When I step into Boyle Heights I am an outsider. I do not fully understand what I am seeing and hearing as I walk around the neighborhood. Last fall I went on a guided tour of Boyle Heights organized by LA Commons and led by urban planner James Rojas. A local informant not only points out what to see or what to eat, but how to see, hear, smell, eat, and touch in order to better understand the neighborhood. Rojas particularly led us through the many Latino front yards that serve as family, community and sacred spaces. Boyle Heights strikes me as a colorful community with deep cultural and historical roots. One advantage of being an outsider is that the normal, everyday sights, sounds, and smells seem beautiful and sacred to me.
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