Bridging language and culture gaps to talk about aging in LA

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Since last April, we’ve been spending a lot of time along Broadway, from Lincoln Heights in the northern end of the avenue, through Chinatown, and into Downtown.

Our reporting has focused on the experiences of seniors in the area; on what it means to grow old in a city that’s always moving fast and leaving some behind.

We’ve found more common threads between the different neighborhoods than we imagined, especially when it comes to housing — whether it’s too costly or available or hard to keep, especially given the pressures of LA’s housing shortage.

So on January 14, we participated in a community event that invited older adults from Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, and Little Tokyo to share stories about “home” and the challenges many of them are facing with rising rents and evictions in their neighborhoods.

On January 14, 2017, older adults from Little Tokyo, Lincoln Heights, and Chinatown came together to share stories about their ideas of home and the challenges many of them are facing to stay in theirs these days in Los Angeles. (Photo by Bear Guerra)

Produced in collaboration with the Little Tokyo Service Center and the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development –live translated in English, Cantonese, and Japanese — the event offered a unique chance for seniors from these neighboring communities to bridge the language and culture gap to meet each other and realize that they’re facing many of the same issues.

More than 50 people attended the event–most of them seniors who shared their personal stories related to home. The space also featured portraits of senior residents from Little Tokyo Towers and Casa Heiwa Seniors made by Las Fotos; a short video by the Anti-Displacement Artists Network, a Virtual Reality walking tour with Grace Chikui by Form follows Function, home-cooked Chinese and Japanese food by some of the older adults who attended, as well as our own audio slideshow that contained excerpts of some of the stories we’ve produced from these neighborhoods for Going Gray in LA.

Japanese-American residents of Little Tokyo Towers arrive at the Staying Home event on January 14, 2017. (Photo by Bear Guerra)
Several seniors from Little Tokyo Towers listen closely to the translation of a Chinese participant’s story. (Photo by Bear Guerra)