Wednesday, September 18, 2019
CLOSE
 
Veniceball Unveils the Watts Oasis
By Lauren A. Jones Contributing Writer
Published March 28, 2019

St. John’s United Methodist Church Pastor Larry and Watts Towers artist in
residence Augustine Aguirre, at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Watts Oasis. (Christopher
Costello/Veniceball

Veniceball unveiled the Watts Oasis, an art-infused basketball court and community garden on Saturday, March 23, to provide a safe space and resources to the underserved Watts community.

“I discovered this court that was hanging on a string here 10 years ago and I always thought it would be nice to kind of upgrade the facility,” explained Nick Ansom, founder and CEO of the Venice Basketball League.

The Watts Oasis court refurbishment was the tenth of its kind, part of Veniceball’s Build Courts Not Walls global campaign. With the help of 100 volunteers and Watts Towers artist in residence, Augustine Aguirre, muralist Robert Miller, and Gonzalo Duran, creator of the Mosaic Tile House, the court was transformed by 10,000 mosaic tiles that make up the basketball hoop backboards along with the outlines of the court.

Ansom shared that each tile is representative of “a bunch of broken pieces of different people’s dream that together, have so much power and so much strength.”

 What was once the set of the 1990’s sports comedy White Men Can’t Jump, has now become an oasis for members of the local Watts community to utilize. Sixth grader Jaheim R. Jones is a Watts native and was one of the many volunteers on the front lines ensuring the project’s completion.

“I did a lot of this,” Jones said as he pointed to the tiles on the court. “It means a lot because I’ve been playing here since I was five [years-old] and we only had a half court with gang signs on it. It said 103rd Grape. Nick said it was my court, and I believe him.”

Jones took pride in the newly renovated space as it symbolized hope. Watts, predominantly made up of Black and Brown populations, encompasses several low-income housing projects including the Jordan Downs and Nickerson Gardens. The median household income is $25,161 according to the L.A. Times and only 2.9 percent of the population over the age of 25 have a four-year college degree.

Five year old Kymiah spent the day at the Watts Oasis helping to plant vegetables in
the community garden on in Watts, Calif. (Christopher Costello/Veniceball

With very few healthy and fresh food options, Watts is considered a food desert. Veniceball partnered with Community Healing Gardens to start the community garden.

“No matter where you come from, money and food should not equal each other,” said Nicole Landers, co-founder and director of Community Healing Gardens. “Everybody deserves fresh food, especially here in L.A.”

Five-year-old Watts resident Kymiah, grabbed a watering can and pointed its spout towards the newly planted community garden.

“I love gardening,” she remarked. Kymiah shared that she does live in a residence with a garden, but it did not stop her from digging her hands deep into the soil and re-potting as many plants and vegetables as she could.

“It’s our mission in life to empower youth, teach the next generation,” Nick said. “That’s why you see we have a vegetable garden…Health is a big part of becoming a whole being, becoming sustainable, becoming healthy so we want to bring this holistic lifestyle.”

 African Americans experience health challenges in the form of diabetes, cancer and other death-threatening illnesses at disproportionate rates.

“Us growing our own food in our own neighborhood protects our community and it only ensures that our health risks are lower,” stated Stix, founder of Think Watts.

Positively impacting the youth by providing access to resources has proven to have a domino effect on the greater community.

Kwintin Williams from UConn participates in the Venice Basketball League celebrity
showdown at the Watts Oasis. (Christopher Costello/Venice
ball)

“It is critically important that our children have a safe space to play, so that they’re not worrying about the stresses that really impact their ability to learn,” remarked Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán. “Sports help create discipline, it’s great that the church has opened up its space for us to get together for this event.”

The inaugural event kicked off with all-day festivities including a Venice Basketball League celebrity game, a performance by Tommy the Clown and complimentary food and drinks. Veniceball has donated over 1,000 basketballs as part of a grassroots initiative to bring communities together through the game of basketball, the Watts Oasis is its biggest project to date.

 

Categories: Basketball | Sports
Tags: | | | | | | | | | |

Get the Los Angeles Sentinel App!



Since 1933 The Voice of Our Community Speaking for Itself.
86 Years of LA Sentinel.
Black News.
SEARCH:    
Videos


Photo of the Day

Events

LA Sentinel
in your pocket:







Taste of Soul Sponsors

TOS-Cookbook-Web

NIPSEY HUSSLE
COMMEMORATIVE EDITION

LA Watts Times

© 2019 Los Angeles Sentinel All Rights Reserved • A Bakewell Media Publication

AboutArchivesContact UsCorrections & MisprintsMedia Kit

Terms of ServicePrivacy Policy

LA Watts TimesTaste of Soul

Close / I'm already on the list

Subscribe Today!

Don't be limited anymore! Subscribe Now »

** Existing subscribers, please Login / Register for Digital »

Subscribe to The Los Angeles Sentinel for only $5.99 $3.99 per month, with 1 month free!

Relax in comfort each week as you read the printed newspaper on your own time, delivered weekly to your home or office. This subscription also includes UNLIMITED DIGITAL ACCESS for all of your devices. Includes FREE shipping! One easy payment of $3.99/month gets you:

Subscribe Now »