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Community outreach and “booth-ing” at CicLAvia South LA


By Evelyn Moreno

The CicLAvia South LA event was beautiful and lively. It was definitely a perk to be next to the Jazz Park Hub listening to live jazz while we spread word of MetaConnects. We were happy to see people joining the event from cities like Panorama City, Pasadena, Echo Park, Downey, “The Valley”, and Santa Clarita. What excited us the most, however, was meeting and talking to local residents and community groups from South LA. This was an opportunity for the MetaConnects team to re-connect and form new connections with residents, community organizers, and practitioners who have been doing advocacy and social change work in South LA for a long time. We also hoped to extend our social media reach. In exchange for a free bike light, we asked people to follow us on twitter @MetaConnectsUSC, “Like” us on Facebook, or sign-up to our weekly e-newsletter. Of course, we gave out the bike lights more freely to little kids and residents who did not use social media.  







Our MetaConnects booth was part of the Mayor’s #techLA hub, located on S. Central Ave., a corridor designated as an “LA Great Street” by the Mayor’s LA Great Streets initiative. The #techLA hub introduced local residents to new technologies using demos by Two Bit Circus, txt technology, ESRI, etc. Our booth was next to ESRI, a mapping software company, who was running a South LA Treasure Hunt using the hashtag #LAGreatStreets, and then mapping it live at their booth. LA Great Streets also had a separate booth next to us where they hosted a popular education station asking residents to fill in the blank on “S. Central Ave is a Great Street Because…..........”. 



Local residents came out to see what was going on via bike or foot and visited the booths that lined Central Ave. Some residents that we talked to that live near Central Ave. and 43rd woke up and were surprised to see all of the activity, but I think it was a pleasant surprise for most like the one gentleman who ran into us on Central Ave while we were setting up and later came back with his whole family on their bikes and took advantage of the free bike repair shop a few booths from us. 


Why did people visit our booth?

1. Our bright red, reflective bike lights definitely drew some attention to our booth. The bike lights were custom made with “Research, Practice, and Social Change” and our website www.metaconnects.org printed on the front. 




2. People picked up our South LA maps and spent some time looking at it before asking us questions.



Here are the two maps you can download in case you missed out:  

Ride South LA; Watts Ride Map -- A Community made Watts Ride map, in partnership with TRUST SOUTH LA, Annenberg Innovation Lab, The Metamorphosis Project, Eastside Riders, CICLE, and CicLAvia

South LA Democratic Spaces Map -- A community organizer driven map that points out democratic spaces in South LA, also a good resource for residents who aren’t aware of these community orgs in South LA.


3. Our banner, also drew people in to our booth and was a conversation starter. 



Some conversations we had: 
--Pedro Barrera, was interested in our affiliation with USC because he helps run a community garden in Watts that has had USC student volunteers in the past. Now, he says, they are also interested in research and strategies that will help them conserve water while maintaining their garden and any new gardening techniques that will improve the growth of their crops. 
--One local resident was interested in hearing what we do as a community-based research team. She shared her thoughts about the need for research that leads to changes in the healthcare system in light of her personal experience with local doctors that bill her excessively without helping her with her actual medical issues. 
--One gentleman approached us with his young family, and upon learning we are from USC, asked if we knew of any resource that could help his daughter fill out college applications. I referred him to our South LA Democratic Spaces map as it details a number of community organizations that MetaConnects has worked with in the past and can be great resources to the residents. 


4. And other conversation starters... like this participant dressed up as Santa.




Did you have a booth at CicLAvia South LA? What was your booth-ing experience? Didn’t get a chance to connect with us? Just give us a call at 213-740-1260 or email me at evelynlmoreno@gmail.com  and we can chat over the phone or meet up for coffee. 

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