive way.”

During her eight years on the City Council, Barth said, she saw that many residents “who love their community and that are very passionate were frequently turned off by the divisiveness” and controversies that often plagued the council, and she hope that they become involved in the new nonprofit.

These people have resources and talents and would like to contribute to the community, but were frequently turned off by the divisiveness of politics. They say that politicians talk to each other, not with each other,” she said.

Even though Engage Encinitas does not have political intentions, Barth said the nonprofit would not be opposed to hosting forums and holding presentations to help inform people about specific issues, but it will not be endorsing and taking positions on anything.

This is as close as we will get (to politics); this is about building community. We say building community, making a difference,” Barth said.

As part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 19, Engage Encinitas held its first event. A group of about 20 residents joined Barth, Fox and the other board members — Liz Taylor, board president of San Diego Coastkeeper as vice-president, and Mim Michelove, co-president of Healthy Day Partners as treasurer — to pick up trash at Moonlight Beach.

There is no membership fee to join Engage Encinitas, which at this time is collecting ideas and feedback from the community. To learn more about the nonprofit visit www.engageencinitas.org or “Like” the group on Facebook.

Ernesto Lopez is a San Diego freelance writer