Hawthorne park in LA Times

LA Times article link

From Lot to Spot

The article recaps a local controversy over converting a long-vacant lot into a park that I mentioned in an earlier blog post.

Vivian Franco, the community activist who has spearheaded the move to convert the lot to a park is far more eloquent than I.

Franco's zeal and idealism have run headlong into reality -- into local politics, dizzying bureaucracy, a weak economy. The lot, the way she tells it, has become a singular, hidden monument to land-use inequity -- to the discrepancy in green space available to the wealthy and the poor.

The lot is 100 feet from the house where Franco was raised. It was a loving home, with parents -- a mother with a third-grade education and a father who worked as a janitor, both Mexican emigres -- who preached the gospel of education and hard work. But as a kid, she suspected that she was no better than the abandoned lot down the street. That, she said, was wrong, and it is an experience that defines thousands of lives.

"That lot is who I am," she said. "You have a shared consciousness in a neighborhood, and that lot stamped us. This was a place of crime and blight, and it shaped our attitudes, our identities. If it was green and had a few trees? Yeah. A whole new world."

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