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AIRPORT2PARK: Picnic in Clover Part, a “Creative Community Engagement Project” with James Rojas

Airport2Park.org, the coalition formed to turn Santa Monica Airport into a park, has announced its next event: a potluck picnic in Clover Park (2600 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, adjacent to the airport, bring your own food, drinks and utensils), Sunday, November 3 from noon to 2 PM. The picnic will be a fun follow-up to Airport2Park’s first highly successful event, its October 3 workshop where 150 members of the public envisioned what it would mean to turn the airport into a great park

Picnickers will participate in a creative community engagement project facilitated by well-known urban planner James Rojas, who will conduct one of his signature model building workshops in which participants use interactive models and colorful and tactile objects – such as wood blocks, tiles, plastic game pieces and jewelry – to translate conceptual planning ideas into physical forms and free their imaginations. Mr. Rojas has used this playful technique with great success in 250 workshops around the country.

In Mr. Rojas’ words, “Re-Imagine Santa Monica Airport will harness the power of the collective community imagination through creative community engagement planning. Residents, tourists, visitors – the public – will reflect on, explore, experiment, and ultimately build their image of Santa Monica Airport Park. My approach allows participants to self-reflect by investigating their environment around them by using their hands and minds. This creative method will turn the airport into a canvas where people build their image of it. Interactive planning creates a powerful tool to bring together all ages, races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in creating a vision for the future park." 

James Rojas holds an MA in City Planning and an MS in Architecture Studies from MIT. He works as a city and transportation planner, and is the founder of the Latino Urban Forum, a non-profit dedicated to increasing awareness of planning and design issues facing low-income Latinos. He has written and lectured extensively about how culture and immigration are transforming the American front yard and landscape, and, through Place It!, has organized an hundreds of on-site model installations and interactive workshops.

Background: On April 30, 2013, the Santa Monica City Council directed city staff to investigate reclaiming from the airport the “Quitclaim Parcel,” which includes the western 2,000 feet of the airport’s 5,000-foot runway, after July 1, 2015, which is when the City’s 1984 agreement with the FAA expires. Council members expressed their desire to replace the Quitclaim Parcel with a park. Also on July 1, 2015, all leases to aviation tenants terminate, and in a very short time the airport might have a much shorter runway and no aviation services. Then it may be possible to close the entire airport and turn the whole runway and adjacent areas into parkland. When combined with adjacent Clover Park and the existing sports fields and dog-park at the airport, this would create the largest park in Santa Monica if not the entire Westside.

Airport2Park.org is a coalition of residents that includes Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (www.casmat.org), Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (www.jetairpollution.com), and Sunset Park Anti-Airport, Inc. (www.spaaresidents.org), and which has received support from the Sierra Club, Friends of Sunset Park and Mar Vista Community Council.

For more information, visit www.airport2park.org.

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