“Healthy Soils for Healthy Communities” Initiative

Background

Soil is the foundation of life. It has great potential to mitigate current and future climate impacts by sequestering carbon, improving water supply and water quality, supporting plant growth, enhancing food production, and maintaining healthy communities, especially in urban and peri-urban areas where more than 80% of Americans live, work, and play.

About the Initiative

The objectives of the “Healthy Soils for Healthy Communities Initiative” include: 1) Elevating healthy soils as the “brown” in green infrastructure policy, planning, management, and investments in both the built and natural environments; 2) Increasing public and policy-maker awareness of the importance and potential of healthy soils in building climate resilience, sustaining urban ecosystem functions, and enhancing public health; 3) Conducting cutting-edge science and research that gets used to fill the information gaps; 4) Facilitating policy changes to promote and support healthy urban soil projects; and 5) Empowering communities with science-based information, best management practices, and practical tools.

About Phase One

As the first phase of the initiative, we are conducting a needs assessment aiming to: 1) determine the current status of Los Angeles’s urban soil health; 2) identify the most pressing urban soil issues and community needs through community consultation and outreach; and 3) provide a framework for future work regarding urban soil research, policy, public education and community engagement in the region.

Los Angeles Urban Soil Symposium

TreePeople hosted an online Los Angeles Urban Soil Symposium on June 26, 2020 which was attended by over 150 people. It is part of the “Healthy Soils for Healthy Communities Initiative Phase One: Needs Assessment” project, funded by Accelerate Resilience L.A., a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. The symposium discussed general concepts, issues, and potential solutions related to urban soils, Los Angeles’s soils, a case study from New York City as well as TreePeople’s new “Healthy Soils for Healthy Communities” Initiative. Participants also had opportunities to share their insights about L.A.’s soil needs, challenges, and potential solutions and to interact with others from the region and beyond during the breakout group discussions. The symposium program is available here.

Morning Session

Opening Remarks
Cindy Montañez | Chief Executive Officer, TreePeople

Keynote Address
Ben Allen | California State Senator, 26th District
Dr. Rita Kampalath | Sustainability Program Director, Los Angeles County Chief Sustainability Office
Dominique Hargreaves | Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer, Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Project Overview: “Healthy Soils for Healthy Communities Initiative” Phase One: Needs Assessment
Dr. Yujuan Chen | Senior Manager of Urban Forestry Policy, TreePeople
Dr. Richard Pouyat | Emeritus Scientist, U.S. Forest Service
(download Presentation PDF)

Urban Soils: The Brown Infrastructure of Cities and Towns (video | presentation)
Dr. Richard Pouyat | Emeritus Scientist, U.S. Forest Service

Emerging Technology for Urban Soil Characterization (video | presentation)
Dr. Daniel Hirmas | Associate Professor, University of California Riverside

Urban Soil Survey in Greater Los Angeles (video | presentation)
Randy Riddle | MLRA Soil Survey Office Leader and Soil Scientist, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service

NYC’S MODEL: Soils for All and All for Soils (video | presentation)
Tatiana Morin | Director, NYC Urban Soils Institute

Keynote Address over Lunch

Hallowed Ground: Healing the Essential Bond Between Trees, People, and Soil (video | presentation)
Andy Lipkis | Project Executive, Accelerate Resilience L.A.

The “F” Factor (video | presentation)
Irma R. Muñoz | Founder/President, Mujeres de la Tierra

Afternoon Session

Community Lead: Community Engagement and Legacy Soil Pollution (video | presentation)
Dr. Kirsten Schwarz | Associate Professor, UCLA

Getting Back Healthy Soils In the City – An Asset Management Problem? (video | presentation)
Dr. Susan Day | Professor and Program Director, University of British Columbia

Talk About A Match Made in Heaven: Compost and Urban Agriculture? (video | presentation)
Dr. Sally Brown | Research Associate Professor, University of Washington

Our Team

  • Project Team
      • Stephen Salazar Ceasar | Senior Manager of Community Organizing, TreePeople
      • Dr. Yujuan Chen | Senior Manager of Urban Forestry Policy, TreePeople
      • Dr. Susan D. Day | Professor and Program Director for Bachelor of Urban Forestry, University of British Columbia
      • Jaime Del Rio | Community Outreach Coordinator, TreePeople
      • Edith de Guzman | Director of Research, TreePeople
      • Kenny Derieg | Waste Reduction and Recycling Specialist, TreePeople
      • Alejandro Fabian | Community Outreach Coordinator for South LA, TreePeople
      • Kevin Gaston | Director of Planning & Strategy, Mountains Restoration Trust – A TreePeople Affiliate
      • Manny Gonez | Director of Policy Initiatives, TreePeople
      • Chris Imhoff | Director of Program Development, TreePeople
      • Bryan Medina | Community Organizer for Southeast LA, TreePeople
      • Cindy Montañez | CEO, TreePeople
      • Dr. Richard V. Pouyat | Emeritus Scientist, U.S. Forest Service
      • Dr. Gordon Rees | Assistant Professor of Soil Science, California Polytechnic State University
      • Dr. Kirsten Schwarz | Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA
      • Miguel Vargas | Community Organizer, TreePeople
      • Ariel Whitson | Director of Education and Community, TreePeople
      • Dr. Erica L. Wohldmann | Professor of Psychology, California State University, Northridge
  • Steering Committee
    • Dr. Yujuan Chen | Senior Manager of Urban Forestry Policy, TreePeople
    • Dr. Susan D. Day | Professor of Urban Forestry, University of British Columbia
    • Lynn Fang | Operations Support, LA Compost
    • Dr. Daniel Hirmas | Associate Professor of Pedology, University of California – Riverside
    • Nicole Landers | Co-Founder & Executive Director, Community Healing Garden
    • Finian Makepeace | Co-Founder & Leadership Program, Kiss the Ground
    • Rachel Malarich | City Forest Officer, City of Los Angeles
    • Dr. Stephanie Pincetl | Founding Director and Professor-in-Residence, California Center for Sustainable Communities, UCLA
    • Dr. Richard V. Pouyat | Emeritus Scientist, U.S. Forest Service
    • Randy Riddle | MLRA Soil Survey Office Leader and Soil Scientist, United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS)
    • Dr. Michele Romolini | Managing Director, Center for Urban Resilience, Loyola Marymount University
    • Dr. Kirsten Schwarz | Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA
    • Dr. Eric G. Strauss | Presidential Professor and Executive Director of Center for Urban Resilience, Loyola Marymount University

Funding Agency

Accelerate Resilience L.A., a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisor