On June 16th, Sophia and I flew out to Los Angeles. It was my first time on the West coast, and I was excited, nervous, and anticipating a busy itinerary filled with archival visits, important meetings, and great food. Though we had been working with Gaby, our UCLA collaborator, for about 7 months, this occasion marked our first time moving beyond the well-known, familiarity of Houston research. We had been up and down the East End in Houston, bonding in between meetings with local HTX leaders. LA, though? It felt simultaneously unexplored/unknown (by us) and over-explored/well known (by everyone else). So it was important that the first community-building centered our close group: Sophia, Gaby, Letty (a dear friend and previous collaborator), and myself. To battle our encroaching jet lag, Letty chauffeured us around town to see incredible sights like the Pacific Coast Highway. That first night, we spent hours catching up on work, academics, and family life, creating our little community before we headed out to the streets of Los Angeles. Our plan was simple. 1. Visit our LA sites: Olvera Street, LA Plaza de Artes y Culturas, Iglesia Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles, Boyle Heights, Whittier Boulevard, and Dodger Stadium, 2. Set up relationships and network contacts for each site, and 3. Begin producing our main products, the podcast, the website, and the oral interviews.
All of Sonia's research blogs can be found here: https://soniadelhierro.blogs.rice.edu/expanding-horizons-fellow/forming-a-community-travel-to-los-angeles/