Teenagers Take Urban Planning Classes With USC Price Students

“Greetings from East LA” reviews the area’s various modes of transportation, with help from high school students representing the East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy (ELARA) at Esteban Torres High School.

Third-year partnership involves the academy, USC Price School of Public Policy, and nonprofit social enterprise Public Matters, with partial funding from USC Learn to excel academically and professionally program.

Students set up models in USC Price’s Franklin Garden Plaza and presented maps highlighting East LA’s rich culture, taking viewers to several landmarks and showing the modes of transportation they used to get from place to place.

Professor David Sloane, left, discusses a neighborhood model made by ELARA Secondary students. (Photo/Deirdre Flanagan)

“I was really impressed with the conceptual strength of the tours,” said USC Professor Price David Sloan, the faculty member leading the collaboration. “They’re very cohesive, picking up core elements of East LA history and doing it in a way that makes sense.”

Three first-year Master of Planning (MPL) students from USC Price and one undergraduate student provided instruction and counseling to ELARA students through internships with Public Matters. ELARA is one of three high school programs in the country that focuses on urban planning and design.

“I have a lot of passion for community engagement and youth empowerment, so I felt the design of this program was a perfect fit with that,” said MPL student Kristian Castro. “I’m very interested in creating places and this idea of ​​how communities themselves can drive the vision of what they want to see. Especially working with high school kids, they will be the future generations of our cities, so I enjoyed helping them learn these concepts so they can mobilize change.

Urban planning course: tools for success

USC Price students helped provide the 11th grade class with tools to complete the asset mapping project by leading class sessions on the introduction, history, and future of transportation, as well as on the use of Google Maps.

USC Price Partnership with East LA High School

The partnership connected USC Price students from a variety of backgrounds with local high school students. (Photo/Deirdre Flanagan)

“It was my first time teaching a class of high school students,” said MPL student Tanya Shah. “They were passionate about the points and tours they were choosing, and we made it easier for them to understand how to work on their visualizations,” she said. “As an international student, it was a great way to learn about different parts of LA from the people who lived there.”

For MPL student Daniel Coronado, getting the internship was a personal experience as he grew up in East LA

“I felt it was the perfect way to give back to my community,” Coronado said. “I didn’t learn about planning until my third year of undergrad, so I think exposing planning to younger generations — especially people of color — is very important in the planning profession.”

Any questions, anyone? Teens had answers

In addition to designing and implementing the mapping tours, ELARA students have stood by their projects to answer questions from USC students, faculty, and staff about the value they place on the places they have chosen for their visits and their views on transportation options in the community. The week following their presentations in early April, the ELARA students made the same presentations to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

East Los Angeles High School Student Public Planning at USC

The students of the East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy discover the profession of urban planner. (USC Photo/Deirdre Flanagan)

“I hope everyone who’s been here has learned more about East Los Angeles and its uniqueness, how these places are a vital part of our community and our culture, and how which we are different from all other communities,” said ELARA student Jose Hernandez. “Working with USC Price and Public Matters has shown us that we have a choice about what happens in our community and that other people care about what happens in our community.”

John Sonego, Associate Dean for Development and External Relations at USC Price, introduced Christine Vasquez, the first ELARA student accepted to USC. Although she wasn’t in the class that participated in the “Greetings” program, Vasquez noted that she heard a lot about it from her classmates. Although she hasn’t made a final decision on where she will go to college, Vasquez, who was wearing a USC t-shirt, said she was excited about the possibility of majoring in urban planning. and public policy at USC Price.

“I think the most important thing is that she could imagine that she could come here,” Sloane said. “It’s the culture change, the change that we have to have. People who see USC as this kind of unimaginable place for them see it ventilated by programs like this.

Explore travel habits

USC Price students who completed a public affairs internship also conducted a survey of the transportation habits and perspectives of ELARA students, who kept a transit diary for a period of approximately one month. month. In response to their preferred mode of transport, 43.8% said the car, 40.6% walking and 15.6% the bus. Only 9.4% said they would use a bike share program that is currently being explored in the area.

“What the data shows us is that walking or taking a car is still the most dominant mode of transport for students – which was really surprising as many students thought more of them took the bus. than they actually did,” said Lilly Nie, a USC. Award student who presented the results of the study. “There’s a tradition of doing things unilaterally sometimes in planning, and what we’re doing here is trying to involve students directly in the process and bringing them into the conversation as they really didn’t know they could do it before.

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