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Winners of Great Streets grants want LA to party in the streets

Promotional image for the winning "Fig Jam" event on North Figueroa Street in Highland Park.
Promotional image for the winning "Fig Jam" event on North Figueroa Street in Highland Park.

After seeing years of success at CicLAvia events, which germinated outside of city hall, the City of Los Angeles is providing seed money for other community events that bar cars and encourage people to hang out and have fun on city streets.

It's part of the Great Streets initiative, created by Mayor Eric Garcetti to re-imagine city arteries as more than thoroughfares of travel but rather as destinations unto themselves.

Eight proposals were awarded grants of $10,000 each. They'll have to crowd-fund the rest of the budgets through a site called Ioby, with the city matching each dollar raised up to an additional $10,000.

“I launched the Great Streets Initiative to activate public spaces, provide economic revitalization, increase public safety, enhance local culture, and support great neighborhoods,” Garcetti said in a press release. “I’m excited to see how these projects will enhance our effort to create vibrant places where Angelenos can come together as communities.”

The winners include proposals to create a weekend street party highlighting the history of North Figueroa Street in Highland Park, an interactive music celebration on Crenshaw Boulevard in South L.A. and an event to educate the community about rainwater capture on Van Nuys Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.

These quick, inexpensive and temporary transformations of city streets into recreation spaces is part of a growing movement known as "tactical urbanism."

"This allows local organizations an opportunity to show their communities what is possible," said Juan Matute, the Associate Director for the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies. "That can catalyze change in what we expect from our streets."

The eight projects are currently fundraising on Ioby. They're expected to get off the ground between September and February of next year.