Metro planner enters Pepsi contest to fund nationwide interactive planning workshop

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James Rojas has worked as a Transportation Planner for Metro since 1997 and has been active in the Los Angeles community for many years — using his urban planning knowledge to empower and educate disadvantaged communities. He’s known for having started the LAtino Urban Forum, a non-profit group  dedicated to informing and engaging people in the urban planning process.

One of James’ s most innovative and successful community engagement projects is a planning game he calls “Place it” that uses recycled materials (such as Lego blocks and other similar pieces) as interactive building blocks to create a model urban community. Members of the community can rearrange the models as they please to better describe their preferences and have a fuller understanding of the planning process.

The “Place it” workshops have been successful in Los Angeles and James is looking to expand the project to other communities. Enter Pepsi’s Refresh Project, an initiative by the beverage company to make a positive impact on local communities. James has requested a $25,000 grant to expand the “Place it” workshops throughout Los Angeles and take it nationwide as well.

So how can you help James take his Metro-honed planning ideas to the rest of the U.S.? Vote! Currently the project ranks 43rd on the Pepsi site. The top 10 projects receive funding. As James notes, there are many other great projects in the running, but his is the only one that has to do with urban planning — something essential for every community.

To learn more about the project and to vote, check out James’s page on the Pepsi Refresh Site. Voting ends February 28th.

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