May 13, 2011

Right Room


I moved into the community house in East L.A. for the month of May. I'm staying in Dave's room, who is away. Dave's room used to be my room. Before me, it was Gustavo's room. Before Gustavo, it was Manuel's room. 


The only significant change to my old room is the addition of a Bob Marley flag next to a painting of Jesus Christ and Dan Berrigan, which, of course, I believe to be an excellent addition to the wall.

My old bedroom is in the back house, which is a five-bedroom house behind the gingerbread Victorian where most people live, including LACW community members as well as formerly homeless guests. There’s also a two-bedroom apartment above the garage that is used to temporarily put up homeless families and overflow guests, which I have been on occasion.

The apartment’s shower is the best of any on the property, but this opinion is not universally shared.

“The house,” as the Victorian is called, was built in 1889 by a political and business bigwig of Boyle Heights, and it sits on one of the highest hilltops in L.A.

From the third floor balcony, majestic sunsets over downtown L.A. close the day. From the side porch are sweeping views of the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains in the winter. From my bedroom window in the back house, I wake up to the sun rising over East L.A.

Not a bad set up for a bunch of poor people. The land and houses were bought and donated by a former community member with a knack for making money. That’s how this place functions: People donate, money or time. When the squeaky old blue hippie van finally died, a couple members of what’s called the extended community bought another van. The spiffy new van does not have nearly the amount of left-of-center bumper stickers that the old van boasted, but it’s on its way.

I hope I’m on my way to interviewing Officer Jack Richter about the Catholic Workers’ breakfast line as well as the larger issue of shutting down giveaways in Skid Row. I spoke with him briefly on the phone earlier this week and he expressed doubt that I could be fair presenting the city’s side. I told him I could. Hopefully we can get together soon.

It’s nourishing to be discussing and writing about a relevant issue like how best to deal with poorest people in a place like Los Angeles’ Skid Row, which has been called America’s Jerusalem.

It’s also fun to be doing my first immersion journalism project on the fly like this, writing for writers I respect.

And it’s nice living in this community again.




This is Part 5 of the city's effort to criminalize feeding the homeless in Skid Row. Here's Part 6.

17 comments:

Vicki Rocho said...

That sounds like a cool place to stay. Good luck with the interview!

Cye said...

Glad to know you're having fun, Ed. I know you can/will be objective. But ask him tough questions, ok?? Lol

Brian Miller said...

nice dude...rather like the decor of your pad...i am sure it is fascinating living there...

Wine and Words said...

Such a great experience. Life needs more experiences, immersion projects of one kind or another. I remember the summer I spent in Mexico helping rebuild an orphanage. Poorest of the poor. Tijuana dumps, cooing over a newborn covered in flies in a little cardboard shack. The momma was so proud. You are a good soul Shutter Bug, and your writing is great!

Claudia said...

looks like there's quite some change in your life right now...sounds exciting...looking forward to hearing how the story develops

Tori MacLennan said...

This issue is possibly much bigger that the city can handle, but yes, there are two sides to the issue. You are a seasoned journalist who knows the art of reporting objectively. That should be the least of Officer Richter's concerns. Personally, I'm more concerned that the city (and police) are flying by the seat of their pants with no real solution to the problem. And I'm not sure the lack of giveaways solves anything. It certainly doesn't remove the homeless people from the area. I honestly don't know what the solution should be, but it seems that they should be working on that before they spend time and money arresting those with noble intentions. Cheers to you for telling a story that needs to be told and going the extra mile by moving into the room with a great view.

Ed Pilolla said...

i've had to repost this becuz it was a victim of blogger being down all day yesterday. i still can't post the photo. the worst part is the thoughtful comments that were left here are also gone. i'm not asking anyone to re-post their comment. i mean it. i'm just thankful you are reading.

Claudia said...

good you had a safety copy...enjoying the journey you're on..thanks for sharing it with us

Wild Rose said...

Hello Ed, long time my dear friends and wishing you all the success. Thank you for stopping by and you're welcome for more. Did post something but not my usual, you can check it out if you like. Will try to post more soon.

Wild Rose~

Mama Zen said...

I can't tell you how much I admire what you're doing.

The Words Crafter said...

Finally, I can comment! You're the gustiest person I know. Is this running in a local or a national paper? It should be!

Very interesting in reading that interview; I hope you get it! Stay safe!

Ed Pilolla said...

thanks so much. i am so irritated with blogger. i have no control over fonts or spacing at times.

Ocean Girl said...

Hello Ed, thank you for sharing your inside story. I would more than read your news, I would be involve.

Su-sieee! Mac said...

I'm looking forward to reading your article, Ed. I definitely am intrigued (right word?) by what you're already unfolding before us.

GYPSYWOMAN said...

good for you, for your work right now, and for enlightening us all on real issues which sometimes fall between the cracks of society - keep on keeping on!! ;)

taranova said...

I sat there open-mouthed at your first post in this series and the feeling isn't going away as you continue to reveal the reality of what is going on.

I truly hope that your journalism can raise questions & bring awareness where it is needed. Good luck & am sending positive vibes...

Margaret said...

Very interesting. I've been quite busy with family (and my horses as the weather is fantastic!) and I need to catch up with all my "favorite blogs". This sounds really interesting and I am hoping for some relaxation time this weekend in the evenings!