Compton's Mayor on the Politics and Culture of Richland Farms

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Departures is KCET's oral history and interactive documentary project that thoroughly explores neighborhoods through the people that live there. In January, SoCal Focus is taking readers through the Richland Farms series one day at a time.

Once a policeman in Compton and now the Mayor, Eric J. Perrodin has seen the city and its agricultural neighborhood through many changes. Back in the day, he said, Richland Farms had lots of livestock and even its own water department. Things changed in the 1980s with a younger generation lacking interest in the agricultural lifestyle, but with a new Latino population that began to arrive in the 1990s, the area is getting back to its roots. "I see it getting better," he said, "I like the direction it's going in now."

One thing that Perrodin particularly notices is high level of political activity coming from Richland Farms, which is more than other parts of Compton. "In any community, if you're not active politically, politicians tend to ignore you," he bluntly explained. "Unfortunately, when you live in the inner city... they tend to have issues bigger than the politics. They've got basic things they have to deal with--'Am I going to have a roof over my head?' 'Do I have food on the table for my kids?' 'Do I have clothes?'--so they don't get involved politically as much as people from more affluent areas... Because they are not involved, a lot of times if the politicians are not really listening, some of their needs are not being addressed as much as say an area like Richland Farms."

In two additional videos found here, Perrodin talks about the conflict between the black and Latino cultures--note: he did not say race--the sale of unpasteurized milk, gangs tensions, bad city planning, eating right, Fresh & Easy, green space and enhancing Richland Farms.

The Departures Richland Farms series is broken down into two parts as interactive murals: The Past and The Present. The above information is based on The Present's third mural hotspot, which was produced by student producer Tachi Vickers.

About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCETLink's Editor-in-Chief of Blogs, where he oversees website editorial and advises on projects. When he does write, he mostly covers local government, environment, and the outdoors.
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