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March 12, 2021
Friends,

We’re one year from the start of the pandemic in our own backyards, wearing the toll of how the last 12 months, and the uneven impact of simultaneous crises, have touched our individual and collective lives. Understanding that tensions coexist when change is upon us, we are still claiming spring as a season of vibrancy, optimism and renewal. 

In this spirit, we are devoting this email to the leaders in our midst who inspire and nurture our sense of possibility – daily.
 

With celebration,

The Public Matters Team
 


Public Matters Interns
& the Power of Emergent Leadership

Supporting the next generation of creative civic practitioners is part and parcel of who we are. The reciprocal nature of these relationships can’t be understated. We are fortunate to work with a group of curious, imaginative, and critical urban planning interns who are shaping our work. All five of these fabulous people are dedicated to meaningful civic participation, cultivating their own leadership sensibilities, and developing spaces for others to lead.
 

Mariko Toy, a Masters of Planning Candidate at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, is supporting our work with the Rosewood STEM Magnet for Urban Planning and Urban Design. Mariko, a former teacher who also holds a Masters in Education, is co-designing urban planning professional development workshops and identifying planning resources for Rosewood’s teachers in this most challenging of educational years.
Gemma Jimenez Gonzalez, an undergraduate in Urban Studies and Planning with a focus on community engagement at California State University of Northridge (CSUN), is working on a pedestrian planning project in East Los Angeles. Public Matters is contracted by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s PLACE Program to lead engagement and outreach efforts. As we reinvent what this means in a pandemic, and will mean in a community heavily impacted by COVID-19, Gemma is helping design pathways for meaningful engagement and connection with partners.

The USC Price University Park Slow Jams Interns 

Since fall, they’ve been taking on efforts small and large to support the USC Kid Watch parent network and the UPSJ partners in developing a safe streets advocacy network across the neighborhood. All interns work directly with local residents during online workshops, while also working behind the scenes to convey community members' information, insights, and inspiration to a broader audience.

Hector Gomez, a Master of Urban Planning Candidate, is the lead designer of the University Park Slow Jams Story Map – pushing ArcGIS to its storytelling limits, imagining new possibilities for communicating street-level conditions to a broad audience. The Story Map is an advocacy tool, a repository of community driven information about the impact of traffic violence in University Park, and an avenue of expression to document, share, and envision new futures.
Nan Ni, a dual Master of Urban Planning and Master of Public Health candidate, is the mastermind and architect behind how we’re transforming the data and stories shared by community members into maps and data sets that can be easily read by residents and those more versed in “traffic speak” alike. This data includes stories about traffic violence and local street conditions, but moves deeper to connect with the places community members love, the places that make University Park home.
Christine Vazquez, currently pursuing a progressive degree that allows her to complete both her Bachelors in Urban Studies and Planning and her Masters in Urban Planning with a focus on Transportation and Mobility, is designing infographics and new ways of sharing nuanced stories of the University Park community. Christine is working to humanize statistics so that they are accessible to a wide-range of people, ultimately moving beyond quantitative abstraction.

Parents Taking to the Streets 

(physically-distanced and with photography, of course)

Parents working with UPSJ are focused on improving safety around five local schools. The opportunity to reopen safely to students is on everyone’s minds. University Park Slow Jams partner Los Angeles Walks led a walk audit training session for the USC Kid Watch Ambassadors. The Ambassadors promptly went on to train local parents. Now the reports are rolling in. Walk audits tell a critical story drawn from observation and lived experience. They will identify concrete steps and advocacy goals that the parents can use in future meetings with school leaders and elected officials. As documentation comes in, we’re inspired by their walking spirit, face masks, camera angles and work for change!

Supporting the Work of Leaderful Sectors

Professional Development in Practice

As we celebrate leaders, we are thrilled to work with public health professionals and teachers – people who have exhibited unbelievable resiliency, creativity, and commitment daily over the past year. 

Public Health Leaders

ChangeLab Solutions asked us to develop and lead a workshop for the members of the current national BUILD Health Challenge cohort. With grantees grappling with how to enact meaningful community engagement in the pandemic, Public Matters led Let’s Talk People: A No-Nonsense, Human-Centered Workshop on Community Engagement

Starting with a silly sound symphony* to harness the power of play, participants from New Jersey, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Texas, and Washington DC, among others, went through a series of activities on how to build reciprocal relationships and conduct more engaging remote collaborations, while finding compassion for themselves during this unprecedented time.

Elementary School Teachers

Public Matters leads professional development sessions for the teachers at Rosewood STEM Magnet for Urban Planning and Urban Design, helping them envision how to teach urban planning from a social justice framework to build greater empathy and understanding amongst Rosewood’s diverse student body. After the uncertainty of the last few months, we were excited to return to the “virtual classroom” with teachers to hear how the year has been going. 

These teachers have pulled incessantly from the magic hat of creativity to keep students (and parents) engaged and engrossed in learning. We are in awe of their work and resolve. It’s an honor to work with them.

 

A slide from the recent workshop.

Ms. Lam participating in a pre-COVID workshop with Public Matters.

* A sonorous and physical ice breaker if there ever was one.
Donate

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

 

Copyright © 2020. Public Matters. All rights reserved.

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