Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My book has a new home

My dad grew up in Lincoln Heights, among many other places, so we would tour the old neighborhood. He went to Lincoln High School and my godmother lived in Happy Valley so that we visited on our Sunday car riding tours.

Every once in a while I find myself touring the area, it's an easy drive if you take Huntington Drive toward Los Angeles. There's a lake in the middle of Lincoln Park and lots of ducks and geese. I have a very vague memory of going on that lake in a boat with my parents. It's a special memory because I only remember going on the lake one time.

You can no longer take a boat ride, but on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon there are lots of families enjoying the vast green lawn, in that bit of East L.A. The sounds from radios, the chatter of adults, the sounds from children playing all fill the air.

There are also the sounds that come from Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts and Education. It was established as a nonprofit in 1970; it's history parallels the Chicano Civil Rights Movement. The art that is found throughout the site is built from shared and individual experiences. Like any other community the stories can be as varied as the stars in the sky or the magueys on the fence.

Walk through Plaza and you will see young people, and not so young people, learning ballet, regional folklorico, mariachi, Latin Jazz, and so much more. Opera, blues, rock and roll, plays- all take place here.

Your ears and eyes could become drunk with the art that abounds. It can't help it - it's so present that even the fences are works of art. More bits of the arts can be found in the little store - the tiendita that holds treasures that children can afford as well as treasures that are valued by art collectors.
The history of Plaza shares that it came to be in part as an act of preservation of the boathouse. A bit of history that was to be lost, instead became transformed into a work of art that is a lifeline to some of the students who attend Plaza.

The history of Latinos in Pasadena in now a part of the art and history in La Tiendita. I'm honored to be a part of a place where history was preserved and where the arts are cultivated.


  1. Is there a metro rail stop there, Roberta? I remember reading about it, I think. Gold line? Something?

  2. It's not on the Goldline and I don't think that there is a stop there. That is one of the challenges to the community. Plaza is an oasis in the area because - "According to U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, "students who spend 1-4 hours weekly in extracurricular activities are 49% less likely to use drugs and 37% less likely to become teen parents than those" not participating in those types of activties.
    Let me know if you'd like to go on a field trip - we can at least carpool.

  3. Anyone else care to join us? Date not set, route not set - yet.