Los Angeles is often referred to as a city without a center, a city of multiple cities. Within this vast metropolis, many neighborhoods lack adequate public green spaces to enjoy. Only 4% of Los Angeles is devoted to public greenery, compared to 17% in New York City. Additionally, the inequitable distribution of green space is staggering, and lower income neighborhoods suffer the cost in health challenges and increased violence. Studies prove these correlations time and again. This lack of shared public space affects the ability to build relationships in the city; there are remarkably few locations to claim or meet to eat a meal. Los Angeles needs a responsive public arena - the Potluck Truck! The Potluck Truck is a mobile public space where the diverse publics of Los Angeles may choose to engage with each other and their environment, simultaneously reflecting the neighborhood’s character and the way that nature is present in the city. Using nourishment as a catalyst for social engagement, the Potluck Truck reconnects us to the history of Los Angeles as a chaparral biome and its robust farming history.
Los Angeles was not always paved over; until the mid 1950s, LA County was the top producing agricultural county in the United States, surpassing the Midwest. Now only 6,000 acres are farmed in the county. Los Angeles grew as it did because of the fertile soil and year round growing season. The draw to the west came from the possibility of planting one’s desires into the landscape, turning the soil and using the land productively. Downtown Los Angeles was a patchwork of vineyards, Hollywood grew lima beans, Sylmar was the Olive Capital of the World, Watts was home for beef cattle. The Los Angeles Unified School District had required curriculum in agriculture, and specific land allocated for this use. 4-H clubs thrived as youth learned farming techniques, and today, many fallow fields remain in middle schools. The Potluck Truck is a dedicated way to acknowledge, honor and gently reinscribe lost ways of knowing and being with the land, and the value of coming together around food. The Truck is a creative platform encouraging all to participate in a form of art that, implicitly, is the commons. The shared building of ideas, responsive to specific temporary environments, may themselves become more stable in space.
Los Angeles as a city suffers from vast divisions and cultural isolation, partly due to the lack of adequate public transportation and the massive area of the city. As an inclusive space, where all are invited to engage with the Potluck Truck, a shared community resource, the mode of exchange is dialogical, not based on economic currency. The Truck functions in a renewable way, constantly fueled by shifting community energy. This platform challenges cultural and economic alienation, and grows an archive of place and connection. Community members become stakeholders in the Potluck Truck, and are encouraged to create programming and events.
See Idea Details