Watts House Project, an arts neighborhood redevelopment organization based opposite the historic Watts Towers, has acquired three neglected houses and is re-creating them as The Platform, an artist work site, programs hub, and exhibition venue woven into the fabric of the area.
Programs Director Trinidad Ruiz updates us on their progress:
May has been a meaningful month for WHP. We not only secured permits for the work that’s about to begin at the Platform, we are shoring up our Virtual Redevelopment Project and reaching out to new potential board members. Coincidentally, May has also been a month of realization for WHP. An interesting reality dawned on us a couple of weeks ago - WHP is in rebuilding mode yet expanding at the same time. In light of the recent leadership changes, we are growing our board, making connections and collaborating with local organizations, and transitioning off the block by networking with more Watts residents. We thought we would share a few strategies which have allowed WHP to expand despite the challenges we’re facing since the leadership transitions started at the end of April. We’ve acheived this delicate balance by attracting the attention of individuals who we perceive as integral to WHP.
Our Executive Director, Will Sheffie, shared a few strategies for making those important connections to folks on the block: “We are working on creating a space that allows for interaction from all of our stakeholders. WHP has always been an organization that thrived on relationships and formal and informal interaction. Over the past month we have been working to communicate the progress on our projects but at the same time listening to our community, artist and architects. These interactions have bred and will continue to grow understanding and provide valuable input into our current and future endeavors. We have also made great progress with the plans and scope of work for the Platform. Once rehabilitated the Platform can be a place where the Arts will foster relationship, creativity and community. We are looking forward to what the Summer holds for our neighborhood and organization.”
From a programs angle, WHP is developing new threads and relationships through innovative programming that allows for collaboration with key individuals and organizations in Watts. With the Virtual Redevelopment Project (VRD), we will be working with local organizations to help WHP choose artists, designers, and architects that will submit for new projects. In addition, WHP is introducing a new artist residency program. A new artist residency program will strengthen and build relationships with Watts residents. The residency is programs based and programs will be driven and inspired by residents participating in WHP’s VRD project. The Platform will be integral as a base and anchor for these new collaborations and connections.
Lastly, we’d like to thank Rosa Gutierrez, resident on 107th Street and our Resident Coordinator, Will Sheffie and Edgar Arceneaux for starting a new walking group dubbed, Walking The Walk, held every Tuesday at 9:45am. The residents meet in front of the Flower House and walk for approximately 1 mile (often with LAPD chaperones). If you’re in the area on Tuesdays in Watts, come on down and prove that you can walk the walk!
Image: Walk the Walk participants, 2012. Courtesy of Watts House Project.