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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
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.