Building Micro Greenspaces in Disadvantaged Communities

image: From Lot to Spot

Viviana Franco is the Executive Director of From Lot to Spot, based in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA. From Lot to Spot (FLTS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2007 as a direct result of the relationship between lack of accessible green space and the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. FLTS’ unique approach involves grassroots, community engagement to ensure disadvantaged communities contribute their voice in developing healthy spaces in their neighborhoods. FLTS relies on landscape architects for assistance with design; however, it takes much more to allow a project to come to life. The following is the story of one project, the Heart of Watts Community Garden.

–Matt Romero, ASLA, Environmental Justice PPN Co-Chair

Sometimes constructing a greenspace—from planning to design to construction—can takes years and millions of dollars. And sometimes for large, regional projects this is warranted.

However, this lengthy and costly process in low-income communities who have already been neglected for so long or have been waiting decades for adequate access to parks or gardens can be disheartening and infuriating.

People tell us time and time again, “Well, that’s government,” as if we are supposed to accept that the sometimes bureaucratic system that breeds inefficiency is ok, and that we should just accept it in our line of business.

Well,  we don’t.

We believe strongly in building small, community-driven, cost-effective greenspaces that can transform communities.

We want to tell the story of the Heart of Watts Community Garden, where a streamlined, cost-effective process to build a community-driven greenspace only helped to empower the community more. In urban, low-income communities of color greenspace is not only critical for community morale, but it boils down to social responsibility.

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