South LA Democratic Space: Community Financial Resource Center

Rudy Espinoza, Senior Program Officer, Local Economic Development Initiatives of Community Financial Resource Center.

CFRC is a financial resource for building business and community together.

Late into the night along Slauson Avenue, on a corner that could easily feel unsafe, a single food truck has repurposed the urban space. With lights and food, the parking lot is transformed — bringing in revenue, but also conversation and quite likely reducing crime. Rudy of CFRC positions this democratic space at the intersection of community economic development, reenvisioning public space, and increasing opportunity for historically underserved residents.

Rudy, who has worked in South LA for a year and half, and in other Los Angeles neighborhoods for eight years, believes the corner near Slauson and Broadway is curiously democratic because “the space is repurposed at night by local entrepreneurs — not only making the street alive and vibrant, but making it safer. They are ‘eyes on the street’.”

Durante las horas de la noche, un lote de estacionamiento en la Avenida Slauson es transformado en un área comercial donde no solamente se vende comida, pero también se fomenta un sentido de comunidad, creando oportunidades para residentes que han sido historicamente marginados.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: LA Community Action Network

Pete White, Founder and Co-Director of LA Community Action Network.

LA CAN is a leader in organizing and empowering members of LA’s downtown “Skid Row” and South Los Angeles communities. Facing barriers related to economic, racial, and gender discrimination, their collaborative model of action helps give voice and power to local residents on issues that matter to their everyday lives.

The LA CAN headquarters is a vibrant space for conversation, education and organizing, as well as for artistic and media production. Their rooftop garden illustrates their commitment to encouraging vitality within spaces that are too often incorrectly and unfairly categorized as barren.

Pete, who was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, sees the LA CAN headquarters as “a space where all things downtown grow…This is also a space where creativity is welcomed. We say – whatever is your craft, you bring it here. If it’s poetry, if it’s political song, if it’s analysis, you bring it here.”

La oficina central de LA CAN es un espacio para conversar, educar y organizar a miembros de la comunidad del Sur de Los Ángeles y “Skid Row.” El jardín en la azotea del edificio demuestra la dedicación a promover vitalidad en espacios que típicamente son considerados estériles.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: Esperanza Community Housing Corporation

Monic Uriarte, Community Organizer/Health Promoter for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation

Mercado la Paloma promotes a local entrepreneurial spirit while fostering creative and multi-cultural community-based activities and programming.

The conceptual idea of Mercado la Paloma grew in 1999 from local residents living in Esperanza Community Housing Corporation’s building development.

Monic, who has worked in South LA for 16 years, believes Mercado La Paloma “is so important because it gives the opportunity to local residents to dream about being their own business owners. In South Central LA it was almost impossible to get investors to invest in local residents to create local businesses, so Esperanza created Mercado La Paloma to provoke this democratic space.”

Mercado la Paloma promueve un espíritu de comercio local y facilita actividades creativas y multiculturales en la comunidad del Sur de Los Ángeles. La idea del mercado creció en 1999 entre residentes que vivían en un edificio de desarrollo patrocinado por Esperanza Community Housing.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: Advancement Project

Janice Burns, Research Analyst and Community Research Lab Manager for Advancement Project.

Advancement Project is a public policy change organization rooted in the civil rights movement. We engineer large-scale systems change to remedy inequality, expand opportunity and open paths to upward mobility. Our goal is that members of all communities have the safety, opportunity and health they need to thrive.

Originally painted by Elliot Pinkney in 1972 and restored in 1997, the Mafundi mural represents the logo of the Mafundi Institute. Emerging from the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1965 Watts Rebellion, the institute was created in 1967 by a group of writers, dancers, film-makers and actors in order to use arts to express sentiment about their community’s conditions and issues. Today, the building houses a community center, school, and the soul food joint, Watts Coffee House.

Janice, who has worked in South LA for 7 years, chose the Mafundi mural because it “represents my introduction to what research and planning by the community can do for the community. The collaboration of different community members and organizations brought arts and community voice to the rebuilding process after the 1965 Watts rebellion and even helped build some of the new housing that my family later moved into.”

El Advancement Project es una organización con raíces en el movimiento de derechos civiles que promueve cambios en las políticas públicas. Su objetivo es que todos los miembros de todas las comunidades tengan la seguridad, la oportunidad y la salud que necesitan para prosperar.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces

South LA Democratic Space: Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)

Gabriela Garcia, UNIDAD Community Organizer for Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)

Open, inviting, and with a strong ethos of progressive thinking and action, SAJE is home of the UNIDAD Coalition which is comprised of more than 15 organizations working in South LA and is the meeting and training ground of local residents committed to living in a just and equitable community.

A once oppressive and exploitative sweatshop building, SAJE would later take over this building and convert it to a poignant space that fosters social and political agendas around issues of displacement, community development and social justice.

Gabriela, who has worked in South LA for 7 years feels “the SAJE building itself transcends to so many different spaces in the neighborhood. SAJE is a platform where movements are built. It’s an equitable place and in fact was formerly a garment factory that was converted to something more just for our neighborhood.”

En el pasado, el edificio de SAJE era una maquiladora opresiva. Ahora, este mismo edificio es un espacio conmovedor que cultiva agendas sociales y políticas sobre temas de desplazamiento, desarrollo comunitario y justicia social.

« Back to all South LA Democratic Spaces