The Laboratory for Environmental Strategies at UCLA, or LENS, received a $545,000 grant from Bezos Earth Fund to help local journalists from ethnic media inform their communities in diverse languages about major infrastructure projects that affect their lives.
The grant was announced July 17 at the Pacoima Wash — a flood channel and tributary of the Los Angeles River that’s undergoing revitalization to decrease urban runoff and increase park space. The Bezos Earth Fund has committed $10 billion over 10 years for independent projects that address climate and nature problems. Pacoima Beautiful, a local community-based organization, received a $3.5 million grant to reshape four miles of the wash.
Jon Christensen, a LENS founder and UCLA adjunct assistant professor, said community input is essential to make sure infrastructure projects funded by federal, state and local investments are designed and built in an environmentally just way and benefit underserved areas. LENS will work with local media to keep communities informed with the latest research so new projects are tailored to their needs — avoiding green gentrification, a process in which environmental greening leads to higher property values and displaces long-term residents.
Parks are often viewed as places for fun and recreation but are also critical to the mental and physical health of residents, Christensen said. A study from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health concluded that bringing all tree canopy and park spaces throughout L.A. County up to the median would add nearly a million years of life expectancy to current residents.
Read the full story about the grant at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability website.