Jose Guadalupe Gutierrez
Jose Guadalupe Gutierrez is currently a Master’s in Landscape Architecture student at Cal Poly Pomona. At a young age Jose developed a passion for greenspace from spending summers in his family’s pueblo, Valle de Guadalupe, Jalisco. In Mexico, kids play on the street without worry, families gather after dinner on the sidewalk to sit and chat with neighbors, and towns are surrounded by lush, open pastures. Jose always struggled coming back to his native Los Angeles, where he had to play by the train tracks near his home because parks and open spaces were too scarce, too far, or too dangerous to visit. This reality led Jose to his current role as a Community Organizer at the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, a nonprofit that fights greenspace disparities by building parks and community gardens in working communities of color. At the Neighborhood Land Trust, Jose oversees the organization’s existing gardens and leads the community design process for new greenspace projects. As an organizer, Jose also led the organization in its efforts to transform greenspace funding policy at the city, county, and state levels to ensure funds reach Los Angeles neighborhoods with the most serious greenspace disparities. In 2016 the Neighborhood Land Trust successfully mobilized more than five hundred Los Angeles residents to reform the city’s outdated Quimby ordinance, which allows the city to collect development fees for parks. The Neighborhood Land Trust’s efforts led to an updated fees system and an extension of the radius of where they could be used so that funding can reach greenspace-poor, working communities of color. That same year the organization spearheaded a successful campaign to pass Measure A, Los Angeles County’s own park funding measure, and in 2018 organized Los Angeles residents to support the passing of Proposition 68, which will fund stormwater management and greenspace projects across the State of California. Through his garden organizing work, Jose developed an interest in transforming vacant lots into gardens, and in designing unique community garden models that both improve the quality of life of working communities of color and encourage neighborhood stewardship. His current research looks at creating a comprehensive roadmap for transforming freeway-adjacent vacant lots into greenspaces. Jose’s goal for the research is for it to help inform park agencies and community-based organizations in Los Angeles and other parts of the country who are looking to address greenspace disparities. Jose currently serves on the board of the Los Angeles Community Garden Council, a nonprofit that supports 40+ community gardens across the county. As a board member Jose supports the Garden Council’s initiatives by offering his experience in garden management, leadership development, fundraising, and communications. As a future landscape architect, Jose is excited to be part of the leadership in the fight for greenspace equity in Los Angeles, and to continue to build quality parks and gardens in working communities of color so that everyone, regardless of race or upbringing, can live within walking distance of a greenspace.