As we sit in our house (this was written Saturday night), the neighbor’s music is blasting and quite literally shaking our house. It is beautiful, it really is. The thought that silence and privacy are the gold standard is more cultural than anything. We love all of our neighbors, the expression of their identity and life is unique. We love our neighborhood, the history has influenced all of America and we believe the future will do the same.
Now we do have to face some reality, most of America in the past and presently could care less for this community. I could give you example after example of the lack of care for this community, but more importantly the lack of care for the people.
Every now and then there are some bright spots and people who are trying. Allison and I went to a community meeting the other day for a program called “Our Town.” It is a grant from the government to the city of LA. The money will be used to develop the historic train station at 103rd St, create a visitors center and a walking pathway to the historic Watts towers.
The towers have long been a symbol of Watts and not just a physical piece of art. They were built almost 50 years ago by an Italian immigrant Simon Rodia who used whatever materials he could find – broken glass, porcelain dishware, bottles and it really is beautiful. One word that the designers of this project kept using was activism, which they defined as expression without permission.
Watts historically and presently understands this definition. As a 99% minority community it understands this because the majority doesn’t always like to give permission to express yourself. One of the designers of this project, talking about building this with and for the community said, “If it is about us, without us, it’s not for us.” This little statement is powerful.