LOCAL VOICES: One view to transform Compton into a great city, again
A plan to transform Compton into a place we can be proud to call home By CHRIS PETIT, Contributing Writer When my wife and I first told our family and friends that we’d purchased a home in
A plan to transform Compton into a place we can be proud to call home
By CHRIS PETIT, Contributing Writer
When my wife and I first told our family and friends that we’d purchased a home in Compton, they gave us “the look.” Everyone who lives in Compton knows what that look means. It’s a frightened look that says, “Oh my God, isn’t it dangerous there!” It’s a condescending look that says, “Why would you ever want to live there?” And it’s a look of pity that says, “Don’t worry; you’ll be able to move up later!”
The truth is, like most young couples, my wife and I bought the best house we could afford; and it just happened to be on the western edge of the “Hub City”; Compton. It was a nice neighborhood (yes, Compton has several of them). Our neighbors were mostly retired grandparents, which meant they were home most of the day and would notice any suspicious activity on the block. The streets were clean, and the people were friendly. My neighbors are the type of folks that are likely to wave to you as you’re driving down the street or keep you company while you’re watering the grass. On the 4th of July, they bring my family Texas barbecue and homemade pound cake.
Our oldest child was just starting school when we moved here, and as luck would have it, her assigned school had won a Blue Ribbon and had the highest API scores in the area. Not just the best scores in Compton, but Long Beach, Palos Verdes, and Redondo Beach, as well. How could I be upset? The neighborhood was quiet, especially at night. Almost too quiet. I could hear nothing but crickets until the sun came up. I told my wife that if the neighborhood stays the same and if things don’t change too much; we never have to move; we’ll stay in Compton.
We stayed. We made Compton our home. Our children, who were toddlers at the time, are almost ready for high school now. And we are still here. The neighborhood is not as quiet as it used to be, but it’s still peaceful. The school has fallen a few points, but the teachers are still among the best. The only thing that’s changed is that I’m tired.
I’m tired because my little street is doing ok, but when I travel to a local store and notice the alleys and creek beds piled high with trash, the potholes (arm deep in some areas) and the parks with uncut grass, I get angry. The best case scenario is that our leaders don’t know what’s going on. And if the good citizens of Compton could simply get their attention and point these things out, then this would be a situation we could fix. We’d come together with our leaders and find an answer.
But the worst case scenario is that they know and don’t care. I pray that this is not the case. But if it is, what shall we do then? Screaming at City Council meetings doesn’t always work. Compton is a tough town and when we scream at our leaders … they scream back. That has to change.
I think about my city every day, all day, and late into the night. It bothers me that I haven’t been able to affect change from where I am. Maybe you live in Compton too and can identify with what I’m saying here. Either I’m going to have to ask for a different kind of change, or I’ll have to change the position I’m in so that I can be a part of a bigger impact. I walk among the people, and out of many must come one.
Part two of five continues next Monday: POTHOLES
Chris Petit is a homeowner in Compton.