Case Study: Trust for Public Land - L.A. River Greenbelt Project
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) has an ambitious project to build community parks along the Los Angeles River. For this project, TPL had a desire to bring the community together and engage them in a public participation process so that the design and use of the parks would reflect the needs and vision of the community. Diverse Strategies for Organizing, Inc. (DSO) worked with TPL over the course of three years on this multi-phase project first to educate and inform residents about the proposed river greenway, and then to develop a vision for the parks.


DSO executed an educational outreach program centered around Southeast Los Angeles’ gateway cities of Vernon, Bell, Bell Gardens, Maywood, Cudahy, South Gate, Lynwood and Paramount. DSO worked to facilitate community awareness, participation, and communication amongst community stakeholders by conducting a series of one on one meetings and community town hall meetings.

DSO first focused its efforts on educating and informing community residents about the proposed river greenway along the Los Angeles River. The goal was to raise awareness about the Los Angeles River as community resource in the Gateway Cities, and develop a sense of ownership in the community.

DSO also organized community town hall meetings to introduce the concept of open green space, known as “greenbelts”, along the river. In this process a form of “visualization” was used to determine what these small green parks should look like and where they should be located to maximize access to the community. DSO successfully conducted several town hall meetings in communities throughout Northeast Los Angeles and Southeast Cities.

The outreach efforts culminated in a large community meeting at South Gate High School. The meeting highlighted future projects along the river, including small pocket parks, landscaping and beautiful signage at river entrances.

During the course of the project, outreach services conducted by DSO included identification of key stakeholders, one-on-one as well as small and large group meetings with key stakeholders, including local and state elected officials, churches, schools, and other community based organizations, and working with key stakeholders not only to educate them on the project but to enlist them for recruitment purposes. Environmental organizations, as well as youth organizations, were recognized as a key component for the project. Their input was highly valued as participants of this process, so particular effort was made to ensure that they were included.

Recruitment efforts included these one-on-one meetings, group meetings, phone calls and neighborhood canvassing.

DSO also developed a survey that could be mailed back as another component of the community in-put phase that informed the design phase.

DSO developed additional collateral material such as fact sheets, flyers and invitations. All collateral material was in both English and Spanish.

DSO planned, organized and staffed all town hall meetings, as well as providing translation services.

At the successful conclusion of the project, DSO was able to provide TPL with a design plan that was developed as a result of a consensus process with the community.

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