2022 Grants Challenge

The People's Kite Festival

Idea by Clockshop

The 3rd Annual People’s Kite Festival at LA State Historic Park will unite the park’s diverse surrounding communities through the joys of kite flying, inspiring communal stewardship of this beloved public land as it faces development pressures. The project will energize community activism to protect this hard-won neighborhood green space and its open skies. It will also address equitable park access through a partnership with nearby Ann Street Elementary and pedestrian-focused interventions from the art group Public Matters.


Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

LA River State Park Partners California State Parks

What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Green Space, Park Access, and Trees

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

East LA

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Residents of William Mead Homes, LA’s oldest public housing complex comprised of 415 townhomes, and students of adjacent Ann St. Elementary, currently have no safe, direct pedestrian access to the LA State Historic Park. The lack of long-sought crosswalk over busy North Spring at Ann St. is a major environmental justice issue, hindering access for some of our highest needs neighbors to the world class green space just blocks from their doors. While the Ann St. crossing has now been prioritized by DOT, we must work to ensure that this vital piece of infrastructure comes to fruition. In addition to pedestrian access issues, the park and its free community programs are also under threat from an aerial tram gondola proposed for the park’s southern end. The gondola would stretch over the southern portion of the park, taking public land for its infrastructure, jamming airspace, and blocking park users’ world-class views of Elysian Park, the Downtown skyline, and historic Broadway Viaduct.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

To address access issues, advocate for the preservation of the park’s open skies, and build a stronger connection between the park and the families at William Mead and Ann St. school, we will hold the 3rd annual People’s Kite Festival in late Spring 2023. Launched in 2021, the Kite Festival has grown in size and impact, with the May 21 2nd Annual event drawing over 3,000 Angelenos from the diverse communities around the park and beyond for a day of joyful kite flying and a “gallery in the sky.” Our planned collaboration with Ann St. Elementary will include a series of kite making workshops for K-5th grades, visits by kite masters, and a culminating pre-Festival celebration just for school families with kite flying contests, prizes, and food. In a second, related intervention, artist collective Public Matters will take over the College Street crosswalk as well as the Ann St. sidewalk areas with their “Slow Jam” pedestrian activations, designed to heighten awareness and increase safety at key crossings. The historically underserved communities around LA State Historic Park fought for years to bring this beautiful park into existence, and our organizations thus oppose any use of our shared public park land, airways, or viewsheds for private enterprise. The Kite Festival and our longer term community activations will use joy and play to help build awareness of the need to protect the park’s open skies as well as shine a light on key infrastructure needs.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

The advocacy approach that Clockshop has pioneered with the Kite Festival can serve as a valuable model for LA County: advocacy through joyful acts! While indignation and fiery rhetoric have their place in the art of protest, we believe that the Festival has shown another way––the simple, intergenerational, exhilarating act of flying kites as a means to galvanize public support to protect public land. We’ll build on this approach with the William Mead & Ann St. communities, adding pedestrian actions and artistic co-creation to foster deeper connections to the park. Building more pedestrian-friendly, green infrastructure within historically underserved neighborhoods serves both community wellness and climate resiliency. Equitable access to open spaces like LASHP, created by and for the park’s historic residential populations, requires ongoing vigilance against development pressures.The park is thus a vital test case for many of our region’s interrelated environmental justice issues.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Our goals for the Kite Festival were to increase participants' feeling of connection to public land, their desire to steward it, and to increase their sense of being part of a community. 92% of respondents to our post-event survey indicated that the event “mostly” or “very much” increased these feelings (4 and 5 on a 5-point scale). We also wanted to raise awareness of the gondola as a threat, and empower community voices around park access and equity. The “Stop the Gondola” campaign was able to collect 441 petition signatures at the event itself, and our earned media impact through an LA Times article, KPCC interview, and KTLA live TV spot reached nearly 400,000 people across SoCal with the message to protect public lands against the gondola project. We also wanted our audience to reflect the surrounding community. We were very successful, attracting an audience that was 21% Latinx, 11% African-American, 40% White, 22% Asian-American, 9% Middle-Eastern, and 3% Indigenous.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 3,500

Indirect Impact: 360,000

Describe the specific role of the partner organization(s) in the project, program, or initiative.

Clockshop will have the lead role on this project, maging its messaging, progress, evaluation, implementation, and goals. LA River State Park Partners, a long-standing partner of Clockshop’s and the supporting nonprofit organization for the three State Parks along the LA River, will lead the collaboration with Ann Street Elementary School, which the school leadership enthusiastically supports. The partners seek to increase their engagement of local schools as well as build a coalition for new pedestrian safety measures surrounding the park. California State Parks is the long-standing public agency partner, and a collaborator on the implementation of the Kite Festival and related programming.