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Aetna Voices of Health Competition

Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust



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Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust's ("Neighborhood Land Trust") mission is to grow healthier, safer, and stronger communities by creating urban parks and community gardens that remedy the critical lack of green and recreational spaces in greater Los Angeles's underserved neighborhoods.

The Neighborhood Land Trust was founded in 2002 to address disparities in park access by creating green spaces where they are needed the most. Our goal is to advance park equity so that race, income, and zip code can no longer predict a person's ability to easily walk to a safe and clean park. In the past 16 years, we have facilitated change by collaborating with low-income communities of color to amplify their power and strengthen their influence over the use of land. We work with residents to increase access to green space, while organizing to change local policies to develop more equitable park and food systems for generations to come.

Our focus on community engagement, in addition to our community-led design process, allows us to train residents to play an active role in the design and stewardship of their parks and gardens. Once built, our projects are activated by programs that focus on health and wellness. Furthermore, through extensive outreach and leadership development, we help residents enhance their ability to transform and advocate for their communities, preparing them to successfully take on other critical issues facing their neighborhoods.

To date, we have protected 13 acres of green space through the creation of 27 parks and gardens that serve over 380,000. By 2019, we expect to open four more projects, which will add another nine acres to Los Angeles County and serve an additional 80,000 Angelenos.

By transforming vacant lots into vibrant green spaces, the Neighborhood Land Trust provides historically underserved populations with a variety of benefits. Where people live affects their health, and we are working with local residents to transform their neighborhoods into healthier, safer, and more sustainable communities.

Green space access correlates to public health benefits, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lower self-reported stress, lower rates of crime and domestic violence, and improved air and water quality. Urban greening projects help people feel connected to their communities and encourage healthy behaviors. Living within walking distance of a park contributes to a healthy weight, and exposure to nature can reduce cognitive fatigue and stress.

Through the creation of projects that allow community members to play, connect, and gain access to fresh produce, we are impacting public health and making positive changes that include lower rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hunger, and depression. Our projects also mitigate the significant environmental challenges resulting from urban heat island effect by restoring critical ecosystems, increasing tree canopy, improving air quality, and reducing stormwater runoff. Whether our projects are less than one acre or over eight acres, we are providing access to health in communities that struggle with systemic disinvestment.

Many years ago, Los Angeles had an unofficial policy where the City refrained from building parks unless a plot of at least five acres of land was available. At the time, policymakers believed that small parks were bad for a community and that pocket parks would lead to "pocket crime." Existing policies were particularly detrimental to residents of Los Angeles's low-income communities of color, who primarily reside in highly dense neighborhoods with minimal acreage available for park development. Lobbying politicians wasn't enough because policies couldn't change fast enough to improve the quality of life of Los Angeles's children in low-income communities of color. The Neighborhood Land Trust was founded in 2002 to address the critical park disparities created by the five-acre policy. We started out by building parks and community gardens in areas developers avoided, and we did it with the support of the people who would use those spaces. We have sinceshifted the ways Angelenos think about parks, how policymakers plan urban green spaces, and how park developers engage local communities.

Our contact info:

Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust

Tamika L. Butler
Executive Director
(213) 797-6556

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