Inventions for Little Tokyo is a project by Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) 2019-2021 artist-in-residence Carol Zou to showcase the artwork and drawings of Aileen Omura, a longtime resident in one of LTSC's affordable housing buildings in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California. Aileen’s inventions speak to her experiences as a senior citizen navigating the streets of Los Angeles, with proposals for everyday household items, public transportation, and other forms of infrastructure for sustainable living. Her drawings resonate deeply with LTSC's urban planning, community development, and community advocacy work towards equitable urban development in Little Tokyo.
Working together with Aileen, Carol translated her drawings to 3D printed models in order to create a more concrete vision of her inventions. Inspired by her work at LTSC, Carol also created an open source curriculum that can be used for community engagement, youth education, community planning, and community visioning in Little Tokyo and other neighborhoods. Aileen's inventions are powerful because they represent the intersection of play, imagination, and community control of our built environment. Her futuristic designs ask us to dream about an environmentally conscious world that prioritizes the needs of seniors and families.
Aileen’s dreams are to patent her inventions and to sell them for a lot of money.
For over 40 years, Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) has provided a safety net of social welfare and community development services to empower people and communities in need. LTSC provides culturally and linguistically appropriate services to the Japanese American community in the Southland, builds multi-family affordable housing projects to uplift low-income neighborhoods of color throughout Los Angeles, and promotes equitable development and cultural preservation in the Little Tokyo neighborhood. www.ltsc.org