NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Interview with Rick Ross from Delicious Pizza. One of the main organizers of a huge block club event that brought attention to the exciting revitalization of the strip of West Adams Blvd just west of Fairfax.
TNN: So Rick what was the motivation behind creating the West Adams Blvd. block party?
Rick Ross: We really wanted to bring the community together for a special day of art and music that celebrated the diversity of West Adams. Over the last two years Delicious Pizza and our record label Delicious Vinyl have hosted a variety of special events and parties that included artists as diverse as Vince Staples, Mr. Vegas Shaggy and more, some of whom performed at our Boomyard monthly dancehall celebration. We knew the local community would be really responsive to a diverse musical lineup of R&B, Afrobeat, Hip Hop and dancehall funk.
TNN: What is Boomyard?
RR: Boomyard is a Caribbean dancehall and reggae party that we throw every second Sunday of the month either here at Delicious Pizza or at the Gateway - the property with the retail containers on Adams near Fairfax next to J&J BBQ.
TNN: How many acts did you have at your block party?
RR: We had 18 artists and DJs perform including El Padrino of Latin hip-hop Mellow Man Ace, Leimert Parks' Dom Kennedy and Hip Hop Legends Doug E. Fresh and Social Justice Warrior Talib Kweli. We started at noon and went to 8 p.m.
TNN: How many people do you figure showed up?
RR: LAPD gave us an estimate of 5000 during the afternoon
TNN: So West Adams Blvd. has been officially christened.
RR: The photos and smiles on everyone's faces that attended reflect all the pride and joy and compassion in this community.
TNN: Did you partner with any other organizations?
RR: The block party was conceived by myself and Kimani Black from Council President Herb Wesson's CD 10 office. Kimani told me about a new initiative called Embrace LA which is all about bringing communities together to deal with race relations and communication; we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to bring music to the streets of this amazing boulevard and to celebrate diversity in the community.
TNN: What kind of help did they provide?
RR: They helped us work with the city and Metro and LAPD and LAFD to make this as smooth as possible and to create a safe and family-friendly event. We also had two fantastic nonprofits involved, Dreamhouse LA and Let's Give who supplied arts and crafts stations for children and volunteers for the event. All the events we throw always include a nonprofit organization that we try to integrate into our planning and help us with the Outreach.
We also had amazing support from the local block club. leader Ignacio Luquin and his associates who were in from day one on the planning and outreach to local businesses and families on West Adams and the surrounding neighborhoods. They advised the community of the upcoming street closures and invited them to participate as vendors. They also helped supervise the kids play area which included a full-size soccer field and two jumpers.
TNN: So do you think this will become an annual event?
RR: That’s the intention. To make the Sunday of Labor Day weekend an annual celebration on West Adams. Next year we'll take it all the way to Redondo Boulevard and include a couple extra stages with more music and activities for all.
TNN: Well Rick this is very exciting because Adams Boulevard has been needing attention and transformation for as long as I can think of and many have tried. Fais Do Do and Vees were the first to arrive so it was just a matter of time before we saw that kind of energy grow with the arrival of Delicious Pizza and this celebration makes it official that West Adams Boulevard is on its way to a robust renewal. You guys have definitely magnetized the area and we know that within the next year or so 2 major restaurants are moving in one east of you and one west of you. So it looks like it will become a place for people to come to not just from the surrounding area but from other places in the city.
RR: West Adams Blvd. from Fairfax to Crenshaw is becoming a village where people can walk and visit galleries, cool restaurants see some great jazz or hip-hop and enjoy the flavor of this amazing neighborhood. There are so many local artists who live and work here. The murals, sculptures, and gardens that celebrate the legacy of local activists, artists and people of the community, are all around us.
(Dianne Lawrence is the editor and publisher of The Neighborhood News … where this special interview was first posted.)