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Oasis in a Concrete Jungle

A garden spot worlds away from the tranquillity of the San Juan Capistrano mission is Dome Village, which sprouted up six years ago amid downtown L.A.'s urban blight, thanks to a volunteer effort. In 1993, the area was a parking lot, plagued with vermin, where homeless people lived in squalor. The lot was sandwiched between the 110 Freeway and a series of skyscrapers. The neighborhood was peppered with tagging, gang activity and decay.

Today the 1 1/3-acre lot is an oasis of greenery attracting birds never before seen in the area. Besides the 20 domes on the property that provide transitional shelter to the homeless, Dome Village also has vegetable and herb gardens, fruit trees, flower beds and lawns.

Working alongside the homeless, who help tend the gardens, are volunteers from all walks of life, says program director Ronda Flanzbaum. “Everyone from USC students to senior citizens to preschoolers pitch in here. It’s a wonderful community experience.”

For more information about Dome Village, call (213) 892-9011.

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