A Picture of a Place
The Los Angeles County Arts Commission asked me to produce a visioning tool for residents of Willowbrook - an unincorporated stretch of Los Angeles county between Watts and Compton –to communicate their hopes and dreams to planners. Instead, I produced a series of publications, events, and installations designed to make visible what was already there. The project was funded through an NEA program designed to spur "creative placemaking." I interpreted this to mean the ways that people invest their neighborhoods with care and meaning. In Willowbrook, a largely residential neighborhood (on the cusp of receiving a "transformative" amount of investment from the County), a lot of this care and creativity was most visible in the backyards and driveways of people's private homes.
I spent a year in Willowbrook getting to know the place. I built a public billboard and telephone tree that surveyed residents their favorite places; produced a zine and survey system modeled on Christopher Willats' West London Social Resource Project; organized a local art, music and food festival (featuring Banda Las Reynas and the Centennial High School marching band) and commissioned a series of home, garden, and vehicle tours. The goal of this activity was to create windows through which Willowbrook professionals (the experts and administrators who were employed in creating "change" for Willowbrook) might see Willowbrook, the place, a little better.
Willowbrook is. . . / es . . . is a book about Willowbrook, CA. It is the book-documentation of the project and features photography by Alyse Emdur, an introduction by Pastor Dolores Glass, interviews by Jesus Hermosillo, and design by Tiffanie Tran and myself.
The book is available as a fundraiser for the County Library system by contacting:
A C Bilbrew Library
150 E. El Segundo Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90061