Environmental Quality / 2013

Pavement to Parks

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by National Park Service

The Idea:

By December 31st, 2013:

• Transform 10 public paved places (corners of libraries, Boys and Girls Clubs, schools, etc.) to 10 native plant gardens.

• Give 3 nature programs at each of the 10 new gardens, including citizen science programs like Lost Lizards of Los Angeles.

• Employ 15 L.A. youth (5 college and 10 high school students) to develop gardens and lead programs. Youth will be mentored by National Park Service rangers.

• Provide 20 field trips to national parks or other local open space areas for the local community.

• Provide two overnight, transformative field trips to a national park for the 15 youth interns.

How it impacts the indicator:

• Adds up to 10 acres of green space and up to 5000 native plants to low-income, park poor communities in L.A.

• Creates oxygen. Estimated amount of oxygen produced by plants in gardens = estimated number of leaves per plant (estimate 100) x .005 liters of oxygen per hour/per leaf x 8 hours of sunlight per day x 365 days per year x 25000 plants = 3.64 million liters of oxygen produced per year.

• Increases biodiversity in the urban landscape. Species richness of 10 to 30 species per garden.

• Interactive nature programs for 500 kids. At least one program will be science-based and will be a long-term environmental monitoring citizen science project.

• Develops 20 young environmental leaders. Under mentorship of park rangers and scientists, 20 youth from the community will participate in a continuum of learning and leadership.

• Addresses nature deficit disorder for 500 kids. Problems caused by nature deficit disorder include fear of and lack of respect for nature, more time with “safe” indoor activities like computer games, structured sports activities rather than imaginative play -- all potentially contributing to ADD, depression, child obesity, lower grades, etc.

The Method:

• Identify target neighborhoods lacking in green space, based on research by City Project and LA2050. Use one month to identify target projects using a three-pronged approach: 1) Use Google Earth imagery and other web resources to identify public areas used by kids that have pavement that could convert to garden space. Meet with these potential places to discuss gardens. 2) Put project request opportunities out to the community via newsletters and the internet asking for project ideas. 3) Meet with community leaders to solicit possible projects.

• Select projects and have team of site owners (library, school staff, Boys and Girls Clubs) and NPS staff and student interns identify best location for a garden, select species, and layout garden plan (1-2 months).

• Have NPS mentors and student interns meet with facility staff and kids to develop program ideas and begin program planning.

• NPS will utilize plants grown in our native plant nursery. Other additions such as reading benches, low water using fountains, edible plants, bird boxes, owl boxes, bat boxes, etc. can be added as requested.

• Install native gardens and initiate garden care with students (1 month).

• Develop and deliver programs at gardens (3-5 months).

• Deliver field trips for garden communities. Two field trips per garden for a total of 20 field trips. Field trips will be from L.A. to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

• Take student interns on two longer, in-depth, leadership-building field trips, one backpacking trip in the Sierra and one kayaking trip at Channel Islands National Park.

Ripples in the Pond:

• The more educated you are, the more money you make. Nature programming and citizen science are exciting ways to engage kids in science and education in general and keep them motivated and wanting to learn.

• Your chance of becoming a scientist is higher if you decide by age 10 that you might want to be a scientist. Increasing the diversity of scientists in L.A. and the world as a whole is an ancillary goal of our program.

• If you want to be math literate as an adult (able to calculate a tip on a restaurant bill, able to see that you receive correct change, etc.) you need to have basic counting and number line skills in place by first grade! Observing, counting, and measuring nature is an excellent way to start and reinforce this learning.

This is our vision for a green Los Angeles in 2050: green, growing, vibrant, and joyful. Won’t you join us?


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

The staff and volunteers of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area have each year:

• Reached over 8000 kids with nature-based education programming. • Planted 5 acres of native habitat. • Grown 15,000 native plants. • Planted 10,000 native with kids. • Employed over 20 scientists to conduct scientific research on plants, animals, water quality, air quality and more. This research includes four active citizen science programs (What’s Invasive, California phenology project, crayfish removal).

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

We admire the work of the many L.A.-based groups currently working to green Los Angeles. Depending on the specific project areas and program details that we develop with our partner communities, we anticipate opportunities to work with some of these excellent groups. We already have established working relationships with the following groups that may partner with us on specific garden projects and/or programming under this umbrella project: • Los Angeles County Natural History Museum • California State Parks • Northeast Trees • Los Angeles Conservation Corps • Los Angeles Unified School District • Outward Bound Adventures

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

• Number of gardens installed. Goal=10. • Number of acres of garden. Goal= 3 but could be up to 10 depending on projects. • Number of student employees. Goal= 5. • Number of student interns. Goal= 10. • Number of programs delivered. Goal= 30. • Number of students served. Goal= 500. • Estimate of oxygen produced. Goal= over 3 million liters of oxygen per year. We will estimate this based on counting leaves and number of plants per garden. • Biodiversity increased. Species richness of at least 10-30 species per garden (including plants, insects, and other animals). • Specific learning objectives will also be developed for each program delivered. These learning objectives will be evaluated based on participant and community feedback.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

• Adds up to 10 acres of green space and up to 5000 native plants to low-income, park poor communities in L.A. • Creates oxygen. Estimated amount of oxygen produced 3.65 million liters of oxygen per year. • Increases biodiversity in the urban landscape. Species richness of 10 to 30 species per garden. • Interactive nature programs for 500 kids. At least one program will be science-based and will be a long-term environmental monitoring citizen science project.
• Develops 20 young environmental leaders. Under mentorship of park rangers and scientists, 20 youth from the community will participate in a continuum of learning and leadership. • Addresses nature deficit disorder for 500 kids. Problems caused by nature deficit disorder include fear of and lack of respect for nature, more time with “safe” indoor activities like computer games, structured sports activities rather than imaginative play – all potentially contributing to ADD, depression, child obesity, lower grades, etc. • Increase scientific literacy and educational opportunities for 500 children. Potentially increase the likelihood of their completing high school, having greater economic outcomes and greater community engagement. • Building Community Relationships: This project will enable NPS to strengthen community relationships within Los Angeles and help spread the word on native gardens. We hope to build upon this project and continue to create more gardens in additional communities once this project is over. Seeds: The students who will lead this program are future community leaders for Los Angeles. The students who attend these programs and build their science literacy, ecological literacy, and community connections are also future leaders of Los Angeles. • Seeds: These gardens will serve as seeds of community change. We can make more gardens. This idea can spread. • Seeds: If we build it, they will come. If we make space in the city for nature, nature will thrive.
• Seeds: These plants will literally make seeds. These seeds can be given away to families, used to guerilla garden medians and neighborhoods, and used to start new gardens.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

• All children live within ¼ mile of a park or other green space. • Los Angeles is permeable to biodiversity – native plants, insects, birds, and other animals have habitat within the city and are found within the city limits. • Air quality is improved to fewer than 20 smog days per year. • High school graduation rates are improved. • All children have equal access to green space, clean air, clean water, and nature regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status.