Something's Happening Here: Public/Private Partnerships




Something’s happening here! Our vast region of 88 cities, 81 school districts and approximately 140 (that’s right, 140!) unincorporated areas is transforming once again.



Community leaders are teaming up with elected officials, utilizing existing resources to enhance the quality of life for thousands of people. It seems to be happening everywhere: Pacoima, Long Beach, Pasadena, downtown Los Angeles, Culver City, Santa Monica, and the list continues to grow.

A perfect example is CicLAvia, a fantastic exercise in civic engagement. An estimated 100,000 people participated in the daylong car-free event that opened seven and a half miles of Los Angeles streets for bike riding, walking and playing. Biking through the streets of neighborhoods I don't usually even drive, I got to experience our city’s architecture, the fusion of Korean and Central American communities along the Wilshire corridor, and experience how a hill curves and opens onto a vast green space known to many as MacArthur Park, where a Taiko Karate dance group performed on an outdoor stage to folks from all walks of life. CicLAvia was an opportunity to experience our town through a completely different lens. I saw creativity, innovation and engaged people from diverse cultural and geographic backgrounds. CicLAvia was more than just a day for cyclists; it was a day for Los Angeles.

Two years in the planning (which is an unbelievably short amount of time in bureaucratic terms), CicLAvia was spearheaded by a small but focused steering committee comprised of public transportation, environment and cultural advocates. These community leaders quickly secured support from the Mayor’s office as well as key council offices (Garcetti, Huizar, Reyes, Perry and LaBonge). This inside-out strategy yields dividends: community leaders get the inside political help they need to pull the institutional levers, and political leaders, operating with the support from their constituents, succeed in serving the needs of their community. It’s a win-win for all – especially the visitors and residents of our region.

Pacoima river walk nowAnother incredible example is happening in Pacoima. What initially started as a group of mothers mobilizing against illegal dumping, Pacoima Beautiful has turned into an environmental justice and land use advocacy organization. They’ve participated in activities from educating local residents on environmental rights, to participating in Parking Day, to getting behind the Living Streets LA project that seeks to transforms LA’s streets into people-friendly places. They’re also partnering with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) on revitalizing the Pacoima Wash, a tributary of the LA River, and making it into an open space resource for the community.  The images at right and below show the Pacoima Wash today, and as envisioned by Pacoima Beautiful.

Pacoima Beautiful’s work is special because they have worked closely with their assemblyman, Felipe Fuentes, to author legislation (AB 4184) that identified Pacoima Beautiful as a key partner with the MRCA and Los Angeles County. AB 4181 is an important example of how community leadership and public officials are working together on a community revitalization project in a low-income, transit-dependent part of the northwest San Fernando Valley.

Pacoima Beautiful

Those art walks that have been popping up all over the county have become convergences of community participation and have quenched the thirst of communities for affordable access to quality arts experiences. They’ve also been recognized as economic engines and a critical component in neighborhood revitalization efforts. Just look at the art walks in downtown Los Angeles, Culver City, Long Beach, Pasadena, Pomona and Venice. Art walks, like green public spaces and citywide cultural events, get residents out of their homes. It gets them to be part of their community. By doing so, we take the first step toward being an engaged society.

Pomona Art Walk

As community leaders continue to step up to the plate, elected officials are not only listening, they are moving their pieces through the pipeline, and together the needle is beginning to move. In what is sure to be another tough budget year, it’s important for me to recognize the strides that are being made and find creative strategies to build upon them.

How are you working with your elected official to bring more arts to more people? How can we increase and expand these models to leverage greater access to arts, culture and more in our region?


Photos: CicLAvia by Flickr user lasubwayblog; Creative Commons licensed. Pacoima river walk now, and as envisioned by Pacoima Beautiful.  Pomona Art Walk 2009 by Flickr user amayzun; Creative Commons licensed.

Very Exciting!

Thanks for sharing. 



Beautifying Compton!

Thanks for sharing all of these great Arts Happenings in LA County!  


I'd like to share what I've been blessed to be a part of for over 5 years now...The Compton Initiative ( has a long term commitment to bring restoration and hope to the community of Compton. While the commitment is substantial, it is carried out through hundreds of caring people doing thousands of small acts.  We've had the privilege of working with Compton City Officials, Compton Unified School Board Members and Administrators.  


The initiative comes together 4 times a year to beautify the city of Compton.  Our last work day was Oct. 16th where we had over 1,500 people throughout the community painting houses, removing trash, beautifying schools, and painting murals.  


My role in the initiative is to coordinate and lead the painting of murals at elementary, middle, and high schools in Compton.  Mural volunteers range from 5 years old to grandparents, people from all walks of life, some with arts training, many with no training at all.  We learn from each other and stand amazed at the outcome.  Check out photos of the mural projects at  It continues to encourage me as I watch what can be accomplished when a community commits to stand by their city to bring transformation through beauty and some hard work.


Keep the Arts Coming!


Sara Christensen

Mural Coordinator

The Compton Initiative


Great Work!

I have just moved here from the Bay Area and I really excited to find your organization. I have been in an Art Advocacy collaboration for well over two years called Art is Moving. We have had great success with our ARTcart on the streets of downtown Oakland and in San Francisco. You can check out our work on our blog Are vision is to expand and  to have an ARTcart on the streets of LA

I will be joining an advocacy team ASAP. 

Thanks, Lisa Rasmussen

Welcome to LA

Hi Lisa,

It's great to have you in LA.  I saw that you registered to attending our LA City Advocacy workshops.  That's great.  I look forward to meeting you.