Eagle Rock's 'Action Research Institute'

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In kinship with KCET.org's Juan Devis and his Web Stories series, TTLA checks in with the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College.

From the Institute's website, under the 'What We Believe' section: "UEPI works to achieve a just, livable, and democratic society, with a primary focus on the Los Angeles region."

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One of UEPI's many Centers & Projects is the Center for Food & Justice. The CFJ operates out of a storefront office on 2106 Colorado Boulevard, in Eagle Rock, not far from the corner of Colorado and Eagle Rock Boulevards. As stated on the CFJ website, the program's objectives are:

"*To improve access to fresh and healthy foods in all communities, particularly those where access is most limited.

* To facilitate environmental, health promotion, community development, social justice, and land use strategies that empower local communities and strengthen the capacity of small family farmers."

In keeping with past TTLA posts, we asked Robert Gottlieb, UEPI's director and an Oxy professor, if the Institute is a think tank?

Replied Gottlieb: "We call ourselves an 'action research institute.'"

Mark Vallianatos is the CFJ director. "A think tank's purpose," Vallianatos told TTLA," is to generate and evaluate ideas and policies with the intent of influencing decision makers/ impacting society."

Vallianatos continued: "That's a useful function but there's the risk of coming up with abstract principles. So we've always tried to be grounded in geographies and through community partnerships and actual pilot projects and implementation of ideas."

Some of those projects include: Farm to School, Farm to Hospital, and the Healthy School Food Coalition -- each as straightforwardly named as Eagle Rock itself.

Think tank or not, the CFJ and UEPI at large produce white papers and other reports. The top-right side of the CFJ website, for example, currently features a download of, "Fresh Food Distribution Models for the Greater Los Angeles Region."

From the conclusion of the "Discussion" section of that 23-page doc:

"Implementing these models will require considerable support from farmers, private industry, non-profits, community partners and many others, but the outcome can be a healthy and vibrant local food system that meets the needs of all Southern California residents -- from farmers to end consumers."

Other UEPI projects include co-organizing the recent 2009 Bike Summit. (See TTLA's related post.)

And before we close this post....

TTLA asked Gottlieb to name tanks / research orgs / policy institutions that he respects the work of. "Locally," the professor said, "LAANE and Horizon Institute."

Photo Credit: The image accompanying this post was taken by Flickr user 917press. It was used under Creative Commons license.

**Disclosures: Gottlieb and at least three other past or current UEPI staff members have participated in some way in the Public Salon Series at Farmlab, where TTLA's blogger works.

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