South LA Democratic Space: 24th Street Theatre

Jay McAdams, Executive Director of 24th Street Theatre.

What began simply as a place for the production of plays has developed into a unique and important community institution. The 24th Street Theatre offers high-quality professional theatre for all ages, showcases the works of local artists, operates arts education programs with neighborhood youth, and is an innovator in Spanish-language shows and events.

Built in the 1920s as a Carriage House, the big green doors of the 24th Street Theatre are always wide open, inviting members of the neighborhood to stop in, to be entertained, and to participate as members of a dynamic artistic community.

Jay, who has worked in South LA for 15 years, recounted how he and his colleagues “didn’t choose 24th Street Theatre to be a democratic space, it chose to be a democratic space. The neighborhood dictated what 24th Street Theatre became. Once we set up camp here, we realized we could not just do art for art’s sake, but had to respond to what the environment needed of our art and space.”

Originalmente construido en los 1920s como una casa de transporte, las puertas verdes de 24th Street Theater siempre están abiertas, invitando a miembros de la comunidad a visitar, ser entretenidos y participar en la programación de actividades artísticas.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: Peace Over Violence

Trina Greene, Program Manager of Peace Over Violence

POV enacts their organizational mission to build communities free from violence by working in underserved areas and partnering with agencies like the LA Child Guidance Clinic and the YMCA to host free, hands-on youth leadership and development workshops for at-risk youth.

More than a mobile provider, POV is the lead convener of social and political activity for the Building Healthy Communities South LA Youth Action Council that is comprised of 15 future leaders.

Trina, who is a resident and has worked in South LA for 14 years, believes “a democratic space isn’t a physical location, but a locus of collective being. The South LA Youth Action Council does not only meet at a collection of places in South LA, but is a collective sense of being. The youth come together to work with adult allies to share their voices and opinions to create social change and improve the health of South LA.”

Peace Over Violence trabaja en áreas marginadas para construir comunidades libres de violencia. También colabora con agencias como el YMCA para organizar talleres de liderazgo y desarrollo para jóvenes en riesgo.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: CD Tech

Benjamin Torres, President and CEO of CDTech.

Founded in 1995, Community Development Technologies Center is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting economic opportunities and justice for low-income residents and communities throughout Greater Los Angeles.

CDTech innovative programs throughout the years include the creation of the nation’s first employer-based Individual Development Account (IDA) program, a degree program in mortgage lending, co-developed the first community organizing academy that provides community college credits in the state of CA, and created the nation’s first community college degree and skills program in community development and planning that they teach at LA Trade Tech Community College in South LA.

Benjamin, who has worked in South LA for 15 years, sees CD Tech’s work within LATTC “because LA Trade Tech college is underutilized and that’s why we have chosen to have our community planning program strategically be here. We wanted to create access for the local residents so that they can engage in education and training around concepts of civic engagement, community transformation, skill-building, and community development.”

Establecido en 1995, CD Tech es una organización reconocida a nivel nacional que se dedica a la promoción de oportunidades económicas y la justicia para residentes de bajos ingresos en comunidades de todo Los Ángeles. Sus programas incluyen una academia de organización comunitaria que ofrece créditos de colegio comunitario.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: T.R.U.S.T. South LA

Tafarai Bayne, Community Affairs Manager of T.R.U.S.T. South LA.

T.R.U.S.T. (Tenemos Que Reclamar Y Unidos Salvar La Tierra) South LA is a Community Land Trust established in November 2005 as a democratic and permanent steward of land, to challenge the role that speculators, absentee owners and corporations have played in deciding the neighborhoods’ future. Its members are restricted to low-income residents of the land trust area.

Part of their land trust work involves healthy activity and alternative transit promotion through South LA exploratory bicycle rides, mobile mapping of the area, and an active partnership with CicLAvia by spearheading the South LA Hub that reimagines how the streets in South LA can be more open healthy, active, and safe for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Tafarai who has worked in South LA for 12 years choose the streets as his democratic space “because I feel like there is untapped potential in the streets when you think about democracy. When you look at the streets you see all this interaction between people and the streets themselves connect so many communities. In this CicLAvia event, and particularly the South LA hub, we decided to reframe the streets and reframe how democracy can be brought into the streets in a new way for bicycles and pedestrians.”

T.R.U.S.T. (Tenemos Que Reclamar Y Unidos Salvar La Tierra) South LA fue establecido en 2005 como un delegado de la tierra para cuestionar el rol de los especuladores y las corporaciones en decidir el futuro de las comunidades. Sus proyectos incluyen paseos en bicicleta para explorar y re-imaginar las calles en el Sur de Los Ángeles.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: Los Angeles Black Worker Center

Pearl Loehnig, Community Organizer of Los Angeles Black Worker Center.

Through the processes of coalition-building, research, advocacy, education and training, the LA Black Worker Center works to advance economic justice for African American workers, their families and their communities in the city of Los Angeles.

The organization works out of the Paul Robeson Community Center, an historic South LA building that now hosts any number of meetings, workshops and other conversations that support African American workers and promote fairness and opportunity in the labor sector.

Pearl, who has worked in South LA for five years, chose the Paul Robeson Community Center, “because it’s a space that has a lot of history connected to not only the labor movement around unionization, but also connects back to worker’s rights and really connects to creating an equitable environment to address the multi-fold crisis that we see in the Black community, as well as the Latino community.”

A través de los procesos de formación de coaliciones, investigación, educación y entrenamiento, el LA Black Worker Center promueve la justicia económica para trabajadores Afroamericanos y sus familias. La organización trabaja desde el Paul Robeson Community Center, un edificio histórico en el Sur de Los Angeles.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: The Trust for Public Land

Tori Kjer and Ronald “Kartoon” Antwine, Project Manager/ Community Organize for The Trust for Public Land

The Monitor Avenue Park project was spearheaded by Kartoon and other dedicated community members from Watts who simply demanded a fresh, simple, beautiful, and open green space for their community.

Originally owned by Union Pacific Railroad, and subsequently a private developer, the site was considered a “blighted” area by the community. But one acre of vacant blight, combined with the desperate need for new parks in Watts became the catalyst for a community-wide movement to reclaim the space.

The Trust for Public Land has been working in partnership with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and the local community since summer 2009. Tori Kjer, an LA-based program manager with The Trust for Public Land describes the future Monitor Avenue Park as “a lot, vacant for many decades, that was hand-picked by the community as the site of their new park.” The Trust for Public Land has worked closely with the community to develop a design for their park, and completed the purchase of the land in August 2011.

Gracias al apoyo de la comunidad de Watts, el parque de Monitor Avenue es un ejemplo de cómo convertir un espacio agotado a un espacio inspirador. Este terreno era un lote vacío que fue seleccionado por la comunidad como el sitio de su parque nuevo.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: SCOPE

Manuel Hernandez, Lead Organizer of SCOPE.

Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education builds grassroots power to eliminate the structural barriers to social and economic opportunities for poor and disenfranchised communities through community organizing, leadership development, strategic alliance building, research, training and capacity building, and policy advocacy at the local, state and national levels.

SCOPE’s leadership development includes their organizing team working with local youth from local schools such as the William and Carol Ouchi independent charter high school.

Manuel who has worked in South LA for 14 years choose Ouchi high school as a democratic space “because some of our younger members of SCOPE attend this school and they have been really instrumental in participating in the organization, membership meetings, and overall a pleasure to have at SCOPE. I believe that education is key in anything that we do in our everyday lives and if our community is informed about the issues that affect them, it’s key to making a difference.”

SCOPE fortalece el poder comunitario que elimina las barreras estructurales para oportunidades sociales y económicas a través de la organización comunitaria, el desarrollo de liderazgo, y la creación de capacidad. Su equipo trabaja con escuelas locales como la escuela independiente William y Carol Ouchi.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: The Children’s Nature Institute

Kelly Decker, Executive Director of The Children’s Nature Institute.

The Children’s Nature Institute (CNI) works to inspire the minds of children through nature. Children in LA may grow up near the ocean, but never touch a marine creature. At the marine touch tank inside CNI’s home at the Magnolia Place Family Center, Kelly Decker shows how the tank anchors a democratic space by tapping into the “visceral curiosity of children… coming from uncertainty into love.”

Democratic spaces to Kelly emphasize equality. Here in LA, CNI is offering urban children more equal access to nature, providing a launch pad to ownership and sharing the knowledge that the planet belongs to everyone one of us.

Kelly who has worked in South LA for 12 years describes how “we at CNI believe it’s important to include the ocean world in your life as an everyday urban resident. We want this to be an everyday experience, because it’s important to share with our families in South LA and we want to find out how this democratic space which belongs to the community works in relationship to families and children who find it interesting to them.”

Children’s Nature Institute se dedica a inspirar las mentes de los niños a través de la naturaleza. CNI le ofrece a los niños de Los Ángeles más acceso a la naturaleza con su tanque marino dentro del Magnolia Place Family Center, compartiendo el mensaje que el planeta nos pertenece a todos nosotros.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: Community Coalition

Aurea Montes-Rodriguez, Vice President for Organizational Growth of Community Coalition.

Community Coalition works to help transform the social and economic conditions in South LA that foster addiction, crime, violence and poverty by building a community institution that involves thousands in creating, influencing and changing public policy.

U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass founded Community Coalition as a non-profit organization in 1990 in response to the 1980’s crack cocaine epidemic that devastated South LA. Community Coalition works with African American and Latino residents to build a prosperous and healthy South LA through campaigns that create safe neighborhoods, quality schools, a strong social safety net and positive economic development in order to reduce crime, poverty and substance abuse in the community.

Aurea, who has worked in South LA for 20 years, chose CoCo as a democratic space “because I came here in 1997 and for the first time I was exposed to community organizing. I haven’t left because the founders had a vision that CoCo could serve as a vehicle for everyday residents so they could come together and talk about the most pressing issues in this community and develop their own proposals to address those conditions through action campaigns that result in concrete public policies or tangible changes.”

Community Coalition se dedica a cambiar las condiciones sociales y económicas que dan lugar a la adicción, crimen, violencia y la pobreza en el Sur de Los Ángeles. La organización trabaja con residentes Afroamericanos y Latinos para crear comunidades seguras, escuelas de calidad, y el desarrollo económico.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: Community Services Unlimited, Inc.

Neelam Sharma, Executive Director of Community Services Unlimited, Inc.

Community Services Unlimited’s mission is to “Serve the people, body and soul,” and their vision is a sustainable food system, constructed from the ground up in South Central LA, that trains local youth, creates real jobs, and builds the local economy.

Earth Day South LA – held at the Normandie Avenue Elementary School – is one of several spaces in which CSU’s visions are put into action. The annual gathering brings the families of South LA together with social justice advocates, urban agriculturalists, chefs, musicians, artists and a diverse set of festival-goers in an inspiring day that celebrates the collective power of community.

Neelam, who has worked in South LA for 16 years, sees Earth Day as a democratic space because “it shows what schools can be in a neighborhood and what they should be. It shows ways in which a school administration can work with the community, ways in which the space can open up and not just shut down once the school activities are over. It can really become an ongoing space for the community to celebrate, share and learn, and that is what Earth Day is for the community of South LA.”

El objetivo de Community Services Unlimited es “Servir a la gente, cuerpo y alma.” Su visión es crear un sistema alimentario sostenible en el Sur de Los Ángeles que también sirva para entrenar a los jóvenes, construir trabajos y fortalecer la economía local.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces