Bario Logan Bridge: Converted Cultural Divide

Bario LoganIn February I got to visit one of my dearest friends and former housemate who now lives in San Diego. After walking the Coronado beach past the ritzy, mansion-like hotel, she took me to see a very different part of the city: Bario Logan.

Hotel Coronado

Hotel Coronado

Barrio Logan is a neighborhood rich with Mexican culture. In 1967, the city of San Diego decided to build a bridge that would extend from Coronado to the Barrio. The structural supports on the Barrio Logan end just happened to tear apart Chicano Park that’s located in the heart of the neighborhood and a primary place where the community gathers, plays and lives life. The residents protested, but the bridge was built as planned.

Bario Logan Bridge

Bario Logan Bridge

Rather than suffer defeat, however, the residents got busy with their paint and creativity, converting those ugly gray concrete structures into bright, beautiful murals. Each one depicts a different aspect of Latino culture, history and resiliency.

Bario Logan Platform

Bario Logan Platform

They even built a platform stage in the center of it!

Bario Logan artArtists regularly touch up the paintings so they always look fresh and new.

In Thin Places, Jon Huckins with Rob Yackley who live nearby talk about the significance of this bridge:

“While there is still sporadic violence in this park, it is also home to some of the most brilliant and powerful graffiti art I have ever seen. The whole base of the bridge is covered in it, and it tells a story of our city that otherwise would never be seen, heard, or understood by the majority of San Diegans. A walk through the park will unveil both the history and modern story of the joy and the struggle of living in a home away from home due to oppressive circumstances.” (p. 39)

They also note that the bridge represents the power divide across class, demographics and socioeconomic, saying:

“While their story is told through the art on the bridge, the story of this neighborhood is not well understood by most. In fact, because of its reputation, most people would never drive through it, let alone offer economic support. Every day the wealthy and powerful drive right over this park and many do not even know it’s there—let alone know its significance. It is a place of poverty and displacement for those who haven’t been accepted or haven’t been able to engage with the larger population.” (p. 40)

Tools for Life: Lessons I Learned From my Carpenter Dad

Hugging DadDad gave me many tools for life, starting with the ability to form a wide array of relationships. I credit dad for being a role model of someone who connects easily with different people from varied backgrounds in an authentic way. When I was a young child, I remember him often bringing someone home unannounced to eat lunch with us. Frequently it was a guy who had been doing construction work alongside him for the day who may or may not have had his own lunch. Other times it was a street bum who had come seeking a handout from our church where dad was employed. Rather than give itinerant strangers a cash donation, our pastor would offer to pay them after a day of work. Having no lunch, the stranger would come home with dad for a bite to eat where mom would serve him just as she would any other guest.

I cannot imagine Dad ever nervous around someone due to economical differences, class or social status. Dad has built and done custom remodeling for doctors, lawyers, interior designers, dentists and other well-off professionals. He built a stage for the President once. Dad interacted with these people the same as he would with plumbers and framers. High-ranking professionals, just like everyone else, loved Dad, asked him to return, and recommended him to their friends. Sometimes they would buy my parents tickets to attend an upscale function or fundraiser with them. Dad would wear his cowboy boots with a twenty-year-old suit coat, which is what he also wore when they asked him to play music for one of the events. Dad would pull together a group of talented young people, and they would perform oldies love songs or renditions of a western swing and bluegrass numbers. Dad’s wit and humor, coupled with his common sense and artistic skills, brought him the love and respect of our community.

Thank you, Dad, for being my role-model in connecting with a community. Your example has equipped me with the tools of showing hospitality and interacting with people of a wide array of backgrounds and experiences, an essential skill when involved in community development. Happy Father’s Day! I love you!

Life Without a Laptop

Cleaning Hillman CityAfter our house got burglarized a couple of months ago [March 22], I have semi-avoided replacing my laptop to see what life could be like without it. Would I read more? Get out in my community more? Volunteer more?

In many ways, it was not a true test as I have an iPhone and could connect to it as necessary so still spent time every day browsing Facebook. I also brought home my work laptop about once a week to pay bills, file taxes and try to get through my mounds of unread emails.

The results?

The nights and weekends I lived without a laptop felt super freeing. I was more social and sometimes even went to bed earlier (say, midnight rather than 1:30 AM). I didn’t actually read much more than I did when I owned a laptop, however. Worst of all, the nights when I brought the office laptop home I turned into a frantic workaholic who never quite got the flooding inbox of emails read or bills paid. On the rare occasions when I did, I still wouldn’t have time to blog (which is why this site has gone two months without being updated).

I’ve now had a laptop for two weeks and have found that I became less dependent on it—have barely checked email, had so rarely checked my Facebook feed that I missed out on my best friend from highschool’s engagement last week, and am just now publishing this post I wrote two weeks ago. Here’s hoping that even while having a laptop again, I can pace my work out more evenly while prioritizing getting out in the neighborhood to be with people. I’ve been further inspired to live less glued to my laptop after reading Thin Places following our break-in (a book I mentioned in my last post back in March).

“As a community, we must go. We must turn off our TVs. We must shut off our computers. We must begin to spend less time inside the four walls of our church buildings.

“It is time to inhabit the places where life is being lived. In the parks. In the community centers. Under highway overpasses. In local businesses. At farmers’ markets. In the home of the single mom on your block” (p. 144).

This summer I’m looking forward to launching two Bible storytelling groups, one of which will be held in homes and the other in a park. I’m also excited about the recent initiatives of my community development team–from conducting a PhotoVoice class for children at an apartment complex to cleaning an empty lot on Earth Day to coordinating a fun walk…events in the community where real life happens!