Gregory Toy

Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC)

Los Angeles, CA

With funding from the Mellon Professionalization Initiative, I had the opportunity to intern with the Community Economic Development team at the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC). In working with urban planners, grant writers, and community organizers, I extended LTSC’s mission of improving the lives of individuals and families and promoting the rich heritage of Southern California’s ethnic communities.

This internship not only provided me with an introduction to the history and culture of Little Tokyo by allowing me to work on projects aimed at strengthening community control of the neighborhood in the wake of gentrification and commercial development, but also allowed me to develop transferrable skills that will prove useful in both academic and non-academic settings. The majority of my work supported LTSC’s fight for the community’s right to determine the future of First Street North, the only historically designated block in Little Tokyo.

As part of this work, I wrote and edited grant proposal narratives linked to the institution of an artist-in-residence program at the Daimaru Hotel, the development of a community gardening project for low-income residents at LTSC’s affordable housing buildings, and the conceptualization of a hybrid gallery-bookstore modeled after the former Amerasia Bookstore. One of the unexpected highlights of my internship was attending a weeklong training sponsored by the Grantsmanship Center, where I had the chance to refine and hone my grant-writing skills and network with representatives from other organizations with similar progressive missions.

In addition to cultivating lasting relationships with members of the Asian American nonprofit sector in Los Angeles, I have learned what it means to feel part of a community, and I now view my academic work on the spacialization of race through a new lens thanks to these interactions and connections.