Concrete to Canopy: Green Dreams for Inglewood & Lennox

What comes to mind when you think of South LA? Endless stretches of treeless streets sealed in sizzling pavement?

Imagine if we could convert concrete to canopy one block, one person, one tree at a time.

Our climate reality has left frontline communities vulnerable to devastating impacts– like crippling heat and harmful floods. Inglewood and Lennox are prime examples, tucked away within the concrete-laden, tree-poor neighborhoods of South LA.

Left without adequate resources or enough life-saving tree canopy, these neighborhoods are at risk of damage from climate change’s extreme weather events and public health impacts, including pollution-triggered asthma and heat-related hospitalizations.

Here lies an opportunity. It’s possible to consciously incorporate greening into existing neighborhoods, in infrastructure projects, and when new development and retrofit opportunities arise. Reimagined urban neighborhoods can be planned with nature-inspired solutions in mind, even when it may seem that there isn’t much room for change.

Green Dreams for Inglewood & Lennox

The challenges LA’s communities are complex, but solutions are within reach.

TreePeople, along with our community partner, Social Justice Learning Institute, are thrilled to announce the completion of the Inglewood and Lennox Greening Plan! This is an ambitious blueprint to bring environmental and social justice to communities that have for many years been left to bake in LA’s blazing sun and breathe polluted air. The plan is meant to serve as a master document to guide and coordinate greening efforts within these communities.

Over a period of four years, we facilitated dozens of participants in the development of a collective vision and set of goals to create this comprehensive plan.

The main goal is to help protect and enhance the urban forest, urban cooling, air and water quality and local water supply. All these benefits are designed to have a two-fold effect– because protecting people is also a boon to having nature heal our city.

Top priority actions include:

  • Increasing tree canopy cover
  • Building community gardens
  • Capturing and conserving rainwater

Inglewood Fruit Tree Planting

The multi-benefit approach the plan lays out is designed to create healthier, cooler neighborhoods that also encourage people to get outdoors– because an active community is a healthy community. We can imagine it already– a thriving, beautiful South LA with plenty of green space for people to enjoy. Kids could play outside and breathe in clean air, being protected in the nurturing shade of trees. The community would also reap the benefits from gardens that capture and clean water to recharge supplies below ground.

Together with our partners, we focused on creating an intentional, replicable model. So we conducted a multi-year, non-traditional planning process to deeply engage the community, organizations and local government agencies of Inglewood and Lennox. It was key for us to listen and learn what the community’s needs were and where gaps existed.

Residential Bioswale Example.

This plan wouldn’t be possible without the tireless efforts of our partners at the Social Justice Learning Institute, SWA Group and EW Consulting, Inc. We also thank the dozens of member organizations and community members that joined together to form the Health & Sustainable Inglewood Collaborative to create a plan that is both practical and actionable!

We’re ready to roll up our sleeves to see this dream become a reality. Join the movement to bring nature back to LA– 2017 style. Sign up for a volunteer event today.

We’re excited to start the plan’s rollout!

Join us at the Earth Day Jazz Fest event at the Inglewood Civic Center on Saturday, April 15 and celebrate with us!

 

The Inglewood & Lennox Greening Plan was funded in large part by the State of California Strategic Growth Council Urban Greening and Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program, through Proposition 84.

Edith de Guzman, Director of Research, Natural Urban Systems Group, has been with TreePeople since 2003, where she manages research into best practices for the sustainable transformation of the Greater Los Angeles area. Exploring environmental, social and economic aspects of urban ecosystems, she works to collect and disseminate research that identifies the efficacy, benefits and applicability of various approaches to urban sustainability, with a special focus on watershed management. Edith received a master's in Urban Planning from UCLA and a bachelor's in History/Art History, also from UCLA.