Friday, February 29, 2008

Skid Row and the "Greening" Industry

it has been a long week, one of those weeks where you do not know if you made progress or not. I worked every day on the set. I made money. Yet I have not had time to prepare my marketing presentation for a prospective position. My Skid Row experience has prepared me well for the position as well as a background in economics and real estate. But you never know. It is a long shot in some ways and not in others. I am grateful that they want me to do the presentation. It means I have come a long way in many ways and now I must meet the new challenges. It is not for the weary.

I found out a dear friend emailed some people on my behalf. Evidently they have something to do with the movie. I was touched. The fact that she thinks that much of me is the kind of support that keeps me fighting. Of course the movie people are concerned that I would write about the plot. And of course the world is hungry for Hollywood gossip.

I grew up amongst those who have built Hollywood into what it is today. I would never try to gossip. I get sick each time I see people pry into the private lives of those who entertain people and try to bring respit moments into their lives from their daily struggles.

Actually, I just want my readers to know that this crew is very sensitive to the people with whom they work. I have been on at least a hundred of sets and this one rates at the top when it comes to respecting everyone and making them feel a part of the whole production family. I believe it is a special production and the message goes far beyond just the production. It involves the ethics and standards of how the movie was made and the conduct of those who arer making it.

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Checks are starting to come in. Interviews are beginning to happen and yet the fear of failure never leaves me. I have not had the time to stop and assess the last week. Ever since the day I interviewed at the Aon building, I have been moving non stop. At last, this weekend, I have chance to catch up and organize. The demand for organization increases daily at an increasing rate. It allows for one to be able to think and respond. The need to plan and create is much higher now than it was a few months ago. It is hard to believe that I even arrived here.

I am knocking on the door for a new life. some people believe I have already started it. They believe I have the job. I dont. I worry. I can not let myself speculate on that. I am just grateful that I have the chance to be considered.
I have started thinking more about that job.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a ceremony on the edge of Skid Row. Skid Row Housing trust installed energy saving solar panels into one of their buildings. Today, I read in the Downtown News where the Mayor signed a bill to create 300 jobs in the "greening" industry. I believe that the company with whom I am interviewing could be a part of that greening process in Los Angeles and other cities. That kind of public/private partnership is what they have excelled at. I just wish I worked for them now so I could suggest to them that they should get involved with the "greening"industry. Even if I do not get the position, I will suggest it to them. It is perfect for them.

I also feel that solar energy companies should consider creating solar assembly plants in Skid Row. I believe that they could get tax benefits for doing so and what a great way for Skid Row to change its image. Instead of being the place of the down and out, it could be the place where the down and out become the leaders in paving the way for change in the energy industry. From being a place where pollutants of all types call the environment home, it can be the place where Cleanliness takes over the consciousness of the area.

I wonder if anyone would listen to me.

Anyway, alot is happening. I am trying to maintain a clear perspective and positive attitude.
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Oh yes. I went out and tried to find that woman who relapsed heavily. I found out that she was arrested two nights ago. She was trying to sell drugs to finance her habit. That is what happens. The drug dealers recruit the recently relapsed because they know how vulnerable they are. They get them to sell the drugs and they hide behind walls looking over their "investment". She was charged with trafficking. She came so far. It is a sad ending to what could have been a happy story.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I get by with help from my friends



Just walked back in from the movie set. Robert Downing jr. and the director, Joe Wright, worked on a scene all day. It appeared to be the first time that Steve Lopez, the Los Angeles Times reporter meets Nathaniel Ayers. From my vantage point, there seems to have been a bonding that took place in the scene.

It has been an interesting four days, taking a break from shooting out resumes. I just caught my stride with shooting out resumes and then am taken away from the computer to make money. It is a strange feeling, working and feeling like I am not doing enough to insure my future. Yet at the same time, I have an upcoming 2nd interview with an organization in which I must make a marketing presentation. I worked so hard to get to this point and yet I have not had the time to focus on what is needed to be done.

I talk less on the phone with my support network. It has caused some stress but it has been needed. I must rely 100% on self. My new friends have their own lives and it is time to ween myself from a certain brand of emotional crutch.

I felt my guts churning alot this week as I am going through new doors and with that comes many unknowns. Usually I talk with people during those times so this is new frontier. Fortunately emails have come in from people who I love. They are pleasant surprises and a brief respit from the challenges that each day brings.

I called up the human resources manager of a firm that wanted to hire me a few months ago but could not due to insurance reasons. There is a new position opening up that I may be able to snag in the evenings. It is not like the marketing position. Far frrom it but It is a start.

That picture above is the wall where OG and his Skid Row Three on Three league members painted a new mural with a message of love and hope. I put it up there because a block away from the above pictured corner, a friend of mine was attacked last night. He manages the computer lab and was responsible for convincing the executive director of the STRIVE program to open up the computer lab at night so that people can improve their computer skills.

He pulled me over to the side and told me about the incident. It was the first time anyone that I met on Skid Row was physcially attacked. I was confronted once. Drug dealers attempted to force me to smoke cocaine but there was no violence.

My friend was not robbed. The assault puzzles me but so much does on Skid Row. Anything can happen. I must not lose sight of that fact even though postive things like the movie is being shot not far away.

There are other reminders that a plague of sorts still grips the area. The woman ,who lived next door to me, relapsed and ran up and down the halls, believing that someone was going to attack and hurt her.

Another woman who was in the shelter with me last year at this time, relapsed, lost her job, her apartment and is on the streets hustling for cocaine. The trigger for that relapse was the discovery that her fiance was cheating on her.

It makes me appreciate so much the support network that I have built up since I arrived on Skid Row. I am not concerned about relapsing. (I hate that dam word).
I just never want to feel as alone as I felt when I arrived here. That feeling lasted for most of last year. I never want to feel that way again.

I look at emails or comments on my blog where people have said nice things to me or voiced their support in letters to others like Paul Freese did recently.
I am lucky.

I think of the potential bosses at the organization for whom I must do the presentation. They are giving me the chance to show what I can do. They are giving me hope.

And I must go home and wonder how my friend is handling his attack. He must walk to the same bus stop to get home tonight. I built up a network on Skid Row. I have done well in that regard. However. I have been doing that kind of thing all of my life. It is apart of my makeup and it has been a vital component of my survival down here.

However, Skid Row still exists and people still relapse and wonder the streets. People that I know who I thought were well on their way, have suffered heart wrenching set backs. "Recovery is not for everyone, Walter. " I was reminded of that tonight when I shared the information of the relapse of those women. It particularly disturbs me because women relapsed. It is harder for them when they relapse and predators are waiting for them to gain sexual services for a few dollars.

I am lucky. The virtual world has enabled me to see words of support from people and those words of support help me push on and comfort me. A man wrote that he will always be back my side. Paul sends a nice letter to his colleagues about me.

Those words help me to keep fighting. I must not forget the horrors of this place.

I must go. I will walk my friend to the bus stop. Afterwards, I will try to find one of the women who relapsed. Maybe I can convince her to go to a program. She came so far.

Good night.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fighting




Last night the director of "The Soloist", Joe Wright, was at the Academy Awards. Today he was on location busy at work, filming the upcoming movie staring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downing, Jr. I was on the set as well, as one of hundreds who were the homeless in Skid Row, the backdrop for the upcoming movie.

I arrived on Skid Row a year ago. I fought hard to erase the memory of what I felt when I arrived here. I felt defeated, hopeless, isolated. As far as I was concerned, all was lost. I felt like those people in the pictures above. I fought for my sanity every second of the waking day.

It all came back to me today, those deep feelings of despair as I played a homeless person on the streets of Skid Row. My back pack was filled with water and books to read during the day as I have worked on movie sets in the past.

Today was rather surreal. My past intermingled with my present, and my present with my past. They danced together in the morning light as I swam through the plethora of emotions that came in wave after wave, banging against my emotional foundation.

In 1990, I first started 'extra' work on the trials of Rosie O'Neil, a show starring Sharon Gless of Cagney and Lacey fame. Sharon and I had friends in common as she had attended Marlborough School, a sister School of the Harvard School for Boys. The studio was on 3rd and Hewitt, on the edge of Skid Row. I was there every Tuesday and Thursday as a regular background artist. During that time, I studied materials for my real estate broker's examination. Between shoots, I sat at one of the desks on the set and focused in on the volumunous materials. Andre, another background artist and I would talk as he had an interest in real estate as well.

This morning, I arrived on the set of the soloist. I have not been on a movie set as a background artist since I was studying for my real estate broker's license.
This time, I was trying to pay for a renewed broker's license as the deadline to renew my expired license is rapidly approaching. Emotions were running high.

I saved alot from my cans and now with the two day shoot, I would have enough to renew my license. I thought I would never come close to renewing it. I thought all was lost. I hung in there. Look came my way.

I showed up at the set and the first person I saw was Andre, the background artist that befriended me years ago. I did not speak to him as a lot of explaining would have been necessary. I was not ready for it. Emotions were running high. I was experiencing the feelings I had when I landed on skid row. We were on a movie set deep in the bowels of the Skid Row area and that same feeling of being "cut off" ran through my body and soul like blood through veins.

The previous night I had watched the Academy Awards and flashbacks of a different time flashed by my eyes as I stood on the make shift movie lot, this morning, beneath a freeway overpast on the edge of downtown Los Angeles.

The first thing that came to mind was the Academy Awards when Jamie Foxx won the award for the movie Ray. At the time of the awards, I was training for the triathlon and writing everyday on legal pads as my computer went on the blink.

When Jamie won the Academy Award for his brilliant work on "Ray", it was a special moment for me. Ray Charles lived approximately one hundred yards from me when I was young and his son, Ray Jr., was a childhood friend and whenever we see eachother we still feel that close bond. I wrote extensively that night when Jamie won the academy award. I was developing my writing craft and there was no better opportunity than to write about my friends father and Jamie's success.

Today was an interweaving of the past and the present and emotions ran high as I recognized the connecting and blending strands. It was hard. However, I have learned how to fight well over the last few years, and I remembered that somebody said I was a fighter. Indeed, it is true. The doctors never expected me to live past one year. They did not know me. I was a fighter and I have learned how to fight again and again when my life was on the line.

Those past feelings of despair and isolation, when I landed on Skid Row surfaced without warning this morning as I reexperienced being sequestered from love and friendship. I had to fight through those feelings of desperation. I fought hard
today to remain focused and positive. It was a challenge as I did not count on the tidal waves of emotion slamming against my very soul, rocking me to my very core.

I looked around and saw the sea of people and how each of them, in their own way have played a part in my tremendous growth. Many are homeless. Many have experienced traumatic pasts. I used to run away from that association when I first landed on Skid Row. I now embrace it. They are men and women of courage.

That phrase, men and women of courage, has a special meaning to me. It was coined by someone who has had a profound influence on my life. He is the reason why I practiced diligently to express myself on this keyboard and with the pen. I admired his ability to write and I wanted to express myself as well as he has always done.

I looked across the sea of people and thought so hard about how far I have come. I used to avoid people who were dirty and unkempt when I landed here. I have always treated the homeless with respect. In Philadelphia, I was first exposed to the homeless and the mentally ill as they dotted the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. I treated them with respect but it was different.
I was not "connected" with them. I could give them a dollar and go about my business in the Ivy League towers at Penn.

This was different. I could not visit and leave. I started out as roommates in a huge dormitory on Skid Row and are still neighbors with many mentally ill. They have taught me more about life than I ever knew there was to know. It is one thing to know something, to be aware of it. It is another to "FEEL" it. I have endeavored to use this craft at which I have worked so hard to inmprove, to make people feel the heart and souls of those who are invisible and forgotten in society. It is becoming easier as I have felt that same way and now it is very easy to articulate what is in their souls. When I see angst, I feel it. I understand the different brands of it.

All of those things ran through my body and soul this morning as I fought hard not to scream. The movie set brought back so many different feelings of my first months on Skid Row. It was painful and gut wrenching. I was eager to return to Skid Row
after experiencing the "Skid Row" set. Reexperiencing those feelings of isolation was unbearable. However, it showed me how far I have come in more ways than I know.

Joe Wright, Jamie Fox, and Robert Downing Jr. will do a great job shedding light on the homeless situation. I have been on many sets. This set was different. From the beginning there was a comraderie with staff and crew. Usually, that bond takes time to develop. You start out in the morning and by the end of the day, everyone is family. It did not take all day. It was instantaneouswhen Joe Wright made his speech to the 'background army' from day one. He expressed respect and love and you can see in his eyes that this is a very emotional piece of work for him. He, Downey and Foxx will do splendidly. I have been on many sets. I can feel the chemistry of this one. I feel it deeply to my core.

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I have written many times in the past months how when you look at Skid Row, it is a reflection of ourselves. I I have said that many times in many different ways.

I have read that same phrase on a website, recently. It was the website of the organization with whom I had an interview recently. They need someone to write. They have no idea that I have written everyday, all day, for years. The writing has evolved. It has had diffeent purposes as time has moved forward.

Today, I read a press release from their website. It is the kind of thing that I would do for them if I am blessed with their confidence. After reading the press release, I read a few more. I studied their website. I am convinced this is where I need to be.

They are about economic empowerment, education and inceasing high self esteem. I had to rebuild my self esteem after it was shattered in various ways. Each day, I know I will be able to expound on the feeling of empowerment that economic development brings. I have tasted it again the few times I have worked in the last year.

My major was international economics and finance, with a concentration on the development of third world countries. A third world country and the economically and educationally disenfranchised in this country share the same differences.

They need someone who can write. I will pour my heart out so that every word has the weight of ten. I never thought I would evolve as a writer. It took a long time for me to develop the confidence to do so. It came from hard work and the love of communicating. It came from the desire to impact the lives of people as someone who I admire has done with his writing. I followed his footsteps when he worked for a company. I followed his footsteps in many ways. He was a writer and I wanted to bring about change the way he has with his writing.

I am a man of passion. I had to relearn how to be a man of courage. I had to feel things inside of me that were not demanded of me in the past. I had to fight in ways I have never had to fight.

I want this position. I deserve a chance to use my education in economics and finance to uplift the lives of others I can do that the same way some one used his ability to create and publish.

That is on my mind tonight. God I want it to be. As someone said to me. This position is made for me. It involves everything that has been threaded into my life. Education. Economics. etc. etc.

I was told I was a fighter recently. I must fight for this. Once I get the position, I can help the organization fight to empower people.

Good night world. I love you.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar Night


It is Oscar Night and Hollywood is gearing up for its most festive occasion. I want to extend my congratulations to Jason Reitman, the Director of Juno, for his Best Director nomination. I am proud to say that Jason Reitman is a fellow Alumnus of the Harvard-Westlake School.

Harvard and Yale are credited for producing more Presidents of the United States, than any other universities. The University of Southern California is credited for having more of their athletes as Olympians than any other university in the country.

It is fair to say that Harvard-Westlake has produced more Oscar winners than any other secondary school in the world. As far back as Douglas Fairbanks,Jr., Harvard-Westlake alums have been Oscar winners. Fairbanks, himself, was a co founder of United Artists.

Darryl Zanuck, Douglas Fairbanks, Charleton Heston, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck and even President Ronald Reagan are members of the Harvard-Westlake family, as either an alumnus or father of one of the boys that attended the school.

Martin shafer, the founder, Chairman and CEO of Castle Rock Entertainment was on the tennis team with me when we won two Championships. Douglas Wick, former Co-Chair of Sony Entertainment Pictures was in my class. Those two men, alone, are credited with at least 20 Oscars.

Congratulations to Jason Reitman for continuing the Harvard-Westlake tradition.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

UCEPP Celebrates Sobriety





UCEPP, the United Coalition East Prevention Project, sponsored a celebration of sobriety today at Gladys Park. Various speakers shared the podium recounting inspiring stories of their courageous battles against drug addiction. Afterwards, a band entertained the wildly enthusiastic crowd with uplifting Afro/Cuban music.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Aon Building



That is the Aon building, a very special building to me. It has become even more special today.

I arrived on Skid Row on February 7, 2007. That day marked the end of a horrific experience and was the beginning of a journey that had many challenges.

I remember sitting outside of the Transition House on Crocker St and looking West.
The Downtown Skyline looked so different from my position east of it. For 50 years I saw it develop from a southwestern point of view. Last year the Downtown Skylline seemed like a huge moat, beyond which was a world I knew that was so different and alien to what I was observing on Skid Row.

I would see this building each night with the Aon sign on it. I wondered what it would take to climb the side of that building and see the expansive landscape fo the city of Los Angeles. God, it seemed so hard. So Difficult. So Impossible at that time. Each night I felt overwhelmed by the tasks ahead of me. I was helpless to change certain things. I had to be patient and my time would come. I had to accept my circumstances as they were and work on changing them.

Over a period of time, I did not look at the top of the building. I looked at the bottome of it. "Walter, if you were about how to get to the top, you will never get there", I said to myself. That was a significant moment. That was the moment when I began to climb that mountain of a journey, step by step. One foot in front of the other. Chop that journey down to size over a period of time. Fight for what I want. Fight for my chance to do what I set out to do a long time ago.

I wanted to make a difference. Bad things happen to people. I had finally, after many years, experienced a life altering experience. Was it going to change my drive, or my commitment to be a person of positive change? Indeed, I was concerned. I was experiencing the "other America", the America far removed from the prep schools, Ivy League schools, powerful social and business contacts that were an integral part of my life. I was among the needy, the uneducated, the disenfranchised. I was among those that did not feel good about themselves. I was also among those that were fighting to build happy lives for themselves and for their families. Courageous men and women who taught me what it was like to fight in this war, a war of poor self esteem, of feeling rejected and unwanted. A was a different type of war. It was a new war. I had fought to feel good about myself but life is not spent in a vacuum.

I stood the test of time. I needed patience. I learned that patience takes different times as the longevity of waiting increases. The battles are less with the perceived perceptions than they are with oneself.
One can psyche oneself out of the game.

I waited. I struggled with myself and my frustrations. I hurt at night with gripping loneliness. My father taught me to be disciplined and tough in exercising it.

Those lessons paid off.

It is very easy to wallow in self pity. One can fall into that trap easily on Skid Row.
I did not waste time doing that. Instead I developed a plan to prepare myself for the job world. I sat in the guard shack all day long writing, continuing the process that I started a long time ago in elevating my ability to express and convey. I wrote about my thoughts, my emotions while I was experiencing this phase in my life. I monitored every bit of my being.

I collected cans in the compound and saved them every dime. I started out with eight dollars and my "can business" or "franchise" grew over time. Every one in the compound
had cell phones, nice clothes and people that came by to see them. I had myself and my will to survive. I had one pair of shoes, three pairs of socks, two pairs of sweat pants and washed them by hand instead of the washing machine.

There was no way I was going to dig in a trash can all day for cans and spend a dollar to buy a soda. Twenty five cans equates to one dollar. In effect, I was relearning the discipline of saving and sacrifice. Impulsive consumption was out of the question.
I stuffed my dollars in a my locker and drank water.

Over a period of time I was able to purchase a pair of work boots and a cell phone. I earned the right to work and I was now developing my communication system. Cell phone, email address were essential in making myself job ready.

The facility where I lived purchased computers. The very first thing I did was do a search on the "Logo" Aon. It was in my view every day. How I viewed that building and my climb up that side of the wall, was an indication of my attitude and strength.

People paid me to write letters or teach them how to read. Others hired me to teach them computer basics. One dollar for this, Five dollars for that. It added up.

I took a risk and purchased a camera. It was an investment in my future. In the new media, one must be exceptional in the skills of integrating multimedia elements to
make presentations visually pleasing as well as effective in producing results.

I found a way to do just that. I started my blog. This blog has given me insights into the tremendous power and reach of the internet and the ability to shape thought and mobilize action and behavior.

A temporary factory job came my way and I was able to save money in an envelope for my new life. I found a nice pair of gray slacks and a blue sport coat to wear for certain types of interviews. However, They were not enough. That attire would not get me hired in the Aon building. The Aon building was always in sight. It was my standard and there are barriers to entry. There are always barriers to entry in any endeavor or career.

A suit was needed. The right shirt and tie was mandatory. A man could have two white shirts and two ties. Shirts and ties are not equal. Kind hearted individuals gave me some shirts but they would not get me into the Aon building. It was not only in my sight but I was focusing in on it. I could feel myself elevating to the point where I could compete effectively to walk in a class office building for a position. However, I had to have the right uniform. Having the uniform was symbolic of the work it took for me to get to the point where I could walk in. Gaining admittance, with the proper prerequisite attire, I could be honest. I would not have to hide my path. It was nothing about which to be ashamed. In fact I believe the path I experienced was something about which I should be very proud.

Collecting 10 loads of cans, I was able to purchace 3 new shirts and by the grace of God I found a perfect used gray suit. The hardier you work, the luckier you get.

Finally, I called my oldest friend, an oral surgeon, and he performed a service for me and manufactured two bridges for me. There was no way that I could be considered for employment when I teeth were missing. Some things are not going to happen. Marketing positions, by their very nature, are positions where you create aesthetics, visually pleasing documents that facilitate one's ability to convey concepts and ideas.
The person who creates those documents must be a pleasing person in every sense of the word. It goes with the territory.

I acquired some black shoes and the outfit was complete. My God, what a journey. It took so much work to get to this point. Where I started out believing I had not future. Now I had hope. I endured the test of time. I avoided all of the land mines, evading self destruction. The Aon building was within reach.

The next task was my resume. It took some time but I created one. I had not needed one in over 20 years. It took time to weed out the fat. I could not respond at times to opportunities as computer accessibility was not immediate. I could not compete with those that possessed all of the necessary technology tools that expedited the information process. However, I was in the game. I was finally in the game.

Did this work start one year ago. No. It started years ago when I began to reshape my life and begin to live they way I was raised, the way I was taught. It was necessary to shed bad habits and go through my own "boot camp", one that would increase my focus and discipline exponentially.

All of that was done. It came about at my most difficult moments. Winners are born when the going gets tough. One grows from adversity. I understand the principles and standards that my parents set. Now I appreciate them. Big difference.

Every person who reads this blog knows that I have struggled to find the right opportunity. Eveyone knows how I had to work hard to get to where I am. Everyone knows how I was concerned about background checks. They are a fact of life for me until my attorney straightens that out. We are in that process now. Fortunately, through my victories over the last year, I was able to acquire a high profile attorney.

During the last year, I have built up respect and credibility. People believe me and believe in me. I earned it through patience and hard work.

A few weeks ago, I thought of a man named John. that I met him years ago. I do not know why I thought of him. I believe it has to do with the fact that I have been writing about poverty and my observations of it this past year. It was vital that I develop a network as well a maintain and increase my skills and knowledge base. Reporting about Skid Row has enabled to do both, simultaneously.

Yesterday, I saw an ad and I was surprised that the company that was advertising to fill a position was the company that John founded. It is an organization that is dedicated to eradicating poverty in all of its forms and manifestations.

I did some research and discovered that they were only blocks from me.

"Oh my god", I thought. I called their office and asked to speak to John. He was not available but I had the chance to speak to his right hand person, Rachael. She suggested that I email the resume and they would respond.

On previous occasions, I was told that by other individuals for other positions. I did not counter the obstacles well. I was not in shape in that regard.

I inquired about the possibility of bringing my resume in yesterday if she had time as I was downtown. She had no problem with it. It was like a sales call. The blood was pumping and I was excited.

I ran home and polished my shoes, quickly showered and put on the uniform. I have worn suits ever since the 7th grade as military uniforms were required at Harvard School.
I feel more comfortable in a suit than anything else.

I put on the suit. I noticed that each time I put it on. I feel it better. I believe I represent what it symbolizes to the fullest. I am organized and determined, with a sense of purpose.

I walked to the address of their office. I looked up and saw where I was.

"I will be damned." IT WAS THE Aon BUILDING. I could not believe it. I was there.
Staring at the logo, the past year flashed through my mind like a slide show. The trials. The heartaches. The disappointments. The loneliness. The planning. The work. The rebuiding of confidence. The trash can digging. The determination. The primal will to succeed. The victories. The gaining support. The development of relationships. Things that came naturally through a socialization process suddenly had a different meaning.

I did not use my prep school contacts or my social contacts or ivy league contacts for this. I DID THIS totally on my own, with new contacts and new friends. I have three old friends that have given me support and God bless Randy. For without him, I would not have the smile that is necessary to compete in the Aon building.

I was there. I could not believe it. I was there and did not even know it.

Immediately, the sense of being at home was there. I was around the corner from the YMCA. All of my old friends were members of the LAAC. A classmates family owned it.
All were members of the Jonathan Club. All were within reach.

I used to use my contacts to help other people. Never for my personal gain. Now I was in position to use my extensive social network to benefit mankind with this new position.

I braced myself and walked in the door. Paula, the receptionist was so pleasant. We quickly established rapport and discovered that she graduated from the same school as my parents, Manual Arts. She made me feel right at home.


Rachael came out and talked with me. Immediately, with the information she was telling me it became clear that they needed a marketing manager and a consultant in one. They are changing their operation from a decentralized structure into a centralized one.

My consulting hat went on immeditately. I forgot I had consulting experience even though most of my marketing and sales positions were of a consultative nature.

Rachael had a problem and she needed it to be handled. However, I quickly realized the problem about which they already know was only the beginning. They needed somebody to not only do the daily duties but help create a sound information flow and that was something I learned very well at Xerox. Information management.

We had not been talking long when she introduced me to the President of the organization, Bill. I enjoyed listening to him and we spent a great deal of time talking about character. During this time, I kept looking out of the window and realized that I could see the entire LA Basin. It was beautiful. It was what I worked hard to do-to see on the other side of the Aon building.

Bill asked me a question,"Have you spent the last year being busy being down on your luck"? I waited for a second and said yes.

Immediately it nagged at me. I did not understand the question. It had been a while since I interviewed for a position and never had I discussed substance abuse in any interview in my life. I was on new territory.

I believe I misinterpreted the question. I should have told him the long process that it took for me to get to the point where I could sit in his office. It nagged at me all night. I made a mistake. I wanted to correct it.

He asked me another question about my "vision". We did not get a chance to expand on it because of time constraints.

My visions is that the new media is essential to position his organization to effectively communicate their mission to the world and to compel action that can bring lasting change. I can see the organization having a tv show or channel on the internet.

For the time being, the need some one who is not only multi task capable but multi purpose oriented. They need the every day duties done while they structure their new communication system at the same time that they develop and implement their marketing strategy. The latter can not happen without the former, particularly since they are growing globally.

I did not get the chance to convey that. I will attempt to get that second chance.

Either way, I am in the game. I was in the Aon building. I want that building to be my home. I want to be a team member. I have seen extreme poverty this past year. I have experienced and felt despair beyond anything I ever could have imagined was possible.

I believe these experiences will serve me well as their mission is to eradicate poverty.
Maybe I have to wait. I hope not.

I did not worry about certain things. I did not worry that my profile page on my blog was not what I wanted it to be. I did not worry about certain things. Maybe , they may cost me. I know this much. I can be very good at the position. I want it. I am made for it.

I made it to the Aon building. I want to stay there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Moon shot from Skid Row


The sky looked inviting this evening when I was walking down the street.
The clouds were moving rapidly across the sky.

I wandered to the roof of my building to see if there were any interesting shots.
Looking toward the south, a grey canopy of clouds was sailing west to east across the heavenly airscape. There was nothing to the west worth seeing and in the north,our City Hall stood as majestically as it always does.

I figured there was nothing special in the sky until, while turning east, my eyes landed on the moon. I thought it was a beautiful shot. I ran downstairs, grabbed my camcorder leaped the stairs to the roof entrance. I have learned that shots like this can change within a minute.

I have taken alot of pictures during the last few months but I really wanted to share this one with the people of cyberspace who read my blog. Thank you for reading it.

At first glance, this photo seems like any other picture. However, the longer you look at it, the more the shape of it changes. The depth changes as well as the texture of the surface. It talks to you. Enjoy it.
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The Skid Row 3 on 3 Street Basketball League will be honored on February 29, Leap Year Day, at City Hall Chambers. The ceremonies were postponed out of respect for the Officer Simmons. Officer Simmons would be proud of the work that the League was doing in Skid Row.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Skid Row Social Network Locates a Missing Person

Construction is moving along on the new SRO Housing project, on 5th and San Julian.
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Every day people come to Skid Row to search for friends and relatives. You can see the desperation in their eyes when they show you a flier. They wait anxiously to see
signs of recognition in the eyes of everyone who sees the faces of their loved ones. The guard shack at the Midnight Mission is filled with fliers of missing persons.

Yesterday something special happened and I was glad that I could bring a little joy to someone.

A friend of mine has been reading my blog. She lives in New York but was raised out here in Los Angeles. She has a high school friend who lives in New York as well.
The woman has not seen or spoken to her brother in seventeen years. He was believed to be wandering the streets of Skid Row.

My Friend emailed me, describing the man's accomplishments in addition to providing me with his real and street name. I recognized the name. He was a very well known basketball player in Los Angeles and in the college ranks.

Basketball is very popular on Skid Row and if anybody is any good they are known in the area. Superstars like this missing basketball player are celebrities.

I knew that if the man were alive and in Skid Row there was one person who would know him. I made a call to Jeff Page, The Director of Marketing for the Skid Row Street 3 on 3 Basketball League. He not only recognized the name, immediately, he had seen the missing man a couple of months ago in Hollywood. In the not too distant past, they played basketball together.

Upon receiving the information, I called the man's sister in New York. She immediately broke out into tears. She thought that her brother could have been dead. She resolved in her mind that she may only be able to give him a decent burial.

I can not describe the feeling that came over me when I was able to tell "Ms New York" that her brother was last seen alive a couple of months ago. I made a difference and it camewith the help of the community organization that has been so successful in the short time that it has been in existence.

People do make a difference. I encourage people who are looking for individuals in Skid Row to talk to the men in the guard shacks at the missions. They know everyone or at least see everyone. Do not leave before contacting the Skid Row Street league. They are very active and they have far reaching tentacles into every area of street living. The communication network is vast.

A few months ago I wrote about this very thing. I begged for people to check in certain locations for their loved ones. Never would I have guessed that I would have played a part in locating someone who has been missing for 17 years.

The job is not done. The next step is to inform the appropriate police division and have them look for him. He is "hard to miss". There are few people who are 6'10" in height.

If a homeless organization has an inventory of missing people in their files, please email me. I will make sure that the Skid Row communication network does its part to determine if the missing individuals are in this community.

Joe Wright, the director of The Soloist, said this morning to a crowd of background extras that he experienced a great deal of love and humanity when he spent a week
on Skid Row. He is right. People do care for each other and for the relatives of those that are missing. Many of them had been on the Missing In Action list themselves.

If you have a missing person in your life, please email me. The email address is in my profile. Give us a chance, in the homeless capital of the nations, to find your loved one. This is the "freeway interchange for the homeless". If someone has been down here for any length of time, someone knows that person. The missing person may not be here but they may be in another homeless community. People know where those communities are and they know people in those communities with whom they can access vital information.

At a time when Blogs and Social Networking are all the rage, the people on Skid Row are doing their part in showing how the latest craze on the internet can serve
to bring people together who have been long apart.
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Oh yes. Kevin, call me tomorrow and I will give you the details on where to find this gentleman in Hollywood. We need your hope to create some more happiness and joy for the man's sister. For those of you that do not know, Kevin is my friend who is on the LAPD police force. He manages the Safer Cities Initiative. People believe it is an "us versus them" mentality in Skid Row. WRONG. We are working together to bring about not only great change in Skid Row but change in how communities view EVERY MEMBER OF THEIR COMMUNITY. We will have this man talking to his sister within a week or two. It will happen because residents of the community and the people who protect the community are working together as one.

Monday, February 18, 2008

OG at your SERVICE




While many in the City of Los Angeles took the day off to celebrate President's Day, OG N Services were in the neighborhood cleaning it up.

These photos were taken at the corner of 7th St. and San Julian St. The wall was dirty and drab before they started. As you can see, the message is clear. Leave crack alone. This is the beginning of a new mural. They promise to make it very colorful. It looks like they are off to a good start in keeping that promise.

They also swept the streets. That is OG, himself, sweeping the street. San Julian is the filthiest street on Skid Row. In fact, today between 5th and 7th streets, I can not remember when I saw it more dirty. OG and his men made the corner of 7th and San Julian look alot better.

Og is doing exactly what he said he was going to do when I did my first write up for
blogdowntown..His organization is more than just basketball and he is proving it more and more.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday On Skid Row





The top photo was taken on San Julian St today.

The bottom photo is actually the same photo that is in the previous post. I inverted the colors in the "Paint" application. Just playing around with the computer and attempting to expand my knowledge of the Web 2.0 phenomenon.

On Sunday, this street is usually packed with people. Ministeries from all sections of the city deliver food and clothing to people in the neighborhood. Musical concerts and sidewalk preaching dot other areas of the community. The Nation of Islam comes to the community and picks up their weekly recruits and dart off to the Mosque in Long Beach for their services.

I treated myself to a pancake breakfast and picked up some applications to be filled out tonight. I submitted a couple of resumes to potential employers. Beginning to be more efficient at this process. More productive. However, each day requires that I tighten up more and more. I refuse to be unemployed. I refuse to stop growing. I refuse to be a casualty of Skid Row.

Tonight I will go home, work some more and then read my new novel.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM.
I LOVE YOU.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Officer Simmons

Officer Simmons was laid to rest today. There is nothing that I can say that would be better than the article on Kcal.com

Their coverage of the funeral was splendid. it just makes you sit back and reflect.

I thought alot about how people can leave us so quickly in this world. I see it all of the time on Skid Row. I hear about it every day. "So and so was shot. Did you hear about that?"

"Did you hear they found so and so in the garbage, dead".

Earlier today I ran into someone that I met in jail. He was very supportive. He promised me that he would never smoke cocaine again. He could not keep that promise. He was away from it for a year and immediately returned to it. I do not understand it. After being away for so long, why go back?

He told me that it was not he and he had to get himself together. I usually do not say things to people but this man was good to me in jail. He told me about another man that helped me out tremendously. He was found dead, chopped up by a machete.
Apparently, he made someone mad. He promised never to return to that lifestyle as well.

I told my former acquaintance several things and I hope he remembers them.

"Archie, you have a choice here. You choose to live or you choose to live on the streets. You aske me for money because you went back to drugs. You tell me that the man who prayed every night to us, "Black," is selling drugs. He swore that he would never sell drugs again. He said he found the light.

Where is your light Archie? You can not see it when your eyes are closed while you hit the crack pipe. You are on the streets. You do not have to be on the streets. You have a chance to go home. Today I saw a man burried on television today. He did everything the right way and he can not go home to his family. He kept the streets safe so that others can go home to their families.

Last night I talked to a friend of mine. You told me, Archie, that my teeth look good. You told me I look good. It is nothing to be shocked about? I had a good friend that helped me. He did my teeth. His wife is an anchor on televsion news and she reported on the funeral, today, of the officer who can not go home. She does a marvelous job. Yesterday, my friend, who did my teeth, called me up. It was Valentine's Day. I have known this man longer than anyone else on earth. He told me he was proud of me because I was bouncing back. It felt great. However, I told my friend, that I wanted him to do something for me. I wanted him to go home and squeeze out every moment he could, yesterday, to express his deepest feelings to his wife. HIS DEEPEST FEELINGS. I told him, Archie, that unless he sheds some tears, he has not shed his deepest feelings.

I told him that if there was one thing that I learned from this experience, it was that you never can take anything for granted because you never know what can be removed from your life. People can not die and be removed from your life.
When you open that door and leave the sanctuary of your home, you do not know if you will return or if your loved ones will return. Nothing is guaranteed.

I asked him to do that for me because I can not do what I want to do and express my deepest feelings. I learned how to do that with someone who is the most special person in my life and then, Wham, gone.

Archie, you can go home to your mom. You have a family that loves you and needs you. You say you learned alot about yourself, then go home and learn some more. Go home and learn about the beauty of being with those that love you.

Archie, everyday I want to go home and I can not. I told you I would not do drugs. I have not. I have urges to smoke a cigarette from time to time but I refuse to budge on it. I will not do it.

You know these streets out here have nothing. People die. People are killed. People who try to keep these streets safe are killed, like Officer Simmons.
You do him and his sacrifice a dishonor when you consciously put yourself in harm's way so that you can dull your senses.

Archie, go home. Do not tell me what you are going to do. I live on Skid Row. I hear that every day. I will love you either way. Love yourself. Officer Simmons loved you. He loved everyone in the City and he gave his life so you can have a safe one. Go home Archie and squeeze every ounce of joy you can out of every moment.

That is what I told my friend to do for me yesterday. He deserves it. His wife deserves it. She reports everyday so people can enjoy their lives and improve the quality of their lives. Go home Archie and live a life that is absent of the threats that ended the man that we both knew. I do not want to hear about you being shot or stabbed. Go home Archie. Go home while you can. Go home. If you go home Officer Simmons life will not have been given in vain. Everybody needs to go home. "

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. I wish everyone would do something for Officer Simmons. Go home and tell your family how much you love them. Please do that. You need it. They need it. They need you. Be there and express it so they feel it.

Art


Who knows where this is? If you were at Art Walk on Thursday night, you should know.

Time is up. Every day 5th and Main St. is bustling with people. At night it is very dark. This window brights it up. The bright window is where Bert Green has his business, Bert Green Fine Art. This window is so colorful. The candy cane stripes that you see, drape the whole window line of Bert's establishment. Gone are the Jars with the area codes in them.

Thanks Bert for providing light and color to that intersection.

Getting back into form on Skid Row



I made a social fopah yesterday. I emailed a woman. I was establishing communication and a relationship with her. I made the mistake saying"forgive me if it is indelicate of me to ask you to keep me in mind when position comes up in your firm."

I could have kicked myself the moment I hit the send button. I knew better. I am letting the pressures of attempting to get a career drive me to commit short sighted acts of behavior.

Networking is one thing. Applying for a position is another. The two do not mix in the opening gambit of a relationship. I knew it but that is one of the things one must overcome when getting back into form. Just because one is sweating, don't let anyone see you sweat. If I am lucky she will understand that I am under pressure instead of concluding that I have no social grace.

So on one hand I can kick myself and on another, I am glad to be in the postion again to interface with her and others again.

I told my friend Jeff about it and he read me the riot act. He should have. It was painfuol but it reinforced in me all of the reasons and opportunity costs that could incur from a strategic error.

I have never been in a situation where I networked and was under the gun at the same time. Well, that may not be true but being twenty years older it is alot different.
Twenty years ago one could call up an old college buddy and crash at their house or apartment. No one had families. Now, one can not do that. The stakes are higher. The gains are potentially higher as well as the opportunity costs.

It takes time to get back on my game. Hopefully I did not foul out with that nice lady.

Jeff continued the riot act into other areas. I need to figure out a new strategy about employment. I must adapt to my situation.

I decided to ride my back around Little Tokyo. I was hoping that I would find a place that was hiring. I found a little gift shop. There were many notices taped to the window. Something told me to keep looking. Burried beneath all of the notices, there was this little sign,"Now hiring."

I came here to post this blog first and then I am going back to the room to change into some more appropriate clothes and go back and see about employment.

Oh yes, after Jeff, read me the riot act, I turned in my cans.

"What are you a hustler or a wimp". "You know better than I do what you have to do. IF the resume thing is not working out, or time is running out, change your plans. Change your strategy. Get the job done. Find a place to work until you can get what you want."

Of course there were many expletives deleted in his tirade to me. It did the trick. I turned in the cans and found a prospect.

Taking it up a notch. Getting in shape. Making mistakes like I did yesterday. It is all about bootcamp. Jeff is a good drill sergeant.

Must go. Talk later. Life on Skid Row will make you or break you. The former is a must because the latter is unacceptable.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love is in the Air



On the left is Jose Egurbide, Deputy City Attorney, City of Los Angeles. The middle man is Don Garza. The man on the right is Jeff Page. These gentleman were at the Safer City Initiative (SCI) Update meeting that was held at the Midnight Mission today.

It was good to see Jose smile. It has been a long year for him and I do not believe he gets enough credit. Jose manages the Safer City Initiative for the City Attorney's office. Usually he must educate the public about their goals. Most of the public believes that it is the goal of the SCI is to criminalize the homeless.

Indeed, the press reported many arrests in the phase of the program but that was it.
I sat in a meeting room today where there was a round table discussion about the intricacies of options that people have with regards to entering prorams if approached by the LAPD or other City agencies.

Different service providers made it clear that a bed will always be available if an individual makes a commitment to getting treatment. It is called the SOS program. It is my understanding that the program is being expanded.

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Funding for Gladys Park is under control. Reportedly the Mayor has committed to making funds available so the parks in Skid Row will not have to be closed. Gladys Park is the home venue for the Skid Row Street Basketball League. Their second season will start later this Spring.

In the one year that I have been on Skid Row, I have seen alot of change. However, the biggest change is the attitude I have seen in the people who work so hard to make things happen. They all have been critized by the press and various civil rights organizations. However the stuck with it and are beginning to see results. The streets are cleaner and people have been placed in housing where they are receiving supportive services. Enough time has elapsed so that a few success stories have been making the neighborhood grapevine.

They all share in that victory and you could see that they are inspired to do more in 2008.

I met Anita Nelson SRO Housing. She is a very pleasant woman and sensitive to the needs and growing curves that her employees must undergo in order to service the Skid Row community. I look forward to getting to know her.
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The Southern Hotel received its Purple Heart today.

The Skid Row Street Basketball League will be honored at City Hall tomorrow.

Speaking of the Mayor's office, Paul hernandez, of the Mayor's office was at the SCI outreach meeting today. He is going to be liaison between the SCI participants, which include the LAPD, City Attorney's office, and the service providers.

Enthusiasm was high today. They feel they are making a difference and they are.
Keep it up.
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I had lunch today with a neighbor friend of mine who lives across the street from my mom. It felt good to hear words of support from him and his wife. I saw him a few weeks ago at the Little Tokyo library where I am typing this. He gave me his card and expected my call. he thought he lost me. However, in the online Leimertparkbeat.com, he saw a story that was written about me and clicked the link that connected him to my blog.
he emailed me immediately.

That kind of stuff happens everyday, it seems.

Finally, I am on the Educational committee of DLANC.org. It feels good to get involved and to see if I can make a difference.

Wow. Lots of things are happening. If you guys have any ideas to help the people on Skid Row, please do not hesitate to write. I would like to make the educational committee interactive and incorporate good ideas from the community in the rebuilding process of the lives of people on Skid Row.

Love was in the air today. It was a good day. People are uniting on Skid Row to get things done. Each day I see the communication building among people from all walks of life. I always said that Skid Row could lead the way in the homeless battle and other areas. We just might get there.

Good night world. I love you. Happy Valentine's Day.

Rape as a Weapon of War

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23152616

The above link is to MSNBC's report on Rape as a Weapon of War.

If you recall, I posted a link to the 60 Minutes segment that I saw about a month ago. Anderson Cooper did a segment called Rape in the Congo. That segment deeply effected me when I saw all of those women looking up into the night sky and singing their prayers. Afterwards, they all looked into the camera. They were sad but they displayed such strength and dignity.

This segment was done by Ann Curry of NBC's Nightly News.
I encourage everyone to look at this video. The atracities in Africa are spreading and everyone needs to be aware of what is going on over there. After you see it. Email a link or tell five other people about it. This type of violence and inhumanity towards women can not be allowed to continue.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

DPSS attacks homelessness with Adult Move-in Costs Program


On Wednesday, The Volunteers of America's Transition House held an awareness meeting for their clients and members of the community of services that are available to them.

The presentation was provided by the County of Public Social Services. They outlined for the clients all of the programs of assisatance and the eligiblity requirements for each program such as general relief, food stamps and the restaurant meals.

A special presentation was made about the "Adult Move-in Costs Program of the Homeless Prevention Initiative. The County of Los Angeles program is a homeless prevention strategy to effectively address homelessness. They are utilizing the Homeless and Housing Program to assist individuals in securing housing. The aim is to reduce eliminate the financial pressure associated with move in costs that are seen as often being the barrier to obtaining permanent housing.

The program is limited to single adults exiting emergency/transitional shelters or similar temporary group housing.
They must be currently receiving GR or food stamps or have previously been aided with GR and/or food stamps.

It is a once in a lifetime assistance program and the individual is granted up to $800 to cover move-in costs.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

DLANC

"Gun for Sale". That caught my attention as it was a first. After a year on Skid Row there are few things that remain in which there can be a "first".

I was almost on my block when the man,dressed in black pants and shirt uttered those words. In whose hands is it more dangerous, the person who is selling or the purchaser?

---

Last night I went to the Residential committee meeting of DLANC. It appears to me that these volunteers go to at least one meeting each and every night. I can see why Garza learned so much. There is detailed discussion on every City of Los Angeles topic.

Last night they discussed, the new logo for DLANC. In addition to that, I believe there was some discussion about Kiosks for pets.
I am definitely not clear on it.

At the general Dlanc meeting tonight, there was a presentation from a Metro Representative. He discussed how studies are being undertaken to discover ways that Metro Transit can utilize to make access to Downtown Los Angeles easier using the transit system..

There was also some discussion about bringing back the Broadway street car.

No doubt, if one gets involved with Dlanc, you will learn alot about how the city operates. It is like going back to school.

I am tired. Going to sleep. Good night all.

Oh yes, The female TV news anchors were on Skid Row today giving away computers. I think it is called the School on Wheels program.
Office Max was a participant as well.

Obama won tonight. That is the news for today. Good night.

Monday, February 11, 2008

More "Solar Day" Photos





St. George Hotel Goes Solar






Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. created a program, The Solar Neighbors program, a partnership, engineered by Mr. Norton, between BP and Enterprise that connects celebrities investing in solar electric systems with low-income homeowners who receive a donated BP system of their own. With utility costs markedly reduced through the use of solar electricity, the 42 low-income homeowners who have already benefited from the program have enjoyed savings of hundreds of dollars off their monthly bills. The St. George is the premiere West Coast multi-unit building to receive a solar electric system through the BP Solar Neighbors program.

Everybody was there as it was a happy day for all. It is an example of the results that can be accomplished when people and organizations join together to work for a common goal.

At the top is Ed Norton, the actor he inspired and motivated his celebrity colleagues to participate in the program. Below is Council woman Jan Perry, Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa and City Council President Eric Garcetti




Everybody spoke about this landmark day.

What is my feeling about this? I thought it was great. Most of the time at ceremonies people speak but have nothing really to say. They know it as well as the audience. Today was different. Everybody that said something said something that was significant and that which adds to the total program.

Indeed, it was a proud day for Michael Alvidrez, the executive director of Skid row Housing Trust,who is pictured at the very top. I decided to leave the text in place as it is. (You can see where I already said that Ed Norton was at the top. I decided to add a solo picture of Michael Alvidrez. So I learned how to crop it and add it to the total. So I was lazy in not wanting to change the text. At the same time I am sharing my learning and growing process with you.)

Of course, I should have been creating resumes but I thought this was more important. The more I learn, the better my resumes will be. The more I learn, the better and more creative I will become in producing the story of Skid Row and the progress that is happening in Skid Row.

Television Stations sent their camera crews. This was one occasion where everyone in the room deserved to have a picture taken of them. Anita Nelson and Steven Van Zile, from SRO Housing were also there.

I am just tickled at what I am seeing. Everyone needs to give themselves a pat on the back.

I was thinking. What what it take to motivate companies, maybe "green industry" companies, to put assembly plants of solar systems in Skid Row? Could there be tax incentives to locate companies in Skid Row? Could companies start training programs so that those in Skid Row could be on the cutting edge of technology that could be used to save dollars, keep us independent from oil consumption, and provide employment for those that society had deemed lost causes.

About ten years ago, during the Christmas Holidays, I received a telemarketing call. It was not your usual telemarketing call. This call came from a physically challenged organization. In the past they would be classified as handicapped. They were selling lightbulbs over the phone. These were special lightbulbs. They used less energy and lasted a long time, 5 times longer than the normal lightbulb. A certain amount of the proceeds would go to the organization. I bought some of those lightbulbs. That was the only purchase I ever made from a telemarketer.

I believe today is just the beginning of public/private partnerships in the Skid Row, Central City East district.

There is potential in bringing corporations here to do good things. Los
Angeles can lead the way in the "going green" campaign. Let's take it up a notch. Robert Kennedy said that he dreamed of things and said "Why not?" His son is a big "green" advocate. Why not accomplish two things at once? Why not bring in green industries to Skid Row. We can do things to save the environment and save the lives of people by giving them skills in an industry that is the future of this country. Instead of Skid Row being the end for most people. The residents of Skid Row can be a part of a heroic beginning for this country as we wake up and realize that things must change if we are going to be here in the future.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I Am Moving Forward




























I took these photos a couple of weeks ago when I toured downtown and took over one hundred pictures. this was the old Stanley Mosk Superior Court building. Basically these statutes represent how law evolved over time. The last picture was the Declaration of Independence.


I thought the statues were intricate in their craftsmanship much like the laws that were created in this country.


Many people have written me to express their sorrow that my sister decided to proceed in the manner that she is proceeding. I believe it is unfortunate. Last year at this time, I remember seeing my sister and she told me she was on my side. Everything since then points to the contrary. I believe that she has deep seated resentments that have nothing to do with drugs, or this alleged incident. She has issues that she must work out. She has not.


I made the decision to stand on my own without friends calling her. I do not regret that decision. Whatever I am is not the issue. Whatever my mother feels is not the issue. My sister did not see what I wanted her to see in me the other day. I was disappointed.

When I came here last September, I believed that the court system was my worst enemy.

The system had its catch twenty twos and how I got ensnarled in the system was questionable.


However, I realized, and I said it in previously blogs, that I believed the judge was a fair man. I believe he had doubts about many things. However he had to go with what was documented. Whether it was slanted and misleading that was not his doing.


It was made clear to me that I was considered a monster. I was incredulous but those who win the battles are the ones to write the history. Time was the only thing on my side.

I had to endure the test of time.


I had discontinued a life of destruction before this happened. My friends didn't know. My sister did not know or want to believe it. I was fine with that because over time she would come to believe it. Mom knew it and as I have said a thousand times I heard those precious words"Walter, you have matured right in front of my eyes" as I began to assume more responsibities and take care of her.


As far as the system was concerned, I did not manage my life so they stepped in. Based on what the information in front of them, they had to do what they had to do. I understood that.


Over a period of time, the probation officer realized that I was no problem. Instead of seeing her once a month, I have seen her twice since this episode in my life started.
"Ah, I said. That is the first victory." Over time, my victories and credibility increased. I saw many people go to prison. I saw many people relapse. They had friends and support. I had only my will to survive. I was alone.


I began to meet people who, at first look at me with a leery eye, but over time. They grew to trust me, my word and the fact that they could entrust in me their faith and hopes.


I carried on. I entered the court room in July and the great public defender that was on my side said she never saw the judge so accomodating with respect to requests. He gave me more than what the Public Defender asked for. I deserved it. She was shocked.

I came back to Skid Row and met more people and they had trust and faith in me and they stuck by me. I did not let them down.

One of them asked a favor from his friend to represent me. The attorney did. He did me a great favor. He discussed the possibility, in court, of reducing my felony to a misdemeanor and afterwards, expungement. I did not know if I was going to be able to discuss that issue of my case on Thursday. I believe that if a public defender would have resumed representation of me it would not have occurred. There is simply not enough time in the day to give any case under their management time to scrutinize it in detail.
On Skid Row, I have seen many events of people who were reunited with their families. I have seen many times where a person was reduced to tears because they were rejected by their respective family members. Those are the times when the lessons of Skid Row that have been learned are indispensable. One does not realize that one has learned so much or has evolved or matured as much as one does. If you do the right things down here, those things happen automatically because you must push forward everyday. You must perservere. Each day will come. Time will continue. Time will change things and hopefully the perspective of family members. That is what you learn. Keep going.
I must have learned the lessons well because on Friday morning I did not stay in bed and mope and sulk. I got dressed and went to Chrysalis. I sat down and started looking for employment immediately. Yes, I was surpised. I guess I have evolved and matured more than I thought.
They say this process does that to you and for you.
I work hard to try and see my sisters point of view. I believe she has unresolved issues but I am not the arbitor.
I must continue doing what I am doing. Get better at job searching and submitting applications or resumes. I must focus even more. Waste less time. What happened on Friday has carried over into this weekend. It will continue next week.
Someone asked me what would I tell my sister if she and I talked. I would tell her that drugs blind people of the things they do and that they hurt others and themselves more than they ever thought. It is only after it is over when it really hits you. That is when it hurts the most. That is why so many people can not make it. It hurts so much they feel they need to dull their senses because the pain of understanding is wider and the feeling is deeper.
I would suggest to her to try and see the big picture. In the long run she will be hurting herself more than anyone else. I do not want her to go through the same things I did. It is for her to come to that understanding. Before Today I would have not said these things. I have been struggling with holding on to old myopic considerations rather than widen my considerations of possible concerns. I would vascillated for days and lose time learning and accomplishing.
I said this neighborhood is a university. The reading material is inside of yourself. You must find an objective lense, as objective as possible to view the material so one can properly diagnose the situation. One never operates in a vacuum. Is one thing to look at oneself, it is quite another to review family dynamics because there is so much information that is not known.
I hesitate to comment further right now. It is important for me to let time provide me with some insight and perspective. I am here for my sister if she needs me. As I am sure there are things I do not know as well that go back decades. If she wants to discuss them, we can. My goal is to understand and explore , not to accuse and indict.
I am sure there is some philosophical perspective that will emerge but for now I am happy that I advanced to another level at the University of Skid Row. I have learned alot about myself. I have learned to accept some things. Someone who I have always admired told me that my statement that I was pursuing Life was a emotional declaration. Indeed it was a statement that was the umbrella's tip, and beneath it were a sea of forces that created rolling tides of continuance change.
I believe that is what happened Friday morning. I chose to pursue Life instead of wallowing in despair. I started training for it a long time ago with triathlon training. It was the first phase.
This is a different one but oh so important.
I am coordinating a weekly Bike ride in downtown Los Angeles. I am also running as an alternate in the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. In addition to all of that, I will be searching for ways to develop my blog. On more than one occasion, I have learned that non profit organizations enjoy reading it. Maybe, Scribeskidrow can branch out into a niche.
Maybe some time of social network website can grow from it. Certainly, this experience has given rise to many ideas. I would like to be able to develop those.
So, I did not get what I wanted but in many ways I received what I needed from the experience.
I am anxious to get the second year moving forward. I do not know how long I will be here, but I want to squeeze every bit of learning out of this experience, each and every day.
I encourage everyone to pursue life.

Gladys Park is Better. San Julian stays dirty

These Photos were taken at Gladys Park today. The person with the nice shooting form with the left hand is Jeff Page, the Director of Marketing for the Skid Row Street Ball League.

I walked over to the park because Gordon Turner, a City Deputy Attorney, told Jeff that he could play basketball and they both talked trash and decided they were going to play today at 10,00AM.
I do not know what to say. I thought that City Atrorneys kept their appointments. We will have to look into this matter further. I was looking to take some great shots of the game and film it as well and put it on my blog. I am truly disappointed.



The other two photos were taken at Gladys park as well. People sleep at the park all of the time while people play basketball and chess.

It was my 2nd time at Gladys Park other than when the League was playing. The first time was about a year ago when I first arrived on Skid Row.

At that time, there were not 6 or 7 people sleeping in the park. The place was packed. Every square foot was covered with people sleeping on the ground. I do not know what happened to everyone--if they are in programs or in jail. I just know that there are not as many people out there. Definitely, the drug traffic has disappeared.
I have said that the drug traffic is not the major problem on Skid Row. The major problem are the conditions that keep people down here.

I was talking to a woman who moved out of my building today. I have known her since I arrived on Skid Row. We never had a conversation about Skid Row. She has always been at meetings that I had to attend and she was serious about staying clean.

Her name is Jennifer. Jennifer
commented about the Skid Row system. "Walter, I do not understand one thing. I am moving into permanent housing. I will pay 60 dollars a month. I can save money now. But when I moved in here, to our building I was just starting out. I had no money. I had nothing. I was paying over twice as much for half the space. It seems to me they should charge you less when you first start out and more after you have had time to get situated. "

Jennifer continued,"I do not believe these places are here to help you. They do not do anything for you and the only reason you are in the buildings is because you have money. If you miss rent you are on the streets. Then you go back to the shelters until you can get back on GR. Some will take your money. Others will save it for you. They beg you to stay until they can not receive any more money from you and then they bum rush you out."

"Walter, my place is so much nicer than the room I had and I pay 50% less. I can now save money to get out of this place soon. I watched alot of people go from these temporary housing situations to the streets or back to the shelters. Then they go back to the streets. And it is not because they are doing drugs."

Nothing can drive people to do drugs but I will say this. I can honestly see why people give up down here.

I walked on San Julian St. this morning. I walked to the southern end of the street towards 6th St. It was filthy and it stunk. Jeff Page has been diligently trying to get people to clean up San Julian.

It is dirtiest around Lamp and the Union Rescue Mission. Those are the worse streets on Skid Row. When it gets the dirtiest is when the crack smoking escalates. Today I walked down the street and when I got in front of the mission, I noticed 6 people smoking crack. They were not on the sides of the building. They were in front of the mission.

That has to be stopped. If the Mission told their clients that if they were seen smoking cocaine in front of the building , they would be kicked out, they would stop smoking. At least between the first and the tenth of each month. That is the worse time. They need to get a person to walk around their perimeter around the first of each month to monitor the situation.

Lots of people on Skid Row believe that the missions do not care what happens in the community as long as it is not done on their property. I am asking the missions to prove people wrong.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Winston St. thugs.




This is the mission at St. Vincent's on Winston St. in the Skid Row community. There have been reports that robberies are taking place after dark and the men at the St Vincent's Mission are being bullied by young thugs and drug dealers.
A person, who lives in the St. Vincent's mission, said that it all started when the LAPD raided drug hot spots on Winston, north of Wall ST. Since then, the drug dealers have all moved south of Wall St. to continue operations.
I was told that they picked that location because it is off the main thoroughfare and they have look-outs posted at Wall and at Maple St. They could see everything going and coming. By doing so they can warn their "crew" if the police are coming.
Before long, the "Youngsters" started charging "tolls" for people who wanted to walk on Winston between Maple and Wall. They even patted the pants of the pedestrians to see if they had any money. If the pedestrians did not have enough money, the thugs would regularly surround them and beat them up, leaving them bloody. Occasionally, the thugs would even stand in the doorway at ST. Vincent's and liberate money right at the front door from the residents.