Ciclavia Is Just One GOOD Idea

12_7_09_good.jpgA GOOD presentation. Image: Ron Milam

On December 5th, GOOD Magazine hosted an event called L.A. 2.0: Refresh, Reinvent and Re-imagine that assembled 25 leading urban practitioners for an afternoon to identify five key urban strategies to improve the physical environment in Los Angeles.

I participated in this event and am pleased to report the common theme that emerged from the five groups was the need for flexibility in how we use urban space. So rather than streets being prioritized only for cars all the time, that the city of Los Angeles needs to be more proactive in using our spaces in ways that also build community and promote sustainability.

One idea that came up in several groups was the Ciclavia concept. Several people within the gathering were familiar with this idea, which goes to show the folks working on organizing this are doing a good job getting the word out. Several folks had not heard about this idea, but really liked the concept after they heard more about it.

Thanks to everyone who submitted suggestions when I made an earlier post about this gathering. I shared several of these ideas with folks who attended, which included architects, planners, staff from local elected officials, bloggers, developers, artists and advocates. The results of the think-tank will be put into a letter which will be sent to the Obama administration. I will also keep many of the good ideas I heard in mind as I continue to work with sustainability-oriented nonprofits in LA.

So, when are we going to get a Ciclavia in L.A.? Sometime in 2010 sounds good to me!

(Editor’s note: Ron did a preview of the meeting, that included some of your suggestions, that can be found here.)

  • Thanks for the shout-out Ron!

    Anyone who wants to get involved is welcome to come to our info session this Saturday:

    http://ciclavia.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/ciclavia-info-session-and-meeting-dec-12th/

  • BoyleHeightser

    I hear that this was a white-only event. Is this true? (How many people of color participated–aside from a Latino panelist, James Rojas? Does anyone know?)

    If so, does anyone know if there will be people-of-color equivalent anytime soon?

  • Spokker

    You’re right. Blacks had to sit in the back and Hispanics could only listen in another room via CCTV.

  • BoyleHeightser

    Spokker, what I’m hearing is that there were a couple of Latinos, who were (thankfully) allowed to sit amongst the whites. And that there were no blacks. Or any other people of color.

    But maybe I heard wrong. Were you there? It sounds like you’re saying that you were… Would you care to tell us how it really was?

  • I estimate that 2/3 of the attendees were white. This overall lack of ethnic diversity was brought up by participants during one of our discussions and it sounds like if there are future events like this, the organizers would more intentionally work to ensure greater diversity. Thanks for everyone’s feedback.

  • BoyleHeightser

    1/3 people of color?? That doesn’t sound so bad, even though people of color make up 70 percent of LA.

    But 1/3 people of color is not what I heard from a participant. Nonetheless, I’m glad it may be different next time. We’ll just keep waiting.

  • Spokker

    What exactly did the organization do that was wrong?

  • Mattlos

    Dear Boyle Heightster

    given that white people only make up 1/3 of the population of greater Southern California (see SCAG’s state of the region 2007), it seems appropriate that white “planners” should get together every so often to celebrate themselves.

    Congratulations on on your Celebration of White Planners, LA 2.0!

    Next time, maybe you can even avoid the pesky 2 to 3 people of color you had to include this time! No reason at all why the 2/3s majority should have a say in policy discussions!

  • BoyleHeightser

    Spokker, don’t get defensive now… The answer to your question seems obvious to me but maybe you need a little help.

    First of all, it’s not about “right” or “wrong”, because only you can decide what is right or wrong in your mind.

    Sounds to me that the issue is about inclusion vs. exclusion and about credibility. If you announce that you’re going to have a meeting that will be limited to the best and brightest in LA to formulate policy recommendations for LA, and then you only accept people of your own ethnic background (a minority in LA), it’s going to be hard to take you seriously or respect the results of the event. That’s all.

    Holler if you need more explaining though!

  • Spokker

    Oh no!

  • LAMosca

    Considering that the Obama Administration has considerably done a good job of appointing a ethnically diverse group of group to his administration (Including the director for the new office of Urban Affairs), it is disappointing to hear that an event meant to spark “discussion” around LA’s future is lacking some serious ethnic and racial diversity. Planners, especially white practitioners, need to really take this into consideration if they will be working and making decisions in majority people of color urban areas.

    Very disappointing to see that the organizers clearly planned this devoid of any realities occurring in Los Angeles. Transportation, housing, workforce investment, the environment are issues that affect all residents of course, but we should also acknowledge serious inequities in Los Angeles when we’re talking about planning its future.

  • generic white guy from another place

    I think the particular loss here is not only that more people of color were not involved, but rather people of color from the event’s target demographic, “urban practitioners.” By the event’s definition, UP’s are people who “think critically about the city” or are involved in a number of arenas such as art, activism, design, and policy.

    Given the demographics and politics of this town, it seems that people of color are a good majority of people that think critically about the city or involve themselves in those areas. Yet still underrepresented at the event. That suggests that a small group of people sought out participants from their own narrow pool. Which is fine. But it doesn’t represent the likely or desirable future of LA.

  • Spokker

    What if few people of color applied to be a part of the event? Are you a non-white applicant? Did you not get in even though you’re so crazy talented that you should have?

  • generic white guy from another place

    Spokker,

    I personally am neither a person of color nor a person of much talent. I think the “what if few people of color applied” is probably the crux of the issue. There are plenty who would have applied if they had known about it.

    This is a well intended event by what I’m sure is a fine group of white people, most of whom are probably not from Los Angeles. I don’t necessarily think anyone questions their intentions. I think people are saying that a vision of the city of Los Angeles, and one that is going to be sent to the Obama Administration, needs to seriously attempt to be representative of the people that live here.

  • Spokker

    “There are plenty who would have applied if they had known about it.”

    Who are these people? If they are interested in the subject matter, why aren’t they reading Streetsblog LA? It was promoted here recently. I’m Hispanic and I saw that the event was happening and I ignored it.

    “I think people are saying that a vision of the city of Los Angeles, and one that is going to be sent to the Obama Administration, needs to seriously attempt to be representative of the people that live here.”

    How do you do that? I want to see more Hispanics go out to the polls on election day in Orange County. I think that if everybody in Santa Ana actually voted we’d be able to get more funds for transit or whatever. But if they don’t, who do I get mad at? If people are not interested in voting or dumb events where a bunch of know-it-all’s get together and jerk each other off over their “vision,” they just aren’t interested.

  • BoyleHeightser

    Spokker, I hate to lose my cool but your argument here is becoming a little ridiculous.

    Are you saying that people of color didn’t apply? Do you actually know that? Or you just like saying no to all reason?

    Now, it’s possible that not enough of them applied. And that’s because the media outlets used to publicize the event are those used by a disproportionately white audience.

    No media outlets are perused in equal proportions by people of every demographic background. So, when thinking about where and how to publicize something, you must think of who uses which media. If I want to advertise a product and I want to target white professionals, I’d use la.streetblog.org. That a sprinkling of people of color (and a “Hispanic” called Spokker) use this site, doesn’t mean that as an advertiser I’m honestly am seeking an equal representation of all groups out there.

  • Spokker

    “Are you saying that people of color didn’t apply? Do you actually know that? Or you just like saying no to all reason?”

    Are you saying that you have full knowledge of everything you are whining about? Please, let me see some proof of your accusations that GOOD Magazine excluded non-whites.

    “And that’s because the media outlets used to publicize the event are those used by a disproportionately white audience.”

    So is StreetsblogLA excluding non-whites? Maybe Damien should start an outreach program! I didn’t know his strategy was to exclusively appeal to whites, you know, by talking about mass transit, bikes, livable streets and stuff. It’s true that if you are using Latino Google and search for “livable streets blog” the first result is not Streetsblog.

  • BoyleHeightser

    No, Spokker, I have no proof.

    No, Spokker, nobody is accusing StreetsblogLA of being racist.

    This is obviously all very confusing to you. Let’s just stop here.

    Take care of yourself.

  • Spokker

    Since we have to be 100% sure that all of our little meetings reflect the city’s demographics, here is some more info.

    GOOD Magazine was looking for “urban practitioners” who work in fields like urban planning, design, economics, architecture and other professions that are likely to require at least a bachelors degree.

    According to the 2000 census (http://www.stanford.edu/dept/csre/reports/report_11.pdf) only 6.1% of Latinos in the City of LA received a BA degree compared to 42.6% among whites and 17.1% among blacks. Sadly, even if Latinos wanted to participate, they were less likely to have the proper education to even work in the professions GOOD was looking for.

    If your beef is with anyone, it’s with the issues facing people of color and education. I think that if we talked about *that* issue, we’ll agree that there have been barriers facing people of color when it comes to education.

    As for this stupid event, like you, I have no idea who applied, what GOOD’s criteria was, and who they even accepted and what their backgrounds were. But at least do some critical thinking before spouting inflammatory bullshit like, “I hear this was a white-only event.”

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