Fighting Compton's Politics and Development with Sustainability

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.

Lloyd Wilkins is one of the several longtime residents of Richland Farms who has seen the city change over the years. During that time the 42-year veteran public school teacher has kept tabs on the political workings of Compton, becoming an 'old school' political provocateur.

One major concern for him is zoning, which he says now allows for three homes where only one used to be allowed. "It's going the way of Cudahy, it's going the way of Lomita, it's going the way of Torrance. This is what we're trying to fight," he said. "The reason why the developers want this land is it's in the hub, it's in the Hub City, it's right next to he freeway."

But one way he may fight that threat is through a vision for an even more sustainable community.

Wilkins says...

  • 435 families live in Richland Farms

  • The neighborhood's borders are Wilmington to the west, Alondra to the north, Oleander to the east and Greenleaf to the south (map).

"Look at this property," he explained, "how large it is. Could vegetables be grown here? Yes. Could nuts be grown here? Yes. Could fruit be grown here? Yes. We take those nuts, we take those fruits, we take those vegetables, we put it in a collective, everybody shares. Now we have organic food, we know where it's coming from--it's not coming from China, it's not coming from the Philippines, it's not coming from South America--it's coming from Richand Farms. We eat our own food, we eat our own beef, we eat our own chicken."

Wilkins, who raises Tennessee Walking Horses, also wants the community to be sustainable for family businesses. "The money in Richand Farms has to stay in Richland Farms four or five times before it leaves Richland Farms," he said of his vision. "We take men who are in business... and we make sure we don't go to the mall, we purchase from them. That's why we have developed the Richland Farms chamber of commerce and social club."

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 Past's sixth mural hotspot, where three additional video interviews with Wilkins can be found.

Story continues below

We are dedicated to providing you with articles like this one. Show your support with a tax-deductible contribution to KCET. After all, public media is meant for the public. It belongs to all of us.

Keep Reading