Greening the Little Saigon District Final Report

Year Complete: 2020
Grant Category: Green Stormwater Infrastructure
Grant Amount: $74,959
Local Government: City of Denver, CO
Local Foundation: The Colorado Health Foundation

Project Purpose

To maximize the benefits of a major green infrastructure investment by ensuring community-driven placemaking and traffic safety are core to design and result in long-term stewardship.

Key Lessons Learned

Lessons learned about tools and tactics that other sustainability directors could use to advance their work and develop collaborative relationships with a local place-based foundation.

The Greening Little Saigon District initiative offered several lessons learned for local sustainability directors seeking to advance their work and develop collaborative relationships with local place-based foundations.

  1. Empower city agencies and departments to carry forward the city’s sustainability goals. The Denver Sustainability Office’s framework for meeting sustainability goals was to appoint leads (Goal Captains) who take ownership over those goals, with groups or teams working as an extension of the Sustainability Office.  Denver’s Green Infrastructure team acted as the Goal Captain for Denver’s Sustainability Office Water Quality Goal, and successfully leveraged other resources and partnerships in pursuit of the goal. The Little Saigon initiative used green infrastructure and placemaking to bring together a diverse group of partners, ranging from state to local public sector, nonprofits, businesses groups, neighborhood groups, and many more to create a major transformation in an area and community vulnerable to Denver’s climate impacts of variable precipitation patterns and heat events.
  2. Seek opportunities to build on existing momentum and create a “snowball” effect.  By finding common threads among disparate projects focused on South Federal Boulevard, the Little Saigon initiative was able to bring partners together to take on even larger challenges than could be addressed by any individual group or project alone, and thereby achieve multiple community benefits simultaneously.
  3. Allow enough flexibility to accommodate partners with a variety of goals and priorities. Each partner came to the Little Saigon initiative with their own priorities ranging from preventing traffic fatalities to addressing public health inequities to preventing gentrification and displacement to mitigating the effects of climate change to increasing local park space. A willingness to incorporate all these perspectives into the overarching initiative and look for synergies among various projects was critical to success.
  4. Engage non-profit, community-based partners as key connectors to local foundations.  WalkDenver has been a grantee of the Colorado Health Foundation for several years, and through this relationship, WalkDenver was able to connect the Foundation with the Denver Sustainability Office in pursuit of common goals.
Additional Information and Resources

The City of Denver plans to continue coordinating closely with community groups to continue to implement the Greening Little Saigon District Initiative goals. Learn more about partnerships and continuing work in the Friends of Little Saigon Initiative.