Walk the Talk

Visit this dedicated website, created by Rob Ochshorn, which provides on-line access to the 76 people whose real-world accomplishments — from 1970 until 2022 — have been celebrated in Walk the Talk.

Saturday, May 25, 2024 from noon till 4pm.
We are getting ready for our  next Walk The Talk parade and performances, honoring Sir Oliver, Linda Leigh, Gary Brown, Lorinda Hawkins Smith, Kayo Anderson, Sieglinde von Deffner, Clancey Cornell and Adelene Bertha.

Walk the Talk is no ordinary walk. It’s a biannual parade!
LA Poverty Department brings Skid Row to life with performances along the parade route that pay tribute to neighborhood initiatives and the men and women whose contributions to the community call for a big, blaring celebration!

Download the tabloid newspapers:
May 25, 2024
May 28, 2022
May 30, 2020 – order the book
April 21, 2018
May 28th, 2016
May 24th, 2014
May 26th, 27th, 28th, 2012

Why Walk the Talk

In 1976, an amazing, enlightened moment of LA city governance occured when a zoning plan was put in place that preserved the biggest stash of low income housing in Los Angeles County — in other words, instead of bringing in the wrecking balls, it preserved the Skid Row neighborhood. In the nearly 50 years since then, most of that housing has been taken out of slum lord hands and is now owned by non-profits who have renovated existing buildings and created new ones. Other non-profits and social services have located there. And importantly, the long-term permanent residents of the neighborhood have made mighty contributions toward preserving the neighborhood and making it livable. It was Skid Row residents who got City Council to enact a moratorium on hotel conversion, during the height of the early 2000’s real estate bubble feeding frenzy. It was Skid Row residents who started providing trashcans and cleaning up the streets, when the city wouldn’t. It was Skid Row residents that got the Parks Department to reinvest in Gladys Park. Skid Row residents envisioned the ReFresh Spot.

Right now, there are dueling narratives about who comprises the “downtown community,” new residents claim that they are creating community downtown, but, often without understanding the accomplishments of the long term Skid Row residents. Walk the Talk is intended to highlight these achievements while fostering an understanding of how Skid Row people and institutions contribute to the wellbeing of the entire city. As the site of many groundbreaking solutions to intractable social problems, Skid Row is a valuable social incubator for communities everywhere.LA Poverty Department began chronicling the social history of Skid Row with its 2002 month-long installation, “Is there History on Skid Row?” at 112 Winston Street. This was followed by our 2008 gallery exhibition “The Skid Row History Museum” at The Box Gallery. Our chronicling of the neighborhood’s achievements continued with our first Walk the Talk parade and conversations in 2012 and continued with our 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 Walk the Talk parades. 

In 2014, we decided to start The Skid Row History Museum & Archive, for the same reason we started Walk the Talk: as a bulwark against the displacement of Skid Row. The materials assembled in the archive, including the interviews with each Walk the Talk honoree, are enormously powerful in setting the record straight and preventing misrepresentations of history and current events. The entire collection of Walk the Talk, including interviews and performances on each of the 76 honorees is available on our dedicated Walk the Talk website.

 [T]he collective acts as curator and archivist of their neighborhood. Homeless communities are barely acknowledged by most institutions, much less thought to have histories and textured pasts. The LAPD turns that generalization on its head, pointing to the area’s ‘amazing community assets.’ — Ryan Wong ARTslant (2014)

Project History

WALK THE TALK is the continuation of a 10 year process of community engagement including performances, exhibitions, public conversations, interviews, drawing, writing, singing and improvising. The conception of this project is to honor people who live and work on Skid Row and who have made it one of the most significant areas for solving the problems that other people have given up on. One of the original goals of Los Angeles Poverty Department is to create community on Skid Row and to employ the voices of the people who live on Skid Row to communicate the experience of living there to the larger community of Los Angeles and to the nation. This project started in 2002 with the LAPD installation / performance series Is there History on Skid Row? and continued with 2006 to 2011 activities: UTOPIA / dystopia where, in preparation for the performance, LAPD created events that engaged community brainpower to identify initiatives and people who had made positive contributions to the neighborhood. We invited some of the most widely recognized social visionaries from the neighborhood, and they were asked to speak about other people and initiatives that they valued. The input led to the installation, Skid Row History Museum, at The Box Gallery, which included more performance and public conversation events, to solicit further community input.

The World Responds to the Walk The Talk Archive - Screening & Conversations - December 8, 2022

May 25, 2024

May 18, 2-4:3pm Come Together

May 25, starting at noon Walk the Talk performance /parade

Los Angeles Poverty Department honors eight community members with performances along the parade route, based on their interviews with Everything With Soul New Orleans style  brass band and portraits by Hayk Makhmuryan.

This year’s honorees are: super volunteer and archivist Clancey Cornell @ Skid Row History Museum & Archive; minister of music music and artistic development with The Row Church Without Walls and Creating Justice LA Kayo Anderson @ Peace and Healing center; actor, singer, video maker, author, playwright, and advocate against domestic violence Lorinda Hawkins Smith @ Union Rescue Misson’s women’s shelter; artist who creates rituals Linda Leigh @ Studio 526; Senior Peer Support Specialist Adelene Bertha @ UCEPP community room; musician and painter Gary Brown @ site of the former Lamp Art space; L.A. County Skid Row coordinator for the Department of Health Services Sieglinde Von Deffner @ Hippy Kitchen; and DJ Sir Oliver @ General Jeff Memorial Park.

May 28, 2022

Walk the Talk parade & Come Together

Los Angeles Poverty Department honors eight community members with performances along the parade route, based on their interviews with BLOW brass band and portraits by Dakarai Akil.

This year’s honorees are: organizer and musician Mr. Pancake (at the Spring Street Garden), advocate and poet Suzette Shaw (at the New Genesis Hotel), musician and empresario Unkal Bean (at 5th and San Julian), punk band singer, theater maker and activist Chella Coleman (at 6th and San Julian), singer, music therapist and co- Director of Urban Voices Project Kate Richards-Geller (at the Union Rescue Mission), visual artist, rapper and activist CruShow Herring (at the site of the former Umeya Noodle Factory, where CruShow is designing a mural), cultural organizer and government consultant Alisa Orduña (at the ReFresh Spot), and drummer and healer Ray Lewis (at General Jeff Memorial Park).

May 30, 2020

Walk the Talk Online Celebration & Live Launch of Walk the Talk website

THIS YEAR – because of COVID_19 – we celebrate 8 honorees with new performances and portraits by Man One all wrapped inside the publication of our WALK THE TALK WEBSITE. The website, created by artist / technologist Rob Ochshorn, includes: hour-long video interviews and transcripts of the interviews, for each honoree as well as videos and scripts of the scenes distilled from the interviews and performed by Los Angeles Poverty Department in each Walk the Talk performance / parade.

We published a book with this year’s honorees.
Order the book for $20 here.

2020 Skid Row visionaries are: community organizer Coach Ron Crockett, a leader of the Skid Row Brigade that is monitoring the City’s Covid-19 deployed port-o-potties and hand washing stations,  social entrepreneurs Danny Park and Andrew Kang of Skid Row Coffee and The Skid Row Peoples Market,  public interest lawyer Gary Blasi, grass roots advocate Angelia “Big Mama” Harper,  informal multi-service provider, Stephanie Arnold Williams, musician and Co-Founding Director of Urban Voices Choir, Leeav Sofer, and deceased, beloved community organizer Leslie Croom.

April 21, 2018

Walk The Talk parade

Eight Skid Row visionaries were honored with a parade & performance: Steve Diaz, Bobby Buck, Eddie H., Pastor Cue, Vijay Gupta, Demetra Wilson-Washington, Andy Bales and Tiffany Rose.  The PARADE was headed by Street Symphony’s brass marching ensemble, PERFORMANCES by LA Poverty Department and PORTRAITS made by CruShow Herring.

May 28, 2016

Walk The Talk parade & Come Together

Eight more Skid Row visionaries joined the Walk the Talk hall of fame: General Dogon, Becky Dennison, AJ Martin, Carol Sobel, Hayk Makhmuryan, Christopher Mack, Katherine McNenny and KevinMichael Key. We will celebrate them with a PARADE headed by PARADIGM brass band, PERFORMANCES by LAPD and PORTRAITS made by Pairoj Pichetmetakul.

May 24, 2014

Walk the Talk parade & Skid Row History mobile exhibit & Come Together

Eight additional Skid Row visionaries celebrated in a PARADE with PERFORMANCES and a mobile EXHIBIT about Skid Row’s history inside the MIKE KELLEY Mobile Homestead, stationed at MOCA from May 29 – June 16. Portraits of the honorees created by Brian Dick.

May 26, 27, 28, 2012

3 Walk The Talk parades & 5 Community Talks

36 Skid Row visionaries were celebrated with 3 DAYS of PARADES and PERFORMANCES with PARADIGM BRASS band, traveling 3 routes through the Skid Row neighborhood with portraits of honorees created by Mr. Brainwash.