LOS ANGELES, CA – LA County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, First District, is proud to announce that the “abolitionist pod,” a modular geodesic dome containing an autonomous garden constructed by the Crenshaw Dairy Mart, will permanently reside at the Hilda L. Solis Care First Village.
The “abolitionist pod” was first unveiled at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary in May 2021 as part of WE RISE, an initiative of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health that takes place during May: Mental Health Awareness Month with the purpose of encouraging wellbeing and healing through art, connection, community engagement and creative expression. It includes hundreds of fruit and vegetable plants sourced from local Black farmers and gardeners and is the first prototype for similar pods that the Crenshaw Dairy Mart hopes to implement across LA County to combat food insecurity.
“Art is a true healing power,” said Supervisor Solis. “It enriches one’s soul and spirit, as well as brings communities together. A year ago, we held a grand opening for the Hilda L. Solis Care First Village – realizing a ‘Care First, Jails Last’ approach to serve the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. And today, we are continuing our work in re-imagining the County by providing residents of the Village access to an innovative therapeutic and sustenance resource in the abolitionist pod. I thank the Crenshaw Dairy Mart and their artists for exemplifying dignity, love, and autonomy through this artwork.”
“Our work at the Crenshaw Dairy Mart is at the intersection of art and abolition. We are a part of a long legacy of grassroots organizations that have challenged mass incarceration as a way towards public safety,” said Ashley Blakeney, Executive Director of the Crenshaw Dairy Mart. “We believe Supervisor Hilda L. Solis’ Care First Village is a wonderful home for our abolitionist pod, the vertical garden that will be a source of comfort, care and love towards the community in the Village. We look forward to working with the other County Board of Supervisors to bring the abolitionist pod to each district.”
“The Care First Village is the perfect home for the abolitionist pod,” said Senator Kevin Murray (ret.), President & CEO, Weingart Center. “The community garden will help create an artistic, educational, and supportive environment for our residents.”
The community garden’s permanent location at the Hilda L. Solis Care First Village, an interim housing facility which provides 232 beds for people experiencing homelessness and is operated by the Weingart Center, speaks to LA County’s commitment of a “Care First, Jail Last” framework―offering services and healing for community members so that jail is the last option rather than the first and only response. The original intent for this property was to serve as a parking structure for a Men’s Central Jail replacement; a plan that was canceled by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors at Supervisor Solis’ direction.
About Crenshaw Dairy Mart: Just South of Manchester and off of Crenshaw stands tall a former dairy mart, home to an artist collective and art gallery dedicated to shifting the trauma-induced conditions of poverty and economic injustice, bridging cultural work and advocacy, and investigating ancestries through the lens of Inglewood and its community. What these black and transnational identities seek is an imagination of new collective memory through programming, events, and arts installations which cultivate and nurture communal arts and education, repatriating resources into Inglewood and combatting sports-stadium driven displacement and gentrification. The Crenshaw Dairy Mart emerges from an investment in abolition, modes of accessibility in art practice, and weaving community solidarity through new memories.
About Weingart Center: Founded in 1982, the Weingart Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that provides homeless individuals with the basic tools necessary to stabilize their lives, secure income and find permanent housing. Our mission is to empower and transform lives by delivering innovative solutions to break the cycle of homelessness. As one of the best comprehensive human services organizations in the western United States, we are committed to establishing a world in which all people have and maintain a high-quality productive life.
About Hilda L. Solis Care First Village: The Hilda L. Solis Care First Village (formerly known as Vignes Village) is a 60,000 square foot interim housing facility which provides 232 beds for people experiencing homelessness and on-site supportive services. The site consists of 100 beds in single story temporary mobile trailers and 132 beds in two permanent three-story resident buildings. The three-story resident buildings consist of shipping containers with two units in each container. On site is a single-story premanufactured Administration building, where the Weingart Center Association, a homeless and housing services agency, provides the supportive services to residents tailored to meet the needs of this diverse population. A dog park is also located within the facility. The original intent for this property was to serve as a parking structure for a Men’s Central Jail replacement; a plan that was canceled by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors at Supervisor Solis’ direction. The County re-envisioned those plans to best serve the needs of Angelenos, deciding on a “Care First, Jail Last” approach. The Board of Supervisors explored housing at this available site in late 2019. When CARES Act funding from the federal government became available, the Board of Supervisors authorized the project on September 29, 2020 through a motion authored by Supervisor Solis, with an urgent directive to design and build a housing solution within 120 days to meet the CARES Act funding deadline. The project broke ground in October 2020 and was completed in April 2021.