It Takes a Village: Local Activists Organize to Clean-up LA
Ida Tallala, Founder of the Echo Park Trash Abatement Project (TAP), which has received City of Los Angeles Stormwater program support for her organization, talks about her community activism. The TAP project began in mid-2006 and Ida consults with a number of people and organizations in the community to get her projects accomplished. Ida recently spoke with the Stormwater Program about the work she is doing.
Stormwater Program (SP): What inspired you to get involved in Echo Park?
Ida Tallala: It is difficult for me not to get involved. I love my Echo Park community and have a deep respect for the environment. The two interests are served on the issue of keeping trash out of storm drains. It became clearer to me over time that trash was accumulating throughout Echo Park. In addition, the traditional wire mesh trash cans filled up rapidly and allowed trash to escape its confines. Escaping trash got into the storm drains. For the general public this was not an issue as the assumption was that storm drains were for conveying trash and runoff, many did not know that the storm drains discharged into Echo Park Lake. Our lake is one of the most polluted bodies of water in urban Los Angeles, and I believe this has caused the demise of the Lake’s famed Lotus flowers.
SP: What are some anti-litter projects that you’re currently working on?
Ida Tallala: My research into trash containers led me to stumble upon an innovative solar operated compactor-trash can known by all as BigBelly®. It is durable and due to compaction, holds four times as much trash as a regular trash can!
In a competitive grant project from the Office of Community Beautification, Echo Park TAP was awarded a full grant towards the purchase of two Solar BigBelly® Compactor Trash Cans with attached recycling units for cans and glass.
We plan to announce trash removal at specific times so that the public can satisfy their curiosity as well as become partners in the effort against trash.
SP: To what do you attribute the success of TAP?
Ida Tallala: It has been a journey that has had the assistance of many. I am indebted to all at the City of LA Stormwater Program for their assistance in the process. Also I must give kudos to Heal the Bay for its outstanding training programs, educational materials and the opportunity they provided me to assist communities in understanding the deadly march of inland trash through its inland California Coastal Clean Up Day events.
In 2008, Echo Park TAP collaborated with Central City Action Committee and several others. More than 180 volunteers collected more than 1,000 pounds of trash and 5,017 cigarette butts. On September 20, 2008, we were assisted by Council President Eric Garcetti and Commissioner Cynthia Ruiz, President, Board of Public Works. As I noted, the City’s Stormwater program has provided support at a number of levels as has the Bureau of Sanitation. For small fledgling groups such as Echo Park TAP, realizing goals requires accessing information and expertise. A series of clean ups and lectures is planned and a welcome celebration for Solar BigBelly®. The community is encouraged to participate.
Commissioner Cynthia M. Ruiz, President of the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works, and chairperson of the Keep Los Angeles Beautiful (KLAB) Advisory Board, explains why she feels it is important for community members to join local clean-ups.
SP: Why should people get involved in clean-ups?
Commissioner Ruiz: Neighborhood clean-up events bring a sense of pride and ownership to one’s community, which in turn raises awareness and encourages people to take ownership in their neighborhoods. However, this team-building is only one component of these great events; another is the effect such efforts have on the local environment. Our waterways get clogged full of litter every day, so getting out and cleaning them up has a direct impact on the health of Los Angeles and the ocean where street litter ends up after flowing through the City’s stormdrain system. I really cannot imagine a better way to build community and restore our environment than by joining a local clean-up in your area.
SP: What’s the Great American Cleanup?
Commissioner Ruiz: The Great American Cleanup is organized by Keep America Beautiful and is the nation’s largest community improvement program, which takes place annually from March 1 through May 31, involving an estimated three million volunteers and attendees across the country. We hope to have a substantial turnout in Los Angeles. Activities this year will include beautifying parks and recreation areas, cleaning seashores and waterways, picking up litter, planting trees and flowers, and conducting educational programs and litter-free events.
Andrea Ambrose and John Lobato, Co-Founders of Los Angeles Neighborhood Clean Up Project (LANCUP), talk about their organization. LANCUP was started in November, 2008 and organizes local residents in frequent clean-up events around the city.
SP: How did you first get involved in your local community and what was your motivation for doing so?
Andrea Ambrose and John Labato: The two of us were driving down Virgil Avenue on the border of Silver Lake and East Hollywood and we started talking about how much trash was on the streets in that area. A couple of weeks later, we drove down the same street and saw that there was even more trash that had accumulated, so we decided to just go to Home Depot, buy some brooms, and start cleaning up the streets ourselves. People on Virgil probably thought we were crazy those first few times that we went out to clean, but over time we got people to come out and help and after a number of events we have gathered a great group of community volunteers who help at clean-ups. Since that time, we have worked with the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council and the Greater Echo Park and Elysian Park Neighborhood Council in organizing events. Everybody has been really enthusiastic about helping out and volunteering.
SP: What are your plans for the future? What projects do you have planned?
Andrea Ambrose and John Labato: We are planning on expanding our geographic reach to other areas of Los Angeles. We are always looking for people who live in different neighborhoods to act as Neighborhood Coordinators, to help us plan events. We have also started a campaign to get more trash cans installed in our area. When we were cleaning up on Virgil, we walked five blocks before running into a trash can. We figure that part of the reason there is so much trash is due to the fact that there are not enough trash cans. As parts of Los Angeles become more walkable, the City needs to compensate and install more trash cans. Our local businesses and city council members seem pretty enthusiastic about the idea—the biggest (and most obvious) problem is money. Installing a new trash can costs about $10,000. We are considering throwing a fundraiser with the help of local businesses.
Keeping our communities clean is a team effort! We encourage readers to find a local clean-up and volunteer. Bring friends and family and help make Los Angeles a healthy, clean place to live.
To see a full listing of upcoming clean-up events, please visit our online calendar. We update the clean-up calendar with events that are taking place all over the City. If you would like to submit your clean-up for inclusion on the calendar, please contact us at LAstormwater@LAcity.org
- Best Management Practices (26)
- Contests (30)
- Events (67)
- Green Streets (4)
- Guest Posts (20)
- LA Sanitation News (3)
- Low Impact Development (70)
- Pet Owners (10)
- Prop O Projects (27)
- Rain Barrels & Cisterns (15)
- Stormwater News (51)
- Stormwater Programs (5)
- Stormwater Projects (5)
- Uncategorized (1)
- Watersheds (30)
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- Clean Water Virtual Scavenger Hunt: Question 1 (55)
- Get Creative and Score a FREE T-Shirt! (47)
- Name that Animal and Score – Some Original LA River Artwork! (36)
- Name What’s Wrong With This Photo and Win 4 Tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific! (36)
- Clean Water Virtual Scavenger Hunt: Question 2 (35)
- Clean Water Virtual Scavenger Hunt: Question 3 (32)
- LA Stormwater Video Trivia (27)
- Sea Life Trivia Contest (25)
- It’s Pet Trivia Time! (20)
- LA County Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure (18)
- LA Stormwater: A big thank you to everyone who participated in our spring gardening tips contest. We loved all the great ideas ...
- Christy Martens: After fighting with squirrels and crows that would dig up my seedlings in my veggie garden, I found that reused ...
- Chris Anthony: After experiencing the destruction of grasshoppers in my vegetable garden I taught my cats to hunt and catch them. They ...
- Melanie Winter: Hi Geoff - We based our basic design on the work of the city of Tuscon's Watershed Management Group, where they've ...
- Geoff: Hi Melanie, Great article and its refreshing to hear what you are doing and what you've already done in ...
- Sandra DeSimone: In our garden, we make sure to always have something in bloom, so that we never need to use pesticides ...
- Sandra DeSimone: We mulch all the trees around the campus at the school I work at so that it keeps the trees ...
- Melanie Winter: Hi Rick - Pleased to meet you, too. Hooray for the early adopters! The good news is that if you're within ...
- Melanie Winter: Hi Lee! Thanks for your kind words. Do check out the new greywater permit, I think you'll be pleased - it's ...