For more information about what data is available for request, click here.
Violence, Hope and Healing in Los Angeles County: The Storytelling Project represents a collaboration between the Office of Violence Prevention, the Department of Arts and Culture, and Creative Strategist Artist-in-Residence Olga Koumoundouros.
In the fall of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Olga Koumoundouros began the first of 100 separate interviews with a diverse group of County residents directly affected by violence. The landmark project represented a collaboration between the Office of Violence Prevention, housed within the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and the Department of Arts and Culture.
The original intention of the project was to document the effect of violence on the lives of our friends, our neighbors, and our communities; better understand where systems had helped or failed the participants; and to determine if there had been missed opportunities to intervene, earlier and more effectively.
The project was conceived prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the brutal, shocking murder of George Floyd. Taken together, these monumental events in the history of our country changed both the context and process of the project and influenced who and why people participated.
The series of unsparing, courageous, and often moving testimonials provide a vivid, sometimes graphic look at the terrible physical and psychological toll that violence extracts on individuals and families. In addition, the stories offer compelling evidence how racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, poverty, addiction, and systemic failures have helped to perpetuate a culture of violence across communities. In some of the cases, people caught up in a seemingly endless cycle of violence became violent themselves.
From the stories, we see that while the cost of violence is imposed on communities across the county, it falls disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color, where social marginalization and disempowerment may lead to violence and expose residents to violence within the criminal justice system.
At the same time, the stories reaffirm that violence is preventable, and highlight how we can support prevention and healing. Indeed, the news is not all grim. Through resilience and a fierce desire to improve their circumstances, many of the participants are hopeful and optimistic about the future.
Finally, these stories suggest a roadmap to achieve our vision of a county free from violence.
The Storytelling Project has four main goals:
Center Survivor Voice
To add a human element and context to data about violence to deepen the understanding of violence by lifting up the voices of survivors and individuals most directly impacted by violence and racism.
Build a Wider Audience for Hope and Healing
To combine the stories and photographs that can be shared with the public, county and community partners as well as the arts community, academia and philanthropy for capacity building, fund development, and advocacy efforts.
Strengthen Communication Pathways
To create and fortify new pathways of communication between county agencies, county leadership and community.
Increase Awareness About The Impact of Violence
To distribute and share stories through the book and through other communication mechanisms to inform policies and practices and raise awareness about the impact of violence.
Olga Koumoundouros is a Los Angeles cultural worker, educator, and researcher dedicated to social justice by creating works that map interconnecting systems of economic, gender, and racial inequities and how they affect people and society. By working with communities and survivors of violence, she works collectively to lift up creative power that strengthens peaceful daily living for all people. As creative strategist for Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health’s Office of Violence Prevention, she led the Violence, Hope and Healing in Los Angeles County: The Storytelling Project and currently is gaining more tools as a Ph.D. student at the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at USC.
Johnny Pérez is driven by a desire to create connections. As a high school dropout and incarcerated teen, he knows all too well what it is to not matter and lack the confidence to question it. His practice operates in a liminal territory between social practice, education, and public policy. It’s an art practice of healing through affirming his own existence by validating the lives of those who go unseen through interactions and building community. His photography celebrates the capacity of humans to open themselves up to one another. Whether in the sly smile of a stranger on the streets of New York, or the quiet pride in the eyes of a mother in Guatemala, the images act as conduits of emotion, vulnerability, and compassion between artist, subject, and viewer.
Carolina Ibarra-Mendoza is a Xicana graphic designer and visual artist from East LA. She has a double bachelor’s degree from UC Davis in gender studies and design and an MFA in graphic design from Otis College of Art and Design. Her most notable work includes working with Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz-Starus as the creative strategist and web designer for the feminist archive website AgainstViolence.Art, featured in SF MOMA in 2019.
Learn more about Violence, Hope, and Healing in Los Angeles County
Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.