Coining a Motto to Lead a Revitalization


It is not as chipper as Anaheim’s theme (Hub of Happiness) or as self-congratulatory as Yorba Linda’s slogan (Land of Gracious Living), but residents say the new motto for an unincorporated pocket of land southeast of Los Angeles fits.

On Thursday, the 2.2-square-mile area that includes the Walnut Park and Florence-Firestone neighborhoods adopted the theme “A Community Working Together.”

The motto was among about two dozen entries in a theme contest held by County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who suggested that a motto would help distinguish the blue-collar community from neighboring cities.


The winning theme was proposed by Norma Solis, a pharmacy clerk who has lived in the area for five years. Her words will be emblazoned on 15 new bus shelters and several signs throughout the communities.

“I feel proud,” she said of her winning entry.

No one who attended an unveiling ceremony Thursday for the theme and the bus shelters said the motto was particularly witty or novel. Most agreed, however, that it expressed an important message: The residents are working to improve their long-neglected neighborhoods.

“The people in the area identify with it,” said Daniel Zuniga, a 20-year resident and business owner in the area, which is south of Slauson Avenue and east of Central Avenue.

Like many pockets of unincorporated land in the county, the adjoining communities of Walnut Park and Florence-Firestone are largely indistinguishable from cities that border them. In fact, many residents there believe they reside in neighboring Huntington Park or Los Angeles.

The contest, which was judged by a panel of six residents, drew 25 entries from as far as Palm Springs.

The entries included “A Beautiful and Loved Community,” “America’s Melting Pot,” “LA’s Sunshine” and “A Little Community With a Big Heart.”


Two entries offered a rhyming theme: “Pride and Unity Throughout Our Community” and “Community Pride Is on Our Side.”

One entry mixed Spanish and English: “Viva Our Community.”

Some entries simply seemed hard to grasp: “Communities Unity” and “Where Your Friend Is a Neighborhood and a Neighbor Is a Friend.”

Another losing entry can double as an Internet address: “WWW.Working Wonders In Walnut Park.”

The bus shelters and motto contest are part of an $8-million revitalization plan that Molina has spearheaded for the modest, mostly Latino neighborhoods.

The plan, most of which will be implemented next year, includes a $4.7-million face-lift for the regional park in the area, Roosevelt Park, and a make-over for the drab-looking Graham Library on Firestone Boulevard.

About six years ago, two Huntington Park council members proposed annexing part of the unincorporated area, contending that the city could provide safer streets and cleaner neighborhoods. But residents rejected the plan, opting instead to deal with their troubles on their own.


Residents said the revitalization program and an increased sense of community pride indicate that the neighborhood is improving.

Austencia Rodriguez, a 16-year resident of the Florence area, said the new bus shelters are a welcome sight. The 15 shelters are on Florence, Compton, Holmes and Santa Fe avenues and Pacific Boulevard.

“Now we don’t have to get wet in the rain,” she said.

The colorful artwork for the shelters was provided by Bolivian artist Mario Cespedes, who said he tried to capture the history and strong Latino flavor of the community.

One of Cespedes’ paintings, which depicts the area’s first and second generation immigrants, shows a Latino couple cradling their young daughter, who is holding a small American flag.

“A lot of these people come to this community with lots of hope,” he said.