Whether they’re working to increase outdoor access, manage stormwater, address environmental equity, or improve public health and well-being where they live, these awardees are building more equitable and sustainable communities.
By Vanessa Smith
Published February 6, 2023
In 2022, Trust for Public Land once again partnered with The Boeing Company on an Environment Leadership Award that honors Western-state volunteers who work to make the places they live stronger. Their inspiring stories demonstrate what can happen when people take an active role in building more equitable and environmentally sustainable communities.
Winner: Pam and Val Márquez of El Sereno, Los Angeles, California
Longtime residents and advocates, Pam and Val co-founded the Concerned Neighbors of El Sereno, a group of local residents and businesses committed to making community open space safe and vibrant for years to come.
They were instrumental in creating El Sereno Arroyo Playground. Once a privately owned lot intended to be part of an interstate highway connector that never materialized, the lot sat vacant. This easternmost district of Los Angeles has the city’s highest concentration of children under 10. Recognizing the lack of open space and play areas, the Concerned Neighbors of El Sereno mobilized to turn the property into a vibrant, green hub where the community could gather. The playground is within a 10-minute walk of over 3,800 residents—including more than 1,000 children. The Concerned Neighbors continue to support the community through volunteer workdays, community activations such as potlucks and art shows, and other resource-sharing opportunities.
In recognition of the Márquezes contributions, they will receive $5,000 to donate to an environmental nonprofit of their choice.
Youth Winner: Amanda Fellinge of Bellevue, Washington
Amanda is a student who designed and implemented a free, two-month-long series of virtual workshops and household challenges to educate her community about how they can be more environmentally minded. Topics included materials, energy, food, and advocacy. The program addressed material waste, recycling, composting, and the impact of plastic. It also taught people how to reduce their energy consumption and how to support green energy. A sustainable-living expert gave a presentation on easy ways people can reduce their material waste footprint. The Energy section covered ways individuals can reduce their energy consumption and support green energy. The challenges and resources are still accessible online.
Learn more here: https://ecofriendlychallenges.com/advocacy/advocacy-tips-resources/
In recognition of Amanda’s contributions, she will receive $2,500 to donate to an environmental nonprofit of her choice.
Kathia Garcia of Pico Union, Los Angeles, California
A 4th-grade teacher, Kathia made sure her students were actively involved in the participatory design process of the TPL green schoolyard at Castellanos Elementary School. This was especially challenging during the pandemic, when student engagement shifted from in-person to one-hour virtual sessions each week. Kathia volunteered countless hours to ensure students were able to review and provide feedback on the design and stayed engaged in the process. Because she did, the final schoolyard design authentically represents the students’ hopes and dreams for their school as well as the culture of the surrounding community. It’s also an inspiring and cool oasis that will help reduce the heat-island effect on the campus and the surrounding community.
In recognition of Kathia’s contributions, she will receive $2,500 to donate to an environmental nonprofit of her choice.
David Diaz of El Monte, California
As executive director of ActiveSGV, an environmental and social justice organization, David plans, develops, and implements community-based public-health initiatives throughout Greater Los Angeles County. His work is centered on equity and climate resilience for the communities of the San Gabriel Valley. He’s made a career of generating solutions that address the disparities people of color and other vulnerable groups face. David leads ActiveSGV to engage with, represent, and support historically underserved populations in inclusive, meaningful ways.
Learn more here: https://www.activesgv.org/
In recognition of David’s contributions, he will receive $2,500 to donate to an environmental nonprofit of his choice.
Vanessa Smith is the Senior Manager of Boeing Global Engagement—Southwest Region and a California Advisory Board member.