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LANI Empowers Communities Through Expanding Green Spaces in LA


[The following mid-year update was written by the organization and then sent to us for further sharing.]

Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative’s LA2050 grant has enabled us to do essential pre-development work that is necessary to expand public green space in L.A. County. Creating new green spaces in urban settings – such as building new parks, greening public alleys or public school campuses, or planting new street trees – requires several steps prior to actually breaking ground. Of course, there must be funding in place to pay for the project, and appropriate sites and project partners must be identified. But for LANI, the first step in any project we undertake is to engage local residents, business owners, and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the projects we undertake actually address community needs.

Throughout our 30-year history, LANI has promoted community members as the experts in their own neighborhoods. We have completed 25 parks and green spaces on blighted or under-utilized lots, and we are currently building a community-designed park in a High Need neighborhood in South L.A. on an empty median; this new park will connect with the Tot Lot we completed in 2020 on an abandoned partial parcel across the street. We recently planted 52 new street trees along pedestrian corridors connecting residents and commuters to L.A. City College, and we helped maintain our urban forest’s health by trimming overgrown trees throughout the City of L.A. We partnered with community members and the County Dept. of Public Health to create pedestrian plans in four underserved, unincorporated neighborhoods to promote healthier walking environments with increased shade. We are constantly communicating with community members to identify new potential park and greening projects like these and others.

In the first six months of our LA2050 grant, we have connected with one new school campus community interested in pursuing a greening project for their yard, which is currently covered in asphalt and has no shade, and we have identified two potential funding sources for this project; we are also pursuing new relationships with several other campuses. We have joined the Releaf Network to connect with more colleague organizations working in the greening space and provide further learning for our staff because a growth mindset is a key LANI value, and we are always open to new ideas and strategies. We have also been meeting with a funder about a green alley project connected to a LANI-built park, and we are hopeful to secure funding to help us do the development work necessary to confirm this site’s feasibility for a greening project.

Parks, green spaces, and tree canopies are not just amenities but essential infrastructure with significant, proven benefits to people's physical and mental health. However, the stark reality is that according to the L.A. Countywide Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment, a staggering 51% of residents do not live within a 1/2-mile radius of a park. This lack of access is particularly acute in neighborhoods with High to Very High park needs, which are predominantly home to low-income people and/or people of color. LANI will continue to engage and empower historically disenfranchised people to plan and build more parks and green spaces in their underserved neighborhoods, creating tangible health and quality of life benefits, block by block. Our LA2050 grant has funded the on-the-ground pre-development work needed to achieve this goal, and we are confident that new green spaces in High Need L.A. neighborhoods will result from this investment. Thank you, LA2050!

AuthorLos Angeles Neighborhood Initiative