This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of spending time at Vector90, the co-working space in Crenshaw founded by real-estate developer David Gross and the late, great Nipsey Hussle. The space has offices, conference rooms, a kitchen, and desk space for those who just need something more “office-like” than a Starbucks. Aside from being a coworking space for adults, Vector90 has also provided STEM programs for school-aged children, as well as support and mentorship activities for local startups. A friend of ours raved about his experience at the monthly “Burnout“, a Saturday event where folks in the community buy tickets to just network, vibe, and be creative together. Nipsey fans, and fans of collective working environments, we decided to take the two hour drive from San Diego last weekend just to experience it for ourselves. The space is a haven of sorts, nestled in a non-descript warehouse in the middle of South Central LA. From the outside, it looks like any old warehouse, but inside, it’s brightly lit, open, and extremely inviting.
I had the opportunity to meet David, who I personally didn’t expect to be present. It may be because it was a special event, but I always love to see the masterminds behind a project present to see it working. That sort of engagement tends to make you feel more connected to a space, because they’re connected. Snacks are provided, but when he found out I was vegan, he offered to have someone go out and pick up some vegan food for me, which was definitely a nice touch. So why am I bothering to write about this? I’m not on Vector90’s payroll, clearly, but I’m a huge proponent of supporting anything positive that has its roots in hoods that are similar to the ones I’ve grown up in. I’ve been writing a lot about inspiration and motivation and all of that good stuff, and I want to make sure that I keep this momentum going, not just for myself, but for my readers as well.
Being around so many creative people is one of the easiest and virtually free ways you can get your own creative juices flowing. Listening to the intense discussions, hearing the ideas floating around, feeling the excited energy in this sort of space has been proven to get you out of a rut (I say proven, but I may have made that up, so please Google that to see if it’s true). I was there for a couple of hours, and I was able to write a chapter for the book I’m writing that I’ve had writer’s block on for at least two weeks. Knowing how I feel, it made me think about young people and what they can get out of a place like this, in various inner cities across the country. Growing up, I wish I had somewhere to be where I could find people that were more like me. Sometimes, the public library and the Boys and Girls Club had some semblance of that, but it was never dedicated to creatives. There wasn’t a free flow of thoughts and ideas, as the focus in the latter space was always about sports and just getting out of the house. As I got older, it became even more difficult, as there wasn’t a grown-up equivalent to a Boys and Girls Club.
Although real money has been put into Vector90, there are ways to recreate this feeling with young people by working with local organizations that are willing to open up their spaces after hours. In San Diego, the population of people of color is fairly sparse, with the majority being sequestered in the southeast part of the city. In years past, that area was ridden with crime and gang-violence, a mirror of the experience in South Central. Even still, there aren’t many spaces where young people, especially young adults (I’m slowly inching away from the young adult category, but I’m going to milk it ’til I can’t), are able to congregate to build community and create. Meetup groups try to capture that feeling, but a lot of times, there aren’t guaranteed, dedicated spaces for their gatherings and events. If you’re looking for something similar to the vibe I’m describing from the event I attended, start to link up with those in your community who can make it happen, like local political boards, real estate investors, etc. Growing up in the area I did, with limited resources, I’ve learned that the best way to find something you’re missing in your community is to create it yourself.