After five years of building Productive Public Spaces in Kenya, KDI began exploring the potential to apply this model in California. The result is a growing network of community parks and programs that are improving economic opportunity, social cohesion and environmental resilience in the disadvantaged communities of the Eastern Coachella Valley.
Conditions in California’s Eastern Coachella Valley (ECV) are comparable to those in the “developing world”.
Migrant farmworking communities here face severe barriers to transportation, recreation, housing, employment, health, and a safe environment, with significant effects on life outcomes. Nonetheless, political will is high and youth activism deeply embedded in local culture.
The participatory process used for the KPSP network is replicated here, with residents co-designing the spaces and developing accompanying programs through workshops, meetings, and other engagements.
We recruit Street Teams of youth to carry out preliminary community research, engaging residents on their own terms to understand and articulate a community vision.
Together these spaces build the physical, social and economic resilience of the ECV region.
Each park integrates built elements like sports amenities, community halls, therapeutic gardens, and marketplaces with stormwater infrastructure and ecological landscaping. Small businesses and community programs activate and sustain each site, bring income to the community, and provide social and cultural benefits.
The first PPS project, St. Anthony's Trailer Park was built in 2013, and the second, a 5 acre park called Nuestro Lugar, was completed in 2018.
Nuestro Lugar is the first community park of its kind in the region, providing critical amenities for recreation, exercise and gathering. Like the upcoming parks in Oasis and Thermal, it serves as a cultural landmark and a sign to residents that they can make change happen in their community.