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.
Mayisha Akbar, a real estate broker from Torrance, moved to Compton's Richland Farms in 1988 after researching the neighborhood for a client. "When I came across the community," she explained, "I thought, 'Oh man, who would ever realize there were horses in Compton?'"
She thought it would be good to raise her children in a rural community, something she herself grew up in. Once moved in, her family noticed a different kind of community in greater Compton, one where other children were not well nourished and had nothing to do. So they began to turn their home into a safe haven on the weekends. The deal was, however, they could hang out if they also worked and took care of the animals.
"The program grew out of a need of what I saw happening in the community," said Akbar of what turned into the Compton Jr. Posse. "In society a lot of people who don't live first hand in our kind of a community -- a community that lives in a war zone -- they believe that children have a choice as to whether they are in a gang or not. But most times they don't have a choice because if they don't have a strong support system with them, the gangs know that and the gangs pursue them very very aggressively, and so we become that support system."
Once things got going, she began seeing the children head off to college, the military and into jobs. Akbar explains more about the volunteer-based organization in the above video. In three other videos, she talks about the history of Richland Farms, the politics of a rural community with large animals and living more sustainably.
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 first mural hotspot, which was produced by student producer Angeles Urban.