project leader
Aja B
Van Nuys Boulevard
(Van Nuys, CA--Council District 6)
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Community workshops for a water-smart future

the project

The Los Angeles streetscape must shift from impervious, carbon-intensive, and auto-centric to a diversified, low-carbon, and performative public domain to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Beginning with a series of free public design workshops, Connect the Dots will support the city in addressing unparalleled water challenges by inviting Angelenos to help solve our city’s water, transit, and public space needs. Connect the Dots will provide the tools for citizens to reimagine LA’s Great Streets performing at their fullest potential: serving as engaging public spaces; healthy, active transit corridors in lively economic zones; and strategic groundwater recharge assets.

Connect the Dots will combine data from hydrologic research, public art, community dialog and citizen cyclist-scientists to collaboratively shape a shared vision. The shift from dependence on expensive, dwindling, and carbon-intensive imports to local, carbon-free groundwater replenishment through stormwater capture will accelerate Los Angeles’s transition to water security and climate resilience.

Led by collaborators from the Arid Lands Institute, Pacoima Beautiful, and LA County Bicycle Coalition, Connect the Dots will:

•     introduce people to the benefits (and challenges) of walking, biking, and rapid transit in the city;

•     engage citizens with the unseen water systems beneath their feet, using full-scale stormwater and groundwater visualizations on public street surfaces;

•     prompt dialog about potential new development patterns;

•     facilitate partnerships among designers, cyclists and community members to visualize street schemes that optimize flows of water, people, and daily experience;

•     document emerging visions for a re-shaped public realm

•     test and celebrate temporary demonstration projects at full-scale;

•     prepare and present synthesis proposals for long term change.

the steps

Local college students and community members will work together to prepare and deliver three public design workshops/bicycle festivals in January 2016. Connect the Dots partners will work to reveal, reimagine, and realize an integrated vision for Van Nuys Boulevard.

Residents will collaborate with design teams and bicycle advocates to integrate pedestrian and bike-friendly street features with best management practices for infiltration and capture of stormwater along street edges, bike lanes, medians, and adjacent open spaces. 

Arid Lands Institute designers will deliver data and design objectives of the workshops. Pacoima Beautiful will run focus groups and facilitate workshops. LA County Bicycle Coalition will serve as expert advocates for mobility and access.

Post-workshop, ALI will coordinate analysis and synthesis of community input and generate written and visual design and policy recommendations. Graduate teams will present draft presentations for review by partners and stakeholders before submitting final recommendations to the Great Streets Initiative in April.


why we're doing it

Los Angeles is in the process of making massive investments of capital, labor, and technology into its street infrastructure, shifting from a carbon-intensive, auto-centric 20th -century streetscape to a diversified, low-carbon public domain for the 21st century and beyond. Connect the Dots leverages that investment to support the city by simultaneously addressing unparalleled water challenges. How can we leverage street investments to diversify our water supply sources, shifting from dependence on expensive, dwindling, and carbon-intensive imports to local, carbon-free groundwater replenishment through stormwater capture? 

No street that ignores stormwater capture is truly a Great Street in a dry land. At the same time, blanketing the San Fernando Valley with generic ‘best practices’ may be well-intentioned, but will not attain optimal functioning of LA’s groundwater basins.  Due to differences in soils, land uses, and contamination levels, some places are better for infiltration than others. The data contained within ALI’s high-resolution hydrologic research is not generic: it is site-specific, accurate to 900 square feet.  It contains the particular hidden ‘rules’ for where to infiltrate and where not to infiltrate; a hidden ‘code’ specific to Van Nuys Boulevard (and every other street in the basin).  

A street that celebrates high-precision stormwater capture as a driver of great public space, cooler urban environments, safe bikeways and sidewalks is not only more pleasant, attractive, and economically viable—it will accelerate Los Angeles’s transition to water security and climate resilience. 

Connect the Dots supports the City of Los Angeles in reaching these goals by integrating stormwater capture with transit alternatives for a low-carbon future and a robust local economy. The Van Nuys community can take pride in piloting and leading this process designed to take root on streets across the city. 



RAISED = $13,192.00
less ioby Platform Fee (paid for by LA Great Streets) $35.00
less Payment Processing Fee of 3% (paid for by LA Great Streets) $383.21
TOTAL TO DISBURSE = $13,192.00


Guaranteed funding if awarded:   $10,000

Amount to fundraise on $15,000

Challenge grant match fund: $10,000

TOTAL: $35,000


Workshop Supplies $6,000

Staff Time                                                                                                                                                       

ALI: $13,000

Workshop development and promotion                                                            

Data collection, analysis, and synthesis                                                           

Reporting and Dissemination                                                                                         

Pacoima Beautiful: $5,000

Focus Groups,

Workshop Promotion,

Workshop Facilitation, 

LACBC  $2,500

Volunteer Recruitment

Community Engagement Outreach

Digital Content/Social Media Outreach $6,000

Permitting Fees (est?) $2,500

TOTAL: $35,000 

SUBTOTAL = $15,000
ioby Platform Fee (Paid for by LA Great Streets) $35
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee of 5%  $750
3rd Party Payment Processing Fee of 3% (Paid for by LA Great Streets) $450
TOTAL TO RAISE = $15,000



Community workshops for a water-smart future

<iframe src="" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href="">Woodbury University and Arid Lands Institute Present Connect The Dots</a> from <a href="">WoodburyU</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p> <p> -- Woodbury University&#039;s Arid Lands Institute presents &quot;Connect the Dots&quot; in Pacoima, California. This is the first installment of a series of public design and environmental art workshops bringing together communities, architecture students, and designers to envision a city as a culturally and environmentally resilient neighborhood embracing walkability, vibrant public space, and optimized stormwater capture and re-use as crucial to Los Angeles&rsquo; future.<br /> <br /> Connect the Dots helps neighborhoods build a healthy low-carbon, water-smart future through sound science, good policy, design excellence and citizen awareness. The initiative is led by Aja Bulla Richards of the Arid Lands Institute in partnership with Pacoima Beautiful and LA County Bicycle Coalition and had been selected by the L.A. Mayor&rsquo;s Office for its Great Streets Initiative.<br /> <br /> Connect the Dots Creative Director: Aja Bulla-Richards, MSArch Drylands Design 2015 | ALI | MLA 2013 UVA | MArch 2011<br /> Woodbury University, School of Architecture:<br /> The Arid Lands Institute, Divining LA:<br /> Support the &quot;Connect the Dots&quot; Crowdfunding Campaign:<br /> Pacoima Beautiful:<br /> <br /> Music: &quot;Like Swimming&quot; by Broke for Free. (CC-BY-NC)<br /> Video by Ian Besler | August, 2015</p>

Connect the Dots | Pacoima was a huge Success!

Thank you all who participated in our recent workshop in Pacoima!

It was the first small test, so much more to come in Van Nuys!

Aquifers & Infiltration Workshop with Pacoima Beautiful Youth Environmentalists

Infiltration Workshop with Pacoima Beatiful Youth Environmentalists


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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