Service on Skid Row Breaking Bread

Service on Skid Row

A community in action.

New Sincerity contributing writer Nicole Nordstrom is a student at UCLA. She recently went down to Gladys Park in L.A.’s Skidrow to check out NS partners Eayikes and Skidrow Coffee in action. 
As soon as I entered Gladys Park, I was greeted with a warm hug by Alex Yoon. Alex is one of the founders of Eayikes, an organization activating young people to take ownership of, and instill positive change in, themselves and their community. After our hug, I was quickly taken to meet local community organizer working with Eayikes that day. His name was Manuel—or ‘OG Man’ as he’s known on the Row.

OG Man’s spent the last 25 years serving as a community organizer on Skid Row bridging the communication gap between the residents and the City of Los Angeles. He took me, along with a group of high school students from Eayikes, on a walking tour of Skid Row. OG Man wasn’t hesitant or apprehensive. He greeted everyone, whether they were peeking out of tents or riding bikes through the street, with a handshake and a hug—a genuine example of what radical love looks.

Before I left, OG Man imparted one last piece of wisdom. He told me to go out into the world and be a good waiter. I looked at him, puzzled. He explained that a good waiter sticks around, asks the people what they need and brings it to them.

The conversation stuck with me after I left. It made me think about how often I fall into the pattern of living life inside my comfort zone, and about our media that celebrates ‘me culture’. But spending a day with Eayikes gave me a glimpse of what the world might look like if serving others was mainstream. And how it can change if we band together to show radical love to people we would normally avoid, lift others up instead of labelling them, and find satisfaction and fulfillment in working for mankind instead of seeking likes and followers.

It is true, our world will not change overnight, but as for me, I will be of service. Because like OG Man says, we all have the capacity to be of service, it just requires us to grab an apron and ask the community what it needs.

Read our piece on Skid Row Coffee.

Teaches Design as Pathway Out of Poverty Breaking Bread

Bay Area Non-Profit Teaches Design as Pathway Out of Poverty

Follow your art.

The Inneract Project became a sparkle in Maurice Woods’ eye when he was given an assignment in his graduate class at the University of Seattle to use design to ‘change the world’. A vision came immediately to Woods – free design programs for underserved kids.

That vision became The Inneract Project, a San Francisco non-profit getting kids from marginalized communities excited about creating. Design is not only a channel for creativity but can also become a lucrative career.

The program has three main offerings – the Youth Design Academy, an 8-week course for middle schoolers; Learning Labs, which offers workshops, lectures, and studio tours for middle and high school students; and Designed, a docu-series about designers.


Photo: The Inneract Project


Facebook and Autodesk have partnered with Inneract to make their programs even more robust, which Woods says is just what the program needs. He wants the model to eventually go nationwide.

“We just haven’t had the resources to be able to dig as deep as we want to dig. It takes time and outreach,” Woods told TechCrunch. “Kids, parents, and administrators don’t really understand what design is entirely and how it fits in terms of not just an educational standpoint, but career standpoint,” Woods told TechCrunch.

Woods believes using cultural context is important for the program. For instance, inner-city kids often have an affinity for sports, so Woods once asked the students to design basketball tees and merchandise as a way to introduce design in a way that felt familiar.

“We want to always have this focus on underserved youth and communities and always have this focus on advocacy where we’re not only just teaching them but we’re actually going to where these communities are and learning about them, and asking them questions, and developing a program that’s important to them, and evolving this ecosystem of people all over the nation who are interested in giving back and who have these skills, and want to see kids succeed and get into design and tech fields,” Woods told TechCrunch.

It’s a win-win for the tech world, Facebook Head of Design, Luke Woods, told TechCrunch. “We all get better results when designers come together with unique perspectives.”


Photo: The Center for Innovative Justice and Technology.

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