Steve Cancian

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Steve Rasmussen Cancian leads Shared Spaces, a community-based participatory landscape architecture firm working in Los Angeles, the Bay Area and California’s National Parks. Shared Spaces combines community organizing, facilitation and landscape design to enable residents and stakeholders to participate in every step of creating their own landscapes, making them “co-designers” and “co-owners” prepared to steward their landscape into the future. The firm works only on public and non-profit projects, focusing primarily on projects in park-poor low-income communities. The firm works in Spanish and English and has decades of experience in African-American, Latino, Asian-American and multi-cultural communities.

Steve Cancian was a community organizer for 13 year, before becoming a participatory designer. He organized grassroots electoral campaigns from Manhattan to Los Angeles, including serving as Jesse Jackson's 1988 New Hampshire Campaign Manager. He helped low-income residents build over 100 multi-cultural, multi-lingual tenant and community organizations in Southern California. Often working in Spanish, Steve became expert at recruiting and developing community leaders, building multi-cultural leadership teams and creating accessible participatory processes. He became a nationally recognized organizing and facilitation trainer. As more and more organizing efforts focused on who controlled and designed space, Steve recognized landscape architecture as an accessible set of tools residents could use to create beautiful places that would nurture their families and communities.

Since 2003, Steve has built Shared Spaces as a firm focused on the participatory design of parks and open space for underserved communities and public environmental learning centers. He has facilitated over 200 design workshops ranging from outdoor meetings in alleys in East LA to a 26 session, 5 year processes in Yosemite National Park. He regularly conducts workshops simultaneously in Spanish and English and is acutely aware of the need to facilitate directly in each participant’s primary language. In each project, Steve seeks to engage the full diversity of users in creating their own environment from the site selection through long term stewardship, so that the place they make truly reflects their personality and culture and deeply serves their needs as they develop overtime.[1]


Steve Cancian received his MLA from University of California, Berkeley, graduating with the ASLA Honor Award and a National ASLA Award of Merit for his masters thesis. His team won the Gold Metal and ASLA Award at the 2003 San Francisco Garden Show. As a graduate student and for three years after graduation, Steve was a Switzer Fellow, a national scholarship supporting the application of science (and design) to critical environmental issues. Steve taught the Graduate Thesis Seminar in the UC Berkeley Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design in 2007, 2008 and 2010.[2]


Steve Cancian - Jackson campaign leader New Hampshire.[3]

New Party builder

New Party News Fall 1994 listed over 100 New Party activists-"some of the community leaders, organizers, retirees,, scholars, artists, parents, students, doctors, writers and other activists who are building the NP" the list included Steve Cancian, Coalition for Economic Survival.

Socialists organize to "challenge for power" in Los Angeles

Trevor email 1 (3).jpg

On March 11, 1998, Los Angeles Democratic Socialists of America leader Steve Tarzynski wrote an email to another Los Angeles DSA leader Harold Meyerson.

Tarzynski listed 25 people he thought should be on an "A-list" of "25 or so leaders/activists/intellectuals and/or "eminent persons" who would gather periodically to theorize/strategize about how to rebuild a progressive movement in our metropolitan area that could challenge for power."

Tarzynski listed himself, Harold Meyerson, Karen Bass, Sylvia Castillo, Gary Phillips, Joe Hicks, Richard Rothstein, Steve Cancian, Larry Frank, Torie Osborn, Rudy Acuna, Aris Anagnos, Abby Arnold, Carl Boggs, Blase Bonpane, Rick Brown, Stanley Sheinbaum, Alice Callahan, Jim Conn, Peter Dreier, Maria Elena Durazo, Miguel Contreras, Mike Davis, Bill Gallegos, Bob Gottlieb, Kent Wong, Russell Jacoby, Bong Hwan Kim, Paula Litt (and Barry Litt, with a question mark), Peter Olney, Derek Shearer, Clancy Sigal and Anthony Thigpenn.

Included in a suggested elected officials sub-group were Mark Ridley-Thomas, Gloria Romero, Jackie Goldberg, Gil Cedillo, Tom Hayden, Antonio Villaraigosa, Paul Rosenstein and Congressmen Xavier Becerra, Henry Waxman and Maxine Waters.

Tarzynski went on to write "I think we should limit the group to 25 max, otherwise group dynamics begins to break down....As i said, I would like this to take place in a nice place with good food and should properly be an all day event."


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  3. [Mother Jones, Feb/March 1989 page 12]