Sonic Trace: LA on both sides of the border

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Guelagetza dancers in LA

One of the first men to set root in LA from Tavehua, Oaxaca, Mex. Photo by Carmen Vidal Balanzat, Sonic Trace videographer

Sonic Trace-– part of KCRW’s Independent Producer Project– is a multimedia project and radio series  bringing you stories that explore the three age-old questions about community and immigration in Los Angeles.

¿Por qué te fuiste? ¿Por qué te quedaste? ¿Por qué regresaste?

Why do people leave? Why do others stay? And, what makes people go back (in either direction)?

Sonic Trace is a story-telling and documentary experiment produced in partnership with AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio, that will bring you stories that begin in the heart of Angeleno neighborhoods and end in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The idea of Sonic Trace came from my personal history. I grew up in  Miami during the big immigration wave of the late 80s and 90s. We were all local to somewhere else, but loyal to Kendall–a condo-style suburb of recent immigrants. I hated Miami, but loved my friends. I imagined a dot and a line connecting Tirza to Tegucigalpa, Mauricio to Havana and Michelle to Tucuman. I knew everything about these cities through their stories. And in turn, I lived in those cities whenever I went to their parties, stayed over for dinner or got scolded for not understanding the local custom. But local to where? To Miami or Honduras?

Guelagetza dancers in LA

We will explore how Koreatown turned Korexico;  jump onto food truck routes–mic in hand–across LA’s urban sprawl; and bring you stories from inside churches where Canjobal (Guatemala) meets Zapotec (Southern Mexico) in the heart of South Central.

Want to get involved? Are you a designer or an architect? Help us build our sound booth.

Have a great story to pitch? Tell us, email us at:

A mini-model of the beloved cathedral of Santa María de Tavehua Photo by Carmen Vidal Balanzat, Sonic Trace videographer

Are you or your parents from Mexico or Central America?  Do you have Angeleno friends, colleagues or neighbors from the region? Do you know why they left, how they got here and if they want to go back? What does Los Angeles mean to them? Where is home?

Collaborate with Sonic Trace, pitch us your story and help us trace your version of Los Angeles, on both sides of the border.

Sonic Trace is produced by Anayansi Diaz-Cortes and Eric Pearse Chavez. It is part of Localore, a national initiative of AIR and produced in collaboration with KCRW and Zeega with principal funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The project will go live in Fall 2012. In the meantime, pitch us your story and help us trace your version of Los Angeles, on both sides of the border.

You can also find us on Facebook and on Twitter.