LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Untold Stories of the Harbor

Our vision is to create professional large-scale murals that restore and preserve some of the largely untold stories of our collective history in the Harbor Area. Our goals and expected outcomes are to create an outdoor art show in a free, public, accessible, inclusive space that helps educate, inform, impact, and inspire all who see it. The location is a highly-visible free public park-and-ride parking lot underneath the 110 freeway. There are eight pillars that hold up the freeway and each pillar will feature a mural of a different story.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Access to Creative Industry Employment (sponsored by the Snap Foundation)

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

South Bay

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

The purpose of this mural project is not only to visually enhance the area, but to help reduce the rate of high-risk behaviors in youth by allowing access to the nature of the artistic industry profession, engage a sense of belonging and inclusion, and increase educational access about certain historically-excluded topics. Adjacent to the project site are low-income residential zones. The SPSA is 100% volunteer and works to provide an inclusive space for all underrepresented youth and communities. San Pedro is home to many diverse backgrounds, from deep rooted fishing families with Japanese, Croatian and Sicilian roots, to Latino and Black families with vibrant, long-imbedded histories in Harbor neighborhoods and industries such as longshore work, ship scaling and fish packing. Our project will seek out the stories of these groups and display them in stunning murals on huge walls for all to see.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

The 'Untold Stories of the Harbor' murals will spotlight historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. These conversations ranging from the invasion, enslavement, and genocide of the native Tongva tribes after the Spanish colonization, the 1923 strike of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) which led to 90 ships being immobilized in San Pedro, the end of "Fish Harbor" on Terminal Island in San Pedro, CA after Roosevelt signed an Executive Order for the removal of all Japanese-Americans from the West Coast, and the Watts Towers, an iconic historical landmark that has been often underrepresented. These towers were built and constructed by Italian immigrant, Sabato Rodia from 1886 to 1965. The sculptures were created with steel rebar, concrete, and decorated with intricate mosaic tiles, which have become an artistic theme around the Harbor Area. In addition to these professional large-scale murals, we will create micro-documentaries highlighting each story the murals display. We will be working directly with these communities, such as the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribes, organizations, cultural centers, historians, and representatives of each of these stories told. This project's aim is to preserve history while providing educational content in a safe and accessible area.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

These murals will be a wonderful addition to the existing renovations currently underway and will greatly increase visibility and access. These projects include the $10.3 million Front Street Beautification Project that will intersect directly with our mural location. This project includes new pedestrian and bicycle pathways, lighting, and landscaping. Additionally, the West Harbor development and their plans for fresh markets, shopping, restaurants, outdoor and recreation space, an amphitheater on more than 42 acres. Also, the construction of the Avalon Promenade Pedestrian bridge, the Cabrillo Aquarium Life Support Project, improvements to the AltaSea science-based ocean-related educational campus, and the expansion of "Little Italy" will all assist in increasing visibility to these murals and stories as well. Accompanying the harbor region projects with ours will also increase visibility and press. Together, we can enhance and beautify San Pedro.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We will be creating polls, surveys, questionnaires which will allow us to measure impact directly with the community, business owners, parents, and teachers. To ensure perspectives and inclusion are met, we'll be engaging and collaborating with representatives of each of these communities, such as the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribes organization here in Los Angeles and the Japanese American National Museum. We aim to include cultural representatives as active participants and collaborators throughout the entire process. We aim to share as much truth and authenticity as possible. We will gather educational content directly from those who represent these communities. To improve educational content, we will be showcasing a series of documentary-style interviews that will accompany each mural. These interviews will also be used as a form of authentic marketing and promotion to attract more people to the mural site.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 300

Indirect Impact: 20,000