live / 2019


Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by UnlitterLA

UnlitterLA is a boots-on-the-ground massive volunteer event based on a simple concept powered by technology and social media, to occur one to two times per year. For the effort to have maximum impact on residents throughout the region, financial and in-kind support for marketing, press relations, and execution of the project is needed.

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

“Nobody Walks In L.A.” is a myth - our region is a mecca of outdoor sports enthusiasts, from hikers to cyclists, to urban walkers. The more our residents get out of their cars and onto the streets, the more appreciation they have of the colorful tapestry of neighborhoods and people that make up the city. Social media has enabled large groups of like-minded individuals to explore our urban environments, walking hundreds of miles of the city. Walking leads to a belief in the value of public transit, quality public spaces, and clean streets. Frustrated by the amount of trash left on the streets and sidewalks, some of these people teamed up with friends to come out and do a series of impromptu trash pickups. On a Sunday in 2018, a small group of us cleaned about a mile and a half of Hollywood streets in about an hour and a half. Residents, business owners, and even passing motorists cheered the effort. Afterward, we asked “how can we upscale this to cover a large portion of the city?” Knowing there are thousands of L.A. residents who not only enjoy walking, but would likely pitch in to do a manageable walk that results in a mass citywide cleanup, it was clear that this was about creating a simple concept on a audacious scale. Using inspiration from the grassroots #UNLITTER or #TRASHTAG movement, and from the mass just-for-fun “Great Walk of L.A.,” we created the concept for a one-day organized trash pickup event, where nearly 650 miles of streets will be “unlittered” in just a few hours. Volunteers in teams will each walk one of 160+ 4-mile loop routes starting and ending at an LA Metro station. Using mobile technology and social media, UnlitterLA promises to be the biggest mass street cleanup ever attempted, and as a regular event, it can make a significant difference in the appearance of our city as well as the actions of our residents. Months later, walking down that same Hollywood street we cleaned several months ago, we can still see a noticeable difference and we’re proud for even the small bit we’ve achieved. We want to share this pride citywide!

Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Acres and miles of polluted waterways
  • Resilient communities
  • Walk/bike/transit score

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

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • County of Los Angeles
  • Areas within several miles of LA Metro subway and light rail

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

Over 160 3-4 mile walking routes will be simultaneously cleaned by teams of 4-10 volunteers on a single event day. Volunteers register and receive supplies at an initial kick-off event in DTLA, then travel to their assigned Metro station, where their route is based. Four or five hours later, nearly 650 miles of streets will have been “unlittered.” Using GPS and mobile mapping systems, volunteers will have access to data such as restroom locations, trash bag drop locations, and realtime location on cleanup routes. Coordination with city/county sanitation departments and private trash collection firms will ensure that bagged litter is promptly removed. Sponsors and grant sources will provide funding and in-kind contributions of volunteer supplies, promotional items, and marketing of the event. A key strategy is to maximize exposure via social, broadcast, print, and online media to drive home the cultural change message that our residents care enough to come out and clean up, and that we should be more careful to avoid littering in the future. This effort serves all residents of the region, both directly through improving the quality of our surroundings, and indirectly by helping reduce harmful impacts on waterways. Additionally promoting a spirit of a “clean LA” benefits the future of the city.

Mar-June 2019 - Coordinate participation from LA City, LA Metro, other cities

May-July 2019 - Establish cooperation with trash collection organizations

Jan-Aug 2019 - Develop and test technology systems, including mapping, volunteer sign-up, route grouping, and event sign-in

May 2019 - Begin PR & promotion of (likely) September event date

May-Aug 2019 - Secure sponsorships for supplies, funds

Jul-Aug 2019 - Obtain supplies, shirts, promo items, etc.

Jul-Aug 2019 - Plan kickoff event and “after party” event.

Aug-Sept 2019 - Open volunteer sign-ups / Awareness survey

Sept 2019 - UnlitterLA 2019 Event - date TBD

Oct 2019 - Followup and review / Awareness survey / Outline 2020 plan

UnlitterLA will track the amount of litter collected (by bags/pounds) and the total amount of Southland streets cleaned. For succeeding events, we intend to reach areas currently not included in the first year. Associated partner organizations, such as CleanStreetsLA and Heal The Bay will be asked to quantify the positive effects of this effort on metrics they regularly assess. Our social media efforts will include surveying impacted members of the population what about the event and its affect on them. The high-visibility objective of the project is designed to cause a cultural change, resulting in a measurable improvement in street litter levels, to be quantified by partner cities and sanitation departments. LA is already a great place to LIVE, and we will be making quantifiable steps to help it become the BEST PLACE.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Post-pilot (testing an expansion of concept after initially successful pilot)

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

The project success will not be defined as a binary result - it will be about how well the planning and execution achieves the stated goals. We have a series of metrics we can measure. These include:

  • Number of volunteers who participate in the event. This will directly impact how many routes can be cleaned; however, there is no necessity for all routes to be serviced. The effort will be beneficial at any level

  • Miles of streets cleaned

  • Number of bags (and estimated weight) of litter picked up

  • Level of official participation by cities impacted by the effort

  • Number of other organizations (churches, youth groups, schools, and corporations) that provide participation and support

  • Levels of sponsorships, including funds raised by route and event sponsors, and in-kind sponsors of supplies

  • Effectiveness of technology tools, including mapping, volunteer sign-ups, registration, and tracking of street-gathered data after the cleanup occurs

  • Feedback from participants, including their interactions with the organization, the process, the routes, and their level of satisfaction

  • Feedback from residents not volunteering but who may be impacted. A random survey of awareness before and after the event will inform PR and marketing efforts for future events.