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Mega-Cities' Urban Innovation Transfers

Contents Environmental Justice International Transfers Urban Leadership

Urban Leadership for the 21st Century (LA/NYC)

W. K. Kellogg Foundation funded
Descriptions of Cross-Neighborhood Transfers: The urban innovation transfers which resulted from this progress span a range of issue areas including urban gardening, health care, job training, street vending, family preservation, youth gang prevention, domestic violence, and many others. Each transfer involves an idea which emerged at a neighborhood scale, and is now being transferred and adapted to a new location. Eight of these transfers are between neighborhoods within Los Angeles, ten are between neighborhoods within New York and eleven are between neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles.
Eleven Transfer Partnerships Between Los Angeles and New York City

Proyecto Esperanz is adapting economic development initiatives from New York: In the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, Clif Cartland formed Proyecto Esperanza, a small organization dedicated to helping homeless Latino men find jobs, places to live, and most importantly, self-esteem. Recently, Cartland has been looking for ways to strengthen Proyecto Esperanza's job training component. Toward this end, he has used his Mega-Cities mini-grant to site visit four innovative economic development initiatives in New York City which were documented by the New York Mega-Cities team. As a result of that visit, Cartland is now working to adapt the approaches used by several of them, including 52nd Street Project, Posse for Change, and Harlem Textile Works. The most immediately applicable program is Posse for Change, which helps gang youth form small businesses in Manhattan. Cartland is already applying some of the principles he learned from this program, such as the hands-on empowerment workshop. For the other two innovations, Cartland is looking for ways to adjust the approaches to make them appropriate to the cultural context in which he works. For example, the strategy of the Harlem Textile Works, which trains African Americans to use traditional African designs in the production of fabrics, may be replicable in Echo Park, substituting ancient Aztec colors and patterns.Similarly, the basic idea of 52nd Street Project, which helps disadvantaged inner city youths write and produce plays, could be replicated in Los Angeles using Spanish-speaking theatre artists.

2. The ERAS Center is borrowing new approaches to family preservation from New York: Barbara Cull created the ERAS Center in Culver City to serve the educational and developmental needs of children with mental disabilities, learning challenges, or other "at risk" conditions. She began by serving eight children through a small operation at her educational consulting office and has since established a non-profit organization with a large permanent staff, school buses, and classrooms. Cull has decided to use her mini-grant to enhance an aspect of the ERAS Center which she feels can be improved: its efforts to preserve families. Last summer, she site-visited four organizations in New York which have utilized creative approaches to family preservation, and use their experiences to enhance the services of the ERAS Center. The groups Cull is adapting ideas from include: Alianza Dominicana, the 52nd Street Project, Institute for Children and Poverty, and Citizens' Committee for Children. From Alianza Dominicana, she learned techniques for collaborating with other local institution to avoid duplication of service; from the 52nd Street Project, she learned a model for an arts mentor program; from the Institute for Children and Poverty, she is learning about ways to make the ERAS Center more welcoming to families; and from the Citizens Committee for Children, she is learning tactics for transforming the ERAS Center into an advocate for policy change.
3. Jovenes Inc. is expanding their Immigration Mural Series into New York: In Echo Park, Father Richard Estrada heads a grassroots organization called Jovenes, which provides a wide range of outreach and support services to homeless and runaway youths. One of the innovative strategies utilized by Jovenes is its use of art projects to alter public perceptions of immigrants. Jovenes first tested this approach with two public exhibits after the 1992 riots. With its Mega-Cities mini-grant, Jovenes is expanding this program through a series of new public art displays, three in different locations throughout Los Angeles, one in New York in collaboration with the group CHARAS, led by Chino Garcia, and possibly, in Chicago and Miami as well. These displays consist of colorful murals depicting the promise and opportunity of immigration, painted on billboards and the sides of buildings. They have already unveiled a mural in New York (on the side of a publicly-owned building) and a new mural in Los Angeles, on a billboard along Cesar Chavez Boulevard.
4. L.A.s' Mountains Conservancy Foundation is adapting the "Urban Greenway" concept from New York's Greenway Heritage Conservancy: Headquartered in the green mountains of Malibu, the Mountains Conservancy Foundation is dedicated to preserving parklands, sanctuaries, and greenspaces in Los Angeles. Under the leadership of Ruth Kilday and Garrie Mar, they are engaged in park design and construction, stewardship projects, and most recently, the promotion of urban greenways which connect existing greenspaces through the Los Angeles region. The Mountains Conservancy Foundation has received a mini-grant to site visit the New York Department of City Planning and the Greenway Heritage Conservancy for the Hudson River Valley, which has initiated several innovative approaches to creating wildlife corridors (including the use of utility rights-of-way for greenspaces, and the creation of trails through the assembly of donated land parcels). Their aim is to find ways of introducing these approaches to interested groups here in Los Angeles, and to create the support to get these ideas incorporated into public policy. As a result of their visit, Kilday created a slide show which she uses to introduce the New York greenway concepts to policymakers in Los Angeles. She has also been asked to head up several new urban greening committees and succeeded in getting the urban greenway concept incorporated into the General Management Plan of Los Angeles.
5. Performing Tree is adapting student assessment techniques from New York's ArtsConnection: Based in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) building in downtown Los Angeles, Performing Tree aims to find new ways to introduce art into public schools, and to treat it not as a separate discipline, but as the first step in developing creative and critical thinkers in all areas. Initiated by the Junior League, Performing Tree began as a quasi-volunteer effort to bring guest artists and performers into public schools in underprivileged communities. The project has since been professionalized and is now expanding in scale. Executive Director Joan Palmer used her mini-grant to network with similar organizations in New York and adapt some of their innovative techniques, such as ArtsConnections' unique method of assessing the creative abilities of "at risk" students. She is now working to get this assessment technique incorporated into the policy of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
6. Latino Unity Forum is modelling a new organization after the Hispanic Federation of New York: The Latino Unity Forum is a grassroots network of Latino leaders who are working to create a unified political voice for Latinos in Los Angeles. The Latino Forum recently decided to create a "Latino Federation" of Latino non-profit groups in Greater Los Angeles. This federation would serve as a clearinghouse of resources and information within the Latino community in Los Angeles and an institutional framework for advocating political change. At present, however, its precise structure and agenda are unclear. LUF Coordinator Hector Perez-Pacheco used his Mega-Cities Project mini-grant to visit the Hispanic Federation of New York, which has developed a model grassroots federation structure which involves the participation of corporations and businesses. Upon return to Los Angeles, Hector began a series of neighborhood briefings across Metropolitan Los Angeles to describe the New York experience to neighborhood groups and get their feedback on which elements of the New York model should be built into the Latino Federation of Los Angeles.
7. HOPE LA Horticulture Corps is introducing its job training curriculum in Harlem and the Bronx: In South Central Los Angeles, George Singleton founded the HOPE LA Horticulture Corps, which creates urban gardens on vacant lots and then uses those as vocational training sites for local youths. HOPE LA is part of George's overall strategy to transform South Central Los Angeles by introducing ecologically sound industries and lifestyles. The full strategy has seven components: ethnography of gardening; urban agro-forestry; land acquisitions; production of health foods (dehydrated crackers and cookies); sustainable life science curriculum; the use of algae to combat malnutrition; and innovative funding. With his inter-city grant, George travelled to New York City to present his approach to three organizations: Action for Community Empowerment in Harlem, Banana Kelly in the Bronx, and Cornell University. As a result of his visit, Action for Community Empowerment is doing six of these components; Cornell University is doing two; and Banana Kelly is doing all seven.
8. PASA is adapting a Leadership Program for Deaf Teenagers from the Greater Los Angeles Deaf Council: Kathy Dee Zasloff is the Director of People Against Sexual Abuse (PASA, described above). She has developed a two-phase pilot leadership program which trains adolescents to teach their peers about sexual abuse. In order to expand this program to include a deaf constituency, Kathy has reached out to the Greater Los Angeles Deaf Council (GLAD). GLAD has developed a model program for developing leadership among teenagers who are hearing impaired. This program, directed by Heidi Kleiger, involves peer-to-peer counceling that is "of, by, and for deaf people." Although Heidi has not wished to aggressively export her model, she was excited by the idea that it could be used to prevent sexual abuse, or support the victims of sexual abuse. As a result of her week-long visit to Los Angeles, Kathy has now hired a deaf staff person, Marcia Banks, and created a "Safe Sex/AIDS Prevention" workshop for deaf adolescents based on the GLAD model. PASA has also purchased a TTY machine (which allows for typed communications over the telephone lines).
9. New York's Homes for the Homeless is transferring their "AfterCare Program" to Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter: Ordinarily, when a homeless individual leaves a homeless shelter, there are services available to help him or her make the adjustment to independent living. But these programs are typically fragmented and fail to address the needs of families. In response, New York City's Homes for the Homeless has developed an innovative sequence of Aftercare services designed especially for families. These include PLUS Housing Workshops that prepare families to join their new neighborhood, and PLUS INC., a continuum of in-home services coordinated by a team of specialists. Rene Shere of Homes for the Homeless travelled to Orange County, in Metropolitan Los Angeles, to lead a week of technical assistance workshops at the Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter. Under the leadership of Executive Director Sandee Gordon, Orange Coast has now designed a modified version of the program for their constituents.
10. Bronx's Banana Kelly is adapting the Childrens Bureau's "Principle-Based" Staff Training and the Vaughn Center's "Participant Reciprocity" Model: Named after the banana-shaped curve of Kelly Street in the South Bronx, Banana Kelly is an extraordinarily diversified community-based organization that has addressed issues of housing, economic development, social welfare, and the environment. Led by Yolanda Rivera, the staff of Banana Kelly travelled to Los Angeles to visit Yoland Trevino at the Vaughn FamilyCare Center in the San Fernando Valley. Banana Kelly was particularly interested in the "Participant Reciprocity" model utilized by Vaughn, through everyone who comes to the FamilyCare Center for a service must also give something back (such as time donated for teaching English, childcare, or cleaning the Center). Banana Kelly also visited the Children's Bureau of Southern California, where they observed "Principle-Based" staff development at work. They have adapted both of these problem-solving approaches into their ongoing work.
11. New York's La Coalition Deportiva is introducing it's extracurricular sports programs to LA's Latino Unity Forum: La Coalition Deportiva, headed by Jim Storey and Pete Velasquez, is a sports league which substitutes competitive athletics for the community-building activities which newly-arrived Latino immigrants often miss. Hector Perez-Pacheco, who heads LA's Latino Unity Forum, met Jim and Pete while working on his transfer with the Hispanic Federation of New York. Together, they hit upon the idea of setting up a La Coalition Deportiva-style Soccer League in Los Angeles as a way of helping to build the Latino Unity Forum network. This soccer league was launched at a major assembly in Los Angeles in May 1995, with the formation of a local Committee (which includes Hector Perez-Pacheco), the sign-up of more than 65 teams from across Metropolitan Los Angeles, and a radio press conference.

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