Still and video portraits of a sacred American middle-class suburb in southeast Los Angeles County where I was raised and now live.
Since 9/11 I have been making portraits of my suburb, and I have acquired enough images to make a book. But now I would like to delve deeper into the project.
In the nineteen-fifties after enduring the hardships of the depression and war my parents moved to Lakewood with the dreams and hopes of a new beginning, and this newly developed suburb provided them that. Lakewood, designed for the middle class, offered affordable housing, new schools and parks, good jobs in the aerospace industry, and a new commercial concept--the shopping mall.
Eventually what made Lakewood special began to fade. In the nineties many of the good middle-class jobs like my father had (tool and dye maker) disappeared when the aerospace-defense industry abandoned the state. Now the sight of un-mowed lawns in front of foreclosed homes illustrates how economic hard times have further squeezed the middle class.
The middle class is a demographic that is often ignored, so using the citizens of Lakewood as a resource I hope to look deeper into their plight. I want to record, learn and share their stories. I want to learn how they're adapting to our current economic crisis. I'll ask them questions about the loss of middle-class jobs due to outsourcing, automation, and the decline of private sector unions. I hope to speak to those folks who bought their homes during the housing boom at prices twice of what their home, they are dearly holding onto, is now. I''ll seek their views on health-care costs, immigration, the future of America, and of course, do they still find our suburb a good place to raise their children.
As I have for the last ten years I'll walk the streets, parks, and markets of Lakewood to meet and engage my fellow citizens, and I intend to learn their stories through photographs and video interviews. I am applying this project to a variety of grants. At this time I am applying to the California Council for the Humanities. I have already secured a fiscal agent and the required humanities and technical adviser. All I need now is matching funds, and any monies I might possibly receive through kickstarter will be applied to this pool. The money I hope to receive from the grant will be used to better my sound and video recording equipment and to procure advanced editing software.
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