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How Mercado La Paloma helped empower South LA




Mercado La Paloma, opened in 2001, features a mix of restaurants, event space, offices, and shops all run by people from the local community.
Mercado La Paloma, opened in 2001, features a mix of restaurants, event space, offices, and shops all run by people from the local community.
Leo Duran
Mercado La Paloma, opened in 2001, features a mix of restaurants, event space, offices, and shops all run by people from the local community.
An array of objects available for sale at Artesanias Oaxaquenas, featuring artisan products from Oaxaca, one of the vendors at Mercado La Paloma.
Leo Duran
Mercado La Paloma, opened in 2001, features a mix of restaurants, event space, offices, and shops all run by people from the local community.
Alex Cohen's own to-go box of food from Azla, a vegan Ethiopean restaurant at Mercado La Paloma.
Artesanias Oaxaquenas
Mercado La Paloma, opened in 2001, features a mix of restaurants, event space, offices, and shops all run by people from the local community.
Ceramic items available for sale at Artesanias Oaxaquenas, which sells Oaxacan products at Mercado La Paloma.
Leo Duran
Mercado La Paloma, opened in 2001, features a mix of restaurants, event space, offices, and shops all run by people from the local community.
A tailor works on a garment at Gloria's Alternations inside Mercado La Paloma.
Leo Duran
Mercado La Paloma, opened in 2001, features a mix of restaurants, event space, offices, and shops all run by people from the local community.
Gilberto Cetina stands in front of his renowned restaurant Chichén Itzá, which specializes in Yucatecan food at Mercado La Paloma. Chichén Itzá has been named on Jonathan Gold's most essential restaurants in LA.
Leo Duran
Mercado La Paloma, opened in 2001, features a mix of restaurants, event space, offices, and shops all run by people from the local community.
Diners in front of posters at Mercado La Paloma celebrating the history of boycott iconography from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.
Leo Duran
Mercado La Paloma, opened in 2001, features a mix of restaurants, event space, offices, and shops all run by people from the local community.
Diners at Mercado La Paloma often flood the building during lunch, making it a lively space.
Leo Duran


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Bringing together a neighborhood is a unique recipe that blends food, culture, art, and more.

One example of that "creative placemaking" is right here in South L.A. just across the 110 from USC -- Mercado La Paloma. It's a two-story building that is a hot spot of activity that bounces with life, all from local entrepreneurs and artists.

RELATED: How the 'creative placemaking' movement is transforming neighborhoods

On the first floor, for example, there's a line of people in front of the food stand Chichen Itza, which food writer Jonathan Gold says is one of the most essential places you need to eat in L.A.

Walk around and there's an exhibit to showcase the art of boycott posters through the decades. You can also get your tattered clothes fixed at Gloria's Alterations. If you're lucky, you might catch a local band performing here, too.

Upstairs there are a range of non-profits like The Children's Collective, which helps low-income families with parenting classes, workshops, and more.

RELATED: KPCC Forum: How Do Spaces Become Places?

Behind this all is Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, executive director of Esperanza Community Housing Corporation which created Mercado La Paloma.

Alex Cohen speaks with Ibrahim and Rudy Espinoza, executive director of LURN, the Leadership for Urban Renewal Network, about the positive economic effects places like this have on the community. 

Where do you see placemaking and public art around Los Angeles? Let KPCC know: snap a pic or tweet us with #LApublicart.