Updated on December 9, 2015
Fighting for the Asterisk aka Fighting for Park Equity
By Scott Chan
The Dept. of Parks and Rec. is currently undergoing one of the largest assessments ever done regarding parks in Los Angeles County. I have written about it in previous blog posts, so this is more of an update.
It is an ongoing battle to ensure that API voices are heard in this Parks Needs Assessment. As the only Asian American (there were no Pacific Islanders chosen) to serve on the steering committee for the assessment, I have fought tooth and nail to ensure that there are real efforts to engage and include our communities’ concerns around access to parks. They say they might do this assessment of ALL the parks in LA County again sometime, but let’s be real; this is a huge undertaking and there probably isn’t going to be another chance at this for quite some time. The report that comes from this assessment could dictate the quality and quantity of parks in our neighborhoods for decades to come.
Unfortunately this has been an uphill battle. Flyers/posters done in our languages. Subcontracts to our groups to help do outreach in ways we know work. Translation services at the actual community meetings.
All this said, I received some good news late last week. Each city has received a toolkit of how to run their community meetings. In it, there’s a community snapshot which shares about demographics, key concerns, etc. Originally they had only broken it down to Asian and Pacific Islander, aggregating all our communities. How would the facilitator figure out language needs, materials needs, etc, if she/he only saw “Asian/Pacific Islander?” Through some advocacy, we convinced them to add in a disaggregated portion on the snapshot, to include percentages of ethnic groups that make up Asian and Pacific Islander.
Yes we are still an asterisk, but slowly I hope we can move the needle and ensure that our communities show up to these meetings.