If you live in the Valley, you prioritize your driving. In other words, if you’re going to brave the notorious traffic of the 405, it better be worth it.

Ten years ago, photographer and San Fernando Valley native, Erin Stone, returned to Los Angeles from travelling abroad. She had a collection of photographs from her trip and decided to showcase them in an art show in Hollywood. So she and her friend, Addy Gonzalez Renteria, packed up and headed out for a night of art and music in Hollywood.

As most Hollywood parties do, the party had a great turn out. But as Erin and Addy looked around they realized that many of the people there were actually from the Valley. Why did they drive over the hill? That night, an idea was born. One that is paving the way for a new art scene in the Valley.

“They were fostering creativity, there were bands playing,” Erin explained during a phone interview. “And we just looked at each other and we were like, we can do this. Let’s just throw an art show. Let’s start this community in the Valley.”

And that’s what they did.

The project took shape and is now known as 11:11 A Creative Collective. It’s a non-profit organization that supports collaboration between artists and their communities. They also work to facilitate the creation of art in areas that have little to no access to it. If you’ve  noticed little splashes of art in the way of murals on big walls or on utility boxes – it’s 11:11’s way of bringing more color to these cities which up to now have been pretty suburban.

“This is not a sleepy suburb. There is a real opportunity to create destinations within these neighborhoods.” – Erin Stone, co-founder of 11:11 creative.

11:11 has planned and executed over 25 art walks, street festivals, and community events in the past 9 years.  The cherry on top? They’ve worked with over 650 artists to bring more art, vibrancy and community to cities like North Hollywood, Pacoima, Chatsworth, and most recently, Reseda.

So, how is all this art going to change things for people who call the Valley home? Erin believes that art brings people together. She’s not wrong. During the Reseda Art Walk this past September, the community event drew in a crowd of almost 15,000 people from across the Valley. Not to mention all of the developments that are rumored to be popping up along Sherman Way. A movie theater, an ice rink, and multiple commercial (and residential) developments have been in talks with city and neighborhood officials. Think hip restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques. More on that later.

Will the Valley ever have that close-knit community feel that is synonymous with areas like Downtown LA or Pasadena?

“For so long, the valley has been thought of as a sleepy suburb and for many years that was true. It’s so spread out that it’s hard to have that downtown or main street feel. But I think that there are opportunities for the whole Valley to unite. To create these projects and events and hubs so that wherever you are in the Valley you kind of feel like I have this thing that’s in my town instead of having to go east of the 405.”

What do you say SFV? Ready to wake up?

Watch Now: Reseda Art Walk 2017 Music Promo