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March Primary Elections: In Focus (Guide #2)

Posted March 2, 2017 by

It is such an important time to vote locally, and lucky for Angelenos, we have local elections just around the corner! On March 7th, make your mark on LA by voting in municipal elections. We've put together two LA2050 newsletters focused on the upcoming elections.

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You can help shape the future of education in Los Angeles!

The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) is governed by a popularly elected seven-member Board, whose members are elected for four-year terms.

Why is this election important?

  • The LACCD trustees help guide the district's efforts across nine campuses that educate 230,000 students.
  • The programs offered in LA's community colleges provide vocational training that create pathways to well-paying jobs, expose high school students to college-level courses, and serve as an entry point for many low-income and minority students to four-year colleges.
  • LACCD educates almost 3x as many Latino students and nearly 4x as many African-American students, compared to all of the University of California campuses combined. Eighty percent of LACCD students are from underserved populations.
  • LA's future rests on educating the next generation of workers, and the decisions and innovative solutions proposed by the board of trustees can strengthen academic and economic achievement in Los Angeles.

Read statements from candidates for Board of Trustees, Seat 2, Board of Trustees, Seat 4, Board of Trustees, Seat 6 via KPCC's Voters Edge.



This overview
by Ballotpedia helps break down some of the issues that are at stake for LAUSD, including an upcoming budget deficit of $1.46 billion, ongoing debate about school choice, charter school oversight, and protection of undocumented and DACA/DAPA students.

The great folks at LA Food Policy Council also surveyed the LAUSD school board candidates to ask questions about key policy issues related to building on or creating innovative solutions to promote Good Food for all. Check out the responses.

Why is food justice important for LAUSD?

  • LAUSD oversees a $150 million food budget
  • In 2012, the district committed to supporting local purchasing in a “good food" program that helps keep local farmers in business. Within the system, at least 50% of food served now comes from within 200 miles of Los Angeles.
  • More than 520,000 students in LAUSD qualify for free or reduced-price meals during the school year, and the nutritional value of those meals matters.



Thanks to LA County Bike Coalition for these helpful reminders to guide you through the voting process.

  1. Your employer is required by law to give you time off to vote.
  2. You can vote if your name isn't on the list using a provisional ballot.
  3. You can vote after polls close, as long as you're in line.
  4. You can change your vote if you make a mistake — just ask for a new ballot.
  5. You can take your vote-by-mail ballot to any polling location (and you can trade it for a new one if you make a mistake on it).


Find out which Council District you live in


Don't forget about your municipal elections in:

Azusa • Bell • Bellflower • Beverly Hills • Burbank (election Feb 28th) • Claremont • Compton • Covina • Cudahy • Gardena • Glendale • Glendora • Huntington Park • Inglewood • La Mirada • La Canada Flintridge • Lakewood • Los Angeles • La Verne • Manhattan Beach • Monrovia • Monterey Park • Norwalk • Palos Verdes Estates • Paramount • Pasadena • Redondo Beach • San Dimas • San Fernando • San Gabriel • Signal Hill • South Gate • Vernon • West Hollywood


For more information, click here for the full newsletter!



March Primary Election Guide #1: What You Need to Know

Posted February 28, 2017 by

It is such an important time to vote locally, and lucky for Angelenos, we have local elections just around the corner! On March 7th, make your mark on LA by voting in municipal elections. We've put together two LA2050 newsletters focused on the upcoming elections.



What's on the ballot?

Officials elected this year will be serving a 5 1/2 year term. In 2015, in order to help increase participation in local elections, LA voters passed a charter amendment to place city elections on the same calendar as the statewide gubernatorial elections. Elections will move from odd-numbered to even-numbered years. The next gubernatorial election is in 2022, meaning the next elected officials will serve an extended term.



Participation in local elections is dismal. Let's fix that! In the last mayoral primary election, just one in five or 20.8%, of eligible Angeleno voters participated in the last primary election in the City of Los Angeles.



The median age of voters in Los Angeles is 59. And voters 55 and older make up 31% of the state's adult population but constitute 47% of likely voters. We need more voices across the age spectrum to determine the future of Los Angeles. That's why we love whatUnited Way's LA Youth Vote campaign is doing!




The Mayor of Los Angeles, three seats on the LAUSD School Board, three seats on the Los Angeles City Community Colleges Board of Trustees, and eight City Council seats, including the seat for District 7 in the Valley which is hotly contested (20 candidates are running for the position). The City Attorney and Controller are also on the ballot, though running uncontested. The measures on the ballot vary depending on where you live. Across L.A. County there are 13 local measures and one county measure.

There may be other municipal elections happening if you live outside of the City of Los Angeles. Check out the list of municipal candidates, municipal measures, and your sample ballot based on your address.

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Don't forget to check your polling place. It may be different from where you voted in November!


Los Angeles County Measure H: a quarter-cent sales tax increase to provide services for the homeless, including mental health, health care, job training, and other supportive services. This measure is a companion to Measure HHH which will build 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing and provide several million dollars for affordable housing. Measure H is part of the county's broader plan to reduce homelessness in Los Angeles. This measure needs 2/3 of votes cast to pass.


Los Angeles City Measure S: a measure, also known as the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, that would place a two-year moratorium on new projects seeking General Plan amendments or zone or height-district changes that would result in more intense land use, an increase in density or height, or a loss of zoned open space, agricultural or industrial areas. The measure includes an exception for affordable housing projects, among other provisions. Measure S competes with Measure JJJ which was approved by voters in November. This measure needs the majority of votes cast to pass.


Los Angeles City Measure M: a measure that is intended to provide a process for the regulation, taxation, and enforcement of the marijuana legalization law, or Prop 64, that was passed by California voters in November. This measure–which competes with Measure N–would provide the City Council to amend and adopt regulations related to marijuana after a public hearing and comment process. This measure needs the majority of votes cast to pass.


Los Angeles City Measure N: a measure that would establish City permitting program for the regulation, taxation, and enforcement of the marijuana legalization law, or Prop 64. This measure–which competes with Measure M–has been abandoned by the backers of the proposition, though it was too late to remove it from the ballot. You still have the option to vote against it. This measure needs the majority of votes cast to pass.


Los Angeles City Measure P: a measure that would amend the charter to increase maximum term for franchises, concessions, permits, licenses and leases that may be entered into by the Harbor Department from the current maximum of 50 years to a new maximum of 66 years, to be consistent with recent changes to state law. This measure needs the majority of votes cast to pass.



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Craving more information?

We also found the KPCC Human Voter Guide and Voters Edge to be super helpful. Also check out VoteLAUSD.com, a community oriented forum specifically geared toward issues for LAUSD! We'll be back with more in-depth information about the measures and candidates in our next newsletter!

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Mark your calendar!

The Congressional District 34 Special Primary Election is on April 4, 2017.
"Not sure if this is your district? Confirm here.

Any race where no candidate earns a majority (50 percent plus one) of the primary votes cast will advance to a General Election on May 16, 2017.


For more information, click here for the full newsletter!

More great ideas from My LA2050!

Posted February 4, 2017 by


⚡️💡 Great ideas from Angelenos you should know about ⚡️💡

Every year, we get hundreds of great ideas through the My LA2050 Grants Challenge, but we can only select a limited number to receive grants. Still, we want you to learn about and feel inspired by even more creative projects from your fellow Angelenos.

Shout out to the following organizations for being some of our favorite ideas outside of the ones funded through the grants challenge. Check out our blog post for more details on each of these projects!


LEARN

Promesa Boyle Heights will launch a unique peer mentorship program that bridges middle school, high school, and college students by providing at-risk and high-performing students

Coalition for Responsible Community Development's CURE violence prevention effort expands and promotes alternative sentencing for low-income youth aged 18-25 as a violence prevention and learning strategy.

Parents Education League will create a series of accessible “Public Service Mini-Courses on Early Childhood Education" to educate families on the importance of early childhood education and the criteria to find fitting early childhood environments.

Garage Board Shop's SK8 4 Education after school program motivates at-risk youth by combining skateboarding with education.

BUILD inspires students from under-resourced communities to graduate from high school, develop critical life skills, and achieve post-secondary success through the highly engaging experience of launching their very own businesses.

CREATE

Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network will provide three 12-week cycles of multi-disciplinary arts in youth detention camps/halls and Juvenile Day Reporting Centers across LA County, in order to build youth resiliency, foster wellness and support career pathways to creative economies after release.

Jobs to Move America plans to launch an electric bus campaign for a more equitable transition to zero emission bus fleets, while stimulating the creation of manufacturing jobs.

mitu's Accelerate LA discovers aspiring Latino digital filmmakers, connects them to community organizations and partners, and trains them to create digital content for the Latino millennial audience.

Los Angeles LISC seeks to empower four culturally diverse neighborhoods to negotiate the change process and develop a robust approach for leveraging culture as a tool for promoting sustainable neighborhood identities and economic development.

Impact Hub Los Angeles is using virtual reality to change public perception and help create law enforcement that is reflective of the community it protects.

Think Tank Productions will connect arts event producers with city agents and craft an online system connecting owners of vacant/uninhabited buildings to artists that can create vibrant events in underutilized spaces and neighborhoods.

Concerned Capital + Crowdfund Better will identify 10 "at-risk for relocation" manufacturing companies and re-tool them with digital communications, enterprise crowdfunding and/or management capacity.

The Billboard Creative will mount an art exhibition on billboards featuring works from emerging Los Angeles artists.

EMX Los Angeles provides opportunities for students to learn to be future DJs and electronic music production.


PLAY

Community Corporation of Santa Monica brings the Boys and Girls Club youth-development activities directly to kids in their home communities.

Perceptoscope will deploy augmented reality pedestal viewers at strategic locations around the city taking into account the context, communities and histories of the spaces in which they're dropped.

Clockshop create programs and events that bring Angelenos to experience “the Bowtie," a plot of post-industrial land on the LA River.

USC Annenberg Innovation Lab's CARPE LA is a mobile experience designed to get teams of kids and adults outside to play a story-driven, location-based game in parks throughout LA.


CONNECT

ARGO Labs builds, operates and maintains pioneering data infrastructure to transform how basic public services like street quality, water reliability, and education volunteering are delivered.

Bicycle Culture Institute wants to build an app that connects people on bikes to better understand their city streets and infrastructure.

Open Ballot LA is building a new data platform that will work to transition LA's elected office data into a streamlined and open platform, creating a new database that allow users to see all available elected offices, filing windows, salaries, requirements, and competitors.

Get Lit–Words Unite fuses classic and spoken word poetry to increase teen literacy and cultivate enthusiastic learners emboldened to inspire social consciousness in diverse communities.


LIVE

LA Compost is working to create a local solution to food waste through composting hubs in Los Angeles.

Podshare will build a pilot co-living pod program for transitional housing for Homeless Youth in Hollywood.

Planned Parenthood SGV aims to be the first health centers in northeast LA and the San Gabriel Valley to offer sliding-scale PrEP.

LA Food Policy Council will catalyze, coordinate and connect over 300 local organizations and hundreds more stakeholders to create a NEW Good Food For All Agenda – a visionary policy platform for health and resiliency in our local food system.

Global Green USA will work with local communities to develop a model for Resilience Hubs in neighborhoods throughout the County, in the face of natural disasters and extreme weather.

Community Health Councils' Safe Spaces for Healthy Places will motivate residents to get involved with the Community Plan (CP) process through Neighborhood Councils (NC) in South LA.

LA2050 Holiday Gift Guide

Posted December 18, 2016 by Megan Park
LA

LA is home to an incredible array of craftmakers, artisans, small businesses, and social enterprises. It's easy to shop for the holidays in a city with a bustling creative economy, and we've tried to make it even easier! Check out our LA2050 Holiday Gift Guide, where you can find gifts that give back and do good.

  1. Piece by Piece mosaic cup, crafted by residents of Skid Row and South L.A.
  2. Further candles, recycling purified grease collected from LA restaurants.
  3. Raven+Lily candles, crafted by women transitioning out of homelessness.
  4. Lost Angels Merch Tee, supporting My LA2050 grantee, Lost Angels Children's Project.
  5. Know Your City Tee, supporting LURN (Leadership for Urban Renewal Network).
  6. Time Travel Tours Posters, proceeds benefit 826LA's free writing programs.
  7. An EveryTable meal, supporting a new model to provide affordable healthy meals in South LA and DTLA.
  8. Povertees, apparel made by individuals transitioning out of homelessness.
  9. LARB Quarterly Journal, available with LA Review of Books membership and at retailers including Skylight Books, Chevalier's Books, and Amazon.com.
  10. WCCW Tote, supporting Women's Center for Creative Work.
  11. Homeboy Love Gift Package, filled with Homegirl Cafe and Homeboy Bakery goods.
  12. DWC Gift Sets, crafted by the women of the Downtown Women's Center.
  13. Pulp Pantry Holiday Gift Box, sustainable snacks from Pulp Pantry.

Goldhirsh Foundation gives $1M in grants via My LA2050 Grants Challenge

Posted December 7, 2016 by Angie Jean-Marie


Today, the Goldhirsh Foundation announced winners for its annual My LA2050 Grants Challenge, a $1M competition to source creative ideas about shaping the future of Los Angeles. The 12 winning organizations will receive grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 to implement projects in 2017 that make Los Angeles the best place to learn, create, play, connect, and live.

The projects were crowdsourced in an online grants challenge that invited organizations in Los Angeles to submit proposals that would shape a brighter future for Angelenos. The winning projects build on local conversations about social impact, and address topics including sustainability and clean energy, skills-based learning and vocational training, representation in the media, and inclusive entrepreneurship as tools for social mobility.

“We are energized by the diversity of proposals selected for grants this year," said Goldhirsh Foundation president, Tara Roth. “From San Pedro to Lancaster, these organizations are authentic to the communities they serve. They tap into the collective consciousness of Angelenos to solve local challenges in a way that is impactful and creative."

In addition to crowdsourcing solutions for Los Angeles, the grants challenge engaged the public by allowing Angelenos to vote on their favorites of the ideas submitted. This year, as in years past, tens of thousands of Angelenos voted.

The Goldhirsh Foundation is also working with other funders to support more organizations that participated in the grants challenge. The Annenberg Foundation announced in September that it will offer up to $250,000 in grants for projects related to technology and communications to improve the lives of Angelenos.

The Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation (RPDFF) and CAA Foundation also announced today that they will join the philanthropic collaboration. RPDFF plans to grant an additional $500,000 to support 10 projects at $50,000 that focus on collaboration in their proposals. The CAA Foundation will use the grants challenge to help inform its philanthropic efforts in public education throughout 2017.

The Goldhirsh Foundation's 12 winning proposals for the My LA2050 Grants Challenge are:

AltaSea ($100,000)

AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles will leverage its STEM network to provide middle school students with ocean-based learning including: lessons on sustainable methods for aquaculture, an introduction to the local ocean ecosystem, technology-enabled ocean exploration, and blue technologies.

Lost Angels Children's Project ($25,000)

Based in Lancaster, the Lost Angels Children's Project will provide 50 at-risk, disadvantaged, and foster youth with hands-on vocational training in classic car restoration via a safe educational afterschool program.

Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media ($25,000)

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is a research-based organization working with the entertainment industry to improve gender balance in media to empower women and girls. The Institute will provide scholarships and mentorship opportunities for 50 girls aged 13-18 to participate in their See Jane Salon Series.

California Institute of Technology ($100,000)

Via its Cleantech 2 Edtech program, Caltech will explore promising clean energy and water technologies, work with LAUSD and LADWP to pilot them, and offer complementary education and internship opportunities for high school students in cleantech.

Opportunity Fund ($100,000)

Opportunity Fund will provide access to capital to 240 underserved LA small business owners in collaboration with 10+ community organizations helping to create self-sufficiency & jobs. Through this new program, Opportunity Fund will create a network of quality lending partners that will expand the organization's reach, improve the entrepreneurship ecosystem, and capture data about local entrepreneurship.

Triforium Project ($100,000)

The Triforium is a 70s-era, six-story sculpture and public art project in Downtown Los Angeles that has never been able to achieve the ambitious vision of its artist. The Triforium Project, in partnership with 5 Every Day, Tom Explores Los Angeles, Downtown Art Walk, and Art Share LA, aims to realize the artist's vision by retrofitting the Triforium, replacing its incandescent bulbs with LEDs, and install an updated computer system designed to invite musical interaction.

Surf Bus Foundation ($100,000)

Surf Bus partners with LA City Department of Recreation and Parks to connect LA's low-income, at-risk youth with the ocean and provides transportation, bathing suits, wetsuits, surf boards, boogie boards, food, and ocean safety education.

Big Citizen HUB ($100,000)

Over the course of 22 weekends, Big Citizen HUB will build a pipeline of social changemakers by bringing together 236 diverse young people, ages 11-26, from across Los Angeles for leadership development and community service.

Tierra del Sol Foundation ($50,000)

Tierra del Sol Foundation will connect 500 adults who have developmental disabilities to volunteer opportunities at 120 nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles.

Friends of the Family ($100,000)

The Man2Man Project will connect multiple generations of men and boys for the dual purpose of helping young dads to become great fathers and preventing at-risk boys from becoming fathers too soon.

Sierra Club Foundation ($100,000)

Sierra Club will develop a campaign to help Los Angeles equitably transition towards 100 percent clean energy. The campaign seeks to engage residents and stakeholders about LA's clean energy future, track and evaluate the city's mechanisms for spurring clean energy solutions, educate the public, and use social media to engage in a dialogue.

Covenant House California ($100,000)

In partnership with a revered barber in Long Beach, Covenant House will open the Precise Barber College to train traditional students and homeless youth. The social enterprise will help students become certified barbers, learn about entrepreneurship, and give back to their community via a street outreach team that offers free haircuts to homeless youth.

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2016 My LA2050 Grants Challenge Top Voted Submissions

Posted November 18, 2016 by Megan Park

Congratulations to the organizations whose submissions earned the most votes in the 2016 My LA2050 Grants Challenge! We are thrilled to announce the Top 10 in each of the five goal categories: learn, create, play, connect and live.

One winner will be chosen from among the Top 10 in each category. Additional winners will be chosen irrespective of public voting until $1M has been granted. We are extremely excited to have the Annenberg Foundation as a funding partner, providing up to $250,000 in additional grants for tech and communications solutions.

Here's to you LA! Thank you for inspiring us with so many innovative ideas for making LA the best place to learn, create, play, connect and live.

The 2016 My LA2050 Grants Challenge winners will be announced on December 6, so stay tuned!

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY


LA is the best place to CONNECT

LA is the best place to LIVE


A glimpse into LA’s future: How can driverless vehicles & new tech revolutionize a car city?

Posted November 16, 2016 by Erica Liepmann

LA might be known to some as a congested, car-centric city, but Angelenos know these stereotypes are old news. LA's got rapid changes underway that are making our beloved city more people-friendly every single day.

We're investing in public transportation with new rail and bus projects, like the Expo line connecting downtown to Santa Monica, the final phase of which opened this summer and has seen dramatic spikes in popularity. We're adding bike-share programs and bike lanes, and making communities more walkable. And we're big adopters of ride-sharing apps and other new technology.

LA is the ultimate testing ground for innovative ideas in mobility -- and proud of it!

These efforts got a huge boost recently thanks to the leadership of Seleta Reynolds, General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), which released a report examining how the future of LA's transportation could look and how we should start preparing!

Supported by the Goldhirsh Foundation in partnership with the Mayor's Fund of Los Angeles, the comprehensive strategy, “Urban Mobility in a Digital Age: A Transportation Technology Strategy for Los Angeles," is the first strategy document of its kind from a major U.S. city to focus prominently on how autonomous vehicles could improve mobility in LA.

The pages of the document are bursting with exciting ideas. Here are a few of our faves:

  • Test mobility feedback tools: We love the idea of giving Angelenos the opportunity to provide feedback on their walking, biking and public transportation experiences quickly and easily via technology -- just like you'd rate an Uber or Lyft ride. The report recommends LADOT set metrics to help define and evaluate “transportation happiness."
  • Use smart parking tech: Google maps (or your map app of choice) will let you know how long it takes to drive from place to place -- and even consider the traffic -- but what about how long it will take you to park? Every single Angeleno who drives knows what it's like to arrive on time, but then to wind up late because of driving around looking for parking.
    Furthermore, studies have found that 30 percent of traffic is caused by drivers looking for curb parking, and a UCLA study estimated this generates an extra 730 tons of CO2 emissions annually in just one small business district alone. According to the EPA's greenhouse gas calculator, 730 tons of CO2 is equal to the amount of CO2 that would be sequestered by 18,919 tree seedlings grown for 10 years. Making greater use of parking inventory technology will help drivers find a space more quickly thereby reducing excess CO2 emissions. But equally important, including these time estimates provides a more realistic picture for drivers and may encourage walking, using public transportation or a ridesharing service instead.
  • Test autonomous public transit vehicles: It's not just ride-sharing companies and car manufacturers that should be testing autonomous vehicles (AV). It's time for LA's transit agencies to get the ball rolling too. Can you imagine hopping on a self-driving bus?
  • Test on-demand shuttles: In LA, first mile/last mile is often our biggest stumbling block to public transportation adoption, i.e. how Angelenos get from their nearest bus or rail stop to their door. One amazing idea is piloting on-demand public transportation options, like micro-buses or shuttles, in lieu of fixed-route buses, to help riders make their first mile/last mile connections.
  • Expand car-free zones: Of course we adore the idea of increasing the frequency of temporary car-free zones, like CicLAvia, which encourage Angelenos to explore their communities on bikes and on foot. It's currently held three times a year. How would LA's streets change if this was a more regular option?
  • Crowdsource transit improvements: We sure love crowdsourcing! The report suggests LADOT partner with the community to crowdsource ideas and even funding to make bus stops more comfortable and informative for riders (think more shade, most seating and info on arrival times).
  • Launch a mobility lab: LADOT should foster innovation by hosting a “living lab" for their teams to share data/research and collaborate on new ideas with private sector transpo tech companies, as well as academic and philanthropic partners. We couldn't agree more!


These changes would have big implications for Los Angeles and could spur new uses for tons of space across the region. A 2015 report found parking took up an estimated 14 percent of land across the county in 2010 and the number may be even higher today.

Think of what opportunities and options could be unlocked if we move away from individual car ownership and reclaim urban spaces taken up by parking. We could convert parking spaces into new parks across LA, build much-needed new housing and explore creative land uses we haven't yet imagined.

That's just one of the many ways the lived experience of Angelenos could be improved by this new model, which would also reduce traffic and transit times, improve walkability and bikeability of neighborhoods, make residents more active, increase community connectivity and dramatically reduce carbon emissions. We love these positive impacts and the steps LADOT is exploring to bring them to fruition.

For more on the future of mobility in LA, check out Alissa Walker's excellent piece on the report in Curbed LA. Then, grab a nice glass of your favorite beverage, get cozy and enjoy the full report.

Thank you for joining us to #CelebrateLA

Posted October 26, 2016 by Erica Liepmann

Thank you, Los Angeles, for a night to remember!

We were honored to host hundreds of amazing change-making, innovating and creative Angelenos in DTLA's beautiful Grand Park to #CelebrateLA.

With delicious tacos and cocktails in hand, Angelenos were mingling and discussing the bright future of LA as we kicked off voting on the 2016 Grants Challenge. Our Challenge applicants were in attendance to share their exciting, fresh ideas to improve communities all across the county.

We never doubted that LA sure knows how to party! We loved seeing you all enjoy every aspect -- from some of the city's finest food trucks to DJ Mamabear's sweet beats to our photo booth.

Major shoutout to all our friends and partners for helping us make #CelebrateLA so special: Do LA, Angel City Brewery and all the yummiest eats and treats from Kogi, Poke2Go, Farmer's Belly, El Jefe Catering, Bread & Wine Catering and B Sweet. And thanks to you for being there to toast to LA's future and for all you do every day to make this city sparkle!

Check out our favorite moments from the night on Storify and the full photobooth album too!

And of course, don't forget to vote for your favorite ideas to to make LA the best place to learn, create, play, connect and live. We're thrilled to be giving away $1 million to the ideas Angelenos love most! Voting ends October 28, so don't forget to lend your voice today: https://challenge.la2050.org.

Our favorite moments from #SXSL!

Posted October 13, 2016 by Erica Liepmann

Like many Angelenos, we couldn't be happier that a conversation about Los Angeles (and all the exciting change going on here!) was given a national spotlight at the first-ever South by South Lawn (SXSL) festival, hosted at the White House on Monday, October 3.

Inspired by the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival, the White House's version brought together leaders, artists, activists and innovators to celebrate people making positive change. SXSL was also a call to action, an opportunity for changemakers to share best practices and inspire even more engagement around issues ranging from sustainable food to social entrepreneurship to climate change (and more!).

And guess which city was spotlighted as an exciting place for innovation? Of course, LA!

The panel discussion, entitled “ LA: A Case Study in Innovation," was moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times food critic, Jonathan Gold. He led a conversation about how LA is changing (for the better!), what this looks like across sectors, technology's role and the lessons to be learned from it all. Panelists included:

  • Yael Aflalo, Founder and CEO of sustainable LA fashion label, Reformation;
  • Krisztina 'Z' Holly, host of The Art of Manufacturing podcast and Chief Instigator of Mayor Garcetti's MAKE IT IN LA initiative;
  • Oscar Menjivar, Founder and CEO of URBAN Teens Exploring Technology; and
  • Brian Mullins, a pioneer in Augmented Reality, Human Machine Interface and Computer Vision.


Here are our favorite moments from the conversation:

  • “Businesses can make a difference in communities; they can make a difference with food deserts." - Jonathan Gold [on Locol].
  • “When we surveyed businesses in LA about creating and making, we found that nearly half of businesses were minority and women-owned. So it shows a very different face of entrepreneurship than what we see in the media." - Krisztina 'Z' Holly
  • “LA is a microcosm of the world. So it pulls together all these different cultures. I think there's something like 40 different nationalities where the second largest population in the world is in LA. So it causes new creativity to come out of that and then it also means that LA is a huge market that enables us to reach and test and iterate on our innovations." - Krisztina 'Z' Holly
  • “The beauty of LA that we're starting to find is that more and more teens from the inner city, more and more teens from poor and working class communities are starting to innovate, and the more resources we're starting to provide to them, the more they're starting to come up with their own solutions for their own community." - Oscar Menjivar
  • “The LA River, for people who don't know about it or just think of it as a joke on late night TV, is being redeveloped in sort of an astonishing way, as an open space, as a recreational space, as a new center of Los Angeles. It goes on for 40 miles. … It's something I think we're all looking forward to experiencing for the next 40 years." - Jonathan Gold
  • “I think Los Angeles is going through a renaissance right now, so I think people from across the country are moving to LA. I think it really is a hub for creativity right now." - Yael Aflalo
  • “It's an amazing place to devote yourself to something. There's so many resources; there's such a diverse workforce — amazing people coming from entertainment, from technology. And it really is…the intersection of all those things." - Yael Aflalo
  • “What you're talking about is how corporations and government have to think about the best interest of people in general and solve these problems in a bigger way. I think there is often a temptation for people to look and see the strengths and weaknesses of government and the strengths and weaknesses of corporations, and especially sometimes they try to route around each other. Neither gets better when that happens. I think if you focus at how you can collaborate and make legislation that's going to help both, that's really the only way to do that in the long-term." - Brian Mullins
  • And OF COURSE, we loved the LA2050 shoutout from our friend, Oscar Menjivar, talking about cross-sector partnerships to expand economic opportunities for underserved communities:

“When we were first starting [URBAN Teens Exploring Technology] and told people 'we're ending the school to prison pipeline,' not only did corporations, but foundations, like the Riordan Foundation, jump on board, or the Durfee Foundation, or LA2050 jumped on board and said 'let's help this cause. It's important that LA has a good workforce in the future.' So I think that collaboration — again — that is coming from all sectors and is helping understand that there's talent in South LA, there's talent all over Los Angeles whether it's in the valley or downtown, we're willing to nurture that talent, we're willing to bring up and foster that talent as a community in LA."

You can watch the full video of the panel below. Enjoy!

With Angeleno input, Grand Park's 'Paper Airplane' now soaring high!

Posted October 3, 2016 by

As winner of the My LA2050 Grants Challenge to make Los Angeles the Best Place to Play, Grand Park - the Park for Everyone in Downtown Los Angeles - was thrilled to recently unveil Paper Airplanes, a remarkable installation that is both public art and practical infrastructure, providing whimsy and excitement as well as some very necessary shade to park visitors young and old.

This spectacular new shade structure was designed by local artists Elenita Torres and Dean Sherriff, and engineered and manufactured by Canvas Specialty in East Los Angeles. The eleven planes were constructed of translucent, heat-resistant fabric in a building process that took six months from concept to installation.

Each plane represents one incorporated city in LA County and together the planes represent all 88 incorporated cities.

After successfully marshalling Angelenos to support the shade project by voting for Grand Park in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge, Grand Park continued its public-spiritedness by holding a design contest for the shade structure itself. Local artists submitted more than 50 design concepts suited to the space and reflective of the spirit of Grand Park and the diverse communities that frequent it.

There were so many amazing submissions that appealed to the Grand Park executive committee – but once again public input was prioritized to determine the winning design. An online campaign was launched to encourage the public to vote for one of three top designs selected by the committee after in-depth personal interviews with the artists. Grand Park staff even canvassed the park during lunchtime to engage the public in conversations about the final design options. Public participation soared with nearly 4,000 responses in less than two weeks to the big question: L.A., which do you LOVE?

The three final designs each reflected a unique characteristic of Grand Park but in the end, the online public voting campaign crowned Paper Airplanes the undisputed winner. Paper Airplanes captures the free spirit and playfulness of Grand Park, soaring over Olive Court and bringing much needed shade and delight to everyone who visits to play, enjoy quiet green spaces, and attend free events in DTLA.

One of the major goals at Grand Park is to create a sense of community by truly engaging the public. By sparking the public's participation in helping Grand Park win the My LA2050 grant and then again in the final design selection, the park met an important milestone in the continuing mission to make Grand Park the Park for Everyone. And with the comforting shade the planes provide, visitors agree that Grand Park is cooler than ever!

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