Park Equity Leadership Academy (PELA)
In 2016 there were a few key measures on the ballot that could impact communities throughout Los Angeles County for years to come so, in the Fall of 2015, the Park Equity Leadership Academy or PELA was launched!
PELA curriculum focuses on the history and root causes of park inequities, environmental stewardship, methods and models of organizing, understanding the City and County of Los Angeles legislative processes, and public speaking. Our goal was to build a base of community advocates for parks. As a result of the process, residents participated in actions, provided testimony and shared their stories of why parks are so important for their communities.
Since launching, 200 residents, stewards and caretakers have graduated through the program. In 2016, these leaders helped pass Quimby Reform and Measure A. Both measures have helped raise millions of dollars for under-resourced communities - those most in need of parks and gardens. Though PELA has been on pause during this crisis, we are actively working on safety protocols and ways to be back up and running by winter 2021.
This past Garden Party 2020, we honored one such Park Steward and PELA graduate, Dennis Cooper. Listen to what he said about the program.