Monday, March 31, 2008


Skid Row is buzzing. Everyone is getting ready for round 2 of "the soloist" filming, which should begin tomorrow. The whole neighborhood is looking forward to it.


ON April 17 there will be a uncheon for the Skid Row Basketball league.

Commander Andy Smith of the Central Division and lead officer for SCI is leavfing Downtown. he is going to South Los Angeles.

Downtown Newsreports that there is more dumping of patients on Skid Row. Deputy City Attorney Gordon Turner is heading up the investigation.


The Skid Row Photgraphy Club meets every Thursday at 800 E.6th st. at 4PM.

City Mayor Villaraigosa is having a press conference on Tuesday, tomorrow, April 1st.
The press conference will focus on the three hundred thousand dollars earmarked for street light fixtures on Skid Row.

there is lots of talk among the people on Skid Row about making things happen. I guess it started with the Skid Row Basketball league but that pioneering spirit is growing.

Counselors from several different programs have discussed with me some exciting educational, vocational and entrepreneurial ventures. It is all very inspiring. I know that one instructor would not have talked to me about certain things a few months ago. I guess, perhaps, I have gone through enough doors so that he feels the pursuit or discussion of certain projects can result in successful completion.

A vote of confidence.

During the weekend, I sat at the eat in restaurant at the northeast corner of 5th and Main St. I talked with Wes. He grew up in my neighborhood and told me, in the past, about his three years of living on the streets. He did not go into detail back then. He went into more detail on Saturday.

He spoke of living on the streets and being concerned with nothing except doing drugs and selling drugs. He spoke to me of digging in the trash to eat.

I found this hard to believe. He grew up about 50 yards from Ray Charles.
He told me how his family did not want to have anything to do with him.
His brother was killed while he was living on the streets and he did not know anything about it.

He was so sick that his urine was a dark brown and he could not make it to the hospital and did not want to go. Howeever, he made it to the hospital and stayed there for 10 days. Before he went he said he did not have the strength to go find the drugs that he craved so much.

He said that when he was in the hospital he had a moment of clarity. He realized that he was about to go over the edge and that if he went over, he would never come back. He decided he was going to get some help. He went to the Harbor Light program in Skid Row. He has not done any drugs sense. He said there was no way he could live on the streets ever again. He was convinced that he would die if he continued a life of drugs.

He did not know where any of his family lived. He was alone in the drug program. He said it hurt the whole time he was there because other people had family members visit him. He had no one. One day, he ran into a cousin who told him where his sisters lived. The cousin gave Wes a number and within 60 minutes he connected with his sister. He found out his family wanted him back in their lives.

I ran into Wes about 6 months ago. He also lived across the hall from me. He was the man who kept telling me to stay focused. He was the one who kept telling me things were going to work out. He was the one who walked up to me and told me
"Yeah, Walt, you really are clean.". Since that day there has been a bond between us that is even deeper than just coming from the same neighborhood. He trusts me now. He knew I was not scandolous but he knows now that I am not arounde drugs or anything that can bring him down. He has established a connection with me.

He also approached me about saving money and starting a business together. Wesley and I work for the same organization. He is also going to start working at the same location I do soon. Funny how things work out.

My conversation with Wesley gave me some clarity about the phase I am. He told me to establish short term goals. My license is one of the things he mentioned.

It is amazing to listen to him. He is starting to share with me the same things I shared with him. "Walter, I was just like you when I entered the Marshall House. I was alone. I had no one. I wanted my family. I thought I would go crazy. Each day went by and the people that I started with at the Harbor Light faded away. Out of about 200 people that started with me only 4 or 5 are still clean. Everyone else has returned to a life of drugs. I had to make sure you were not in that lifestyle."

There are very few people with whom one can discuss things at this level in the process. This level is where you get lost. This level is where you get lost or catapult yourself.

"Walter, you watch. You have a job now. You have done things much faster than I. Things are going to start to happen. Just take your time. Let things unfold. You will not have to worry about your family. Just keep doing what you are doing. Your sister will want to connect with you. She may not know it but that is what is going to happen."

Social Networks. They are the rage these days. Youtube, myspace, facebook. They are all efforts by people to connect. In Skid Row the overwhelming desire down here is for people to reconnect with their families and friends or a world that they left for a life of drugs.

I am struggling to connect. It took years to connect with myself and then my mom and I became great friends. All of that was then taken away. However, the connection with self was strong. I built on that. Each day I feel a deeper connection with self and the purpose of self greater than ever.

People in this world are going to great lengths to connect. Social networks are one way of doing so.

A man wrote me and told me that I provided him with insights for a novel of a family on Skid Row. I thought that was unique. There are families on Skid Row but I rarely ever see a family that is intact and connected. Most of the time, I encounter people that are striving to connect with their families.
Some do and some do not. I have seen people reconnect with their families and then lose the connection with self.

I see people each day come down to check on their mail. Some times they check three or four times a night. I have learned that it does not even matter if they get junk mail. They want to get something. They want somebody to think of them, even if it is a computer. It keeps them going. They search to see if something is in their cubby holes. They want that connection with something.

I am starting to write emails to people with whom I was close decades ago. over the years we drifted apart, mostly because of my lifestyle. I cherish these people. I hope I am welcomed back into their lives. I need that connection.

A woman that I have not seen in over twenty five years reached out to me when she found out about my blogging. She gave me a connection to a world and to people that I miss. She gave me a feeling to hold onto and to nourish. I have watered that feeling every day and fruit is beginning to come from her efforts and from the strength that she has given me.

It is about connection and links and strengthening the new connections and the recconnections that have been made sense I have been down here. The connections that have been made are leading to new ideas. They are leading to brainstorming and new possibilities. It is leading to collaboration on pioneering projects.

It is all very exciting. Because all of these things are strengthening the connection with self and those that are on Skid Row understand that is so precious because we had at one time lost our souls. You do not have to be on Skid Row to lose your soul. It happens every day across America.

We just see condensed variations of it on Skid Row. We also see all kinds of attempts to connect on Skid Row. Some people still try to connect to drugs because the pain of not being connected to their souls is so great. Others have connected with self and now are trying to connect with others or connect to a purpose that is an extension of self.

When I write there are times when I desperately want to connect with a specific person or people. It is something I am learning about each day. First I had to understand that that is what I was learning about.

That is also what is going on in Skid Row. People are establishing and creating connections within Skid Row. People within Skid Row are beginning to establish connections with organizations and people outside of Skid Row for the purpose of accomplishing things that benefit people. That is something that I see that is takening place now. It is going to grow as people become less isolated in Skid
Row and people outside of Skid Row grow less frightened of the people and of Skid Row itself. The process will result in more joint ventures in creative and productive ways.

That is the next phase I am in and that is I guess an ongoing phase of people as they go through life--establishing, maintaining , building strong connections.

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