The City Project creates healthy, livable communities for all. Our mission is equal justice, democracy, and livability for all. We focus on (1) parks and recreation for underserved communities; (2) quality education, including physical education and schools as centers of their communities; (3) health equity; and (4) economic vitality including local green jobs. The City Project is a multi-cultural, Latino led policy and legal advocacy team.
We engage, educate, and empower communities through five strategies: coalition building and community based participatory research; translating research, policy, and law into real improvements in people's lives; strategic media campaigns; policy and legal advocacy outside the courts; and access to justice through the courts when necessary as part of a broader campaign.
Parks. We have helped diversify support for and access to $10 billion in state park bond measures over the past decade.
We have helped create or preserve over 1,000 acres of park space for all, including communities that are park poor, income poor, or of color. Our work on parks and recreation includes:
We work with diverse allies on Transit to Trails to take inner city children on fun, educational, and healthy trips to mountains, beaches, and rivers.
Outside Los Angeles, we helped create or preserve the sacred Native American site of Panhe and San Onofre State Beach, Chicano Park in San Diego, and Kellogg Park in Ventura.
The National Park Service (NPS) has catapulted the urban park work to the national level. Congresswoman Judy Chu is championing the National Recreation Area in the San Gabriels. NPS's draft study relies on The City Project's policy reports on green access, health, and equal justice. The NPS strategic action plan for Healthy Parks, Healthy People U.S. relied on our work. NPS cites our work in recognizing that there is not enough green space for all, there are disparities in park access and health based on race and ethnicity, and park agencies need to address these concerns.
We are working with The City of Los Angeles through a $2 billion agreement under the Clean Water Act to improve the sewer system city wide, to eliminate offensive sewer odors that plagued African-American Los Angeles for decades, and to invest in park and water projects along the L.A. River.
Education. The Los Angeles Unified School District has raised $27 billion to build and modernize public schools as centers of their communities. The City Project's Robert García served as Chair of the Citizens' School Bond Oversight Committee from 2000 to 2005, overseeing planning and implementation. He signed official ballot arguments for local propositions that raised matching federal and state funds. The district has built 130 new schools and modernized hundreds more since 1998. Each $50 million created 935 annual jobs, $43 million in wages, and $130 million in local business revenue. Hundreds of acres of land were cleaned up. More importantly, the future became brighter for generations of children.
The City Project is working with four public school districts on physical education and civil rights compliance. Dr. Robert Ross, President of The California Endowment, has called this work "a best practice example for districts across the state to provide a quality education for the children of California."
Health Justice in All Policies. The Affordable Care Act provides health insurance coverage for many people who previously could not afford it, or who were denied coverage because of preexisting medical conditions. People may qualify for help with the cost of health coverage, depending on their household size and income. People of color are much more likely to be uninsured than non-Hispanic Whites. They constitute about one-third of the U.S. population, but make up more than half of the 50 million people who are uninsured. The Act guards against health discrimination based on race, color, national origin, limited English proficiency, sex, disability, and age. The Act protects health and life itself through health care, as well as wellness and prevention through physical activity and healthy land use.
Jobs. Parks, schools, and bond measures provide billions of dollars for local green jobs and economic vitality for all.
Publications. Our major publication is the comprehensive Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities: Mapping Green Access and Equity for Southern California, The City Project Policy Report (2011), available at www.mapjustice.org. Reports on six individual counties are also available there in English and Spanish. Our other community resources and publications are available on our web site.
Recognition. We received the KCETLink/Union Bank Local Hero Award for Hispanic Heritage Month in 2013. We received the President's Award from the American Public Health Association in 2010 for helping make social justice a public health imperative. Poder Magazine named Robert García one of the top 100 Green Latino Leaders in the nation in 2013. Hispanic Business Magazine honored him as one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the United States, "men and women who are changing the nation" in 2008. We received the L.A. River Award from the City of Los Angeles in 2005 "for extensively publishing research and findings on urban parks and their benefits for the River, receiving national recognition in your efforts to revitalize the River, and for your contribution to the greening of the River." As reported in the New York Times, "The City Project [is] working to broaden access to parks and open space for inner city children, and . . . to fight childhood obesity by guaranteeing that . . . students get enough physical education."
The values at stake include the simple joys of playing in the park and school field; bringing people together; improved physical, psychic, and social health; youth development and improved academics; positive alternatives to gangs, crime, and drugs; economic vitality and local green jobs; conservation values of climate justice, clean air, water, and land, and habitat protection; art, culture and historic preservation; spiritual values in protecting the earth and its people; and smart, sustainable communities. Equal justice and democracy underlie these other values.