The Bigger Picture: The Hundreds Block Party

As some of you may have heard, The Hundreds Block Party was canceled at the last minute by the LAPD, with no help from the city council. I have long been an admirer of what these guys have done, are doing and will do next. I am sure the brand represents many things to many people, but since I am a person who is totally committed to teaching, inspiring and otherwise illuminating the lives of young people, I see Bobby Hundreds as one of the best. Let me also be clear: I am not talking about steering kids away from drugs or any of that holier-than-thou shit. That is not the type of ‘illumination’ I am talking about. I am talking about showing kids where things come from. Sources of inspiration. The path less traveled. To respect their elders – the elders being the skaters that did it first. The musician who created the music sampled for the beat your favorite rapper is rhyming over. The guy who opted out of college but was never lacking in determination to succeed. I feel that Bobby Hundreds does something similar through his brand. Bobby uses a brand, and at the most basic level, t-shirt designs often to inform. To teach. He knows the members of his movement, and at the same time has a strong perspective worth sharing. Like I said… the brand represents many things to many people. It is almost the very definition of a brand. Some see things on the surface, and others see more.

So with that less-than-brief wind up, let me share the letter I was inspired to write to two LA City Councilmen that unfortunately took the path of least resistance to the detriment of something far greater than a Block Party.

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John, Paul,

First, I must say that I am not a resident of Los Angeles. If anything, I make that point to demonstrate how far your recent actions regarding the The Hundreds Block Party actually extend. I was inspired to write this after seeing your response and reading the very believable perspective of The Hundreds. I was left thinking… We elect our politicians for what they can do for our immediate communities, but we could all benefit from public servants with vision that expands beyond their very narrow district lines. I encourage your to take the macro-perspective here:

Why, in these screwed up times of uncertainty and a perceived lack of hope, would you let the small voices of a few allow you to silence one of the city’s most positive and inspirational events for young people? These kids are not just attending the block party for cheap fun, food and music. This event is rooted in an incredibly positive and creative movement that has blossomed into something life-altering for many young kids – completely motivational and inspiring. As I am sure you are well aware, kids are feeling failed by traditional routes of ‘success’ these days. Even the more affluent kids are finding themselves struggling with college debt and dismal job market. Young people are jaded and clinging on to anything that feels positive and instills just the slightest bit of hope for the future. What you may view as a few hundred feet of retail space on an LA side street is actually very positive beacon in the community serving to keep kids away from lives of drugs and other crime your voters seek to eliminate – not through any sort of shallow message, but through their positive community actions as very proud LA residents and as global citizens. But this letter is not about crime by any stretch. It is about the future. These actions that embody The Hundreds movement have global impact – as you can probably tell from your inbox right now. I am writing your from New York City. 34 years old. Mentor to many, many young people. And I develop programs that impact even more. When I try to inspire young people, or show them the positive things in the world, it is actions such as yours that make my job harder.

I put myself in the shoes of my good friend in Los Angeles. He is another entertainment executive who is the father of a young kid, who have both attended the absolutely trouble-free, all smiles event that is The Hundreds Block party since inception. What does he tell his child? He cannot tell her what you have told us. Even she would know that it is simply a lie. What do you suggest he tells her?

It would be wrong for me to lie to my friends, family, employers, clients, and to you… So why should any young kid, clinging to something positive in your city, the country, and the world… Kids that have saved their very hard earned money and purchased airline tickets to attend this event, find your statement below acceptable:

I understand your frustration at the cancellation of the Hundreds Block Party. However, due to past and current public safety issues, the Los Angeles Police Department recommended against it.

Perhaps, next year, if the sponsor plans ahead and works with the police to plan a safe, neighborhood friendly event, there won’t be a problem.

Teachers, artists, musicians, other community leaders, and even young business people such as the those at The Hundreds are working hard light fires of inspiration in young people. To alter their spirits and viewpoints in a positive way. Please don’t continue to be the people whose actions only extinguish those fires. I am confident you don’t want that on your record. Nobody does. You have both chosen to serve your great city, and you deal with far more complicated things on a daily basis. This one was easy. A conversation with The Hundreds. A thumbs up. Maybe a difficult conversation with an unhappy business owner. It is your responsibility to understand and be able to articulate the positive implications of this event with your constituents, not just the ‘potential’ negative ones, which nobody but yourself and the LAPD seem to be aware of. Sorry for the long message. Please don’t be the reason for another hiccup in what will likely be a decades-long tradition – with or without you.

As you may have heard… THE HUNDREDS IS HUGE.

Robby Wells

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