Throughout March 2016, we’re continuing to better understand our local neighborhood assets and potentials. One way to do this is to talk to various local groups and organizations working with community members to promote justice in Los Angeles. The youth visited 3 community organizations including All People’s Community Center (APCC), Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE) and Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN).
SAJE: Housing Justice in South LA
“Our mission is to change public and corporate policy in a manner that provides concrete economic benefits to working class people, increases the economic rights of working class people, and builds leadership through a movement for economic justice; and in the process creating sustainable models of economic democracy.” – SAJE website
Elena, one of the community organizers working there, took the time to meet with us and share more about the work they do to support renters. The organization supports working class folks to know their rights as renters and to not allow landlords to violate renter’s rights. They also make sure that landlords are doing their job to build out and maintain healthy and safe structures to live in before and during renting period.
As Chris from 3rd Space shares, “This made me aware of the pricing of housing and rent is going up and what landlords were doing, which I didn’t think was possible. This one landowner owned a few different properties but he changed his name for each property and he did some pretty messed up things but they caught him.”
To learn more information about stage click here.
LA CAN: Justice on Skid Row
LA CAN is located on Skid Row and works with local residents to stop police abuse, promote housing rights and healthy and fresh food access. Ari and co-workers from LACAN talked about their food justice project where they are bringing affordable produce to Skid Row residents at a lower than most stores. Right now, they have a large refrigerator where they store this produce for the weekly pick up on Wednesdays. They have plans of expansion and are currently constructing their new building which include a roof top garden!
“The most surprising thing about my trip was that on skid row, I saw a little girl inside a tent and it was like a culture shock for me. They talked about how they started off trying to help the community. One of the women said she wanted to motivate farmers to allow food stamps so low income families could provide good food for their families. She said that some of the farmers even had EBT machines but they would claim that they got it stolen because they didn’t want them and they are now trying to make it a legal requirement to offer EBT to people at the farmer’s markets.” – Jason
To learn more about CAN, click here.
All People’s Community Center: Farms, Gardens, and Youth Actions
All People’s Community Center is located near Washington and San Pedro in South LA, just outside of downtown. As we arrived for our visit we were greeted by Crystal and Roots for Peace alumni, Brenda and Yareli.
3rd Space youth learned about the history portrayed in the beautiful mural in the garden and pieces of a film titled “The Garden” which tells the tragic story that happened in 2006 to the, then, largest urban farm in the United States. This garden was a 14-acre organic farm in South-Central Los Angeles that held plots from over 350 families and operated from 1994 to 2006. Unfortunately the families were evicted by the Los Angeles Police Department and the farm was completely mowed down because the land owner didn’t like what they were doing and wanted to build storage units instead.
Some of youth we’re very impacted by this initial part of our visit. Like Maria mentions,
“Watching the video impacted me because I didn’t even know about the south central farm and I have lived there my whole life. I asked my grandma later that day if she had heard about it and she said that she did and she started crying and said that it was so unfair to the people that worked there.”
Afterwards, youth from Santee Complex shared their experience organizing after Roots for Peace internships. In December 2015, they all got together on their own and arranged an action where they gave items to houseless folks in their neighborhood. They organized clothes by size and bagged them with other items like food and a blanket.
As it can be seen through the responses of the youth, each of these organizations play a very important role in the community of Los Angeles through idea of intersectionality – used to describe the ways in which institutions that work toward social justice are interconnected and can’t be examined separately from one another. From these field trips, the youth were ready to plan out their own action which you can read about on our next post!
For more information about All Peoples Community Center, click here.
Written by: Alexandra Downey
Edited by: Eli Tizcareño