Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

Listening is a deceptively difficult thing to do. Sure, we all have ears, but only some of us consciously use it. Artist Elana Mann's community project was a beautiful reminder that listening is a skill needed in personal interactions as well as large-scale community development. 

Text and photography by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Drew Tewksbury
Published: 04 Apr 2013, Artbound

Cut off by the 134 freeway from the rest of the city, Northwest Pasadena can sometimes feel a world apart from its more prosperous neighbors. "We're on the wrong side of the tracks here," says Emily Hopkins, Executive Director of Side Street Projects, an artist-run nonprofit that eschews the gallery exhibitions in favor of working within communities. By virtue of a few mobile trailers parked in a mostly empty lot, it has made Northwest Pasadena its headquarters.

According to Hopkins, Northwest Pasadena is the most densely populated area in the city, many of its residents live at or below poverty levels and nearly a quarter of whom do not speak English well. The figures may help explain attendance at the community meetings. "Honestly, every time I've been to the meetings, there haven't been any community members there," says artist Elana Mann. "This community feels like they don't have a voice," says Mann. [read more]


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