Better Watts Initiative

Better is just the beginning.

Better Watts Initiative wants to spread our message of better health and compassion. We believe that a single action can make a difference in the community, and that collective action can greatly impact the world. By addressing the wrongs that have been afflicted on our community we can begin true healing.

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Who We Are

A cohort of local nonprofits, activists, artists, medical institutions, and academic representatives working to address the health and environmental justice challenges that plague the historic community of Watts in South Central Los Angeles.

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Better Watts Initiative is achieving more with our initiatives than ever before. We work on many exciting projects to help improve the lives of others, and are very proud of the progress we continue to make. Learn more about what we do, who we help, and how we work every day to promote positive change.


The Dark Waters Project

BWI researchers recently identified toxic levels of lead in the tap water servicing homes in a pilot study. 

Given the large body of evidence connecting childhood lead exposure to physiological, cognitive, behavioral deficiencies and shortened life span, this is a major concern. BWI aims to conduct a robust community assessment by collecting urine and water samples both measuring the presence of heavy metals. We have identified that measuring bodily fluids is the best way to get a snapshot of how kids are metabolizing their environments. 

Gaining this irrefutable evidence is crucial for advocating for legislation that will replace lead pipes in Watts.

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Watts is 1 of 5 neighborhoods in LA City Council District 15 and has little in common with the demographics of the other four neighborhoods. Watts is unnaturally connected to CD 15, and political gerrymandering has excluded the community from political input.

Residents' needs are not prioritized by their elected officials that live 15 miles away in the Harbor. Redistricting Watts to be a part of CD 9 will remove it from a district where it is the unheard minority to a district that reflects its socio-economic needs. BWI's goal is to advocate for redistricting because environmental justice action cannot be advanced if the community's requests for political action continue to go unheard.


Watts Station

The Watts Station project threatens to eliminate evidence of the rich historic and cultural experience of Watts and needs to be halted. This project threatens to develop new housing on top of an important historic landmark known as the Cultural Crescent. As of June 2020, BWIs researchers identified heavy metals in the soils. If this project progresses, it will expose new and present occupants to hazardous materials, increase population density, and decrease greenspace. 

The World Health Organization recommends that every person should have access to at least 96 sq ft. of greenspace within 1/2 a mile of their home. Watts residents currently have 11 sq ft. of greenspace available to them.
This project was unethically approved without the consent of the neighborhood and a holistic environmental impact assessment. BWI aims to continue testing at the site and work with other community groups to halt the project.


Soil Remediation

As of June 2020, BWI researchers measured hazardous levels of lead in the soil near homes in Watts. BWI is working with the Department of Toxic Substances Control to bring transparency to soil testing methods.

Our goal is to rebuild trust between community members and state agencies that are responsible for the health and well-being of residents. We are also identifying projects and funding that can foster solutions for heavy metal contamination in Watts.


"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together"

Tim Watkins

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