They have taken over a restaurant and bar called “Señor Fish”, on the corner of First and Alameda. The place is packed. DJs are spinning in two different rooms. It’s dark inside, with the requisite flashing colored lights and smell of many people dancing.
But there’s one difference between this party and others in Los Angeles at this very moment. Out back there are a series of tables set up with information about different non-profits and independent merchants. People are swarmed around them.
One of the first tables you’ll find is the table for the Southern California Library. Their website says they are "a people's library dedicated to documenting and preserving the histories of communities in struggle for justice," abd that their collections "address the challenges of the present so that all people have the ability, resources, and freedom to make their own histories." Their assistant librarian, Raquel Chavez, was there to do a little outreach, in addition to her usual work in the neighborhoods. “We look at what [people] are interested in," she says. "A lot of the young kids come in and they’re interested in graffiti, so you look at, like, ‘oh, what can we do with that?’. And just this last Tuesday we had a graffiti art day where we invited a lot of writers from around LA to work with the kids. You know, there’s a whole political history behind graffiti.”
Indeed, one can assume that the theme of the party was outreach to community; I sat down to talk to one of Street Inc.'s founders, Tafarai Bayne, who told me that their mission was to inspire communication and a focus on what it means to live in a multicultural city like Los Angeles. "We, as a company," he says, "will do stuff like facilitate meetings, conduct workshops around different issues, work with non-profits around their social campaigns…we can get really complicated like that, or we can just throw parties.”
The full interview can be found here as an mp3.
To find out more about the Southern California Library, go to: http://www.socallib.org
For more about Street Inc., go to: http://www.streetinc.biz