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Exploring Local Assets, Placemaking Workshops in Northeast Los Angeles

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Extending placemaking efforts of the Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative, a consultant team lead by Mia Lehrer + Associates organized a series of community-centered activities throughout November and December. Placemaking can be described as a comprehensive approach to the planning, design, and management of public space. The main focus of this endeavor was to facilitate and engage the people who live, work, and play within the study area to identify what they value and desire.

The workshop series began with public focus groups in each of the five neighborhoods in the NELA RC study area to collect feedback on community resources, economic development, transportation, and public health. Meetings were constructed around interactive activities, including mapping residents' commutes, local assets, neighborhood perceptions, and health resources.

In order to maintain the character of a neighborhood, it is vital to record these valued resources and daily experiences, and decode what all of the surrounding environmental factors are needed to support a sense of place.

Twenty different points of interests within the study area defined through the placemaking workshops, as well as the summer workshops, accumulated into a bus tour for local residents and stakeholders. From potential bridges to parks, to commercial and cultural spaces, these sites, if transformed, could promote health and well-being for the local community. Two additional workshops concluded the placemaking series, focused on discussing and refining ideas for community driven projects.

Moving forward with the placemaking process, the consultant team, with the NELA RC partners, are translating what was shared, including stories and the places people imagined, into a series of plans and graphics to comprehensively tell the story of what are assets, what are challenges, and where change can occur in the neighborhoods. We are in the process of compiling an extensive list of viable projects that have been shared by the community, and mapping them to specific places within the NELA RC study area.

An open house will take place at the L.A. River Center on January 25, from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. to share our findings with the community, and ask for input on what projects are truly needed for the future of the communities.

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About the Consultant Team (for Placemaking):

The NELA RC partner Los Angeles Conservation Corps is the partner lead on the 'placemaking' activities and hired the consultant team outlined below to assist the NELA RC in facilitating the process. For more information on the NELA RC funded by the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities Grant, its local sponsoring L.A. City agency EWDD and other local partners, visit www.mylariver.org.

Mia Lehrer + Associates is a full service, international landscape architecture practice located in Los Angeles, California. The firm applies a comprehensive and intensely creative approach to all projects, which vary in scale from large urban projects engaging community members and public agency stakeholders, to small spaces where collaboration and coordination of architecture and site are the primary objective. Mia Lehrer + Associates (ML+A) is the team lead; overseeing all communications to gather, organize, and analyze information, create lists, maps, and project profiles, and lead the placemaking community planning process.

LA-Más is a not-for-profit design group that investigates the relationship between public health and the civic environment. By investing in the design of the built as well as virtual environment of the underserved, we strive to make an impact on the wellbeing of the communities we serve. Through creative design implementation and by engaging in immersive research, we promote culturally sensitive design and innovative infrastructure that focuses on economic, environ¬mental, and social sustainability.

The Robert Group (TRG) is a public affairs firm with special expertise in public engagement, stakeholder outreach and strategic communications. TRG focuses on working with our clients, whether governmental agencies or private entities, to develop solutions and build consensus on projects amongst stakeholders with often divergent viewpoints.

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