No Beach? No Greenery? Paint the Floor and Watch An Alley Grow
Teresa Alfaro, 45, waters the plants in an alley between Mathews Street and Penrith Drive, just two blocks from Whittier Boulevard and Soto Street. Alfaro, whose home is at the entrance of the alley, said her husband and three sons helped give the alley a facelift. The alley across the street is usually littered with trash and unkept in comparison. “The people they are getting more united here. With a lot of communication we are uniting and keep everything pretty,” said Alfaro. Neighbors and their families last month helped give the alley a facelift, by putting paint to concrete and planting vegetation. It is a collective project between neighbors and organizers of Union de Vecinos, an advocacy group in Boyle Heights. Based on input from community meetings, the floor was painted blue in the center with a tan outline to represent a beach to children, said Alma Salcido, community organizer for Union de Vecinos. For adults, the area maps out a section of the alley as a gathering area, or una placita, to host movie nights, or potlucks, added Salcido. Even with the Boyle Heights Sports Center in eyeshot of the alley, Atagracia Vasquez, 52, said many drunks mill around the sports center creating an unsafe environment for kids. “Have you been to downtown?” she asks. “It’s exactly the same.” Alfaro said she hopes the alley can become a place where kids can play soccer, or even bring their books to read.