Art can change a neighborhood (PPAC #46)

Please excuse me, I am recovering from a cold. I don’t have COVID, I took the test first thing when I woke up. Maybe it’s the drastic change in weather.

I want to revisit more murals at Plaza del Valle, a bazaar in my neighborhood. I honestly believe art can change a neighborhood for the better. For a long time, my neighborhood has been overlooked. “Better” businesses would pass this neighborhood over and make shop in “nicer” and “trendier” neighborhoods though we have many vacant places. Maybe the local art scene will give my neighborhood the attention it finally deserves.

I have a complicated love-hate relationship with gentrification. The positives of gentrification are improved economic opportunites and lower crime rates which most people want. But the downside of gentrification is displacement due to higher rent prices. I think the worst of gentrification I’ve seen was when I worked in East LA. On the way to work, I saw new construction at the USC Health Sciences Campus. I thought to myself, “how is there extra land in an already congested area?” Locals shared with me how they use to live in a home that has now been occupied by USC Health Sciences.

There was a time when my sister lived in the neighborhood I currently live in now. I believe she lived there for five years. There was a lot of crime happening on her street and she and her boyfriend (now husband) were determined to leave that neighborhood. When they left the neighborhood, they treated it as an accomplishment. The following year, when my husband and I were looking to buy a house, we ended up buying a home at their former neighborhood. My sister accused me of gentrification.

I was a little perplexed by her comment because we bought a house at this neighborhood because it was the best house we could afford. It takes more than two people to gentrify a neighborhood. But when my sister lived in the neighborhood at the time, she preferred doing her grocery shopping at Whole Foods at the “nicer” neighborhood rather than the Food4Less around the corner from her house. Or instead of shopping at the local neighborhood Target, she would go to the Target in the nicer neighborhood though they both offer the same things (or you can shop online). I did not understand the logic. When she lived in the neighborhood, she was not contributing to her community because she called it a s-hole.

Nowadays there are more businesses making shop here and efforts to revitalize the neighborhood through community based organizations and the neighborhood council, but my sister worried the good work would lead to gentrification? For as long as I lived here, I’ve chatted with my neighbors and fellow residents of this neighborhood who are demanding better things: cleaner parks, more grocery stores, renovate or re-purpose all these abandonned buildings, more streetlights for safer streets, etc. Most of the residents here do not want to keep their neighborhood a s-hole but unfortunately there are some people who would prefer to maintain the status quo.

Tags: PPAC #46

4 thoughts on “Art can change a neighborhood (PPAC #46)”

  1. You make some thoughtful points, Julie. Living in such a huge city like LA would be a challenge, no matter where you lived. I’m sure the crime rate is always a factor. I love that you know your neighbors. When we moved into the small community of Woodlake, it was a sad relic of the past. Now it has been gentrified. Many people objected as the City Manager applied for and received grants. He had all the 150-year-old palm trees that lined the main street torn down and replaced them with new trees and street lights. It was a gutsy move, but it looks so much cleaner and cared for. Maintaining and updating is always a difficult process. I’m so glad your neighborhood is making that effort to gentrify your neighborhood, especially if it makes it safer. 🙂 Have a beautiful weekend, Julie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sad relic of the describes my neighborhood exactly. We have an abandoned Montgomery Ward building though it’s been decades since Montgomery Ward closed their stores. It still stands, but there has been talks to make one of those live, shop, and play buildings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s amazing that the Montgomery Ward building is still there and it isn’t already turned into something else. I can’t imagine what might be in an abandoned building for that long. The truth is, your relic neighborhood now has you in it. You can do great good there. Probably more than you know.

        Liked by 1 person

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