Holy moly, its been 2 months since my last post.  Lets change that- today!  Heres a little bit of what I’ve been up to, whats on my radar, and what I’ve been thinking about when it comes to the built environment:

– The American Planning Association’s annual National Conference is coming up!  Ok, so its not next week, but it is in April and tomorrow is the last day to register for early registration.  While I have attended the last two (in New Orleans and Boston), I’m especially excited about this year for two main reasons:  it is taking place in my lovely hometown of Los Angeles, and I will be speaking at it with my great friend and colleague Angela Fortino.  We will be in the student capstone presentations discussing our work on Mexico City’s transportation system, specifically focusing on a particular station and our respective redesigns it and the surrounding community.  It will be really thrilling to have many of my friends from grad school coming to LA, and of course I love meeting new people and learning about new ideas and projects at conferences.  If you’re actually reading this, and you aren’t my mother (ha!), you should consider attending.

– Antioch University’s Masters of Sustainability program, which I was peripherally involved in starting up, has been kind enough to allow be to remain involved in many of their lectures and trips.  In January, I went on a fascinating field trip to Roger Jessup Park in Pacoima, where we met students involved in their youth program, toured their urban garden, and learned about the wide variety of programs and courses offered through Youth Speak Collective and Project Youth Green.  The gardens are all utilized by local families who do not have gardens of their own, and the produce grown there is sold at a local farmers market.  We heard how each of the high school students present had been personally impacted by the program, and it was incredibly heartwarming.

The visit to the garden was followed by a toxic tour lead by representatives from Pacoima Beautiful, which was really eye opening.  Sure, there are urban issues relating to housing, sustainability, and the watershed all over Los Angeles- but to focus on polluters in  this area specifically got us to a level of detailed understanding on the area that can really make a person stop and think about all that still needs to be done.  They do so much there, I would have to write a whole blog post just on this non profit to do it credit. Next time!

Finally, we went to a panel in Pacoima featuring various representatives from organizations working on education rights for all, specifically immigrants, illegal immigrants, and kids in juvenile hall.  For those of us who basically had our education taken care of for us, we took it for granted.  Growing up, I didn’t think twice about how the other kids at my public school had gotten there- and I definitely didn’t think about those who weren’t.  Getting a college education can be even more of an issue, and it isn’t just because of a lack of money to pay for it.  It was very interesting, and it sure didn’t hurt that we were fed amazing food made by a local Mexican restaurant.  Hearing the stories of people who have struggled getting what so much of us consider to be basic…its enough to make anyone take a step back and wonder what the heck our current system is capable of.

– In other news, I’ve applied for a job at the Skid Row Housing Trust, a really amazing organization working in downtown LA and in collaboration with other similar groups around the country.  Downtown LA has its fair share of issues, from infrastructure to services, and what the Trust is doing is rehabilitating old buildings there, housing the homeless, and providing a variety of services to help get them on their feet.  They’ve recognized that housing alone and services alone aren’t enough to make the vast and permanent impact they were hoping for- so they’ve combined the two, along with helping bring some old buildings back to life.  What a neat thing to do.  The more time I spend in LA, the more amazing orgs I find here.

Thats all for now…next post will be on the very controversial Don’t Waste LA campaign and its hearing with LA Public Works Commission.

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