Seeds and urban dreams

Photo by Mathias Laugesen

Picture this: you’re in the middle of South LA, surrounded by a grey cityscape. Suddenly you come across a a beautiful wetlands complete with birds, water, native  plants and meandering paths and boardwalks. Not just a beautiful spot, but one that is actively cleaning polluted water, protecting the health and safety of the surrounding neighborhood and the the entire city. How did this happen?

It happened because two people, Los Angeles City Council member Jan Perry and Jeff Catalano, her Director of Environmental Affairs. shared a dream that their community could be better, healthier, greener and more sustainable.  To make that dream come true, they learned a lot and worked hard for many years.  They enrolled others in the dream and enlisted all sorts of help, funds, and cooperation from agencies, organizations and individuals.  

Their efforts - and their results -  have been extraordinary, but they aren’t alone. Projects big and small are sprouting up all over Los Angeles from seeds planted over the past two decades.

Jan Perry and Jeff Catalano are two such seeds. They are both proud graduates of TreePeople’s Citizen Forester training program. The funding for the project was seeded by the city’s first visionary Integrated Resources Plan for Water in 2006, from which came the approval of Measure O, the funding source for this wetlands project.

Speaking of seeds, the people who voted for this project, and who are moving forward projects of all sizes to make LA more sustainable, are a new generation of environmentally aware Angelenos that include inspired citizens and officials and staff from agencies like the LA City Bureaus of Engineering and Sanitation.  Over the past forty years, TreePeople has educated more than two million local children about the urban environment and how to take action to care for it,  including planting and caring for trees and understanding where our water comes from, where it goes, and how to keep it clean.

The successful completion of a  nine-acre stormwater cleaning natural park in the center of the city is just one example of how - contrary to the myths of how cities work, that it’s “up to other people” to make changes -  people are actually making their dreams real in some of the places that need it most.

The newly transformed former bus yard is a living, green example.

Photo by Mathias Laugesen