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Investigation: Brainstorming an Ideal Community Space at the Bowtie Parcel


Students from the Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts are re-imagining the Bowtie Parcel along the Los Angeles River as part of a project entitled, the L.A. River Design Project. Youth Voices is highlighting the student's work and creative process as it connects to our civic engagement and digital media curriculum.

Imagine this: a class of inquisitive and creative third graders given the task to reimagine the possibilities of a 19-acre post-industrial lot located right across the train tracks from their own school's backyard.

The Bowtie Parcel, so named because it resembles a bowtie from an aerial view, is owned by California State Parks and located along the L.A. River in Glassell Park, behind the Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts. As part of what they call the L.A. River Design Project, their students are tasked with designing a beautification and public use plan for the space.

Following a field trip to the Bowtie Parcel, where they learned about the L.A. River's ecosystem, students from Mr. Fidel Velasco's third grade class, together with Ms. Evelyn Serrano, the school's Arts Integration Coordinator, navigated through the complex topic of inclusivity. They brainstormed how their ideas and designs could be inclusive of plants, animals, and people. This process opened the door to many discussions around access and use of the river, but most importantly how it can be better integrated with the community.

Ms. Evelyn Serrano, Arts Integration Coordinator | Photo by: Luis Sierra Campos
Ms. Evelyn Serrano, Arts Integration Coordinator | Photo by: Luis Sierra Campos 
Brain Storming Chart, Photo By: Evelyn Serrano
Brain Storming Chart, Photo By: Evelyn Serrano

After the brainstorming, the students selected and sketched the ideas that best represent an ideal and inclusive space for the Bowtie Parcel along the River.

In the next phases of the design project, the students will design project proposal posters to present to their classmates and community members. They will assess the feedback they receive and build prototypes of their final ideas to share with a panel comprised of city officials. The students will continue to follow the development of the parcel to see how their ideas and insight inspire the ultimate planning of the area.

Below are the initial sketches derived from the brainstorming of the proposed student design projects:

Team "When the Lights Go Out" proposed a sculpture garden with solar panels:


Team "Green Egrets" proposed a kid friendly slide bridge:


Team "Green" proposed a native garden habitat:


Team "Cow Girls" proposed a path along the river for horseback riding:


Team "Home For All" proposed the establishment of a nature preserve:


Team "Green Leaf" proposed a learning center and outdoor movie venue:


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