The story of Boyle Heights has been rooted in the innovation and entrepreneurship of its residents. As a neighborhood that has welcomed newcomers from around the country and the world, Boyle Heights has always reflected the dynamism one sees in immigrant communities. Its energy is complemented by the drive and passion embedded in working-class and poor families that need to generate income for survival. Much of that energy can be witnessed in its vibrant street culture, in the street-front ethnic businesses that have always dominated the neighborhood, and in the street vendors that have invested in selling their wares directly to customers on the sidewalks.
Unfortunately, much of Los Angeles and the United States forget that this tradition of immigrant innovation is what keeps Boyle Heights alive and its families prospering. Instead, advocates for gentrification think that social and economic capital must come into the neighborhood from the outside in order to see businesses rooted in the community. Instead, this exhibit celebrates the various traditions of innovations that have come from home-grown entrepreneurs in Boyle Heights in the past and present. It calls on policymakers and residents to encourage innovation from the very neighborhood itself -- whether it be by encouraging local vendors to have easy access to customers on city streets or enabling local residents to buy and rent space to set up and maintain businesses that serve the needs of many others in their neighborhood.
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