Eyes on the Street: Leimert Park Prepares People St Plaza for Grand Opening

The view of the People St Plaza in Leimert Park from the front of the Vision Theater. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
The view of the People St Plaza in Leimert Park from the front of the Vision Theater. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

The date for the grand opening of Leimert Park’s People St Plaza is not quite set in stone, yet, but it’s coming very soon. And I couldn’t be more excited. The stakeholders in Leimert Park have begun to install some of the unique features they developed as a way to tie the plaza to the culture of the community, and they look pretty fantastic.

Over the last week, Ben Caldwell, founder of the KAOS Network, and others laid down some of the Adinkra symbols which will eventually fill the entire plaza.

Adinkra symbols which will be used to populate the polka dots on the plaza.
Adinkra symbols which will be used to populate the polka dots on the plaza.

The symbols — representative of the philosophies of the Akan people (an ethnic group in Ghana) — were once only seen on cloths worn by community leaders during special occasions. Although they are more widely worn in Western Africa nowadays, and are commonly found stamped onto everyday objects, they still retain their meaning, represent proverbs, depict historical events, or offer some truth about human behavior or the world as the Akan understood it.

The values and ideas the symbols promote will be used to help guide programming in the plaza, incorporated into educational materials, and used throughout the Village area to reinforce the notion that when you enter Leimert Park, you are entering the home of a population with a unique cultural heritage.

The finished plaza will also feature an “urban farm lab” managed by the Carver program, wooden benches, bistro-style chairs and tables, a portable stage, and possibly some of the re-purposed street furniture that Caldwell and USC Annenberg Professor François Bar oversaw the development of in the tactical media courses they joint-taught.

So, what will you see if you stop down to check out Metro’s Eat, Shop, Play Crenshaw community fest this weekend or the Leimert Park Art Walk (Sunday, March 29)?

Adinkra symbols for Unity and Human Relations (Nkonsonkonson -- "chain link" -- at bottom right) and "Except for God" (Gye Nyame), intended as a nod to the spirituality of the Ghanaian people (the symbol is prevalent there) have already been painted on a few dots in the Plaza. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
Adinkra symbols for Unity and Human Relations (Nkonsonkonson — “chain link” — at bottom right) and “Except for God” (Gye Nyame), intended as a nod to the spirituality of the Ghanaian people (the symbol is prevalent there), have already been painted on a few dots in the Plaza. A newly-built garden box stands near the Vision Theater. And more of both are on the way. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
Another garden box in front of the Vision Theater. Sahra Sulaiman, Streetsblog L.A.
Another garden box in front of the Vision Theater. Sahra Sulaiman, Streetsblog L.A.
All roads lead to KAOS. The Gye Nyame symbols were the first to be set down. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
All roads lead to KAOS. The Gye Nyame symbols were the first to be set down. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
Another view of the Gye Nyame symbols. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
Another view of the Gye Nyame symbols. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
A walking map of the area courtesy of Los Angeles Walks. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
A walking map of the area courtesy of Los Angeles Walks. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
The Vision Theater. Just because. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
The Vision Theater. Just because. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

And, finally, the simple cardboard stencil used to lay down the symbols.

The stencil in the KAOS Network's performance space. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
The stencil in the KAOS Network’s performance space. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Stop by Leimert Park Village (43rd Pl. and Leimert Park Blvd.) and check out the plaza as it takes shape. Or, donate to the cause to help it all come to fruition faster. The stakeholders are just a few thousand dollars shy of their $20,000 goal. Keep up with events in Leimert Park, including the plaza opening, by checking the calendar posted at LeimertParkVillage.org.

  • Yvonne Ellett

    Love love love!

  • User_1

    Even though I was never a surfer, I do like the surfing sign and hope to see it there soon.

    The three-headed turtle is kinda cool too!

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