In this installment of Departures, Youth Voices partnered with the Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale to explore the social history of Compton's Richland Farms. Only a couple of these kids actually lived in the Compton area, so the nature of the project shifted. Traditionally Youth Voices works with a group of high school students from the neighborhood that we are exploring and they contribute personal stories to the project. For the Richland Farms project, many of these kids had never heard of the place. So, what connected the school to the neighborhood you may ask.
It just so happens that the neighborhood of Richland Farms has a rich history of community-based environmental practices. The area is zoned for agricultural use where residents grow gardens, raise chickens, cows, goats, and even horses. The Environmental Charter High School teaches the importance of sustainability and environmentalism, and integrates these concepts into the heart of their mission statement. At the school, students enroll in a program called The Green Ambassadors, which teaches them environmental practices and how to advocate for systematic change.
Richland Farms, thus, presented an incredible opportunity for these students to research an actual urban agricultural community. The students were able to compare ideas and theories learned in the classroom with the reality of agricultural practices and how it shapes the notion of community. They learned how to capture this neighborhood, tell its story, and assess the value of Richland Farms as perhaps a model. Through this process, students gained insight into the environmental crisis that the world faces and investigated whether ideas of localism are viable options for our future.
Join us on this exciting adventure into an area of Los Angeles that has been linked to the past, but perhaps represents a model for our future.
Some pictures capture the essence of a location while others invite the viewer to experience the place in a deeper more emotional way that allows us to understand it's importance to the student photographer.