In response to Charlottesville
August 16, 2017
Tamika and Family
Dear Land Trust Family,
We rarely like to fill your inbox twice a week. However, I thought it was important to send you one more note this week. In a week in which President Trump made two public statements doubling down on his endorsement and acceptance of hate and white supremacy, I thought it was important to double down on making sure you all know my vision for the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust.
For those whom I have not gotten the chance to meet, you should know that my leadership style and vision are shaped by my worldview. My worldview was shaped by strong black women; particularly a mother and grandmother who grew up in segregated South Carolina. Both have experienced and witnessed horrors many of you have never thought of or seen—until this past weekend in Charlottesville.
The thing is, for many of us—especially those of us in marginalized and oppressed groups—what we saw this weekend did not surprise us. We did not gasp and say, how could this happen in America in 2017? Rather, we have heard these stories from our families as they crossed borders, fought to openly and proudly love, worked multiple minimum wage jobs, attended their place of worship, fought police brutality and participated in marches and sit-ins throughout the country. For me, my gender identity, gender representation, and race impact every interaction I have each and every day. For me, white supremacy never only looked like what happened this past weekend.
I’m entering my third week here and it has been my hardest. The emotional toll and labor we ask oppressed people to carry in our society is also a form of white supremacy. Oppressed people must do our jobs, do them better, and push through many of the micro-aggressions and explicit forms of oppression we face daily.
When I introduced myself to you on Monday, this weekend’s events were weighing heavy on my mind. But I wanted to keep it short, and I wanted to keep it positive. Today, however, as Heather Heyer is laid to rest, I ask that we all take a moment to think about how white supremacy plays out each day. Beyond that, let’s ask ourselves how we intentionally or unintentionally support it with our words and actions—or lack thereof—and what we’re going to do to change that.
At the Land Trust, we see the impacts of systemic racism, oppression, and white supremacy when we do our work every day. It is not an accident that low-income communities of color have lacked investment, faced segregation through built environment decision making, endured environmental racism, and suffered from public health disparities as a result.
For many people in the communities where we do our work, being outside, having access to fresh food, and feeling comfortable owning and participating in the public space freely is something that requires going outside of their own neighborhood. Even then, people often question whether they “belong.” Walkable green space or a community garden should be something all Angelenos have access to no matter where they live, where they are from, how they worship, who they love, or their race. We fight to make that vision a reality.
To see that vision through, our work here at the Land Trust will always be guided by fighting environmental and racial injustices, and centering race. I know sometimes it is easy to distance ourselves from or be offended by the term white supremacy when we feel like “those people” are not like us. But the reality is, through systems of oppression, many of us already know that white supremacy manifests in many different ways. We can’t ignore it. We can’t change the channel. We have to stand up. Continue the fight. Continue being our authentic selves. We have to keep pushing for a better tomorrow. Some of us simply don’t have a choice.
I hope you’ll continue to support us as we do this work. I hope you can understand that for many of us on our diverse staff, our work is about parks and so much more. It’s about our city. It’s about our communities. It’s about our people. We’re here to make sure that access to open space is an environmental justice fight. A racial justice fight. These are fights we’ll win if we all choose to push ourselves beyond our privilege and do it together.
See you out there,
Join Us in a Warm Welcome
July 17, 2017
Trusted Progressive Leader to Helm Nonprofit Park Equity Organization
Serving Communities Throughout Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust warmly welcomes Tamika Butler as its new Executive Director. With a diverse background and successes in advancing the region’s equity issues, we are all looking forward to working towards an even brighter future for our city.
Land Trust Board Names Tamika Butler as Executive Director
June 15, 2017
The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, a non-profit organization that addresses social and racial equity, and wellness, by building parks and gardens in park-poor communities across Greater Los Angeles, has announced that its longtime supporter and Los Angeles civic sector leader, Tamika Butler, will assume the role of Executive Director.
Carl Cade, board chair of the Land Trust commented, “With major wins in public policy and park development, 2016 was a watershed year for the Land Trust. Our entire Board is incredibly excited to have recruited Tamika Butler, a dynamic leader with a proven track record as an Executive Director, to lead the organization to greater success in 2017 and years to come.”
This year the Land Trust celebrates its 15th year anniversary. To date, the organization has developed 25 parks and gardens for families and communities in Greater LA. The Land Trust’s mission is to grow healthier, safer, and stronger communities by creating urban parks and community gardens that remedy the critical lack of green and recreational spaces in greater Los Angeles' underserved neighborhoods.
Tamika has a diverse background in law, community organizing and nonprofit leadership. Recently she was the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Prior to leading LACBC, Tamika was the Director of Social Change Strategies at Liberty Hill Foundation, and worked at Young Invincibles as the California Director. She transitioned to policy work after litigating for three years as an employment lawyer at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. Tamika received her J.D. from Stanford Law School, and received her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Sociology in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Tamika previously served as the co-chair of the National Center for Lesbian Rights Board of Directors, serves as the Institute Co-Director of the New Leaders Council - Los Angeles, is a board member of both Lambda Literary Foundation and T.R.U.S.T. South LA, and is an advisory board member for the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center’s Fair Play for Girls in Sports program.
“I am overjoyed to join the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust. Alina [Bokde] left a thriving organization with a phenomenal staff that has continued to strengthen the organization since her departure. I'm excited to add my vision of community-centered planning to the organization leading the way on park equity. Parks enrich communities and enrich lives of community members. That work can't be done in a vacuum without being honest about the other intersectional issues communities face. That's the work I look forward to being a part of at the Land Trust. The future for parks and open space with a social justice, racial justice and equity focused lens is bright. I'm looking forward to meeting all of our members and partners as I dive into this critical work with the amazing Land Trust team,” remarked Butler.
Bulter replaces David Andrés Kietzman, who has served as Interim Executive Director since longtime Executive Director Alina Bokde was appointed to serve as Deputy Director for Planning and Development of the LA County Department of Parks and Recreation in January 2017.
About the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust: The Land Trust was founded in 2002 to address LA’s park inequities with an exclusive focus on communities of color that have little to no access to green space.
Less than one acre of green space is available for every 1,000 residents in the communities the Land Trust serves. In stark contrast, the citywide average is over four acres and the countywide average is over three acres. For 15 years the organization has aimed to change this dynamic and has added nearly eight acres of accessible green space to LA by helping create 25 parks and gardens. These neighborhood assets serve 195,000 Angelenos annually. By 2019, the Land Trust will complete five additional parks and gardens, adding nearly 15 additional acres of green space to LA County.
The Land Trust’s successful greenspace development model engages residents from the beginning of the design process, through construction and ultimately the stewardship of the parks and gardens it creates. To ensure the long-term impact of its efforts, the Land Trust advocates for equitable greenspace development in LA through grassroots policy reform.
January 19, 2017
After a year of great wins for the organization, the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust announces that our pioneering Executive Director, Alina Bokde, who in many ways built this organization into the force it has become, has been recruited to a role outside the organization. While Alina’s new role will be announced in coming weeks, we want to take this opportunity to congratulate her and celebrate her successes with the Land Trust.
Though Alina will be greatly missed, she leaves behind a strong organization that is emerging as a major force in developing new parks and gardens in areas of LA needing green space the most, and driving policies that support park equity in the context of social and environmental justice movements, all while inspiring other urban land trusts.
The Land Trust’s dedicated staff led by its team of directors – Aysha Siddique, Dira Creek, Keshia Sexton and Mark Glassock – has kept the organization’s work moving forward without interruption. Furthermore, the Board is pleased to announce that we have engaged David Andrés Kietzman as our Interim Executive Director to support the whole team during the search period. David, a seasoned nonprofit professional and interim leader, can be reached at email@example.com.
Finally, the board has kicked off the national search for an Executive Director by engaging Koya Leadership Partners. The search team will be led by Michelle Bonoan in Koya’s Southern California office.
We are excited about all of the success the Land Trust has achieved in recent years! Our Board is even more excited to see the impact this organization can achieve in coming years under the leadership of our next Executive Director.
An Important Park Measure on the November Ballot!
July 6, 2016
On July 5, 2016, the LA County Board of Supervisors heard from advocates about why parks are important for our county. The Board of Supervisors voted in support of a motion co-authored by Chair Hilda L. Solis and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to place the “Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks, Open Space, Local Beaches, Rivers, and Water Conservation Protection Measure” onto the November 8, 2016 election ballot. If passed by LA County voters, the proposed measure will replace Proposition A, which has been providing critical funding for our parks for over two decades and is set to expire soon.
What does this mean for the LA Neighborhood Land Trust? We’re especially excited about this measure because some of the funding will be directed towards projects in high and very high need areas that were identified in the County Park Needs Assessment. This adds great momentum to the park equity movement in Los Angeles!
The Land Trust is grateful to Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Our Parks Coalition, and our staff and community leaders.
Stay posted on how you can play a role in helping pass this important park measure in November 8.
February 26, 2016
Vacant Lots and Park Equity in Los Angeles: The Problem is the Opportunity is the final report of the Land Trust’s multi-year project known as Transforming Inner-City Lost Lots (TILL).
The report outlines how low-income communities of color in the City of Los Angeles experience both a lack of high quality parks and an oversupply of vacant lots. However, as the report demonstrates, these dual problems are each other’s solution.
The report shares findings from the four main phases of the TILL project: (1) creating an inventory of all City of LA-owned vacant lots; (2) producing a map of all City-owned vacant lots, (3) engaging communities in four key park-poor areas (East San Fernando Valley, South LA, Boyle Heights-El Sereno, and Wilmington-Harbor Gateway) and conducting vacant lot assessments on the ground, and (4) designing a multi-criteria needs model based on demographic and socioeconomic data in order to prioritize vacant lot development.
Phase 4 was conducted in partnership with the USC Dornsife Spatial Sciences Institute, which created an interactive online map for select vacant lots, available here.
The TILL report concludes with two policy recommendations: (1) the City of Los Angeles should develop one comprehensive, accessible place to get up-to-date information on all City-owned vacant lots, and (2) the City should create a single standardized strategy for marketing these City-owned vacant lots.
Funding for TILL was provided by the California Strategic Growth Council’s Urban Greening for Sustainable Communities Grant Program, administered by the California Natural Resources Agency and created under the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006 (Proposition 84).