Watts Community Studio Full Report

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, representing the 15th Council District, is proud to present the Watts Community Studio Report. The Watts Community Studio has been a participatory economic development and planning project aimed at learning more about Watts from the people who live and/or own businesses in the community. Councilman Buscaino believes that involving residents in the decision-making process for their neighborhood will help produce programs, projects and policies that will successfully improve their quality of life. The Watts Community Studio’s final report offers recommendations for supporting residents and businesses in Watts as they build towards the future. A major component of the research was obtaining approximately 750 surveys from the neighborhood and including the young people of Watts in the research process. The results of the survey and various other analyses are included in the Community Summary and Full Report available at the  link below. 

Full Watts Community Studio Report

Watts Residents Engage in the Holiday Spirit!

Since the Watts Community Studio presented on its findings, the neighborhood of Watts continues to offer exceptional events that involve community service, civic engagement, and cultural diversity. From the Dia de los Muertos event hosted by INSPIRE Youth Academy, to the Resident Advisory Council elections at some of the developments, to our local Lee’s Market and ESR partnering to deliver food on Thanksgiving, Watts continues to challenge the dominant narrative that it’s an unsafe, violent, and disengaged community.
Students at Grape Elementary School enjoy a snow experience in Watts.

Students at Grape Elementary School enjoy a snow experience in Watts.

Watts is active and during these last few weeks residents have offered their participation in the WeCleanWatts event, the 5k Turkey Trot and Farmers’ Market, along with turkey giveaways on behalf of multiple partnerships of agencies committed to serving the residents of Watts like Watts Health Foundation, Children’s Institute, Kaiser Learning Center, Kedren, First Five LA, and many more. Residents have met to offer ideas on the future of Watts through the Our Town Project facilitated by the WLCAC. Additionally, Parents of Watts gave away over 100 bikes to the youth of Watts to continue the active living and cycling movement ongoing in the community.These particular events have had active participation of local residents that demonstrate the continued community engagement in Watts.
Sweet Alice Harris and the Parents of Watts blessed the community with over 700 turkeys.

Sweet Alice Harris and the Parents of Watts blessed the community with over 700 turkeys.

During this holiday season, the Watts Community Studio has witnessed the cultural history that is alive in Watts. Local churches are participating in events like the traditional Posadas preparing for Christmas and honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe on Dec 12, which is also a Catholic tradition. Watts residents celebrated the Watts Christmas parade and unveiled a mural at the civic center that was a product of two great artists from two distinctly diverse communities: Mexico and Philadelphia.
Revving up for the Watts 2nd Annual Turkey Trot and so much more... good times!

Revving up for the Watts 2nd Annual Turkey Trot and so much more… good times!

These events are just a summary of the work that is ongoing in Watts that offer a great introduction to the ways in which Watts challenges its misrepresented identity. This most important during this season in which culture, tradition, and values establish a basis for holiday cheer. The Watts Community Studio will continue to share pictures, videos, media coverage, and data about Watts during this season to introduce a Watts that is very different from popular perspectives.
Is that a group of Watts residents I see riding down Central Ave? Yes it is!

Is that a group of Watts residents I see riding down Central Ave? Yes it is!

Al Jazeera Covers the Power of Art in Watts

One hot, summer day this past July, students from Inspire Academy High School and staff from Watts Community Studio were walking along 103rd Street pointing out different places and things that they consider to be assets in Watts. One student, Rynisha Alexander, pointed out how she considers Watts to be art and that the different forms of art in Watts is one of the neighborhood’s biggest strengths.

Apparently, Ms. Alexander is one among many who feel the same. Two days ago, Al Jazeera reporters released this awesome video on how street art in Watts build bridges across all colors, cultures and artificial boundaries that exist. Please take a minute and check out the video below!

Al Jazeera Covers The Power of Art in Watts

Join Watts Village Theater Co. for Riot/Rebellion

Watts Village Theater Company

Watts Village Theater Company

Watts Village Theater Company 

As an aim to preserve, and make accessible, the memory of Watts in the context of historical narratives, the WVTC explores the 1965-Watts Riot/Rebellion.  This highly recommended 90-minute play demonstrates how performance art, as method for oral history, serves as a way to understand and heal from the remnants of a difficult history in the present. Based on interviews from the 1965 survivors, this play offers an array of artistic efforts (acting, singing, dancing, poetry, and personal narrative accounts) to expose the changing community of Watts, challenge the dominant narrative of both the riots and Watts as a place, and build on community resilience, survival, and history.

Unfortunately, it is not getting a lot of coverage and there is a need to expose this play to begin to challenge the dominant narratives of Watts. You’re invited to come to Watts and learn more about its history … please join us!

Entry Fee:  $10

November 1 – 24, 2013

Thursdays – Saturdays at 8pm

 Sundays at 3pm

Location

Mafundi Auditorium (1827 East 103rd Street, Los Angeles, Ca  90002)

Event Link:

http://groupspaces.com/WattsVillageTheaterCompany/item/485352

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The Future of Watts: The Power of Youth Voice

Brainstorming Session

At the beginning of the Watts Community Studio project, our resident data nerds brought you the fun facts that the average person in Watts is 24 years old and that 39% of Watts residents are under 18. Watts is a young place, full of families (see Resources Page) and this matters as we think about how we can improve the quality of life for the neighborhood.

This summer, young people from Watts joined the Watts Community Studio through the Summer Youth Employment Program and conducted over 700 resident surveys. These youth got to know their own neighborhood in a more intimate way than so many of us get a chance to. Can you imagine asking 700 of your neighbors what they feel needs to be improved in the community?

700

Within the last few weeks, these incredible Watts young people have entered resident survey data into spreadsheets for data analysis and continued to participate in other aspects of the project.  As school has now started, their time with the WCS is coming to a close. Yet before they leave, we decided to turn the tables on these teens and ask them what they think Watts needs. 

Youth Presentation

For two weeks, the youth met with each other and talked about their experiences growing up in Watts and being a part of this project. They presented the WCS team with their ideas and recommendations last week. The team was blown away by their thoughtful insights into what the young people of Watts want the most. Their idea will be in our final report. It will remain a surprise for now, but here is a sneak preview by way of Wordle:

Wordle

Moving Forward: Seeing the Finish Line!

Surveying at several locations around Watts throughout the summer.

Surveying at several locations around Watts throughout the summer.

Today concludes the survey administration phase of the Watts Community Studio (WCS) project!  Survey administrators walked throughout Watts within Council District 15 boundaries asking residents about community needs, assets, and conditions. Several Watts-area organizations also hosted survey administration days and provided support to the WCS team.  Throughout the summer, the Los Angeles Police Department and City of LA’s Summer Night Lights program collaborated in survey administration and bolstered community support.  Additionally, local churches informed their congregation about the project and as a result of all these great efforts, the WCS received endless support.  LA Department of Water and Power (DWP) donated light bulbs, coloring books, bags, and stress balls for a surveys administration day.  Additionally, local residents hosted a dinner for the tireless work of the WCS team during hot and long days of survey administration.

Images from around Watts where surveyors often spent time talking to residents.

Images from around Watts where surveyors often spent time talking to residents.

Our survey administrators were composed of youth born and/or raised in Watts employed by the City of LA’s Summer Youth Employment Program. These youth drove the success of the WCS survey administration phase. Watching them use their observational skills and knowledge about Watts in order to identify the challenges and struggles in the community, as well as assets, has been a great experience. Their skills for community engagement and knowledge of their own neighborhood grew. Today our WCS survey team can tell us where all the service planning areas of Watts are and what differences there are between them – do you know your neighborhood that well?  They can also identify local organizations, programs, parks, and businesses that are actively engaging in the future of Watts.

The WCS survey team gets treated to a home cooked meal made by Maria Gonzalez. Maria and Javier Gonzalez are also the proud parents of WCS staff member Cynthia Gonzalez. Cynthia and her family live in Watts. This was a lovely impromptu treat.

The WCS is committed to a collective community engagement approach.  The survey administration phase has definitely demonstrated the commitment of local community-based organizations, city agencies, youth, and residents.  WCS is thankful for this collective effort.  The next phase of the project includes asset mapping, data entry and analysis, focus groups, and the writing of the 5-year plan.

Watts is resiliency and commitment!