Jordan Downs are the projects in Watts, near the intersection of the 110 and the 105. I met up with my friend Alicia outside her church at 6:30 am expecting to unload large trucks of food to take down to my friend Lorenzo’s church, so that we could take them down to skid row and pass out food. However, when we got to her church the trucks (huge 18 wheeler trucks) had been unloaded already. So instead of leaving to find Lorenzo…I stayed, and went to Jordan Downs to hand out these large boxes of food, milke, and sundries (re: shampoo, bleach, toilet paper etc.) When we got there, there were about 100 families already in line. Apparently Alicia’s church distributes food and donations every weekend in these projects, and have been doing so for years. The church usually brings down buses with food, and donations for the community, as well as takes down what people need and try to see if their donations can fill their needs. This was on a monumental scale though, in part because of a Pentecostal celebration called the Azusa Street Centennial, and apparently in churches all around the city, county, state, country, people were taking to the streets to feed the hungry (Alicia’s church does it every saturday, Lorenzo does it once a month- the saturday after we get paid). It was so different from what I thought it would be, nd really like what I love about my church. The leaders in Alicia’s church are really young- the pastor is my age- as our the leaders of many of the ministries. We get there and there is a young guy whose telling us what we’re going to be doing (helping people carry these heavy boxes of food back to their homes, offering prayer if prayer is requested- thats what me and Alicia did- just being The Word in action), and the coolest thing was his emphasis on how there was systemic problems that need to be changed to change the conditions in this neighborhood, and that as people who are priviledge we need to remain humble im this moment, and not to preach because the people of Jordan Downs have been preached too, what they need today is our love and presence. I thought that was great. I can’t stand preachy people. It implies that those being preached to, do not have a faith base or values that are valid. The whole event was very cool. Not at all colonialistic or missionary like in nature. Just people handing out food, talking, and praying if someone asked. The Pentecostal church is very charimatic, which is very different from the way I prefer to worship. but it was nice to see how much alike Alicia’s faith is to mine. It was a nice way to spend a saturday.
The projects in LA look really different from the projects in Seattle. Where my family lived the units were more like small single family homes, while Jordan downs are building after building after building of units. Granted Seattle has always had far less people then LA, so even when they tore down and rebuilt the projects my family lived in, they were rebuilt into stil decent single family homes. Of course this was after they kicked out all of the people who lived there in order to rebuild and reclassify those who were eligible for housing (they increased the rent, raising the income ceiling so that those who couldn’t afford to pay the rent obviously couldn’t live there.) This was also years after we’d left, but its still wierd to go back there and not be able to recognize the area where I used to play and hang out and visit my cousins and grandmother. It all looks so different.
When I was young and my grandmother was still healthy, she used to take us to the food bank with her to pick up a box of what ever they were handing out. There was a park where they’d hand out free lunch in the summer. There were these thrift stores where my mom would buy about 85% of our clothes until we were about 15. Which completely explains my aversion to certain foods (canteloupe slices, bologne sandwhiches, processed ham) and all things vintage. Vintage to me screams “thrift store.” I grew up wearing other people’s clothes…I am not going to pay $50 to $200 to able to continue to wear other people’s clothes. I’m not going to pay $0.25 to wear other people’s clothes. Cores and I sometimes talk about the things we will no longer eat because, well, we don’t have to. For example, I will never eat Hamburger Helper or Tuna Helper again for as long as I live. I seriously consumed enough powered cheese infused pasta with tuna or hamburger to last me the rest of my life.
Today was really nice. It was a really great experience to see how other denominations act out our shared faith. We’re different, but the same. It was also really nice because people from around the country (as far as Virginia, North Carolina, DC) came out to participate in the church festivities, which included the distribution of food.