Culture

Snapchat And El Pollo Loco Is Using Augmented Reality To Let People Revisit Lost Murals In Los Angeles

For National Hispanic Heritage Month, El Pollo Loco is paying tribute to lost Latino heritage in Los Angeles by restoring a series of murals across the city. Through the power of Snapchat and augmented reality, the California-based food chain is teaming up with Warren Brand, a curator and board member of Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, to have users go to five blank walls in Los Angeles where iconic murals used to be. There, you can open the Snapchat app, tap on the background to prompt the World Lenses feature and point your phone at the wall. Users will then see a mural that was once located there come to life on their phone screen. The various five mural locations can be found by visiting the website Lostmuralsla.com.  

“We wanted to pay tribute to our Hispanic heritage and Los Angeles roots by preserving the lost Latino artwork and culture for a new generation to experience,” says Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer at El Pollo Loco. “For us, this is more than just a moment in time, this is part of our continued commitment to serve the communities that molded and influenced our company.

The campaign is more than just a showcase of cool technology but a way to educate and spread awareness on an issue many might not be aware of. 

Credit: El Pollo Loco

Los Angeles has a deep and profound history when it comes to murals. During the late 1960s and ’70s, Latino artists took to walls to express views on political and social issues, including student uprisings and civil rights struggles. This coincided with the Chicano Pride movement during that period that flourished in East LA and the San Fernando Valley. 

With all this explosion of creativity happening, LA would be referred to as the “mural capital of the world,”  with an estimated 2,500 murals up on city walls during the height of this movement. Then, they started disappearing. According to El Pollo Loco, “Around 60 percent of murals in Los Angeles have vanished due to whitewashing, censorship, carelessness, or a lack of resources for preservation.” 

This was reason enough for the company to bring awareness to this and celebrate the legacy of these murals. Murals are also a part of the history of El Pollo Loco as the food-chain had it’s start in LA and has a mural of it’s own at it’s first store. 

“Los Angeles, one of the greatest mural capitals of the world, has seen an estimated 60 percent of murals vanish experts say,” Acoca said. “Because Los Angeles has been our hometown since 1980 and is the city that inspired the soul of our brand, we want to honor it and our mutual Hispanic heritage.”

In this spirit, El Pollo Loco will also be restoring some murals of their own, including one at its original location.  

Credit: El Pollo Loco

While the campaign will run through October 15, El Pollo Loco will be making some permanent fixtures on LA city walls. To ensure that this restoration of murals survives, the company will be donating its own storefronts as canvases to new murals.

“El Pollo Loco is paying homage to its heritage and the art that was once on Los Angeles’ walls by donating storefronts as the canvases to new murals. The first mural will be painted on El Pollo Loco’s original restaurant location on Alvarado Street, which since opening in 1980 has featured an indoor mural depicting life in Sinaloa, Mexico, the childhood home of the company’s founder,” Acoca said. 

For LA-based muralists Juan Hector Ponce and Hector “Hex” Rios, this campaign is personal to them as some of their work was once erased due to whitewashing. They both were contacted by El Pollo Loco to be a part of the project and help recreate some of their past work. Ponce and his son will be recreating a storefront as part of the campaign that will be a permanent fixture. He says that he is confident that a new generation will take a lot from this campaign and be able to lead a new era of murals in the city. 

“The new generations, with use of technology and the internet, are stronger than previous generations. And those of us older painters still left are proud to see them create,” Ponce said. “While it saddens me that at times people don’t appreciate the beauty of our walls, it serves as a reminder of how important it is that we as a community continue painting more of them.

You can find the digital murals at the following locations:

“Nuestra Gente es Linda y Poderosa” – 2841 Boulder Street, Los Angeles

“Hex BBOY” – 417 East 15th Street, Los Angeles

“SK8 Still Lives” – 7753 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

“Migration” – 1262 South Lake Street, Los Angeles

“Zapata” – 2000 W 6th Street, Los Angeles

READ: Historic Chicano Murals Were Whitewashed All Over Los Angeles But A New Movement Is Bringing Them Back

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El Pollo Loco Creates Hispanic Heritage Month Grant To Support Latina Small Businesses

Fierce

El Pollo Loco Creates Hispanic Heritage Month Grant To Support Latina Small Businesses

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Covid-19 has devastated millions of Americans with job loss. Unemployment skyrocketed as the federal government failed to create and execute a plan to combat the pandemic. El Pollo Loco is stepping up and giving our community a chance to keep business doors open and community members employed.

El Pollo Loco is giving Latina business owners in the greater Los Angeles area a lifeline in these uncertain times.

The Latino community is the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs and business owners in the U.S. According to a Stanford University study, Latino business owners grew 34 percent while every other demographic grew 1 percent over the last ten years.

However, Covid has changed things. Latina-owned business are some of the hardest hit and the sudden loss is impacting our community. According to the Pew Research Center, Latinas experienced a -21 percent change in small business ownership and jobs since the Covid downturn.

El Pollo Loco is offering $100,000 in grants to different Latina-owned businesses because of the pandemic.

The fast food chain has started a GoFundMe to keep the donations going. El Pollo Loco has already pledged $100,000 to help Latina small businesses and the GoFundMe promises to keep the donations flowing. For every $10,000 raised in the GoFundMe, El Pollo Loco will donate it to a Latina small business. The GoFundMe has raised over $100,000 at the time of this post.

#WeAllGrow Latina partnered with El Pollo Loco to give Latina business owners this lifeline.

#WeAllGrow Latina and El Pollo Loco are asking the Latino community to help find Latina small businesses that deserve the grants. Instead of making the decision themselves, #WeAllGrow Latina and El Pollo Loco want you to nominate your favorite Latina small business for the grant.

“This year has been unlike any other, leaving Latina-owned businesses disproportionately impacted,” Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer of El Pollo Loco, said in a statement. “Given the critical role brands are expected to play during the pandemic and on the heels of Hispanic Heritage Month, we felt compelled to find a way to support the people and city we call home.”

In order to nominate a business, here is what you have to do.

Credit: weallgrowlatina.com/fundlatinafoodjefas

Using social media, nominate your favorite LA-based Latina small business and tag @elpolloloco and @weallgrowlatina while using #grantcontest and #FundLatinaFoodJefas. You can nominate the business up to five times.

People are already nominating their favorite food places in LA.

You have until Sept. 15 to nominate your favorite Latina small business. You can help them win $10,000 and mentorship from El Pollo Loco to help Latina business owners in LA keep their doors open. You can learn more here.

READ: California Is Poised To Become The First State To Offer Unemployment To Undocumented Workers

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How ‘Latinx With Plants’ Bloomed From Instagram To An L.A. Shop Reconnecting The Gente To Plant Healing Properties

Fierce

How ‘Latinx With Plants’ Bloomed From Instagram To An L.A. Shop Reconnecting The Gente To Plant Healing Properties

Growing up, Andi Xoch’s aunt encouraged her to speak to plants. Her relatives usually laughed at the sight of a woman talking to her in-house flowers, but Xoch was intrigued. As a little girl, she acknowledged that there was life inside the pots, so conversing with them seemed standard. More than two decades later, that seed of curiosity about flora bloomed into Latinx with Plants, a digital community and IRL Los Angeles-based shop that teaches Latinxs of their ancestral relationship with herbage.

Sprouted in the spring of 2019, Latinx with Plants started as an account on Instagram. Through the page, Xoch wanted to provide representation of Latinx plant parents that she felt was lacking despite the community’s deep and vast connection with herbs and gardening.

“We’ve had a long connection with plants even before the trend started,” Xoch, a Mexico City-born, L.A.-raised organizer and artist, tells FIERCE.

“I wanted to represent that, to show that we’ve been part of this world even if it’s not presented in an Instagrammable form.”

For the past few years, so-called plant porn has dominated Instagram content. With hashtags like #plantgang and #urbanjungles, the growing trend has helped produce a new generation of young people with green fingers that are boosting sales of houseplants and inspiring even the basement recluse to be a plant parent. In fact, a National Gardening report found that 83 percent of the people in the U.S. who took up gardening in 2016 were between the ages of 18 and 34. Even more, it reported that 37 percent of millennials grow herbs and plants indoors, more than the 28 percent of baby boomers who do the same.

However, with the exception of a few accounts, including Xoch’s friend D’Real who created @blackwithplants and inspired her to make a similar account, many of these digital spaces are overwhelmingly white. This, Xoch says, ignores the history Latinxs have with plants and the sustainable practices they developed while gardening for decades.

“You walk onto our people’s front yards and you see their food: plantains, avocados [and] chayotes. And it’s all sustainable; they use pots made out of buckets and cans. It’s beautiful,” the 32-year-old says. “This is who we are. This is our culture.”

As Latinxs, Xoch says that our Indigenous roots have been forgotten or intentionally kept from us but that we can reconnect to our origins through inherited practices. Among them is ancestral medicines. At her shop, several elders come in and casually inform Xoch about the healing properties of her different plants. While the whitewashed mainstream plant blogosphere has co-opted much of the everyday traditions practiced within low-income communities of color, she finds comfort in knowing that these remedies are being passed down across generations through word of mouth and are not being commodified. 

These informal educational encounters is one of the reasons why Xoch established her brick and mortar in August. Aside from selling an array of plants at the Boyle Heights-located shop, she wanted to create a space where new plant parents and señora gardeners can enter and feel welcomed, experience the joyous power of verdure and learn from one another. 

She says that her mission is to build community and help people who feel depressed, anxious and alone, particularly amid the Covid-19 pandemic, experience the healing power of plants.

“Plants can be an asset to you because, whether you think it’s just for the plant’s sake to be alive, you are actually participating in a self-care act by nurturing your plant,” Xoch says. “They force you to get up every day and help you realize a lot of beautiful things about yourself that you forget to acknowledge: the caregiving, the attention, the love, the dancing, the singing — all the things that make it bloom are also exercises in self-love, self-care and self-preservation.” 

A newbie business owner, Xoch says she now has another objective, though: to offer a non-traditional example of success and to be honest about the struggles of entrepreneurship. 

On paper, Xoch’s road to becoming a boss seems swift and simple: She learned the location of a potential property on a Sunday, visited it on Monday, signed her lease on Wednesday and opened up shop the following weekend. However, the reality is much more complicated. A high school dropout, her lifelong dream to open a business was halted because she lacked the confidence, capital and connections to get started. Even when she did launch the store, the experience was far from easy. Xoch opened her small business from the ground up on a tight budget amid a pandemic and while her father sat ill at a hospital where doctors thought he would die.

“I want people to know this is real shit that people go through. We have the load of the world on us, we are caring for our relatives and we are trying to make sure our business is doing well,” she says. “I walk in [my store] and that alone is defying the odds.”


Follow Latinx with Plants on Instagram. For those in Los Angeles, visit the shop, which is complying with Covid-19 regulations and operating by appointment only, at 2117 E Cesar Chavez Ave.

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