When we first moved to Compton in the mid 90′s, it was an accepted reality that most residents stayed away from the city parks. Parks were considered “dangerous” and “run by gangs”, and other than for some occasional summertime relief at the city pool, best to be avoided. I drove past Lueder’s Park almost daily back then and most often it was completely empty. It seemed that even those notorious gangbangers didn’t want to spend much time there!
I can’t pinpoint when all that began to change. All I can say is that, when I drive past Compton city parks now — be it Wilson, Kelly, Lueders, or South (obviously my side of town) — they are always bubbling over with children and their families. Kids are playing, parents are lounging on blankets, the basketball courts are full — even the family pets may be in tow! They have become what they were intended to be — a joining place for the community.
It is clear that there’s been some hard work done by the Parks and Recreation Department to make these changes. The parks are becoming a source of pride for our city! When I drive by now, I can’t help but smile at the difference.
So I love, love, love the “Movie in the Park” series that Faith Inspirational MB Church is again putting on this summer!!! (Actually, I just LOVE Faith Inspirational MB Church!! Pastor Rafer Owens and his congregational truly love, love, love Compton!!! Way before anyone was putting “Birthing a new Compton” on signs in this city, they had birthed that vision in the very DNA of their church. If you don’t have a church home, do not let another Sunday go by before you visit their church. These people are the real deal! Here’s is their website for more information: http://www.faithinspirational.org/.)
Last Friday my family and I showed up at Kelly Park, blankets and chairs under our arms, to watch a movie with about 300 other neighbors (according to the Compton Bulletin). There were free hot dogs, popcorn, sodas, coloring books, and “The Karate Kid” on a large projector screen. Folks came early to claim their spots but nobody seemed in too much of a hurry. Everyone just hung out, waiting for the sun to set. It reminded me of going to the drive-in as a kid. I even saw one family blanket with a full-course meal being passed around!!
It was peaceful and relaxing. It was fun. It was…community. As one Faith Inspirational member introduced herself, she told me, “We’re taking back the city!” Yes you are — one movie at a time!
And we can’t wait til you do it again!
And just for fun, cause this little girl was just whipping around on her bike, hot dog in hand…