Pura Avenida

What is Pura Avenida?

Pura Avenida which literally means PURE Avenue is the name of the WCDC’s latest program. The naming is a bit of a journey that merits explaining. “The Avenue” is the name of the area in which the WCDC is located and serves. The area’s name is derived from the main transit street called Ventura Avenue. Over time this street corridor became simply known as “The Avenue”, omitting the title “Ventura”. Eventually, the entire community followed suit with the name.

Amongst onlookers and service providers, “The Avenue” has often conjured up sentiments and visions of poverty, homelessness, gangs, crime, and other negative activity. The area is predominantly a lower-socio economic demographic and has housed or is housing a number of social service agencies. As a result, the community has had to overcome many different issues such as affordable housing, renters rights, access to public transit, homelessness, lack of green space to name a few.

Simultaneously, The Avenue is known for its “eclectic-ness” and liveliness due to its diversity of people, its Bohemian artist community, its multiple taquerías, its high volume of pedestrians, its surrounding hillsides and its historical building structures. There are many gems that the community possesses and much for people to feel proud about.

For those that call the area home there is much pride associated with the community, the name, and in essence, the brand. But for many that grow up “on The Avenue”, often it is the only reality they experience. There can be many factors involved in this limited reality. Perhaps it’s poverty, language and cultural barriers, limited access to resources or lack thereof, mental illness, fear, shame, and/or discrimination. As a result, The Avenue to many young people has meant a territory to “mark as one’s own”, to protect, and to establish deep roots at the expense of not exploring other life “avenues”. For whatever the reason this may be, The Avenue life can often appear to be the ONLY life avenue.

PURA AVENIDA is a means to celebrate and preserve the authenticity and genuine nature of The Avenue while bringing about a broader scope of experiences and life paths to its young people. It honors the rawness and realness of the area and its people (the PUREness) yet it also desires to be a place and program where a young person can explore other life pursuits and “avenues”. Pura Avenida offers skill based learning opportunities, career technical training, and mentorships. It is a safe space to create and be creative, to ask questions and to learn entrepreneurship. Pura Avenida recycles leaders, using students and residents who have been trained in high-tech manufacturing equipment to teach others.

It offers job opportunities, start-up business opportunities, and carves out paths (avenues) to pursue higher education all while maintaining place and purpose in the community for its participants. The instruction of equipment is done in the Avenue community. It is free to eligible Avenue youth. It celebrates that each individual of the community is a valued and contributing member of the community who possesses unique and authentic abilities. It is training the young people of today for future opportunities and avenues. It is Pura Avenida!