A Project to Revive Southeast L.A. by the River Draws a Line Between Development and Gentrification

Save the date! The second annual SELA Arts Festival at the LA River will return on July 27, 2019. Sign up for updates!

By: Ruth GuerreroRuth Guerrero - L.A. Taco

It’s a scorching hot, dry summer day in South Gate and the Los Angeles River is roaring with the kind of exuberant music-making perhaps not seen since the Tongva built life along the L.A. basin. More than 5,000 people are in attendance at the “first annual” SELA Art Festival to witness the likes of Buyepongo, Quetzal, The Altons, Culture Clash, and Weapons of Mass Creation.

People from all over Los Angeles endured traffic on the 710 to witness the collection of Chicano performers, browse the vendors displaying skincare products sourced from mercados in Mexico, Instagram clothing brands with embroidered phrases like “sin miedo” and “chingona,” shop for bilingual children’s books about Selena and Cantinflas, and of course, eat tamales, tacos, and tortas.

On this July day, the river, once a source of fertile sustenance, is the setting of a mini revival of cultural and literal nourishment for Southeast Los Angeles. But can life along the paved arroyo endure?

The state’s most powerful legislator is really hoping so.