Case Study


Inglewood, CA: Community Engagement Defines Community Needs



Only with direct participation by neighborhood residents can equitable and effective solutions to community issues be developed.

Assuring environment equity for underserved communities requires intensive engagement — and decision-making by residents themselves.

Inglewood, California



Metro: 27% White; 9% Black; 48% Latino; 15% Asian

City: 3% White; 44% Black; 51% Latino; 1% Asian

Below Poverty Line: 22% Individuals

Located in the Los Angeles Metro region, adjacent to LAX, Inglewood bears heavy environmental and social burdens while facing increasing redevelopment pressures. TreePeople and Social Justice Learning Institute worked with this communities to develop the Inglewood & Lennox Greening Plan in 2013-14 to plan for more equitable distribution of health, wellness, and community enjoyment benefits of green infrastructure as the area develops.

The planning process was designed to leverage local stakeholders’ knowledge and experience in order to find community-appropriate solutions. The community priorities that emerged from the planning process included: urban greening, food and agriculture, water, air quality, transportation, energy, land use, and community engagement.

“The Council practice method allowed us to feel empowered. We could see where our ideas might take the plan and every voice was heard, even that of my then 13-year-old grandson! I have participated in other ‘community-based’ programs, but this one had an honest feel to it. We were the ones creating the plan; the facilitators were simply helping us to voice our ideas and eventually present them.”
Irene Cowley, community member

Trees emerged as a popular strategy for addressing priority issues. Using iTree Canopy, the group determined that the area had about an 18% canopy cover, and set a goal of 25% within five years with increased efforts to coordinate planting and maintenance with community. The process was designed to minimize “experts” talking at the group and maximize hearing the participants’ true wants and needs for their community.

  • State of California


  • Deep engagement with community from the outset
  • Community-led implementation strategies
  • Designed to leverage local stakeholders’ knowledge and experience in order to find community-appropriate solutions
  • The residents of Inglewood-Lennox
  • Tree People
  • SWA Group [design and planning]
  • Social Justice Learning Institute
  • Healthy and Sustainable Inglewood Collaborative [a health-oriented collective]
Lessons Learned
  • Begin and end with robust community engagement
  • Listening to community wants and needs assures successful implementation
  • Seeds stakeholder commitment to maintain and expand green assets
Related Resources