Why green alleys? Ask a fourth-grader.

By Trust for Public Land
Published February 20, 2015

Why green alleys? Ask a fourth-grader.

Back in September, you helped The Trust for Public Land win the My LA2050 Grants Challenge with a proposal to turn run-down alleyways in South Los Angeles into much-needed green space. Now, we’re busy getting ready for next month’s groundbreaking—and it’s not all blueprints and construction equipment. We’re also preparing poetry.

At Main Street Elementary School, poet Gabriela Garcia Medina led fourth-graders in a workshop blending the science of stormwater management with the art of creative writing. First, kids learned how permeable paving and lush plantings will cool the alleyways and absorb and filter runoff—up to 650,00 gallons of water a year. Then, they put their reactions on paper. 

“There’s a writer or creative artist inside all of us,” says Medina, “and only through encouragement can that artist come out to express itself. I was blown away by their perception of their communities and their environments.”

Some students aimed for a balanced view …

… while others were more matter-of-fact.

And of course, kids learning about the sewer system don’t shy away from gory details.

It’s all in good fun—but the poems also have a purpose. 

“The workshops give the students an opportunity to be a permanent part of the alleys,” says project manager Diane Silva. “It’s a chance to learn what goes on beneath the surface of a park space.” 

Community members will vote for their favorite poems at a demonstration project groundbreaking ceremony in the Avalon neighborhood next month. The winning lines will be carved into the alleyway itself—a built-in reminder that, like any good park, green alleys are functional as well as beautiful.

That’s especially important in South Los Angeles, where open space is hard to come by. In these dense neighborhoods, it takes this kind of innovative approach to bring kids and families the green space they need. You can help!

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