How can we make Los Angeles families fall in love with our ocean?

How can we make Los Angeles families fall in love with our ocean?

By   |  Nov. 9, 2020

This is an edited blog post submitted as part of the Pando Days wrap-up from California State University at Long Beach. We asked the Cal State LB team to reflect on their Pando Days experience and let us know what’s happened since the July Finale. 

We Are The Sea is The Cal State Long Beach Immersive Design Research Lab’s project to engage Los Angeles as an urban ocean city—by making ocean stewardship a family affair.

The question we’re addressing is important and multidimensional: “How can we make families see the ocean as a place where you protect what you love, and find joy and magic in the power of the sea?”

We Are The Sea engages and invites families through a people-powered and people-empowered welcome: a bike path that rings the city.

The path begins in some of the County’s most diverse neighborhoods, where kids and their families will learn as they ride along two rivers. They’ll engage as they play in the bay, splash in the ocean, build on the beaches, sail at the marina, explore in the aquarium, and discover in the wetlands.

More importantly, they’ll make memories that last a lifetime.

Since we presented We Are The Sea at the premiere Pando event, we’ve both received wonderful feedback and expanded our project network.

Our project is quite complex and has many moving parts – therefore requiring many engaged stakeholders. The work we prepared throughout the Pando accelerator process has become the basis for new proposals for funding. The project hasn’t changed; we put it through our human-experience process which is designed for resilience in times of change.

We have been developing important relationships with city agencies, local stakeholders, and the Port of Long Beach as we plan our events and apply for a state grant.

We learned that a process that brings people together to co-create is a slow—but resilient—path to make lasting change for Los Angeles.

Our biggest challenges are working with an all-volunteer, unpaid group with external obligations. It requires a lot of time and leadership.

But fortunately, the best part of the experience was to become part of a dedicated community that reaches across the county.

We’ll have a larger outreach as we get closer to the pilot. As a project with both hands-on and virtual experiences, we’re building a diverse group of collaborators.

If people would like to get involved, they can reach me at

My sincerest thanks to Pando. Without the support of the organization, this project would not have grown to the point it has reached today.

Heather Barker is Associate Professor of Design and Coordinator of the Immersive Design Research Lab at California State University at Long Beach.