To build a sense of community and improve long neglected but heavily used bus stops, a community group in South Los Angeles has begun creating colorful outdoor living rooms to give residents a place to sit and chat.
"Their requests could have been lofty, expensive and totally unrealistic, but in the end what the people of central Los Angeles really wanted was just a place to sit down.
While the visual idiom of this city is no doubt the automobile, thousands of Angelenos rely on public transportation, particularly the bus, to ferry them to and fro, especially in the poorest areas of town. The best of the city's bus stops feature a plastic toffee-colored bench, occasionally adorned with the visage of a frosted-blond real estate agent, her upper lip festooned with a Magic Marker mustache.
But scores of bus stops around town, especially in the areas south of Interstate 10 and close to downtown, not only are trash-strewn and barren but also offer no place to sit. Old women press heavily against their walkers, peering down the street to see if the bus is coming, and children cling to the bus stop sign, often perilously close to the street, as their mothers beckon them sharply to stand back.
So, armed with grant money, hammers and some technical help, residents around the city have gone about spiffing up bus stops, among a number of other outdoor spaces, into something known as community living rooms."