You can get involved with the Bowtie today by completing our survey! Feedback will be used to inform and guide the design of the Bowtie and to advocate for the resources needed to make the park a reality.
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Stay in the loop about future community engagement events. Over the next few months, we will be hosting community meetings, online events, using surveys and engaging local residents to hear their ideas for the future park.
Q+A with Clockshop’s Director of Community Organizing Hugo Garcia
Hugo Garcia is in many ways the ideal person to launch an important conversation about the future of the Bowtie, an 18-acre parcel of undeveloped land along the Los Angeles River that will one day be a new state park. The longtime northeast Los Angeles resident is the project lead organizer for a new community engagement process that started in 2021 to ensure that local residents have plenty of opportunities to express what they want and need in a park.
Local residents can expect to see Hugo across northeast Los Angeles as the community engagement process gets underway.
Tell us about your background and why you wanted to work on this project?
Northeast Los Angeles has been my home since the 1960s and activism and green space has been an important part of my professional and personal experiences in the community. In my youth, I participated in the 1968 East L.A. walkouts to protest the substandard education that Latino students were receiving in public schools. The walkouts were important for my developing political awareness; I was empowered and inspired to become a better student and a leader. In my professional life, I have worked on several projects to protect and expand access to green space and to fight against environmental injustices that happen in our communities. As an organizer with the STAND-LA Coalition, I witnessed how a variety of organizations, with varied resources, can coalesce into a cohesive and powerful force.
The vision to convert an undeveloped parcel of land into one of the city’s most beautiful parks is very aligned with my commitment to make our communities safer and healthier. I am especially honored that my role in this project is asking the community what THEY want to see in their new park. Too often communities of color, like ours, have had the experience of institutions dropping in and building projects without our input, making us feel like these new amenities are not for us. The Bowtie started as a community-driven mission to transform industrial space into a green oasis as part of efforts to revitalize the Los Angeles River. The community deserves to have a role every step of the way to continue shaping what this space will ultimately look like.
What will you be doing to engage the community?
I am working with California State Parks and Clockshop on the outreach and engagement efforts. Obviously with COVID and social distancing guidelines, it’s going to require that we be creative, fluid, and ready to pivot strategically on how to engage residents. Future outreach opportunities will include phone calls, emails, virtual meetings and community surveys. When it’s safe to do so, we hope to have in-person workshops and presentations to keep residents engaged and up to date about the latest developments.
I am especially committed to multicultural and multilingual outreach. Our outreach documents will be translated into Spanish and Tagalog and other languages to ensure language justice. I look forward to partnering with organizations and community stakeholders who can help us connect with the diverse communities that call northeast Los Angeles home. We understand the need to connect with residents despite the restrictions on in-person outreach.
Why is it important to build a park in this space?
The pandemic has made it very clear that access to the outdoors is an essential part of a healthy community. For far too many neighborhoods that look like ours across the city, spaces where people can enjoy nature, take a walk, and breathe fresh air are rare. The northeast Los Angeles community is fortunate that sometime in the future, it’s possible that we will have 100 acres of green space in our backyard. The future Bowtie State Park is the next piece of that vision. Community feedback and participation will be used to advocate for the funding needed to make the Bowtie a reality. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with residents to make it happen.