Open Space for Every Angeleno
May 23, 2012
It may come as a surprise to some Angelenos, but our city has the least amount of parks out of all the other major metropolitan cities in the nation! Less than 15% of our residents live within walking distance of a park. Even of greater concern is the inequitable distribution of what open space exists, with White neighborhoods having 30 times the amount of such space compared to African-American and Latino neighborhoods.
The need for more philanthropic investment in park development in Los Angeles cannot be overstated. The city budget for parks was cut $40 million in the past few years, with additional major cuts outlined in the Mayor’s current budget. At the same time, our children are suffering through a lack of physical activity – a primary cause of the obesity epidemic as well as the rapid increase in diabetes.
Ten years ago the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust was created to focus on the development of pocket parks and community gardens in low-income urban areas of L.A.. From the beginning, we directed our efforts at building community support and consensus around each of our projects.
For example, the Land Trust is developing the Wellness Center and Community Garden on the grounds of Fremont High School in South Los Angeles. The project is a joint venture between the Land Trust, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and UMMA, an operator of neighborhood health facilities. Working closely with the Fremont principal and faculty, we intend to structure a curriculum for the students focused on healthy eating, provide edible produce in the garden, as well as organize apprentice programs and provide much needed recreation areas for the surrounding community. The health clinic will be open to both Fremont students and the community.
To my knowledge, this is the only project of its kind in California and would not have been possible without the financial support of Chase Bank, the California Endowment , the California Forestry and Fire Prevention, as well as LAUSD.
Today, the Land Trust operates seven neighborhood parks and gardens in Central and South Los Angeles and the North San Fernando Valley:
Estrella Park in South L.A.:
Richardson Family Park in West Adams:
Marsh Street Skate Park in Elysian Valley:
Francis Avenue Community Garden in Koreatown:
Unidad Park in Historic Filipinotown:
11th Avenue Family Park in Hyde Park:
Marson Street Pocket Park in Panorama City:
None of this would have been possible without the philanthropic investment of major foundations, organizations and corporations including the Annenberg Foundation, the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, the Stanley and Joyce Black Family Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Chase Bank and Wells Fargo Bank.
On a very personal level, it’s exciting and fulfilling to see how our work in partnership with philanthropy and corporations is impacting the lives of so many of our children and their families in some of the most underserved areas of Los Angeles. This type of community support across sectors is imperative to develop the types of open space which will be sustainable over the long haul.
Thanks for reading,
Clive Hoffman is the Board Chair of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust.
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