LA Commons Wins T4AMERICA Grant!

LA Commons is proud to announce that we, with project partners LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson (Council District 8), have been have been selected as one of three communities to receive a $50,000 creative placemaking grants through the Transportation for America’s Cultural Corridor Consortium program.

Our plan for the Hyde Park station along the new Crenshaw-LAX (C-LAX) Transit Corridor proposes to apply artistic and cultural practice to shape transportation investments — positively transforming the neighborhood, building social capital, supporting local businesses, and celebrating the communities’ unique characteristics.

“After reviewing more than 130 applications from cities and towns representing nearly every state in the country, the demand for new and creative approaches to transportation planning and design is clearly evident,” said Ben Stone, T4America’s director of Arts and Culture. “I’m encouraged by the level of sophistication with which transportation professionals and artists across the country are proposing to collaborate, and I’m thrilled to work with Dothan, Los Angeles, and Indianapolis over the next year.”

Completion of C-LAX, scheduled for 2019, will reassert Hyde Park’s importance as a transportation node, directly connecting it to LAX (which is the international gateway to the west coast of the United States) and other key regional destinations (e.g. Downtown L.A., Hollywood, etc.) providing Hyde Park residents with greater mobility, as well as employment and education opportunities. This line also offers Angelenos, from outside the area, the chance to experience one of Los Angeles’ special and historic neighborhoods.

The Hyde Park station is also distinguished as the only street-level station along C/LAX in the city of Los Angeles. The platform will be located in the center median of the street. The current Los Angeles City Councilmember, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, recognizes the significance of this point on the route because as the train arrives above ground from either direction, it will be in the heart of Los Angeles’ African American community. Through his community-driven Destination Crenshaw initiative he plans a major creative placemaking project to transform the area surrounding this station into Los Angeles’ first outdoor street museum that also communicates the history and cultural vitality of Los Angeles’ black community. The outdoor museum is scheduled to open in 2019 with the opening of the rail line.

Metro is also very attuned to the importance of addressing the user-experience at the Hyde Park station and in the surrounding area if it is to foster the ease of access to the system necessary to make public transit an appealing option. And like the area-Councilmember, Metro has a keen interest in engaging the local community as the physical landscape surrounding the station is inevitably remade, so that it continues to reflect the identity of the people who live there. Metro also understands that to achieve this will require a creative placemaking process with a high level of community engagement.

This is the genesis of the partnership between Metro, the Council office and local nonprofit, LA Commons, which has played a key role in a range of creative placemaking projects in Hyde Park and other communities in South Los Angeles. LA Commons operates using an equity lens, recognizing the key role that artists play in the community development process, providing an entry point for residents to envision an inclusive future and to influence the policymakers in creating it. LA Commons builds community by validating the importance of local narratives, enhancing the sense of belonging felt by a broad range of stakeholders and encouraging stronger ties between the people and places of Los Angeles.

These three new projects are made possible by a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation, which also supported the last two years of similar work with groups from Nashville, TN, San Diego, CA, and Portland, OR.