The Beatles song “Come Together” might have been sung by a tribute band at the concert in Repplier Park, but it was also the theme of the Facebook group Positively Banning as they showed up in force on Aug. 1, for their inaugural Picnic in the Park.
Nearly 30 members of the online community and their families gathered together to meet others from the like-minded collective in a show of solidarity to push Banning in a positive direction.
The gathering was organized to coincide with the first concert of the summer series at the Playhouse Bowl.
“Our group was about gathering together and networking,” says Nick Parra, a member and advocate for the group. “It was a great kick-off for the concert in the park.”
Folks from the group started gathering for the picnic around 6 p.m. and sat on the grassy area around the amphitheater seating.
Several members of the group were wearing items of green such as lanyards, sunglasses, feather boas and of course their Positively Banning buttons.
Green is the unofficial color of the group.
Councilwoman Colleen Wallace, a founding member of the group, was on hand to show support for the cause of Positively Banning.
Her hope is to help bring about a better environment for future generations of Banning residents.
“It was a really good turnout. There were lots of people wearing green,” the councilwoman says.
“Quite a few of us were there.”
Prior to the concert, the councilwoman was flanked on stage by two of her colleagues when the Positively Banning group was welcomed to the concert by organizer Lynette Espinoza.
The efforts of the group to bring about positivity and a sense of community are not going unnoticed by Banning residents either.
“It is a great way to get everyone out of their own bubbles and get them connected,” Parra says. “It gets Banning residents out of their backyards.”
According to Parra, the picnic in the park before the concert was a part of that strategic vision of the group to “gather together and network, discuss ideas and collaborate with other groups.”
The picnic is the brainchild of a founding member of the group, Lisa Schulze, wife of Banning City Manager Doug Schulze.
The purpose for the picnic was two-fold: build positive community relationships and to celebrate the legitimacy of the group.
“I wanted to create an opportunity for members to meet face,” Schulze wrote in an email to the Record Gazette. “We really need to work toward building relations in the community.”
She also planned the event to coincide with the group’s two-month anniversary and their addition of nearly 1,000 members into the ranks since its inception.
Recently the group organized a Banning City Staff Appreciation day that brought community members together to extend gratitude to city staffers by bringing gifts and food to every city department.
The group is currently working to raise money for their next project, a float for Stagecoach Days parade in September.