The Natural Park at Ramona Gardens Addressing Open Space & Air Quality Disparities:
An Interview of Esther Feldman and Lou Calanche

From the June issue of The Planning Report (TPR)

June 8, 2020

"Wedged between a 15-lane highway and unincorporated LA County industrial zones, Ramona Gardens is a Boyle Heights community whose children suffer from asthma at twice the state average.

TPR interviewed Legacy LA Founder Executive Director, Lou Calanche, and Community Conservation Solutions President, Esther Feldman, to discuss the Natural Park at Ramona Gardens, a green solution project initiated by the youth of Ramona Gardens that marries ecosystem science and state-of-the-art engineering with a community-driven design process to improve air quality and community health in one of the most polluted neighborhoods in Los Angeles."

Click here to read the full article

Click here to see a video of Esther speaking at the California Water Boards STORM WATER STRATEGY Seminar Series

Nature-Based Stormwater Projects: From Microbial to Human Communities

Monday, October 1, 2018 12-2pm, CalEPA Building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento

Nature-based stormwater projects do much more than capture and slow runoff. This strategy nurtures health soils, reduces greenhouse gases, improves air quality. restore native habitats, and promotes community engagement and human health.

See Esther Feldman from Community Conservation Solutions(CCS) and Dr. Radomir Schmidt from UC Davis’ Scow Soil Microbiology for an engaging conversation on how integrating soil ecosystems and a ‘Big Nature’ approach to capturing stormwater provides a vital solution to many of our most pressing environmental and community problems.

Click here to watch a recording of the event

Curbed LA: Lush park to shield public housing project from 12-lane freeway

By Bianca Barragan

August 30, 2018

"From the sidewalk on the fringe of Ramona Gardens, the drone of the freeway is constant.

Only a low concrete wall and some chainlink fencing separate the Boyle Heights housing project, one of the largest in Los Angeles County, from more than a dozen lanes of traffic on the busy 10 freeway. Some of the 1,800 residents live just 100 feet from the interstate.... A park planned in the community would change that."

Click here to read the full article

Natural Park at Ramona Gardens Housing Development Concept Plan & Community Engagement Report

August 30, 2018

Big Nature | La Naturaleza en Grande

Combining ecosystem science, engineering and community priorities, the Big Nature/La Naturaleza en Grande plan presents a vision for transforming land between residences at Ramona Gardens and a 15-lane polluting freeway corridor into a green, ‘Nature in the City’ open space park. This innovative, nature-based approach integrates a walking trail, plaza, murals and recreation courts, and features an Anti-Pollution Green Buffer that will:

  • Improve air quality
  • Recycle stormwater
  • Restore native habitat
  • Build climate change resiliency

Click here to read the full report

NATURE IN THE CITY: Restored Native Habitat Along the L.A. River Sets New Model for Southern California’s Urban Rivers

By Esther Feldman

May 31, 2018

FREMONTIA, Vol. 46, No. 1, CA Native Plant Society
This Urban Wildlands edition shines a spotlight on how nature-based restoration efforts are bringing nature and life back to urban areas throughout California. CCS is proud to be part of this growing trend. See how our L.A. River Greenway Trail in the San Fernando Valley sets a new model for restoring native habitat along Southern California’s urban rivers, with an ecosystem-focused design that re-creates the native plant communities that existed in this part of Los Angeles County over a hundred years ago.

Click here to see the full article

Nature-Based Stormwater Recycling Projects growing in U.S. Cities and around the World  

By Alexandra Feldman

May 30, 2018

Click here to see how cities from Singapore to Sweden and from Houston, Texas to Cambridge, Massachusetts are integrating nature, green infrastructure and engineering to capture and reuse urban runoff and stormwater, increasing local water sustainability and serving both humans and wildlife in urbanized areas.

CCS’ Green Solutions Project shows how we can re-purpose public lands in the L.A. River Watershed to capture and re-use urban runoff and stormwater to recharge groundwater supplies, irrigate new green open space and provide restore natural habitat in our most disadvantaged neighborhoods.

LA Times: CA air regulators new Anti-Pollution Design Features give boost to CCS’ Nature in the City Plans

May 28, 2018

New recommendations from the California Air Resources Board include anti-pollution design features to help improve air quality in cities – especially where people live close to freeways and busy streets. These design features include native vegetation barriers, tall trees, earth berms and sound walls to reduce air pollution exposure to people living close to freeways.

CCS is including innovative ‘Green Buffer’ anti-pollution design features in the plans for the Natural Park at Ramona Gardens, which is next to 15 lanes of freeway and is one of the most polluted communities in California.

To read the article, click here

The Southern California Gas Company selects Community Conservation Solutions as a 2017 Environmental Champion!

May 27, 2018

CCS is honored to be a SoCalGas 2017 Environmental Champion for our innovative work to improve air quality and clean stormwater at the Natural Park at Ramona Gardens Housing Development.

This ‘Nature in the City’ open space park at Ramona Gardens will feature anti-pollution design elements to improve air quality, including natural habitat that will create a beautiful, natural place for children and families. Ramona Gardens is located in Northern Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.

“Creating a natural park at Ramona Gardens – one of the most polluted communities in California – will improve air quality, clean stormwater, reduce noise from the nearby freeway and give children and families a beautiful place to play and walk,” said Esther Feldman, President of CCS.

Health & Environmental Benefits of Natural Green Spaces in Cities Source: Scientific Journals and Government Agencies, 2005 – 2017

By Lillian Ikuta

May 26, 2018

Throughout the United States, scientists are documenting how parks and natural space in cities can make us healthier, less stressed and help improve our children’s cognitive development.

See this summary of findings from over 60 scientific journals and government agency reports and article on how “Nature in the City” urban green spaces can help address serious public health problems like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and asthma, as well as improve our quality of life.

Click here for report

Esther Feldman speaks at UCLA on New Ideas for Water Security in CA

May 25, 2018
CCS President Esther Feldman joined UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability  as part of a distinguished panel exploring ‘From Farms to Cities: Percolating New Ideas for Water Security’. Click here to see the video. Panelists included Nancy Sutley from L.A. Department of Water and Power. The event was sponsored by Sustainable Conservation.

“To really take advantage of the massive amount of stormwater that flows in L.A. County, we have to prioritize stormwater capture projects on public lands where the existing storm drain system already delivers water” -said Esther Feldman, President of Community Conservation Solutions.


Esther Feldman speaks at Autry Museum’s “Not Just a River”

May 24, 2018

Esther Feldman was joined by Nancy Steele, Director of Conservation, Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy and Daniel Sharp Senior Civil Engineer, LA County Public Works. This conversation was moderated by  Char Miller, Director of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College.

A watershed is more than a river. In fact, the Los Angeles River Watershed covers more than 800 square miles and 43 cities. Over time, people have interacted with this watershed in many different ways, with resulting changes in one section influencing areas far downstream. This discussion focused on the effects of urban development on the larger ecosystem and options for the future, while considering the current national dialogue about who controls our water.

LA River Drainage Goes Native – Estuary News, Vol. 26, No. 2

May 23, 2018

“This summer, Feldman’s organization is piloting a new analytical tool that not only taps an untapped local water supply –the 969 miles of metropolitan storm drains in Los Angeles — but also has the metrics to earn carbon credits for doing so.’It’s very practical, you just stick your straw in the local water source rather than pumping it into the city from hundreds of miles away,’ says Feldman. The local water can then be used to irrigate and vegetate the urban ecosystem, and to recharge groundwater.”

Click here to read the full article

Grand Opening of the Zev Yaroslavsky L.A. River Greenway Trail Los Angeles Daily News

April 1, 2018

Opened in June of 2017, this half-mile unpaved walking trail along the L.A. River connects existing segments of river trail to create the longest L.A. river walking trail loop in the San Fernando Valley to date. The trail sets a new precedent for native habitat restoration along the L.A. River by planting over 3,000 native trees, shrubs and flowering plants using an ecosystem design.

Helen Giroux stopped — and stared stunned on Saturday — at a hand-crafted iron gate whose twisted forms looked like waters swirling in the nearby Los Angeles River. “What a beautiful gate,” exclaimed Giroux, a Studio City resident of 33 years. “The grandeur of open space is epitomized in that gate.”

Click here to read the full article