Angelenos participate in Jefferson beautification

Community members gathered on Jefferson Boulevard in between Vermont Avenue and Normandie Avenue Saturday morning for Make Jefferson Beautiful, an event jointly sponsored by the Redeemer Community Partnership and Koreatown Youth and Community Center.

In operation for several years now, Redeemer Community Partnership and KYCC put on two tree-planting events per month to service the northern and southern Los Angeles areas with the goal of promoting sustainability. Saturday’s planting event was part of efforts to make Jefferson Boulevard more attractive to pedestrians, bike riders and businesses. While the event was open to all members of Los Angeles, most of the volunteers came from the immediate area, wanting to participate in the beautification of their own neighborhood.

“I used to live around the corner,” volunteer Marvin Aragon said. “That’s how I got involved. I have two boys, a 7-year-old and a 13-year-old, and bringing them here is an encouragement to give back to the community. On a big street like this there aren’t many trees. People walk from school and walk from work or the bus stop. Now they’ll have shade. That was the biggest encouragement for me to come out here in the early morning.”

Most volunteers chose to sign up for the satisfaction and gratitude they got from the surrounding community once the job is done.

“Whenever there are events in the community I am down to support that,” volunteer Tony Casado said. “The comments, even as we’re working, of the community members walking by saying that we’re doing good work makes you feel really good.”

Following a quick explanation of proper tree planting and a demonstration using the correct tools and techniques, the volunteers split up into four smaller groups, each group given the responsibility of planting three or four trees during the three-hour volunteer period. The planting spanned both sides and two blocks of Jefferson Boulevard. With a grand total of about 16 trees planted on Saturday morning, the event exactly doubled the original number of trees.

Planting is merely the first step in the long beautification process taking place on Jefferson Boulevard. Community members involved in the tree-planting days are encouraged to return for scheduled maintenance of the planted trees.

“Most of the time, when we plant the trees with the community, we do upkeep with those exact members of the community,” Jerry Velasquez, KYCC tree planting crew chief, said. “We let them know that in two months we are going to have a maintenance day to service the trees, prune anything that needs to be pruned and fix the stakes. If the trees aren’t growing straight, we are there to figure out why that is.”

Initiatives to further beautify and maintain Jefferson will continue throughout 2016 through more community volunteer events and immersion programs with the population of the greater Los Angeles area.

“We are actually trying to partner with USC through the USC Good Neighbors Program,” Niki Wong, the coordinator for Saturday’s event, said. “This would allow us to beautify Jefferson Boulevard even more. Before today’s planting there are 16 or 17 trees on this street, but through this partnership, we would be able to plant even more than we already are today.”

Furthermore, Redeemer Community Partnership will be sponsoring an informational session and public conversation concerning their partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Public Transportation.

“There are actually bike lanes already drawn onto the street,” Wong said. “They haven’t been paved yet, so we are having this meeting on March 5 to beautify Jefferson Boulevard even more by adding those bike lanes, curb extensions and corridor to make it a safer place to be and work.”