How Transforming a Vacant Lot Into a Welcoming Park Helps Build Community


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Kendra Okonkwo, Founder of the Wisdom Academy for Young Scientist (WAYS) elementary school, and Refugio Mata a Project Coordinator with Heal the Bay had one thing in common. They were both looking for a way to beautify South L.A. and to create a healthier community. Together they forged a plan to redesign an empty lot into a park for the community. The park would not only provide green space for the community, but would also make use of recycled street water, to irrigate the property. In September of 2012, the community gathered to clean up the site and to paint planter boxes. Students from WAYS elementary and residents from the community gathered again in October and in December for holiday festivals. At these events residents gave their input and also spoke of their vision for the park. The activities to transform the vacant lot into a park continue, and as added bonus the neighborhood has developed a greater sense of community.

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