Community Empowerment Starts with You

By Ida Talalla

Community is where my home is and my home is my community.

I believe that community is an extension of ourselves and that the community’s environmental needs and public spaces are the collective responsibility of all who feel a connection to place.

This civic responsibility drives Echo Park Trash Abatement Project (TAP), which I organized in 2006 to address the issue of surface trash on streets and pollution that impacted our beloved local lotus bed and lake. There was also the awareness that inland trash polluted the LA  River and ocean in a major way, as waterways such as storm drains were active conduits. We often and unknowingly transfer our careless actions to other locations with disastrous results.

As such, Echo Park TAP’s  efforts were greatly strengthened  through collaboration with experienced organizations such as Heal the Bay, Central City Action Committee, Clean & Green Program, Metro Clean to mention a few. Volunteers and LA City Departments such as LA Stormwater Program, Bureau of Sanitation, Public Works, Office of Community Beautification have also been a great support. Local businesses also provided supportive services that were invaluable to the success of trash clean ups that have netted thousands of pounds of trash, bags of cigarette butts and bulky items too numerous to mention.  Without this assistance visual blight and pollution would have diminished the quality of life in the area and made our community less inviting.

In 2009, Echo Park TAP was awarded a full grant from the Office of Community Beautification to purchase two Solar Big Belly (r) Compactor Trash Cans with attached recycling units plus additional assistance from Keep LA Beautiful and Shelter Clean. Both these units will increase the amount of trash collected and secure against pilfering and wind gusts. These  units  will not only reduce the amount of trash drifting on pavements and streets, but will also address the long term health of Echo Park Lake and improving water quality in the LA River and ocean as well. To link communities and generate additional interest, Echo Park TAP is proposing to make September 2011 Waterways/Stormwater/Watershed Awareness Month and garnering the necessary support.

If you live in the Echo Park area, check the bulletin  boards and local blogs such as

Eastsider, Echo Park Patch among others for postings. Sign petitions and volunteer when the call goes out. It is a great way to keep trash off the street and out of waterways as well as get a sense of community. If you do not live in Echo Park, there are numerous groups that share similar goals to improve water quality such as Heal the Bay, Malibu Foundation, Friends of the LA River (FOLAR) to mention a few or events directed by Keep LA Beautiful and the City’s Department of Sanitation.

Get involved as it’s our community near or far. A litter-free society is an achievable goal if we commit to recycle, reuse and dispose of trash responsibly. Furthermore, living in a drought prone zone such as LA, makes improving water quality imperative.

About the Author: Ida Talalla is citizen activist and the Founder of the Echo Park Trash Abatement Project (TAP). The Echo Park TAP began in mid-2006 and Ida consults with a number of people and organizations in the community to get her projects accomplished.

*Photo courtesy of Echo Park Now

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