SKID ROW COOLING RESOURCES

History was made a few days ago in Skid Row (actually on zoom).

The Los Angeles Central Providers Collaborative (LACPC) is a membership association of dozens of nonprofit social service providers in Skid Row and the rest of Downtown Los Angeles. The vast majority of the members are based in Skid Row.

The LACPC holds a monthly meeting for its members, flies on the wall, and representatives from various City and County agencies that serve Skid Row. Usually 30 to 40 folks join the monthly LACPC meeting, but last Thursday 51 zoomed in.

A seven minute slide presentation was given by the grassroots effort Skid Row Cooling Resources — a public health emergency response pilot.

Los Angeles (and Skid Row) experienced brutal heat waves and smoky air through extensive fires last September. That prompted a grassroots emergency planning effort to make sure next summer 2021 in Skid Row is significantly better for both residents on the streets and residents of the older SRO’s known for poor or no air conditioning. SRO is Single Room Occupancy — old hotels renovated into government subsidized housing.

Skid Row resident Katherine McNenny, co-founder of Industrial District Green, a tree planting and maintenance plus sidewalk beautification nonprofit, has been alerting Skid Row and the rest of Downtown for years to the Urban Heat Island effect. It’s understood Skid Row and other poor sections of Los Angeles like South L.A. suffer from a lack of Tree Canopy (shade) partly due to the effects of Redlining as well as the Los Angeles Police Department cutting down trees to improve sight lines.

Stephany Campos, Director of the Refresh Spot, a highly respected community-based outdoor hygiene center offering bathrooms, showers, laundry, and other free services, and a Board member with LACPC, arranged for the Skid Row Cooling Resources slide presentation by Lisa Boyle, an Environmental Attorney and Advocate, and Aria Catano, co-founder of Water Drop LA. Water Drop LA was started by a group of USC students to bring large amounts of drinking water TO residents of Skid Row on the streets.

The presentation truly was historic.

This is probably the first time Climate Change has ever been presented to the LACPC in any form and definitely the first presentation of a strategic Skid Row effort to deal with it. Of course, Misting Tents and Popsicles only go so far and so medium and long term Sustainability is also being developed.

A key slide was the Timeline where June was listed for “Invocation: Mother Earth”. In terms of Sustainability, respectfully reaching out to Mother Earth for in-depth partnership is absolutely on the Skid Row Cooling Resources to-do list.

For the grand re-opening several months ago of the Refresh Spot, a much larger parking lot version compared to the parking lot version operating since the end of 2017, the celebration began with an Invocation — a Land Acknowledgment I did using the words Water Is Life to set up Charles Porter, twenty years on the frontlines serving Skid Row, doing an African Libation.

As Skid Row Cooling Resources continues moving forward dealing with issues like should Popsicles be included in a Budget to the City or expect donations, the words of Governor Jerry Brown from the 2018 California Climate Change Summit help provide guidance — “If a researcher does an experiment and you find out they’ve got a medicine that works, it spreads”.

Skid Row artist and activist