Living Streets Alliance Makes Great Strides in Pedestrian Advocacy
Aug 22, 2013
by Lucy Wang
With the assist of a $15,000 Capacity Building Grant, the Living Streets Alliance has established themselves as Tuscon’s “go-to” advocacy organization for walkable and livable streets.
credit: Omer Kresno
In a successful multi-pronged campaign that started early last summer, LSA raised a stunning $91,000 to expand their organization and set a foundation for long-term growth. They’ve used their newfound visibility to form relationships with community leaders and organizations, reach out to high-profile politicians and begin outreach with underserved communities.
“It’s been a big year,” said Emily Yetman, LSA’s Executive Director. “One of the best parts of the grant was having the capacity to take advantage of the many great and unexpected opportunities that came out of our work.”
credit: Mandia Gonzales
Over the past year, LSA focused on three major campaigns: an ‘I Want to Walk!’ campaign that collected pledges of support for walking; a bond program to finance pedestrian improvements; and Cyclovia Tucson, a grassroots Open Streets effort that LSA took under their umbrella.
LSA’s enthusiasm, spirited outreach efforts and strong regional relationships contributed to these campaigns’ success.
“The most important thing for increased visibility is to come up with a really simple, relatable and clear message,” says Yetman. “Ours was that we are all pedestrians. Every trip begins and ends with walking.”
She also advised advocates to be proactive and start talking to as many people as possible.
“Make appointments with elected officials, reach out to public health groups—just get out there and explain how we all stand to benefit from the cause,” urged Yetman. “By reaching out to all walks of life—pun intended—and explaining to them why securing safe pedestrian infrastructure is so important makes a big difference.”
credit: Kathleen Dreier
Thanks to LSA’s hard work, the campaigns have made a big impact. The pledges collected from the ongoing ‘I Want to Walk’ campaign will be used as evidence of regional support for future walking projects. And by expanding their media coverage, LSA tripled attendance rates at Cyclovia Tucson.
Though the county’s bond election was unexpectedly postponed to the fall of 2014, a recent county survey showed that 40% of the region’s population prioritized pedestrian safety and walkability improvements, indicating their support for the funding of safe pedestrian projects.
“It’s been exciting,” says Yetman, who is now preparing to launch the Tucson’s first Walktober, a walking encouragement month that will be held every October. “Now our plan is to continue building on the momentum that’s been growing over the past year.”