Lesley Taplin died recently in a car crash.was a tireless supporter of the Skid Row community. She was an early supporter of the Skid Row 3 0n 3 Street Basketabll League while a volunteer member of DLANC, The Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. She championed the causes for children and adults, making resources available that would further the education of both while on DLANC's education board. Her picture will be displayed indefinitely as her spirit will never die in the hearts and souls of the people of Skid Row.
It is ironic that her death came on the eve of the premiere of the movie The Soloist, which is a story about the unlikely friendship between Steve Lopez, a staff columnist for the Los Angeles Times and Nathaniel Ayers, a former musical prodigy who studied at the famed Julliard School until he was stricken with schizophrenia and landed on the streets of Skid Row. As Lesley Taplin developed unlikely friendship with Skid Row, so did Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers.
Lesley Taplin understood that Skid Row is a very complexed environment. She knew that the problems of Skid Row were a consolidated, condensed microcosm of America. Indeed, she endeavored to bring attention to the various issues of homelessness, poverty, mental illness, education and human relations, while encouraging the people of the communit to empower themselves. Lesley knew that this place called Skid Row, that many scorn, is a place of hidden beauty and power where one could learn the profundity of life and relationships. It is a place that fascinates me. That is why I call it The University of Skid Row.
There is a Skid Row deep in all of us. The good, the bad and the ugly. However, there is a unique purity of kindness that evades all of us to some level. If you remain in Skid Row long enough, you begin to grasp it. it no longer runs through your fingers as easily as water. You can cup it essence and drink its refreshing and insightful purity. Lesley epitomized that purity. She was a professor at the University of Skid Row, the de facto human laboratory of the United States. It is all here for any to see. If you unravel the entangled threads of anomalies that form the fabric of this community, you will solve the issues of the country.
National Public Radiohas done a series of articles about the Skid Row environment. Please use the link to read those articles. It will provide a cross section of perspectives that will serve to generate thought and discussion of the many challenges that we face in ourselves, individually and as a national and world family.