One of our goals in the neighborhood is to engage community members in the transformation and repurposing of public space using community driven designs addressing community identified needs. We form local neighborhood committees who identify specific issues and develop strategies to resolve local neighborhood problems. Each committee identified the use of alleys, sidewalks and streets as causing multiple levels of problems for the neighborhood. In response our neighborhood committees organized activities (movie nights, swamp meets, cleanups, etc) in the alleys to change the conditions that were creating violence. They expanded upon this and built physical improvement projects such as street furniture, murals, planters, solar lighting, and street signs. These projects created placitas, mini gardens, mobile booths for swap meets and other gathering places for community members. It transformed spaces that were once unsafe into a places that are actively used by the local neighborhood.
Our alley projects are a collaboration between tenants, homeowners, adults, youth, and local businesses. It promotes community access and social engagement, asserts community control, and expands the uses of public spaces in the neighborhood for community members. We developed a 6 step protocol in designing and changing public spaces that includes analysis of the problems in the identified public space; brainstorm and prioritization of projects to address the problem; design workshops; fundraising for the projects; construction and installation; and celebration of the transformed space. Our neighborhood committees have done the following:
Transformed 15 public spaces in Boyle Heights and the City of Maywood from unsafe and run down areas into community spaces used for fairs, mercados, meetings, and community celebrations (benefitting 4,500 residents)
Organized and won two new parks in the City of Maywood (benefitting 2,500 residents)
Passed a law in the City of Maywood that allows for street vendors to obtain vending permits (impacting 30 street vendors in one square mile)
Reprioritized how the City of LA distributed resources for basic services (benefiting 5,500 residents in Boyle Heights who received services)