Culture

2016 May Have Been Rough, But This Photographer Believes People In His ‘Hood Are More United

Photographer Jason Cordova, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, loves to explore different parts of his hometown. Cordova looks to capture the energy, love, and pride within his community through each of his photos. Here’s a glimpse of his amazing story and empowering message.

From the very first time he laid his hands on a camera, Cordova says he was excited about the creative possibilities it represented.

#venicebeach

A photo posted by Jason Cordova (@jsun217) on


“There’s never truly been any conscious direction as far as where I wanted to take it. I was always very fluid with letting the camera sort of be my director.”

“I’ve been shooting seriously for going on about 5 years. I’ve always been somewhat creative whether it was with a camera or music. As an early teen in Los Angeles, I would take my little film camera down to various areas and yards in L.A. and take pictures of all the graffiti that would influence me.”

With every new spot in L.A. that he visited, he also met new people.

#supportrealones

A photo posted by Jason Cordova (@jsun217) on


“That’s the recurring theme in most of my work — it’s getting more involved with the people that I’m capturing and the people that make up the scene that I might be involved in,” Cordova told mitú.

Cordova spent many of his early years shooting photos at the Venice skate park.

Just another Sunday in #venicebeach #veniceskatepark #hvns/la all day….

A photo posted by Jason Cordova (@jsun217) on


“It wasn’t enough for me to take a couple pictures of the skaters and be done,” explained Cordova. “I wanted to be sort of a silent participator in the subject, so I can catch the actual passion and energy involved in whats going on, instead of just being a spectator.”

Cordova’s photography opened his eyes to areas of L.A. that were completely unfamiliar to him.

hope.

A photo posted by Jason Cordova (@jsun217) on


His favorite shots became those of abandoned places. Cordova says he gets a sense of hope from an abandoned building. “L.A. is interesting. Growing up in L.A., we’re very segmented in our neighborhoods. If you live in Inglewood, you might travel to a few surrounding areas, but mainly we stay in our areas,” Cordova told mitú. “The camera and the community of photographers that I’m involved with has pushed us to go further and further until I’ve traversed and explored every little nook and cranny in this city, looking for new angles and new ways to capture the city.”

After becoming intimately familiar with Los Angeles, Cordova says he strongly believes there’s beauty everywhere.

#kingofthestreets #onewayhydraulics #individualscc

A photo posted by Jason Cordova (@jsun217) on


“That’s one thing thats always been important for me to show — that this is a beautiful city, not just a sprawling, desert metropolis.  It’s just a matter of how you’re choosing to look at it and how we’re choosing to present it,” Cordova said.

When Cordova had first started taking photography seriously, he was focused on getting cool snapshots of cars. Now, it’s the people that matter most.

Energy… #LAsundays #fastlyfe #lynchmobb #deptv

A photo posted by Jason Cordova (@jsun217) on


“You see young people, you see older people, you see many different generations, many different gang affiliations,” Cordova told mitú. “Everybody puts everything on hold on Sunday, to come together and celebrate those cultures.”

With every single one of his weekends spent out on the streets of L.A., Cordova explains the powerful sense of hope that he has both felt and witnessed with every picture he has taken for the past five years.

Happy Cinco de Mayo…

A photo posted by Jason Cordova (@jsun217) on


“As I’m out there on a Sunday when the crowd is at its peak, the one thing I always see and feel, overall, more than anything else, is a feeling of hope.”

And all of this hope stems from the unity of the people, which is beautiful.

#LabikeLife #takeover #DepTv

A photo posted by Jason Cordova (@jsun217) on


“For a few hours every week, everybody can come together. All the negativity and all the struggles of everybody’s week before that and week after that suspended for those moments. And there’s a hope that you can gain from that.”

Cordova says he felt L.A. was more united than ever during the 2016 presidential campaign.

#fucktrump #unity #cashmoneycustoms

A photo posted by Jason Cordova (@jsun217) on


“Since Trump started spewing his messages of hate, that caused a major movement,” Cordova said. “I’m hoping that the silver lining is that it forces people to put their bullsh*t on hold and stay together.”

Even with the elections over, the sense of unity and familia remains. Cordova feels that the people of Los Angeles will continue coming together, and that’s what he’s ready to capture with his camera.

#thisislosangeles

A photo posted by Jason Cordova (@jsun217) on


“If we can come together on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon, we can come together on Tuesday. We can come together on Wednesday. And we can come together all the time,” Cordova told mitú. “And it doesn’t need to be something that’s segmented into days of the week. We can come together and be united all the time.” ✊?♡


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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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Young Boy In Los Angeles Turns Entrepreneur To Help Mother During Ongoing Pandemic

Culture

Young Boy In Los Angeles Turns Entrepreneur To Help Mother During Ongoing Pandemic

aaronsgarden / Instagram

Covid-19 has forced families to figure out the best way to make enough to take care of things. Some have had to find new jobs after being laid off and having to make up enough to save their families. A young boy in Los Angeles is doing that to help his mom makes ends meet.

Meet Aaron and his garden.

The young boy and his mother were on their last $12 when he had an idea of creating a business. According to a GoFundMe account, the young boy convinced his undocumented mother to start a business selling plants to help them make it through the pandemic.

Aaron’s Garden was the business he and his mom created to make some money.

“Aaron and mom have been struggling from being homeless to shelters and bouncing from house to house and now live in a shed,” reads a GoFundMe account. “He came out with the idea of selling plants and starting a business in his yard to be a provider and buy his own hot Cheetos with cheese without having to ask his mom for money.”

Aaron advertises his plants and when you can buy them on his Instagram.

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Sensitive plant available limited supplies

A post shared by Aaron M. (@aaronsgarden) on

The LA entrepreneur is creating a lot of buzz with people celebrating his efforts. People in the U.S. are struggling as the additional $600 in unemployment has disappeared and a second Covid-19 stimulus is stuck in Congress. Aaron’s plant selling is helping his family during one of the most difficult times in modern U.S. history.

Way to go, Aaron.

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We love puppies

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We are all so proud to see you doing your best to make it through this time. Check his Instagram to see what he has and when and where he is selling the plants. Keep going, mijo!

READ: These Female Entrepreneurs Want You To Wear A Wig That Is Snatched

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