connect / 2016

People's Planning School: Park Equity Project

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach

The People’s Planning School: Park Equity Project (PPS) organizes residents to transform their parks into intergenerational play hubs that strengthen family bonds and reduce community violence.

Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

There are five collaborators: 1) Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach (BHCLB), a place-based initiative of The California Endowment; 2) City Fabrick, a non-profit design studio; 3) First 5 LA: Best Start Central Long Beach, an early childhood resident capacity building Los Angeles County initiative; 4) City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS); and 5) City of Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine Department (PRM).

Please describe your project proposal.

In the People’s Planning School, residents participate in a 6-week planning workshop that includes developing a neighborhood action plan to identify resources for parks and open space programming at Drake Park and the surrounding areas. PPS residents lead an advocacy action day to inform decision-makers on municipal budget prioritization to have parks serve as community hubs that strengthen family bonds and reduce community violence.

Which of the connect metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Social & emotional support
  • Public/open streets gatherings
  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs
  • Rates of volunteerism

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

  • South Bay

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

The PPS project connects people, parks, and institutions to create active, safe neighborhoods for all generations to thrive. It is a multi-sector approach to connect resident leaders with government and community-based organization resources (CBOs) to activate open space and parks in the Drake community and surrounding areas. Well-engaged, safe parks provide many benefits. Parks serve as a connecting space that build social capital by providing a shared space for users to develop and maintain neighborhood ties. These interactions enhance the personal and communication skills of users, which significantly contribute to residents’ sense of safety and emotional/social support. PPS’ three project goals are to: 1) increase resident capacity, building up their advocacy for increasing access and resources to parks and open spaces; 2) increase the rate of resident and partner organization volunteerism at parks and open spaces; and 3) increase communication between government, CBOs and residents on the use of vibrant park spaces within Drake and surrounding communities. Authentic resident engagement is critical to develop a community vision for safe parks that support early childhood, intergenerational play, and reduced neighborhood violence.

Capacity Building: People’s Planning School will offer a free, 6-week city planning training to 20-24 residents and work with them to develop a neighborhood action plan. Using the tools learned in their training, residents will co-design a neighborhood survey along with project partners, collect data, and present their findings to city decision makers. In the Neighborhood Action Plan, residents will identify specific community resources that meet the needs presented in the data, securing commitments for programming and maintenance of Drake Park. Connection to Place and Volunteerism: PPS will strengthen existing government, CBO and resident relationships while identifying new partners to increase park activity and responsiveness to resident needs. Residents will create private and non-profit partnerships to increase park programming and create opportunities for resident volunteerism at local parks. The connection between organizations and resident volunteerism is key to create a neighborhood identity where residents have the power to support programming in parks and open space.
System Change-Communication: PPS partners and residents will work together to open dialogues with policy and civic decision-makers, expanding the current conversation from designing park spaces to include support for long-term park programming in low-income areas of the City. The City of Long Beach has made a commitment to increase opportunities for its citizenry to live active, healthy lives. As part of this commitment, PPS will work to impact budgetary decisions on how park program funding is allocated and bring new community resources to bear to support the desired level of park programming.

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

Resident involvement in the planning of their communities is the number one indicator of success. The vision of Drake Park serving as a community hub that strengthens family bonds and reduces neighborhood violence begins with everyday people owning and defining their neighborhood identity. Our program will recruit, train and organize 20-24 residents to serve as social change agents in the Drake neighborhood and surrounding communities. The information obtained through neighborhood surveys will be used to inform decision makers on how best to prioritize park funding as well as create new private and public partnerships that invigorate the currently disenfranchised, marginalized Drake community. Resident leaders will present their findings to City Council and advocate for equitable park funding in low-income communities; taking on a systems approach on how our parks are used, maintained, and sustained. Resident leaders will inspire their neighbors to get involved and join them at the community action day at Drake Park, where residents will program park activities, and showcase their newly found partnerships. Through the PPS project resident leaders will re-engage their neighbors to inform city budgetary priorities and have government be more responsiveness, and increase volunteerism to create opportunities for everyday people to define how parks can serve as community hubs for healthy intergenerational play and a healthy community for all.

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

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support