OurCounty, Los Angeles County’s first comprehensive sustainability plan, outlines a bold, inclusive, and healthy vision for present and future generations of the most populous county in the nation. With a targeted grant from Partners for Places, a national grant program led by the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities in partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the plan in August 2019.
Partners for Places pairs city governments with philanthropy to support sustainability projects that promote a healthy environment, a strong economy and well-being for all residents. In Los Angeles County, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and LA n Sync at the California Community Foundation brought on the Liberty Hill Foundation, a member of Smart Growth California’s Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative, to coordinate equitable stakeholder engagement that helped create 12 goals, 37 strategies and 148 actions. This initiative brought diverse stakeholders, community-based organizations, and community members to the table to reimagine a sustainable Los Angeles County for all people. Goals call for accessible public lands, sustainable development without displacement, and convenient, clean, and affordable transportation systems, amongst others.
Funders, advocates and communities are gaining momentum, as many OurCounty goals build upon Measure A and M’s investment in better parks, open space, and transportation projects across Los Angeles, building upon the Measures Matter report. We are at the “beginnings of a movement” for sustainability, according to Dr. Martha Matsuoka, Occidental College environmental justice researcher and activist, and equity is at its core.
Los Angeles County’s Chief Office of Sustainability and the Liberty Hill Foundation leveraged the Partners for Places grant, to invite and fund five anchor community-based organizations to conduct meaningful community engagement with over six hundred individuals representing nearly 350 organizations. SCOPE LA, East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice, Communities for a Better Environment, Pacoima Beautiful, and Day One invited their own members to lead planning workshops and review-focused community expos over twelve months.
Collaborative and equitable outreach involves bringing diverse community members and leaders to the table to understand and inform the process so that they can voice their perspectives and ideas in a meaningful way. The needs of underrepresented communities were revealed and elevated throughout the engagement process, especially considerations around disproportionate exposure to environmental pollution and its health impacts. The Partners for Places grant enabled previously overlooked and ignored voices to be heard and taken into account in sustainability planning, and established broad and inclusive ownership of OurCounty.
Collaboration between Partners for Places and the matching funders, The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and LA n Sync at the California Community Foundation allowed for a successful matching grant program to support an inclusive and equitable sustainability plan for Los Angeles County. Through the work, Partners for Places also enhanced relationships and leveraged assets between Los Angeles County’s Chief Office of Sustainability, place-based and national funders, on-the-ground community-based organizations, and community members. Our joint effort and shared vision for healthy, equitable and sustainable communities made this plan possible.
Learn more about the Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative, a funder working group of Smart Growth California.
Photos courtesy of LA County