After Occupy LA protestors were removed from the premises last year, the landscape at Los Angeles City Hall was quite altered—the grass was dead in large patches and parts of the landscape had been uprooted. The city knew they needed to start from scratch, but instead of doing the same old thing, they decided to look into installing a landscape that would conserve water, one of L.A.’s most precious resources.
That’s where Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden came in. The 2011 Social Innovation Fast Pitch finalist organization offers a diverse set of programs, from educational tours for elementary school classes to employment programs for military veterans readjusting to civilian life. But as a garden specializing in California native plants, water conservation is something they spend a lot of time thinking about. “Native plants use 2/3 less water,” says Executive Director Patrick Larkin.
Ellen Sloan, an LASVP Partner and one of Patrick’s Fast Pitch coaches, heard about the opportunity at City Hall and helped connect Patrick with people she knew at the city. With the help of these connections, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens became involved as advisors for the City Hall landscape work. “By integrating native plants into your yard, you save water and money,” says Patrick. The current options being proposed for City Hall all include integrating native plants, the frontrunner being to incorporate more drought-tolerant and California native plants into the north and south lawns while maintaining a smaller grass lawn for public events. (You can voice your support for a water-conserving landscape here.)
If you want to help your favorite nonprofit start making connections that will help them put their mission into action, encourage them to apply to this year’s Fast Pitch! Applications will be accepted until July 16. “The Fast Pitch was great,” says Patrick. “It helped us make connections in the community…and challenged me in ways I hadn’t been challenged before.”