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live / 2016

LA River Stories: Public Engagement through Creative Storytelling

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by River LA (formerly LA River Revitalization Corporation)

LA River Stories, a multimedia project, focuses on first-hand human interactions with the LA River in order to engage communities, demonstrate impact, and inspire resilient design and equitable policy

Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

72andSunny is a highly respected and awarded international creative agency with an impressive global client list and a proven track record of creating cultural impact for clients, and delivering ideas people talk about. 72andSunny’s approach to this project is innovative and collaborative; they plan to recruit emerging creative talent from along the River to help concept and shoot content, bringing authenticity, insight, and built-in community engagement to their creative product.

Please describe your project proposal.

River LA, in partnership with 72andSunny, is creating a human-centered public engagement project to generate inspiring, human stories from the people who know the LA River the best - environmentalists, cyclists, equestrians, young families, recreational enthusiasts, artists, among others. LA River Stories immerses the viewer in the lives of real people, fosters an understanding of their needs, and elevates the narrative to inspire transformative ideas to shape equitable planning and design.

Which of the live metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Waterways
  • Local water
  • Resilient communities

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

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Gateway Cities
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to live?

For many Angelenos, the LA River is not just a concrete flood channel, it’s a way of life. The LA River is where people meet up to ride bicycles or horses. It’s where they create art and music. It’s where they connect with nature and their neighbors. It’s where some thrive, while others are burdened. River LA and 72andSunny will get to know these communities and learn of the relationship they have with the LA River today, and how revitalization will serve to strengthen this relationship. LA River Stories engages and immerses the viewer in the lives of real people, and fosters deeper understanding of their needs. From this collection of video-documented stories made for and by the public, River LA will gain amazing insight on a diversity of opportunities for effective and lasting infrastructure design solutions.

There are more than 64,000 posts on Instagram with #LARiver. River LA and 72andSunny already used the geolocation feature to organize and understand how people are using and documenting their experience on the LA River today. LA River Stories is an opportunity to expand the cultural conversation, engage LA’s diverse audience, truly get to know LA River communities and subcultures, and ultimately inspire and influence design and public policy. Viewers will interact with the needs, dreams, and behaviors of the LA River community through people-generated narratives across multimedia platforms. This will be groundbreaking as the first LA River initiative that focuses on the human experience and potential of the LA River, in addition to the ecology, engineering and political aspects. Moving beyond the technical data, LA River Stories provides a platform for sharing data insights from the Frank Gehry-led study which is compiled into the LA River Index ( The data compiled by River LA partners Gehry Partners, Geosyntec, OLIN and others can now be contextualized through human stories that highlight why these opportunities matter.

Through social media and promotion, recognition of the LA River as a tangible sign of hope for transformation will spread and create a new movement, a new relationship. Our shared story will recognize the River as central to our health, well-being, and sense of place.

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

Primary outcomes include the following:

  1. Recruitment of the community, including direct engagement with members of 5+ LA River communities through workshops with Gehry team. This will be measured throughout pre-and production phases by the number of meetings and the number of potential content creators, the number of stories created, and the number of insights.
  2. A range of content to include in video shorts. This will take place throughout the production and post-production process, measured by the quantity of content.
  3. Media impressions among the diverse audience. This will take place through the content distribution process to influencers and paid media. This will be measured by the quantity of impressions, as well as social media engagement rates.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Community outreach