My esteemed editors here at the San Diego Free Press, with the ok of us hardscrabble community journalists, have decided to focus our attention during the month of April towards the neighborhood that is my home: Barrio Logan. In March, we turned our attention to the hipster haven of North Park. And now we look a little southwest towards the barrio under the bridge.
Barrio Logan is one of the oldest neighborhoods in San Diego. It used to be one whole community called Logan Heights, named after congressman John A. Logan, but the creation of the Interstate 5 freeway that bisected the neighborhood changed that. Then the building of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge changed it again. Thousands were displaced from building the freeway and the bridge. Now Barrio Logan encompasses a relatively small patch of land sandwiched between the San Diego Bay and the I-5 freeway and north of National City and south of San Diego’s East Village.
Less than 5,000 people inhabit my barrio. Thousands more come during the day to work here in the shipyards, the Port of San Diego and the other companies that line the bay side of Barrio Logan. Of those 5,000 barrio denizens about 85% of them are non-white, most of which are of Mexican descent. But things are changing. There are demographic shifts as property values rise and the proximity to Downtown San Diego is realized. Developers are drooling to take over the land to build condos and hipster bars. A showdown over the future character of my community is on the horizon.
Barrio Logan is one of the most stereotyped neighborhoods in all of San Diego. People who don’t live here have negative thoughts about my barrio. That it is crime ridden. Full of gangs. Violence plagued. But Barrio Logan has gotten a bum rap over the years. It is not the crime infested slum that people think it is. Things have changed for the positive and Barrio Logan has become a place where working families can once again raise their children in a positive, culturally affirming way.
Barrio Logan is home to Chicano Park, the largest outdoor display of murals in the world. It’s also home to the militancy that created Chicano Park. A militancy that won’t ever go away, even as the Chicano Movement generation grows older. Barrio Logan is also home to a burgeoning Barrio Arts District. If Chicano Park is grandaddy to San Diego’s Chicano arts scene then places like the Voz Alta Project Gallery, The Roots Factory and The Spot Barrio Logan are it’s wayward grandchildren ready to rise up and share this generation’s vision of Chicano art and culture.
Barrio Logan is home to the Barrio Station and the Barrio Logan College Institute. Las Cuatro Milpas and Blueprint Cafe. Centro Aztlán Marco Anguiano and the Paradise Senior Center. Don Diego VFW and the Logan Inn. We are churches and one liquor store. A community with taco shops, carnicerías y fruterías galore. We are San Diego Public Market and Mercado Northgate. We roast fine coffee beans at Ryan Bros., Cafe Virtuoso and Cafe Moto. Murals blaze colors on walls throughout this neglected, working class neighborhood. Barrio Logan is one of the poorest communities in the city of San Diego. Yet we shine on. We are the embodiment of a living, breathing culture going about our lives. We live la vida Logan
I’m proud that San Diego Free Press has chosen to highlight Barrio Logan this month. April is of major significance to this community. On April 22, 1970 the people of Barrio Logan and beyond occupied the space under the bridge for 12 days. They demanded a park. Their demands were met and now Chicano Park is a shining example of what a community can do if they struggle for a common goal. Something this community has done time and time again whether for community access to the San Diego Bay or against spraying of pesticides at the port or against junkyards and metal plating shops. This community has always stood up to defend itself and always will.
Some of the people, issues and places that will be written about during the month of April:
• Bob Dorn plans on writing a piece about Latin jazz trumpeter Bill Caballero’s Latin Jazz Jam that takes place every Thursday night at Voz Alta;
• Andy Cohen will write a story about the people that play handball at Chicano Park and it’s historical significance to Mexicans;
• Annie Lane will contribute some photo essays;
• Newcomer Letitia Rogers will write a piece about her initial stereotype of Barrio Logan and how she overcame that to love this community;
• Olympia Andrade Beltrán will write her first article for SDFP on Danza Azteca and it’s significance to Chicano Park and Barrio Logan;
• Judi Curry will do a write up on Ryan Bros. Coffee and contribute food reviews of Las Cuatro Milpas and Blueprint Cafe;
• Anna Daniels will roam the streets of Barrio Logan with me and compare sidewalks with her beloved City Heights;
• District 8 councilman David Alvarez may contribute a piece on the state of Barrio Logan;
• The Environmental Health Coalition will contribute a piece on the Barrio Logan Community Plan update;
• Fran Zimmerman will do something on the Barrio Logan College Institute as well as the potential expansion of Perkins Elementary;
• And I plan on writing a piece on the Logan Heights Family Health Center and it’s origins as the Chicano Free Clinic; an interview column on what Chicano Park means to certain individuals; a profile of The Spot Barrio Logan; recent mural work in Chicano Park; Barrio Logan legend Chunky Sanchez performing with David Hidalgo and Louie Perez of Los Lobos at Adams Avenue Unplugged; and whatever else I can find the time to write about.
These are but some of the items that the volunteer writers of San Diego Free Press will write about during the month of April. I’m sure other ideas are percolating within the sharp minds of the SDFP writing crew. Since April’s Barrio Logan month started for us on Tuesday the 2nd (April Fool’s Day didn’t count) there are already three pieces written on my neighborhood:
• The Two Ends of a Bridge (Seeking Environmental Justice) by Ernie McCray
• Easter Celebration 2013 in Barrio Logan by Alejandra Enciso Guzmán
• Desde la Logan’s Las Monthly Ondas April Edition: Chicano Park Celebrates 43 Years by yours truly
I look forward to seeing my fellow Freepers roaming the streets of my barrio throughout the month of April. But I’d also like to see more community journalists come from within my ‘hood. If you live in Barrio Logan or the surrounding communities and would like to write for the San Diego Free Press please send me an email at DesdeLaLogan@gmail.com. We’d love to add your voice to the many here at SDFP.