Here is a brief post to whet your appetite.

We have just started using Google maps and we feel like that there are a lot of great applications for the work that we do in the community. First of all, since our work is so place-based, we’d love to show all the information that we have gathered about our neighborhood on one map. Right now we are still getting our toes wet and we have a lot to do, but we have a lot of ideas.

As you can see in the map above, the blue area identifies our service area and we have a few push-pins to show the locations of a few of our buildings with pictures. We would love to have this map filled with push-pins for buildings that have been identified as slum housing, buildings with lead hazards, etc. Also, Esperanza’s promotoras took major leadership positions in the recent “Voces De Comunidad,” a report-back of community based research that was presented to city council members and officials from the planning department and CRA. We would like to include a map with the information from “Voces De Comunidad” on how much housing has been lost by the community to gentrification in the last 10 years.

Also, each of our promotoras have amazing stories to tell about the impact they have made on the families they serve. We want this blog to, in part, serve as a forum for those stories to be shared with the wider public. We want people to know the stories of this community so that we can mark it with our own identity. There are already signs dotting our streets that identify us as “North University Park”, a name that none of us identify with and something that none of us were consulted about. This is an example of how larger forces subtly attempt to make our community invisible. They make us invisible in order to lay the groundwork to displace families.

The proposed USC master plan to double the size of it’s campus, expanding into our neighborhood, is largely possible because there is a perception that this expansion is happening into empty space, or that classic idea that USC is a “good school in a bad neighborhood.” We want to do our part in showing that this is not empty space or a “bad neighborhood.” This is our neighborhood, a neighborhood populated by low-income, working class families who have the right to stay here, who should not be displaced. By telling our stories, we hope to not only show concrete data — like how much of the housing has been lost or how much of the housing is slum conditions — but we also hope to tell people the stories of our community so the human impact of displacement comes across as well.