CURes 2021 Year-In-Review

Happy New Years from the team at CURes! IN 2021, CURes reached new heights in our research, partnerships, and community involvement. To celebrate our milestones, we have compiled a list of the most noteworthy achievements from 2021.

Restorative Justice

Southern California Restorative Justice Consortium

The CURes “RJ Project” has helped expand the Southern California Restorative Justice Consortium, which launched in 2020 and meets quarterly, bringing together 63 member organizations within the region to collaborate on scholarship and lessons learned, and building efficacy by creating a strong network of Restorative Practices (RP) educators, advocates, and practitioners. The participating organizations are located in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.

Another goal of the consortium is to conduct research on RP education and implementation processes to establish and disseminate best practices from the region. The RJ Project research team administered an Empowerment Evaluation that proved to be a robust tool to examine barriers to implementation throughout Southern California and across multiple professional sectors. As each participating organization presented its own unique needs, the Empowerment Evaluation tool invited practitioners to tailor implementation programs and policies to meet their organizations’ particular goals. Empowerment Evaluation offered a framework and active process through which individuals and communities developed a greater sense of self-efficacy and shared power, while working toward social justice.

Click here to join the Consortium and to learn more about the Empowerment Evaluation, or email

RJ Practices Training and Implementation

The RJ Project has cultivated robust partnerships with the Loyola Marymount University Office of Student Conduct and Community Responsibility, the University of Southern California Chan Division of Occupational Therapy, Riverside Unified School District (RUSD), and Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) respectively. The partnership offerings include the administration of culture and climate surveys, training and coaching programs to develop curriculum, pedagogies, and resources, and the facilitation of restorative conferences to address incidents of harm. The aim is to build and develop stronger relationships amongst all educational institution stakeholders, which in turn positively impacts the academic learning environment. The RJ Project provides beginner and advanced level trainings along with skill-building sessions to equip educators and administrators with tools to facilitate regularly scheduled community building discussions to help develop and nurture relationships amongst their students, faculty, and staff. The trainings also offer structured ways for stakeholders to address conflict by holding community members accountable in their respective roles in an attempt to repair relationships. Special thanks goes to the Collins Foundation for supporting these efforts at Pasadena Unified School District.

Land Acknowledgement Statement

In November, CURes was integral in organizing LMU’s public Land Acknowledgement Statement ceremony, which officially recognized the Tongva Indians as the original owners of the land LMU resides on, as well as its spiritual significance. More information on the acknowledgement can be found on Loyola Marymount University’s Website at and on our recent blog post.

Research & Programs

Victor Elementary Gardening

CURes continued to partner with Victor Elementary in organizing the Victor Elementary School Garden Program in Torrance, California. Made possible through generous donations from Edison International, CURes and Victor Elementary created educational opportunities for students to learn about the urban ecology of the Ballona Wetlands, as well as piloted a new Urban Eco-Lab Garden Ecology curriculum for fifth graders at the school.

Culver City Coyotes

CURes continued to be at the forefront of coyote management programs, completing its third year of study within Culver City. Now that in-person classes have returned to campus, student researchers have been able to organize more scat collection and reinstate the backyard risk assessment surveys, which help residents determine if their yard is at high risk for drawing in coyotes. Click here to learn more and join the program or contact Dr. Melinda Weaver at

Biology 322 Class

Last Fall, CURes program manager Dr. Eric Strauss and researcher Lisa Fimiani took students from LMU’s Biology 322 class on several field trips. This group visited sites including the Ballona Wetlands, Bixby Marsh, Madrona Marsh, Annenberg PetSpace, and the West Basin Municipal District’s Water Recycling Center, where students learned about hydrology, ecology, and urban challenges in maintaining biodiversity. The students were thrilled to get out of the classroom and away from their computers to see in person how these organizations operate.


With support from the USDA Forest Service, CURes completed data analysis for the LA River Stewardship Mapping & Assessment Project (STEW-MAP), which provides detailed information on the geographical footprint and collaborative relationships of stewardship organizations working in the Los Angeles River watershed. Click here to view this information.

Urban Tree Canopy

In 2021, CURes, TreePeople, and the Gateway Cities Council of Governments partnered with the Southeast Los Angeles cities of Lynwood and Paramount to conduct tree canopy prioritization projects. Click here for more information about where urban tree canopy is found in LA.

Communications & Outreach

New CURes Video

Last spring, CURes intern Liam Chamberlain created a new video for our home page, which introduces our program leaders, highlights our on-going projects, and communicates the experiences of our interns. The video also speaks on our mission here at CURes, which is to empower communities to create resilient cities that support diverse ecosystems, as well as each other. This video can be accessed via YouTube by clicking here, or through the CURes home page on our website.

Hummingbird Book Tour

In partnership with Dan and Susan Gottlieb of the Gottlieb Native Garden, author Eric Strauss has given live presentations since the beginning of 2021 on the newly released book “Hummingbirds of the Gottlieb Native Garden.” Originally included in a five part series by G2 Books showcasing modern gardening, this book reveals interesting facts about the birds through photos by Dan Gottlieb and stories by Eric Strauss. All proceeds from the book go toward organizations dedicated to increasing biodiversity in local gardens. Click here to view more information about the Hummingbird Book Tour.

Virtual Hub

Last May, CURes launched its own virtual hub as part of the William H. Hannon Library Digital Commons Collection, giving easy public access to research reports, scholarship information, student theses, project updates, media produced by CURes, and more. Click here to explore the CURes digital commons.

Annenberg PetSpace

Last year, CURes partnered with the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace in conducting an assessment of animal service organizations in Los Angeles County, the findings of which will be released sometime in mid-2022.The Wallis Annenberg PetSpace is a communal space for facilitating adoptions and educating others about animals and animal care, as well as a place to foster new leaders and devote time to appreciating the mutually beneficial bond between people and their pets. Click here to view more information on their website.

New Funding

In 2021, CURes received new funding from Taft Gardens and Nature Preserve, as part of the Conservation Endowment Fund (CEF), to conduct research of flora and fauna of 264 acres located in the foothills of Ojai near Lake Casitas.  With maintained paths and seating areas, the 15 acres of curated gardens inspires visitors to learn about the majesty of nature and its complexities. 252 acres of the property is preserved Native California Open Space. CURes also was part of a team awarded funding from the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission (SMBRC) to conduct a project entitled “Collaborative Sandy Beach Monitoring and Assessment in Santa Monica Bay,” which will start in 2023. To learn more about these donors, check out the Taft Gardens website and the SMBRC website.

2021 CATE Journal Update

Cities and the Environment (CATE) is a web-based journal that provides an international forum for urban researchers and practitioners to explore ecological theory, share relevant data, and exchange best practices. Senior Editor and CURes’ Executive Director Dr. Eric Strauss alongside the editorial staff at CATE welcome submissions for review all year long, as well as ideas for themed editions and opportunities for co-sponsorship of urban ecology symposia. Click here for more information about CATE and to view the latest publications.

Ballona Discovery Park

New Monuments

In July, CURes joined the city of Playa Vista, the Friends of Ballona Wetlands, and Tribal Chairman Robert Dorame in inaugurating the Tongva Monument at the Ballona Discovery Park. CURes’ own Dr. Eric Strauss represented LMU at the intimate and heartfelt ceremony, helping strengthen the relationships between the city of Playa Vista and the Tongva community. Then in October, CURes partnered with the Friends of Ballona Wetlands to install the Founders’ Monument, a new bronze relief sculpture in the park commemorating the founders of the Friends of Ballona Wetlands, one of whom was Dr. Howard Towner, a Professor of Biology at LMU. The park and monuments are both currently open to the public. For more details, visit our Ballona Discovery Park webpage.

Bagels and Schmear Event

On November 6, 2021, the Friends of Ballona Wetlands and CURes staff joined California Fish and Wildlife representatives, in one of the first outside gathering events of the year, since COVID-19, in showcasing Ballona Discovery Park. Friends had games and activities for children, while CURes and CDFW had information about coyotes,  conducting informal presentations with members of the public who walked by. Sandra Kitashima, Director of Experience at the Campus at Playa Vista, hosted the event and provided the bagels and schmear, much to the delight of visitors to the Park.

Friends of Ballona Wetlands

CURes worked closely throughout the year with the Friends of Ballona Wetlands, the lead organization that offers Southern Californian communities the opportunity to participate in  restoration activities of coastal wetlands. LMU professors and CURes staff have partnered with the Friends for over 40 years  educating visitors and students on restorative practices and the history of the wetlands. The Friends of Ballona Wetlands have offered over 100,000 volunteers since founded, hands-on activities to restore 8 acres of Dunes habitat and coastal access along the Ballona Creek in the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. To learn more about the Friends of Ballona Wetlands, click here.

Great Horned Owls Successfully Fledge Two Owlets at LMU

The Pandemic didn’t deter a pair of Great Horned Owls from evicting some Common Ravens from a nest they had built on the scaffolding of the Featherston Life Sciences Building and successfully fledging two owlets – much to the delight of a few lucky folks on Campus in April and May who caught the action!

The old saying, “it takes a village”, applies here, because shortly after being spotted in their nest the two owlets came down on the stairs outside FLSB and a vegetated ledge on the northwest side of the building outside the courtyard. CURes staff asked Facilities Management and Public Safety to help secure the area on the stairs until the owlet was strong enough to fly off, and the other owlet joined it a few days later on the vegetated incline outside of FLSB. This process called “branching” is what the owlets do to strengthen their wings and get used to their surroundings as the parents continue to feed them. We are very grateful at CURes for the cooperation of Facilities Management, Public Safety, staff and students outside of FLSB for respecting the owlets need for space.

A pair of Great Horned Owls have been seen on the LMU campus for years, usually spotted in the pine trees outside the Chapel. While the location of their nest this year was somewhat unique, it has been assumed the pair were nesting nearby in tall trees around Campus, although most sightings were of the birds without babies, usually roosting in nearby trees or flying to the corner of a building.

The LMU Campus currently has 156 bird species identified and recorded in 367 checklists logged on the site called eBird. Anyone can log on and learn more about the birds of LMU, which is considered a hot spot. Needless to say, LMU is a very birdy, so enjoy the Bird Life when you are back on Campus!

Gardening Club

The Gardening Club, offered by Friends of Ballona Wetlands in partnership with CURes, gives volunteers the opportunity to learn about how to care for native plants in this demonstration garden, a project of LMU, the Friends, and the community of Playa Vista. Co-led by CURes’ own, Lisa Fimiani, volunteers of all ages have been coming out to get their hands dirty and help keep the Park looking good. To join the Gardening Club or learn more about the Friends of Ballona Wetlands, visit their webpage by clicking here.