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LA2050 Spurs Conversations for a Better Los Angeles, Cal...

LA2050 Spurs Conversations for a Better Los Angeles, California

As a newcomer to Los Angeles, I am beginning to see that people here are hungry for change. Initiatives that exist to better L.A. are numerous, most falling within the realm of the non-profit. The scope of these initiatives varies greatly – some groups are advocating for better transportation options (ie. Move LA), while others

Various organizations gathered at City Hall in Los Angeles, California in celebration of Food Day 2014. Tables spread out across square with people walking between them.  Trees in background.

As a newcomer to Los Angeles, I am beginning to see that people here are hungry for change. Initiatives that exist to better L.A. are numerous, most falling within the realm of the non-profit. The scope of these initiatives varies greatly – some groups are advocating for better transportation options (ie. Move LA), while others hope to address urban poverty (ie. LA Food Policy Council, Hunger Action LA). Just recently, LA2050, an organization funded by the private family foundation, the Goldshire Foundation, launched a $1,000,000 campaign to better L.A. An astonishing 267 organizations applied, with 10 finalists who shared the prize money. In the photo above, various organizations are gathered at City Hall in celebration of Food Day 2014, an event promoting awareness of issues such as urban poverty and food security.

L.A. deserves to be a great city in which to live, but where does change for bettering the city begin?

There is no doubt that non-profit organizations and private foundations are an important part of creating changes to improve the city, but what role do public agencies, such as the government, play?

Since being in office, Mayor Garcetti, the current mayor for L.A., has demonstrated strong initiatives to better the city. In late May of 2014, Garcetti lobbied to approve a $1-billion plan to restore the Los Angeles River – the intention being to create revitalized spaces for urban recreation and commercial development. The photo below depicts a restored part of the LA River, located in the Elysian Valley. Continuing the work of Antonio Villaraigosa’s, his predecessor in office, Mayor Garcetti has recently launched the “Great Streets Initiative," which aims to transform 15 selected streets into thriving economic and recreational locations.

Restored part of the LA River, located in the Elysian Valley. Bank of river in foreground, trees with power lines above in background.

The changes don’t seem to end there. What is most exciting about all these initiatives to better L.A. is the possibility of public/private partnerships. An example of this is the launch of Mayor Garcetti’s Volunteer Corps. This group is essentially comprised of Los Angeles citizens who volunteer their free time to help Mayor Garcetti make the city a greater place. (In fact, if you live in Los Angeles, you could sign up here). In addition to non-profit organizations and government investment, perhaps L.A. could adopt an initiative similar to Denver’s mini-bonds, having citizens invest directly into city improvements.

With so many ad-hoc initiatives created to make L.A. a better place, what does the future look like? What grassroots initiatives are taking place in your community?

Credits by: Victor Tran. Data linked to sources.

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Victor Tran is a recent graduate from the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at McGill University, located in Montreal, Quebec. His post-graduate travels have brought him to Los Angeles, California where he works for a non-profit o...

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