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Since we last wrote, we traversed the end of summer and seemingly fast forwarded through to fall. As a nation, and as a team, we find ourselves in the sustained discomfort of multiple, simultaneous crises. Internally, the Public Matters team continues to sit with these challenges, diving deeper on practices that channel connectivity, care, and compassion, and committing to spending time on projects that are anchored in our values, experiences, and strengths. 

We’ve found reaffirmation in collaboration, creating consistent space for exploration, and ongoing listening, learning and reflection. We hope that you and yours are healthy and creating opportunities for imagination, celebration and joy. 

And if you are able to and haven’t yet, VOTE!


The Public Matters Team


University Park Slow Jams

University Park Slow Jams at its heart is about people and space. Families. Elders. People who walk, bike, and roll. And building power so that those who use public space – streets and sidewalks, parks and play areas – shape how their neighborhood looks, feels, and functions.

Traffic safety, an essential challenge for the University Park area, has become more urgent due to the pandemic. Drivers are speeding more frequently. Pedestrians and cyclists are using the streets differently; studies show they are at increased danger.

This fall, we began by listening and learning from the community. Through a series of community conversations with more than 40 families who attend five public schools in the area, it sadly became clear that residents have normalized traffic violence. One community member referred to it as a collective “quiet struggle.” Through dialogue and mapping activities, a portrait came into focus. Some parents got angry. Some expressed the need to organize and mobilize. Folks got fired up. They recognized, as Lilia Garcia did, “the power multiple voices have when it comes to making change.” 

As we move forward to address the community’s desire for change, the UPSJ collaborative – Los Angeles Walks, Public Matters, USC Kid Watch Ambassadors, parents and staff, and USC Sol Price School of Public Policy faculty and students – will continue to map, document and present community stories and insights; deepen relationships and partnerships across sectors; and train residents to advocate for their visions. Ultimately, we hope to take to the streets for masked, physically distanced Slow Jams. If you want to get involved in UPSJ or partner, email us at!

Funding for UPSJ comes from LA2050; USC Arts in Action, part of USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative; USC Good Neighbors; and Go Human, the Southern California Association of Governments, and the California Office of Traffic Safety.


Ashley, Brisa and Sabrina, the three Urban Futures Lab Fellows, aka ABS, aka the PM core, have recently been exploring the connection between facilitation and social change. 

Kickstarting the learning arc, Fellows met with experienced facilitators and all star MCs via virtual Snack Chats. Snack Chats allow Fellows to have intimate conversations and learning sessions with experts. They are also ways to assist Fellows in building their professional networks despite the pandemic. 

Recent Snack Chat guests included: Natalie Bamdad, Demone Carter, traci kato-kiriyama, Milano Harden, Ron Milam, and Mark Podlasly.
Fellows created and facilitated their own 2-hour sessions, leading the PM team through conversations on topics that included the links between race, property and identity; design and safety in public space; and practicing tenderness. 

Fellows moved onto wider audiences, facilitating a statewide dialogue with the CAL-Now cohort of rising arts professionals on millennials, Gen Z and the election, and nationally at the Artplace Summit where they will be leading conversations for young POC leaders.


ArtPlace Summit Affinity Group Sessions for Young POC Leaders 

Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 // 10-10:45am  

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020 // 10-10:45am


Ashley and Brisa (Urban Futures Lab Fellows) facilitate a conversation about how a rising generation of leaders can be influential in our communities and in arts, culture, community development, and creative placemaking/ placekeeping.

Greetings from East L.A. at Hindsight: A Conference on Urban Planning through the Equity Lens

Friday, Nov. 13, 2020 // 12-1pm PST 


Mike (Public Matters), Martin Reyes (Office of LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis), Ana Tenorio (East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy), and Christine Vazquez (USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and former Renaissance student) discuss how participatory education and partnerships can help move East LA teens from passive recipients of systemic inequities to engaged community participants.

Listening Different: Practicing Tenderness & Finding Breath 

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020 // 7-8:30pm PST  

“How do you practice tenderness?” “What does it mean to nourish your soul and tend to one another?” Sabrina (Urban Futures Lab Fellow) leads an interactive writing workshop for all levels and ages with Changing Tides. RSVP.

Safe, Resilient & Locally Grown: Building Partnerships and Generating Support

Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 // 10-11:30am PST  


Mike moderates a conversation for the Southern California Association of Governments that features representatives from the City of Costa Mesa, the California Transportation Commission, and Central City Neighborhood Partners.


Public Matters is a project of Fulcrum Arts' Emerge Program.


Copyright © 2020. Public Matters. All rights reserved.


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