live / 2019

Resiliency IN A BOX

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Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Unycyn Civic Arts

“Resiliency IN A BOX” is a mural covered repurposed shipping container housing equipment producing a renewable, sustainable source of potable water, soil enhancements and clean energy on a daily basis. Our project provides opportunities for STEAM education and a canvas for public art. In the Community Healing Gardens' Tech Garden at LAUSD Markham Middle School in Watts, it will improve food production plus be an off-the-grid, vital resource for the entire neighborhood when a disaster strikes.

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

  • AltaSea
  • Beautify Earth
  • Community Healing Gardens
  • SkySource

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

The idea that we can align many visions to bring more beauty into this world inspires Unycyn Civic Arts to develop projects that encompass “the art of being civic”.

We have been inspired by projects like The High Line in NYC which repurposed an abandoned space into a vibrant urban park with community collaboration, public art & urban gardens, and is a great example of how a community revitalization program inspires its community, and beyond.

We have also been inspired to focus on water and infrastructure as common ground issues, so our founder is on the board of civic scale public private partnerships like RiverLA and AltaSea at the Port of LA.

“Resiliency IN A BOX” was inspired as a potential catalyst to help our City develop neighborhood resiliency after studying LA’s Resiliency and Sustainability Plans which prioritized creating neighborhood resiliency hubs “that facilitate social and climate resilience along with disaster preparedness and recovery”.

We were inspired when we learned of the Community Healing Gardens’ work revitalizing an abandoned garden into a productive urban farm offering STEM Ed as well as a community safe space at LAUSD Edwin Markham Middle School in Watts. We drew on inspiration from the High Line and sought to enhance CHGs’ work by including community resources, especially disaster preparedness, and public art. When we heard that students involved in the Community Healing Gardens’ program worried about having adequate water for their plants, and rely on sometimes less than pure water from the schools’ taps, we were inspired to help support them with “Resiliency IN A BOX”.

Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Access to healthy food
  • Percentage of imported water
  • Resilient communities

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

  • South LA
  • South Bay

How will your project make LA the best place to live?

Los Angeles is at risk for a number of natural and human-made disasters, including drought, earthquakes, fires and landslides. A community’s ability to respond to and recover from those disasters is the measure of its “resiliency”. Low-income families and communities often suffer disproportionately from these disasters and lack adequate resources to invest in their own resiliency.

“Resiliency IN A BOX” is a 20’ long repurposed shipping container painted with water themed murals. This box will provide vital resources of water and energy to the Watts community on a daily basis, and in times of disaster. Called a “WEDEW” (Wood To Energy Deployable Emergency Water, which recently won the Water Abundance XPRIZE), this machine dehydrates biomass (wood chips, green waste, etc.) to produce 25kWh of clean, renewable energy, 300+ gallons of water a day, biochar (a soil amendment), and it absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere so it’s carbon negative.

“Resiliency IN A BOX” strategically places a WEDEW at Community Healing Gardens’ (CHG) urban garden at LAUSD Markham Middle School in Watts. Within 1 mile of the gardens, there are 7 other schools and 3 housing projects, making it a strategic gathering space in an emergency.

Although Watts is only 2 miles wide, it’s one of the densest communities in LA with an average of 17,346 people per square mile. In addition to the 36,815 residents of Watts, the surrounding neighborhoods of Green Meadows, Florence-Firestone, and Willowbrook add up to almost 200,000 people living near the site. Our location is well positioned to serve as a resiliency hub for these communities during a disaster.

The CHGs’ urban garden at MMS engages and serves 700 middle school students with STEM Ed. “Resiliency IN A BOX” would directly benefit these students, their families, and the community by the WEDEW providing access to a pure, renewable source of water for them and the gardens. Additionally, the plants in the gardens will be enhanced by the biochar to produce more food and healthier soil.

This project will be executed in 4 phases: planning, building, implementing and growing.

Skysource will assemble the WEDEW at AltaSea, at the Port of LA. In addition to providing warehouse space, AltaSea will facilitate an in-kind contribution of a repurposed shipping container and support community engagement efforts.

Skysource engineers will be responsible for all box assembly and functionality.

Our civic art partner, Beautify Earth, will handle the murals on the sides of the shipping container, also providing opportunities for community engagement and education.

Our civic garden partner, Community Healing Gardens (CHG), will incorporate the WEDEW into their existing urban farming STEM education program focusing on renewable energy, water resiliency, and disaster preparedness and will be responsible for its maintenance.

“Resiliency IN A BOX” will strengthen and prepare Watts and the neighboring communities for the challenges ahead.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)

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

With the risks facing Los Angeles, earthquakes, flooding, landslides, forest fires and drought, to name a few, there is no question that a disaster will occur, it is simply a matter of when. Low-income families and communities often suffer disproportionately from these disasters.

Resiliency is the capacity of households or communities to respond to and recover from adverse situations, including natural and human-caused disasters. Many communities, including those in South Los Angeles, lack adequate resources to invest in their resiliency.

Los Angeles has recognized this need to invest in our city’s resiliency, and the needs of the disparate communities around LA, in its Resiliency and Sustainability Plans. One of the goals prioritized is to create neighborhood resilience hubs “that facilitate social and climate resilience along with disaster preparedness and recovery”.

Our proposal, “Resiliency IN A BOX”, will provide basic resources of water and energy to Watts and the neighboring communities in the aftermath of a disaster. The WEDEW technology can produce 300+ gallons of water a day, which can be stored for future use. The machine runs off-grid, using biomass, so it can continue functioning even if the city loses power. In addition to powering the water element of the machine, the WEDEW produces an additional 25kWh of energy that can be used. This technology is already being used by the State of California to support areas in Malibu still recovering from recent fire devastation.

It is a strategic choice to place our resiliency box at a public school, frequently designated as a place to gather in an emergency. The urban garden at Markham Middle School is within one block of a high school and elementary school, with a total of 7 schools within a 1 mile diameter. Watts is only 2 miles wide though is one of the densest communities in our city. With so many people in such close proximity, this site is well positioned to serve as a resiliency hub for the neighborhood during times of disaster.

Our box is also a tool to educate the community about resilience and disaster preparedness. During the assembly process at their facility, AltaSea will host an educational open house for the community. Community Healing Gardens will develop additional STEM education programs and activities around the WEDEW for Markham Middle School students.

Success for our project will be when a WEDEW is operating at the Community Healing Garden and providing community resiliency within a year.

“Resiliency IN A BOX” impacts resiliency by providing off-the-grid vital resources with sustainable, abundant supplies of potable water and renewable energy. While assembling the box, the educational component of this project will be measured by event attendance. We’re expecting 400+event attendees.

“Resiliency IN A BOX” supplies carbon sequestered biochar soil enhancement and water for urban gardens as well as opportunities for STEM education about access to healthy food. Enhancing the work of Community Healing Gardens will see success measured by more plants grown in the garden from the addition of the biochar, as well as additional STEM education activities for the 700 students served though their educational programming

“Resiliency IN A BOX” provides pure, clean water for the students and their families offering a constant, renewable supply of potable water and renewable energy to the neighborhood both on a daily basis as well as in times of emergency. Atmospheric water generation (AWG) is a sustainable way to increase access to local water.

“Resiliency IN A BOX” will help successfully prepare the community to survive and thrive through disaster relief and resiliency education by providing a dense and underserved neighborhood with a resiliency machine that can supply 300+ gallons of water per day and 25kWh of clean renewable energy off the grid.