People of Northeast Los Angeles: David de la Torre

My name is David de la Torre. I've lived in Elysian Valley all my life. I attended Doris Place Elementary School. I love the place. I love where it is presently and I love where we have brought from. It's just an exciting place to live and play. Growing up on this side of the neighborhood, which is the East side of the neighborhood, I was never allowed by my parents to venture to the North end of the neighborhood. It was just not the ideal place at the time to be. The art walk came in and just totally did away with that myth. Homes opened up to outsiders and to neighbors. Businesses opened up to outsiders and to neighbors. And you can admire, appreciate, criticize art in all its form.

At the same time you can enjoy a taco, a burger, or many other delicacies along the stretch, the Blake stretch that the art walk takes place. We keep talking about how we can improve and better the neighborhood each and everyday. People simply feel comfortable with one another, trying to regain some of what people have told me from their homelands. The idea of people crossing the street and talking to their neighbor, getting to know their neighbor, looking after their neighbor. It's been one of those things that from a neighborhood watch perspective I tried to build here.

If the neighbor is on a vacation leave, the idea that you can actually entrust your neighbor with your keys, or simply the request that they watch your house while you're away. You know, we're sitting here in this garden, and this garden happens to rest on my block, River Del Avenue. It used to be a playground when I was a kid. But it is now a garden. And the reason it's a garden is that the city abandoned this spot many years ago, because the local gang overtook the space. So it was a gang hangout, it was a dump. I was frustrated with seeing this beautiful space go to waste. I began to talk to my neighbors about putting something here, and taking it back. What it has done is beautify the area, it has built community, it has given our senior citizens a new hope in life, they have a safe place to gather, a safe place to get to know each other, socialize. And most importantly also, to grow their own food.

With the river development being the most talked about, there's also large housing developments being discussed alongside the river and within the community. It's up to us, the residents of this community to make sure that the essence of this neighborhood isn't lost. That the services that this community lacks and needs are taken care of. We are sandwiched in-between the 5 freeway and the LA River and we don't have any services. We have to go outside for gas, we have to go outside for food sources, and everything that we need. So, how do we get those services to come into Elysian Valley? I think we're going to make sure that as developers come in here with ideas that the community is hurt, and that these things are taking into account.


The above interview is transcribed and edited from the following interview:

About People of
Northeast Los Angeles
These are stories from the everyday people that make-up Northeast Los Angeles, particularly the neighborhoods of Atwater Village, Cypress Park, Glassell Park, Lincoln Heights, and Elysian Valley. See some of our featured portraits below, explore by neighborhood, or see all the stories.





About the Author

For the past twenty years, Chilean born Ricardo Palavecino has been developing his skills as a cinematographer working on documentaries, feature films, television shows, and commercials.
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