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Pacoima Beautiful

Park(ing) Day in Pacoima Is Always Beautiful

Pacoima Beautiful's Park(ing) Day space. Photo: Damien Newton/Streetsblog LA

A lot has changed for Pacoima Beautiful since I visited their Park(ing) Day in 2011. Max Podemski, who was featured heavily in our Annenberg Series on their efforts, has been in New York for nearly two years. Their executive director in 2011, Nury Martinez, now sits in the Los Angeles City Council.

But what hasn't changed is the people that make up the staff and volunteers of Pacoima Beautiful know how to celebrate Park(ing) Day.

Despite the mayor's appearance at a space in Boyle Heights, Park(ing) Day isn't what it used to be in Los Angeles. There is no centralized group of volunteers keeping track of the spaces in Greater Los Angeles County, there is no after party with flashing lights and live DJ's, there isn't even a good Google Map.

But that doesn't mean the spirit of Park(ing) Day doesn't live on.

Pacoima Beautiful's Park(ing) Day spot is situated in front of the Pacoima Branch Library on Van Nuys Boulevard. I asked Yvette Lopez, a deputy director of Pacoima Beautiful, if she thought the location would be a good place for a permanent parklet similar to the ones Downtown, in El Sereno and Highland Park. Pacoima Beautiful skipped Park(ing) Day last year, but created parks in 2010, 2011 and again this year right in front of the library.

"We should have parks next to libraries. We should have parks next to city halls," she responded. "Van Nuys Boulevard is our financial artery. We need to bring Van Nuys back!"

And Parklets are a way to do that?

"One way, yes."

Today's park covered two parking spaces and included literature about upcoming Livable Streets events, water bottles, iced cream and a rock painting station. Staff and volunteers were also making "seed bombs" to add some green to some vacant open space in the area.

Wait a second...a rock painting station?

"The rock is a symbol of Pacoima," explained Sandra Ramirez, pointing down the street to where a famous local rock welcomes visitors to Pacoima and residents home. "It's also about re-imaging resources. Instead of wasting paper, we're using rocks."

Artists can take their painted rocks home, or Pacoima Beautiful will use them as decorations in their offices. Or, you can give them to the father of a sleeping baby as a present for when the baby wakes up.

In 2011, we covered in detail how Pacoima and Sylmar are fighting to increase the number of transportation options available and the acres of open space. Pacoima Beautiful has been a leader in that fight, the literature spread across the table promoted planning sessions, bike safety classes and just about everything else you can think of.

Next month, a new park will open in Pacoima. Construction is completed, but the official opening isn't until next month. It's one small step to recreating the kinds of public spaces that are needed.

Pacoima Beautiful is up to the challenge of moving the ball forward, one Park(ing) Day at a time.

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