Community Health Councils
Community Health Councils works to change systems, policies, and structures that support the well-being of South Los Angeles residents through increased access, civic engagement, and transformation.
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2 Submitted Ideas
- CONNECT ·2016 Grants Challenge
Save Spaces for Healthy Places provides the training, knowledge and ongoing opportunity for South LA residents to find and project their powerful voices so that community change can become a reality.
- 2013 Grants Challenge·🎉 Winner
Many communities in Los Angeles are severely lacking in access to parks and open space. This directly impacts the quality of our environment through deteriorated air and water quality, more noise, reduced tree cover, etc. Studies have also shown that a lack of parks and open space has substantial indirect effects on public health by reducing opportunities for children and adults to participate in outdoor activities.
Yet, while LA is poor in parks, we are rich in vacant and underutilized lands, many of which are located in the very neighborhoods that are most in need of new parklands. The LA Open Acres Project aims to capitalize on this opportunity by facilitating the transformation of the city’s thousands of acres of vacant and underutilized lands into vibrant green, public places that contribute to the health and well-being of local residents.
Currently, these vacant, underutilized, and often abandoned empty spaces are eyesores, places for illegal dumping, and focal points for crime. Local residents who have the motivation to transform these spaces face an intimidating morass of overlapping bureaucracies and unclear ownership structures. Identifying appropriate opportunities for new green space development is extraordinarily difficult and requires a high degree of expertise. Furthermore, there is no comprehensive process in place for expanding access to open space through community participation in the assessment and stewardship of vacant land.
The LA Open Acres Project will break this cycle of neglect by decoding the system, creating a shared platform that neighbors can use to support each other in administrative advocacy for access to these spaces and to share expertise.
At the heart of the LA Open Acres Project is an online platform that provides community members with clear pathways to transforming vacant and underutilized parcels into green, open spaces. This platform will catalog and distribute information about vacant lots, alleys, red fields, surface parking lots, easements, flood control channels, and other underutilized spaces and allow neighbors and park and open space advocates to access this information in an attractive, graphical format and connect with each other to begin the process of working with the City and other landholders to develop projects.
The Project will begin by creating a database of these empty spaces in the City. Information will be collected using GIS data from city departments, as well as fieldwork led by community resident researchers, satellite imagery, and existing web-based mapping software. This information will inform the development of an interactive online map that allows users to identify vacant and underutilized parcels and obtain all relevant publicly-available data about them. Users of the website will also be able to tag and upload photos of vacant lots in their neighborhoods, allowing the data to be verified, expanded, and continually updated. Profiles of empty spaces and land parcels will include their location, size, lot number, and ownership, as well as images and any information about current efforts to organize a project around the parcel. Furthermore, users of the website will be able to find and connect with others interested in working on particular sites, and access public and private resources dedicated towards transforming them.
The online database and interactive map will be a powerful tool that allows neighbors, community organizations, non-profits, neighborhood councils, and other stakeholders to work together to develop plans for converting empty spaces to places full of opportunity such as urban gardens, small parks, and other much-needed community open space uses. The online tools will be prepared in partnership with 596 Acres, a non-profit that is on the forefront of building online organizing platforms for land access advocates and facilitators.
As a key complement to the web-based tools, the LA Open Acres Project will work to translate these online resources into action on the ground, building upon the ongoing efforts of Community Health Councils and the Coalition for an Active South Los Angeles (CASLA) that CHC convenes and facilitates. This component of the Project will be adapted from 596 Acres’ tactics in New York - putting signs directly on the fences of vacant municipal properties with pathways, contact information and a way for inspired passers-by to connect with one another. CHC in partnership with a diverse network of advocates will connect local stakeholders with the online tools and with nonprofits and public agencies that can help them develop projects. The organized groups facilitated by the website and CHC will work in solidarity and partnership learning from each other’s challenges and successes.