Koreatown, where KIWA is based, is a very diverse neighborhood with many low-income residents that is also one of the most park poor urban neighborhoods in the nation. The working poverty rate in Koreatown is 17 percent, which is nearly triple that of LA County as a whole. With close to 50,000 people per square mile, there is not nearly enough green or open space to serve the community. Our two existing parks Seoul International Park and Shatto Recreation Center struggle to serve over 125,000 Koreatown residents. Lack of access to open space, urban parks, and recreation centers in low-income communities of color is a basic quality of life issue rooted in historic race and class inequity. As higher rates of density looms in Koreatown, our fight for the commons becomes more critical. As a result, children have no place to play nor do the elderly have access to healthy green environments to rest or walk. We do not believe this is an accident, we believe that low-income communities suffer disproportionate environmental impact from pollution and a lack of access to green space, which is why we believe green space advocacy is so important for our community. Our communities deserve green space where seniors can gather, children can play, and workers can rest!
Projects & Campaigns
KTown Farms seeks to address these conditions by creating green space and organic gardens throughout Koreatown. The project brings together KIWA’s members and broader community residents to design and create small sites for food production and recreation. Food grown on each site is shared with community members at and beyond the site—the process of creation and benefits of the gardens are thus collective. By increasing public access to green space, our project improves the health, sustainability, and community networks in Koreatown. Our goal is to create a “green corridor” that not only increases green space, but facilitates food sovereignty, and social ties across age, racial, ethnic, national, and linguistic lines among residents in Koreatown.
View a map of current Ktown Farms sites
Ktown Central Park
In 2011-12, KIWA led a campaign to bring a central park to Koreatown. KIWA campaigned with Koreatown community members including seniors, families with children, and workers. The state agency Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) agreed to invest $9.9 million into the purchase of the site at Wilshire and Hobart. Together with city officials, private investment, and the CRA, Koreatown was hopeful. Later in 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown dissolved CRA and the Koreatown Central Park went with it.
If interested in learning more, please read this report we contributed to Koreatown: Parks and Open Space.
In 2018, KIWA supported the fight for Liberty Park, a 2.5 acre green space on Wilshire Blvd, to become a historic-cultural monument thereby protecting it from development and making it accessible to the public forever.