2019 Grants Challenge
🎉 Finalist

Calles Verdes

Idea by TreePeople

Calles Verdes is a community-driven green streets project in the City of San Fernando. LA2050 would support the project by hiring a youth and community organizer to rally community members, young and old, to transform the city, resulting in cool city streets, increased water supply, removal of toxins from the water, increased tree canopy, improved access to healthy food and more walking and biking.


Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

TreePeople was founded by the inspiration of a 15-year-old boy.

One summer in the late 1960's, a young Andy Lipkis learned at summer camp that smog from LA was killing the trees there and that the entire forest could be gone in 20 years. Deeply worried, Andy rallied 14 of his fellow campers, boys and girls, who worked for an intensive week planting a grove of smog-resistant trees. At the end of the week, as they boarded a bus to return back to the city, Andy wept. He was so moved by the experience but didn’t think their efforts would make a difference or that they could stop the death of the forest. A counselor told the kids if they were inspired, they shouldn’t stop — that they should take their awakened passion and conviction back to the city and make a difference.

One camper, Andy, did. And nearly 50 years later, he is still at it. He came home to LA and started planting and teaching people about the importance of trees. In 1973, he officially founded TreePeople. Since then, TreePeople has engaged millions of Angelenos in planting and caring for nearly 3 million trees, has given inspiration and birth to other environmentalists around the world, has developed innovative solutions to climate resilience, water management, urban forestry, and fire resilience, and in the process, has shown people that they can make a difference.

TreePeople itself is evidence that every person can make a positive difference. The largest tree in the world, the California Redwood, begins with a seed so small that it is microscopic. Even after it has grown into an acorn, who would imagine that it could grow hundreds of feet tall? For every person who has a dream but feels too small and powerless to believe in their dream, think of the redwoods. Those towering beauties that were once too small to see kept growing, in spite of hardships, to provide the earth a multitude of eco-benefits and to offer peace and beauty and joy to so many. Like the redwood, every person has power inside of them to make a difference. Coming together with others to plant a tree can awaken that power. TreePeople’s dream is for every Angelono to get in touch with their power and to transform this city and their own lives by doing so.

Which of the LIVE metrics will your submission impact?​​

Access to healthy food

Acres and miles of polluted waterways

Tree canopy cover

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

San Fernando Valley

How will your project make LA the best place to LIVE?

The planning phase is done and California Environmental Clearance (CEQA) is complete.

(Begins July 2019) The next phase is to launch Community Organizing. TreePeople has a long history in the NE Valley and has established close ties with schools, CBOs, and health organizations in the area. LA2050 will help build on this foundation by bringing on a youth and community organizer. This role will work with local youth and adults to engage and mobilize in making their community healthier and to empower them to become advocates for the health of their community.

(Begins Fall 2019-2022) Project installations will follow and will include bioretention swales and vegetated curb extensions on MacClay Street, a residential street; reflective surfaces, bioswales, and trees in a parking lot; permeable pavement on Carlisle Street; vegetated curb extensions along commercial corridor Brand Blvd; and engaging residents in planting and caring for 750 trees on residential parkways, in town, and in a park. Fruit trees, to create a patchwork fruit tree grove at residential homes will take place in early 2020. TreePeople will host demonstration workshops and provide guidance for each greening event. TreePeople will contract with Los Angeles Conservation Corps or another subcontractor on necessary construction elements, like asphalt removal. Infiltration rates, flood reduction, stormwater capture, water quality, GHG capture and avoidance, and both atmospheric and surface cooling will be measured against the baseline once installations are complete.

(Post-project) The green infrastructure elements will be maintained for three years by TreePeople, in partnership with community members. We will also train the City's Department of Public Works in proper maintenance of the bioswales, trees, and vegetated curb cuts to ensure the long-term health of the project. The City has indicated a willingness to maintain the project in the future.

POPULATION: The City of San Fernando is a tight-knit 2.4 square mile working-class California Mission town with Latinos accounting for 93% of the total population and at least 18% of documented residents living below the federal poverty level, exceeding the state average. The California Environmental Protection Agency’s CalEnviroScreen has determined that the City of San Fernando is located in one of the most disadvantaged areas in the state, ranking in one of the highest categories for poverty, unemployment, exposure to environmental health hazards such as toxic sites, poor air quality, groundwater contamination threats and other pollution burdens.

Urban Cooling, Tree Canopy, Cleaner Air and Water, Climate Resilience, Healthy Food, Community Engagement and Social Cohesion will all be measured and are expected to show significant improvement. Additional project information and details are available upon request by contacting TreePeople.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Post-pilot (testing an expansion of concept after initially successful pilot)

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

Success will be measured quantitatively and qualitatively. All project data, from square footage of permeable pavement to location and types of trees planted, to water infiltration and water quality improvements, will be scientifically analyzed and recorded in the organization’s robust, customized database. Analysis will include progress toward environmental goals as well as people-oriented goals that track people’s level of engagement, their growth in terms of understanding the issues, and recording of social and health indicators, such as community cohesion and feedback on levels of walking and biking. The project was planned to complement the City's Active Transportation project, which is designed to promote health transportation; increased tree canopy and other elements will encourage this activity by making the streets cooler, safer and healthier.