2018 Grants Challenge

“The BlockMobile”: Creating Connections Block by Block

Activating hyperlocal leaders, the BlockMobile travels block by block in LA’s high-density neighborhoods to draw neighbors to the street to connect socially and tackle local community issues.


Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

In LA’s dense multi-family neighborhoods, neighbors live the closest to each other but are often disconnected. In a fun & engaging way, The BlockMobile creates a pop-up forum for neighbors to meet and connect where they live. Through food, games, & information, all neighbors will learn how they can connect to solve local concerns and create a stronger community. Potential hyperlocal leaders will be identified & supported through a network of resident leaders from over 400 of LA’s densest blocks.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your activation impact?​

Attendance at public/open streets gatherings

Government responsiveness to residents’ needs

Rates of volunteerism

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?​

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​

City of Los Angeles

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?​

Trainings and/or in-person engagements

Create new tools or technologies for greater civic/political engagement

Increase participation in political processes

Influence individual behavior

Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities

Get Angelenos to meet each other!

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to CONNECT?​

Los Angeles has a history of trucks rolling down the street to deliver value. From the Helms bakery trucks and their baked goods-announcing whistle to the iconic twang jingle of an ice cream truck drew families from their homes on summer nights and weekends to join together for a cool treat, trucks called people from their homes to meet on the street. In the 21st century, Angelenos continue to expect mobile delivery of what they want from the Kogi-launched gourmet food truck industry to Amazon’s on-demand packages. Yes, people are more connected than ever to the world but less so to their neighbors. Learning from the past, The BlockMobile models home-delivery of treats and goods and applies that to civic engagement and neighborhood leadership.

The BlockMobile is an innovative design to make civic and community engagement a good that can too be brought to the front doors of Angelenos. Connecting in LA must be achieved at the most local level: on the streets. Too often, civic engagement is pushed from the top down, and The BlockMobile seeks to engage traditionally tough-to-engage Angelenos living in apartments where they live: on their block. And by doing so, we will create a fun space for neighbors to connect, micro issues to be identified, and for local leaders to emerge.

The BlockMobile concept is simple: pack a food truck-style vehicle with community engagement tools and resources, promote the trucks visit in advance to a block, park the truck on a block for 2 hours, and draw neighbors to connect with each other with food, games, and conversations about living on their block. Partnering with local agencies like LAPD, LAFD, local non-profits and larger community groups, this localized engagement will also provide resources to participants and offer them the opportunity to talk specifically about their local concerns. The BlockMobile and partners will be trained to support individuals in understanding they can address their local issues, and offer those interested the opportunity to be supported in their effort to continue the dialogue and create a small neighborhood action plan (SNAP) for the issue of concern. These hyperlocal leaders will be offered monthly support and connected to a network of other local leaders as well as given support to continue conversation with their own neighbors on their block.

This local activation will see at least five events per week in the evenings and weekends (when people are home) on as many blocks, with the intention of identifying at least one new, hyperlocal leader to volunteer to tackle a local concern, whether its hosting more block gatherings or as simple as learning how to request a sidewalk repair or pothole to be filled. By supporting local leaders to emerge and become caretakers for their block, The BlockMobile initiative will leave behind connectors who make that block more livable, transforming high density areas of isolation into thriving, interconnected communities.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to CONNECT​

The BlockMobile employs proven tactics of reaching and activating residents to connect and create micro communities. We specifically want to target high-density, lower income blocks made up primarily of multifamily buildings. The BlockMobile provides a hub for neighbors to connect, local issues to be identified, and local leaders to emerge. The BlockMobile is a modified, food truck-style vehicle that includes all the tools to engage a high-density block, including food, entertainment, and activities that allow residents to connect and talk about what’s important to them.

The BlockMobile creates hyperlocal connections in three simple steps. First, a street team connects with local partners and leaders to develop and implement local outreach on a block to engage all residents. Next, The BlockMobile parks on the block for a two-hour event with informational tools, community advocacy activities, and entertainment to attract neighbors, including a map of community issues that prompts feedback, the “Wheel of Engagement” resident can spin to both win prizes and connect with neighbors, and a fun edible treat like ice cream! Trained staff will help engage and facilitate the activities & neighbor conversations to foster organic connections among the residents. The final step is for this staff to identify and engage local leaders and invite them to participate in a network that provides support and resources as they continue the efforts to build connections and community on their block.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

After a four-month program planning and development phase, the primary goal will be to visit and activate five blocks every week. Within a two-year timeframe, we plan to visit 400 blocks and engage thousands of Angelenos. At each event, we’ll connect with local residents who are interested in taking the next step to increase connection on their block, developing a network of at least 400 new block leaders. We aim to provide the capacity and tools for these 400 leaders to continue the facilitation of community engagement in their neighborhoods. We’ll be able to see how many more people these 400 are connecting with on their blocks, creating a long-term local leadership effect.

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

In five years, our model will be replicated across the country by cities and organizations working to engage and activate high-density communities. Furthermore, our concept will have engaged hyperlocal leaders to take actions for improving their neighborhoods through small and big changes, creating a network of over 1000 emerging leaders. The neighborhoods we visited will have developed deeper connections and those that lived there and have moved on will carry with them the sense that community can be created, even in places where it might seem difficult.