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

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!

Community Coming Together: Civic Engagement and Organizational Support in Watts

The Watts Community Studio wants to make sure that all the different areas of Watts have a say in how Council District 15 can improve the quality of life in the neighborhood. This is why we want to collect as many surveys from residents across Watts as possible. The project team is using different ways to reach out to residents, like (1) walking door-to-door, (2) surveying at places where there are a lot of residents, like Ted Watkins Park, (3) attending local events, like the LAPD Night Out, (4) partnering with local organizations to administer surveys, and (5) working with local churches and faith-based organizations.

This past month, the Summer Youth Employment participants dedicated time from their weekend to survey the residents at a partnering church. San Miguel Catholic Church (San Miguel) is a local church in a residential area of Watts that offers a number of community-related programs, like Catechism, English as a Second Language courses, citizenship classes, and vocational skills workshops. San Miguel graciously offered their space for survey administration on a Sunday during all of their services. The priest encouraged church members to meet one of the Watts Community Studio representatives in front of the church while they were heading out to complete surveys. Residents responded to the request and added a number of thoughts for advocacy, support, and commitment on all levels to insure the future of Watts, which led to the collection of 124 surveys.

The experience was exciting. Civic engagement was very present at this event! The residents expressed that they felt a sense of community, comfort, and culture that is only present in Watts. Most residents have lived in the area for over 15 years and have witnessed a change in community dynamics. For example, people come out of their homes more often and are actively utilizing the resources in the community, like the newly remodeled Ted Watkins Park. They felt that there’s a need to invest in employment and social spaces at a local level and that simple solutions, like beautification projects, would go a long way.

The Watts Community Studio would like to thank San Miguel Church for their support.

Watts Youth on Influencing Positive Change

JashuaJahsua Jones is one of the youngest survey administrators for the Watts Community Studio project. Just 16 years old, he attends Simon Rodia Continuation School where he is completing his high school diploma. Jahsua has demonstrated great enthusiasm as a survey administrator and participant in civic engagement.  As a resident and youth of Watts, Jahsua feels it’s important to facilitate a community engagement approach that aims to make his neighborhood a better place to live in.  Additionally, he feels this experience has provided him with the opportunity to learn more about his own community. The Watts Community Studio is an innovative project out of Council District 15 that is asking Watts residents and businesses to influence the future of economic development and planning in the neighborhood. Jashua’s excitement centers on how the local government aims to change the dynamic in the community by learning more about what Watts wants and including the Watts community in the decision-making process.

“It’s the residents who will tell you what’s going on and what needs to be done.”

Inspire Academy Maps Watts

High school students at Inspire Academy created a map Pedestrian Bridge of some community assets within walking distance of the school in Watts. Community asset mapping is a great tool for educators, neighborhood groups and community organizations to inventory the places they live in. Even if we know what’s in our neighborhoods, seeing it on a map can help us understand where there might be more opportunities for small businesses, youth organizations, green space and more. Check out the work these teens did in just a few hours. None of them had previously ever mapped anything before. They also took the photos.

The WCS Survey Team Attends LAPD Night Out

And look at who they got to meet! The Watts Community Studio (WCS) Survey team posed with U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters at the Watts LAPD Night Out event. The WCS survey team are local youth funded through the City of Los Angeles 2013 Summer Youth Employment Program. Many are from Watts and go to school in the area. They show great courage and commitment to their neighborhood by conducting small business and resident surveys every day of the work week in Watts. Throughout the next few weeks, we will bring you their thoughts and reflections on working to improve the quality of life in Watts.

WCS Surveyors with Congresswoman Maxine Waters