We Heart L.A. Parks is a coloring and activity book for all ages by contributors of all ages—elementary-school kids to veteran artists—who, through their art and words, fill these pages with their deep love for the city of Los Angeles, with all its beauty and complexities, and the public parks and recreation areas we all treasure. From hiking trails and lakes, to playgrounds and historic architecture—We Heart L.A. Parks highlights the diversity of our city’s open spaces and how urban wildlife and humans can share these spaces and flourish. It is an artful guide to the city that reminds us how safe and accessible public parks strengthen communities.
We love our public parks, so much so that our first coloring and activity book was essentially a love letter to one: We Heart P-22, about L.A.’s most famous mountain lion and the beloved park he calls home, Griffith Park.
Of course we couldn’t stop with just one park, especially when public parks—open outdoor spaces that are free of charge to use—are so important to our health and well-being. But how would we choose which parks to include in a city that has hundreds? Well, we asked Angelenos to choose, to hear which parks matter most to different people.
So, in fall 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we posted an open call for artists to share which public parks within the city of Los Angeles they love and why, and to illustrate a special memory or a scene that embodies the spirit of the parks they chose. More than 40 local artists, ages 8 to 87, responded with works that capture a vast array of park experiences.
Each illustration is meant to act like an introduction to a new friend, a starting point from which to explore the city and its neighborhoods, including all the wonderful things you find there: landscapes, people, cultures, recreational activities, histories, and abundant urban wildlife.
There will be things you expect to see: playgrounds and basketball courts, picnics and bike riding. And hopefully there are scenes that bring back fond memories of your own, like musicians performing in a plaza, posters left behind after a march, families flying kites. For many, public parks are more than just places of recreation—they are places of necessity. Throughout L.A.’s history, people have exercised their right to peacefully assemble and protest at parks. Thousands of our unhoused neighbors seek safe shelter in parks. L.A. parks are also where Angelenos can receive free services, such as meals and after-school programs.
As you read and color We Heart L.A. Parks, you’ll learn some of the stories behind these parks and how everyday individuals—as well as many organizations and agencies—are working to preserve public parks, create more, and improve access to them. Our colorful fold-out map offers you a challenge to visit all 52 parks included in the book. (How many of those hearts can you color in?)
And at the end of this book is our L.A. Park Adventures board game, which will have you venturing to parks all over the city from the comfort of your home. We also included weekend public transit info to many of the parks, because we don’t want you home coloring all day—we want you to experience the parks firsthand too.
Make this book your own! Color in it (inside and outside the lines), of course, but also write in it like a journal where you record your own park adventures. Add to the illustrations (more trees, more animals) or draw yourself in the park. We invite you to create new stories and scenes and share them with us!
We can’t wait for you to visit these public parks through artists’ eyes and then in person.
Alfie Ebojo aka alfienumeric • Andrea Richards • Anna Magnuson • Anne Blecksmith • Audrey Becker • Britney Penouilh • Caitlin Howard • Charles Cisneros • Charlie Becker • Cody Cameron • Daniel Duffie • Dean Rullan aka redinkedpanda • Dennis Cooper • Dominie Apeles • Eliseo Art Silva • Frank Furlong • Gray Cheek • I-Ching Lao • Ivan Borodin • Jason Lockyer • Jennifer Cuellar • Jessica Hoffmann • John Son • Julia Bogany • Karen Lukesh • Kathryn Louyse • Kristy Sandoval • Leila Hamidi • Leticia Meza • LA Metro • Lucy Gonzalez • Maite Alday • Mandi Roberts • Margaret Gallagher • Max Alday • Miguel Ordeñana • Miles Castro • Miriam Blier • Octavio Perez • Oscar Rosales • Phoebe Cheek • Robin Murez • Siri Swanson • Sheryl Schroeder • Sophia Allison • Stacie Jaye • Sunny Samuel • Teena Apeles • Tracy Park • Valentina M. Quezada • Valeran Lothaniel • Zaiyde Cross
See some of them below!
The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust was founded in 2002 with the vision of parks and gardens within walking distance of every family in Los Angeles, regardless of zip code or income. Its mission is to contribute to the equity and well-being of our neighborhoods through the development of parks, gardens, and community-driven organizing. To address the critical lack of urban parks in Los Angeles’s underserved neighborhoods, they focus their efforts exclusively in communities of color that have little access to greenspace. They partner with communities to create and sustain parks and gardens critical to health, happiness and community well-being.
Since 2002, they have built 29 parks and gardens, added over 13 acres of accessible green space, and given over 400,000 Angelenos a park within a 10-minute walk of home. Health and justice is rooted in community parks and gardens.
Pick up a copy of the new We Heart L.A. Parks coloring book....a sweet tribute to L.A.'s open spaces." —Los Angeles Times
"To merely call We Heart L.A. Parks a coloring book doesn’t do it justice....the book is simultaneously personal and extensive, a comprehensive guide to what makes LA parks truly special." —Asian Journal
"[They] celebrate city parks in a very cool way. A uniquely fun and informative guide to the city's parks." —The Hidden History of Los Angeles
"Part travel guide, part collector’s item, and entirely fun." —Boulevard Sentinel
"Celebrate L.A. Parks! Check out this awesome coloring and activity book. Fun for all ages and provides info for public transit routes!" —Griffith Park News
"Takes the reader on a visual tour of various parks in Los Angeles....The history of the parks is exciting, rich, and diverse, which further helped to weave its tapestry of joy across the pages." —Mocking Owl Roost