- Second District
Zaydell Cotton smiled proudly as she watched her 10-year-old daughter Mia dive in and swim freestyle across the 25-yard Alondra Park pool in Lawndale on a recent afternoon.
She was haunted by the memory of a friend drowning in a river and she was determined that her daughter would never face that risk. She put Mia in swim lessons when she was 6-years-old. It was brutal, with her daughter kicking and screaming the whole time and pulling her coach’s hair out. But within a week, the little girl was swimming. Today, Mia says she would like to become a lifeguard.
“Everybody needs to know how to swim,” said Cotton. “It’s should be like brushing your teeth.”
Summer in Southern California usually means cooling down at the beach or the local swimming pool. But tragically, approximately 10 people drown every day in the United States, according to a study by Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, African American and Hispanic children represent more than 65 percent of the victims.
So, swimming gold medalist Janet Evans teamed with Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas and the LA 84 Foundation to kick-off the Foundation’s Summer Swim Program, which promotes organized swimming sports and the benefits of swim lessons.
“Being a kid in Southern California, we are surrounded by pools and water,” said Evans, a four time Olympic gold medalist who learned to swim at 18 months. “Drowning is swift and silent. Learning to swim is a life-saving skill.”
The LA84 Foundation, endowed by surplus funds from the 1984 Olympic Games, will distribute more than $400,000 in grants to fund swim lessons and organized sports in public pools across Southern California, which will help reach 15,000 children across the region.
“We want kids of all ages to have fun in the summertime but it needs to be safe,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas.
“Now that school is out, it is important to take advantage of all the low cost classes that are available in our community pools. Learning to swim is a life skill.”
But the push to improve swimming skills is not just local. LA84 recently partnered with the USA Swimming Foundation, the philanthropic arm of USA Swimming, to help spread the message about water safety and the importance of swim lessons to an even broader audience. The organization’s Make a Splash initiative spreads the word about the need for swim lessons across the country, with the help of U.S. Olympian Cullen Jones. Next year, the foundation will launch its Make a Splash tour in Los Angeles in coordination with LA84.
At Alondra Park’s recently renovated pool, swimmers from the local teams, the Pirates and Titans, showed their swimming prowess by competing in relays, gliding across the deep pool in backstroke, butterfly and freestyle.
Tanya Jenkins marveled at how her 6-year-old son Aiden had gone from learning to swim in June of last year, to joining the Pirates swim team by September.
“At first, I just wanted him to get to the water’s edge and look at him now,” she beamed as Aiden swam across the pool. “I did not want him to become a statistic.”
For the complete schedule of summer pool programs in the second district, click here.
Several hundred people gathered at the Inkwell, a stretch of beach that was popular with African Americans in the first half of the 20th Century, to honor pioneering African American Latino surfer Nick Gabaldon.
Children from the Watts/Willowbrook Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as anyone who signed up, took free surfing lessons and also learned about marine biology both on the shore and in the Heal the Bay aquarium. They were also treated to screenings of two documentary films, “White Wash,” a chronicle of black surfing and “12 Miles North,” a film about Nick Gabaldon.
Children were standing on surfboards for the first time, their shaky stances growing firm and confident as the morning progressed. Surfing for them was transformed from a seemingly exotic pursuit to something they actually could — and did do.
Why was the Second District partnering with the Westside organization Heal the Bay to stage an event at the beach? Because Nick Gabaldon Day is about seeing ourselves in new ways and removing the limits of place, race and geography. The Second District is actually a land-locked one, with no coastal communities. Inglewood, Compton, Lynwood, Watts and South Los Angeles aren’t typically associated with surf and sand. But the Beach Boys, who made Southern California surf culture world famous, are from the great city of Hawthorne in the Second District. The Western boundaries of the Second District are also just 15 blocks from Nick Gabaldon’s family home.
Decades ago, African-American families enjoyed swimming at the Inkwell, but racial restrictions on coastal housing and recreational facilities such as public swimming pools and beaches severely limited the scope of water recreation in America. The consequences have been dire. Six out of 10 African American and Latino children do not know how to swim. That’s double the rate for white children, according to the USA Swimming Foundation. The drowning rate for black children is almost triple that of white children, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“NO LIMITS” is an important mantra in the surfing world. “NO LIMITS” also summed up the celebration. Nick Gabaldon Day was just an extension of our heritage as risk takers, boundary breakers and pioneers.
The event came together through a wonderful mix of old friends and new partners, including: Historian Alison Jefferson, whose work on the Inkwell and African American surfers has been significant and Heal the Bay, who has worked to preserve our coastal resources for the benefit those who live miles from the ocean, the Black Surfers Collective and the Surf Bus Foundation were models of servant-leadership. “White Wash” director Ted Woods got in the water with the kids. Rick Blocker, a one-man repository of black surfing history, which you can discover at his website blacksurfing.com, was also a guiding force in the event.
Blocker also commissioned a portrait of Nick Gabaldon unveiled that day. The portrait was painted by Richard Wyatt, who has celebrated our rich diversity in his works, many of which are public art murals throughout Los Angeles. His work is displayed at the Watts Towers Arts Center and the Capitol Records building.
So, in the spirit of Nick Gabaldon Day, don’t be afraid to catch a wave. Perhaps more importantly, don’t be afraid to make waves!
Growing up in South Los Angeles, Ron Finley is familiar with the area’s lack of fresh produce and having to drive too far to find fresh, seasonable vegetables and fruits. So, three years ago, he set off on a quest to improve the availability and quality of fresh food in his neighborhood. He planted vegetables in the curbside dirt strip next to his home. It was a quiet act of defiance that led to a revolution.
Because the City of Los Angeles owns the dirt patches next to the streets and avenues where Finley was planting, he was cited for gardening without a permit. But the ticket did little to stop him. He started a petition with fellow green activists, demanding the right to garden and grow food in his neighborhood. The city backed away and Finely caught the attention of media, creative leaders and environmentally conscious people who have long hoped healthier food resources would be available in South Los Angeles. His story landed him the opportunity for a TED talk, which has been watched by 950,000 people. No longer a renegade, Finley’s vision has grown into a thriving garden of pumpkins, peppers, sunflowers, kale and corn. Determined to change South Los Angeles from food desert to food forest, he wants his actions to be educational, inspiring, and nutritious.
Excerpt from Intersections South LA. Click here for the complete story.
On Sunday, May 5th, Javier Partida rode his bike around the Watts neighborhood with a group of 30 young adults that live in the area.
While approaching a red light at the intersection of 108th Street and Compton Avenue, Partida lifted his fist in the air, as a way to direct the rest of his bike squad behind him.
As the rest of the bikers behind him came to a stop, a man in a black Impala with tinted windows and silver rims stopped next to Partida.
“You’re doing a great thing for these youngsters, man,” the driver said. Partida nodded his head and replied, “I appreciate it, man. Good looking out.”
The light at the intersection turned green and the Impala sped off. “Everybody let’s go,” said Partida. “Don’t stay behind!”
Partida is the founder of Los Ryderz B.C., a bicycle club in Watts. He founded the club a year ago. Partida organizes bike rides every weekend for about 30 young adults between the ages of 15 to 21 years old. The bike riders come from Watts, Compton, South Central L.A. and South Gate.
The purpose of the club is to prevent the youth in Watts from joining gangs and using drugs. Partida said he wants to engage the youth in the community by organizing recreational activities.
Partida provides the club a total of 20 bicycles. He keeps them at a local school where he works as a security guard. The rest of the club members bring their own bikes.
Partida recently organized a softball tournament with a bike club from East Los Angeles. He said that organizing activities that are free of charge allow everyone to take part.
“I rode with the majority of my squad to a park in East L.A.-that was free,” said Partida. “And we played softball in a park — that was also free.”
Click here to read more.
This month, the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning will begin the first periodic review of the Baldwin Hills Community Standards District, which regulates drilling and operations of the oil field. As a property owner, resident, and/or community stakeholder, your input provides a very important role in this process. The Department of Regional Planning has made a survey available to collect the community’s input. Please click on the following link to read the introduction to the periodic review process, and to be taken to the survey: http://planning.lacounty.gov/baldwinhills/csd.
Much has happened since the County, the City of Culver City, community advocates and Plains Exploration & Production Company entered into a settlement agreement in June 2011. An inventory of emissions around the perimeter of the Inglewood Oil Field is currently underway. Also, the first phases of landscaping improvements, along La Brea and below Ladera Crest, are visible, and PXP is expected to begin construction on La Cienega Blvd early next year.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has completed a two-part community health assessment . The first part analyzed mortality and morbidity data for the population surrounding the oil field; the second part synthesized interviews with 1,000 residents regarding their health conditions and concerns. Also, a study looking at hydraulic fracking at the oil field has also been completed.
One conclusion, however, can be drawn from the entire settlement process: community involvement makes a difference. Together the community advanced a conversation the rest of the nation is only beginning to have. Community involvement is key to promote environmental stewardship and accountability around the Inglewood Oil Field and throughout the Second District.
Lastly, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the information contained within the attachments to this e-mail, which include the upcoming Community Advisory Panel meeting notice and agenda for the meeting this Thursday, May 23rd at 7pm at the Kenneth Hahn Recreation Center, as well as the periodic review process flowchart (as discussed during the April CAP meeting). In addition to collecting input from the electronic survey above, the Department of Regional Planning will also be collecting public comments during the May 23rd CAP meeting.
This information is also provided on the Baldwin Hills CSD’s website at http://planning.lacounty.gov/baldwinhills.
Please contact Rena Kambara via email at email@example.com should you have any questions.
Community members and volunteers gathered at Mary M. Bethune Park in Florence-Firestone on a recent Saturday to give the five-acre park a much-needed makeover. Nearly 200 people including adults, young adults and children rolled up their sleeves to rake leaves, plant drought-tolerant plants and paint over graffiti on picnic benches and walls near the park pool, the handball court and the baseball field.
Joe Titus, who has lived in the neighborhood for all of his 85 years and is co-captain of the Bethune Park Block Club, noted that the graffiti, trash and unattended to leaves on the ground had taken the luster off the park . He was eager to pitch in and enjoyed the team effort that within only a few hours, burnished the park’s appearance.
“There were people all over the place,” said Titus. “I was so busy painting the light pole I didn’t pay attention to what all the other volunteers were doing, but when I finished painting, everything was clean. The park looks beautiful.”
Volunteers didn’t stop at cleaning the park. They also picked up trash and swept the sidewalks of the surrounding neighborhood.
The collaborative community effort was organized by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ office, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Public Works, the Florence –Firestone / Walnut Park Chamber of Commerce, the Bethune Park Block Club, the Los Angels County Sheriff’s Department Century Station and about 100 students from Public Service Community High School.
Whether it’s buying seasonal fruits and vegetables, or getting to know specific vendors and tasting their home grown delicacies, or meeting up with friends for freshly brewed coffee, farmers’ markets have become an important part of life in Los Angeles.
Now, every Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents and others can enjoy the Crenshaw Christian Center Farmers’ Market, off of Vermont Ave. in the heart of South L.A. The market came about thanks to the efforts of Professor Cynthia Davis of Charles Drew University, who applied for a grant through the Federal Department of Agriculture, which provided seed money for venture.
The farmers’ market will not only strengthen community ties, but it will also increase healthy food options for local residents in an area where there is an overabundance of highly processed, sugar- infused, fast food options.
“It’s not a coincidence that South Los Angeles both lacks access to fresh produce and experiences disproportionately high rates of obesity and diet-related chronic disease,” said Sondos Islam, PhD, MPH, MS, Associate Professor and Director of the
Urban Public Health Program at Charles Drew. “Increasing availability of fresh fruits and vegetables is a significant preventative measure to improve the health outcomes of our community and meet the demand of residents in this food desert.”
As Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine.”
Los Angeles International Airport is the third busiest airport in the nation, with nearly 75 air carriers and more than 600-daily flights.
While this is good news for the tourism industry and the regional economy in general, for residents of the Del Aire, Lennox and Athens communities who live directly beneath the LAX flight path, the constant noise from the plane engines is a never ending nuisance.
But soon, many of those residents might get some respite. From now through September 15, 2015, homeowners who meet certain qualifications will be eligible to apply for free insulation of houses and apartment buildings under the County Community Development Commission’s Residential Sound Insulation Program. Sound insulation improvements include the installation of new windows, exterior doors, attic insulation, vents, electrical panel upgrades, heating ventilation and air conditioning systems.
In order to qualify, homes must be located in a designated 65 decibel noise level within the communities of Athens, Del Aire, and Lennox, as determined by the Federal Aviation Administration and Los Angeles World Airports. The CDC estimates that approximately 6,200 homes are eligible for the soundproofing program, with an estimated value of $27,000 to $32,000 per home. It is free of charge to homeowners and although administered by the county, is fully funded by the Federal Aviation Administration and Los Angeles World Airports. To date, the CDC has soundproofed 2,200 homes.
“Our goal is to ensure that every resident in these communities is aware of the program so that they may apply for the program while funds remain available,” said Cordé Carrillo, director of the CDC’s Economic and Housing Development Division
When Athens resident Jeriel Womack, 55,heard about the program, she called the CDC to find out if her home qualified — within seven months, her three-bedroom home was soundproofed.
“The noise would wake me up in the morning and keep me up at night,” said Womack. “I now have a new window, a sliding door, heating and air condition system. I am completely satisfied with the improvements to my home. Not only do I no longer have to hear the noise from the planes, I now no longer hear the cars speeding up and down the street, the dogs barking, the fire tucks or the police sirens.”
Womack was so impressed with the service and the quality she received, and the short time that it took to install the new soundproofing products, that she told her neighbors about the program, several of whom also have received sound proofing products in their homes.
“The airport is a vital economic engine for the entire Southern California region, but it is essential that we be sensitive to the needs of residents in the communities and neighborhoods adjacent to LAX,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This soundproofing program is meeting a long-sought need in these communities and already it has begun to improve the quality of life for residents. Now we have to get the word out so as many people as possible take advantage of these remedies.”
For more information, please contact the Community Development Commission at: (626) 586-1840.
Imagine an oasis in the heart of bustling Los Angles — a place home to scenic meadows, edible gardens, a yoga deck and an observation area overlooking downtown Los Angeles.
Los Angeles residents may soon be able to enjoy such a retreat. A proposal to create the Stoneview Nature Center, a five-acre parkland expansion project in Baldwin Hills between Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area and the Baldwin Hills Overlook, is moving forward.
The Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority already has allocated $5.3 million of Proposition A funds, known as the Safe Neighborhood Parks Proposition, to the county for the nature center project, and the Board of Supervisors has thrown its support behind the project as well. Recently, the supervisors authorized the Department of Parks and Recreation to apply for a $5 million-grant from the Baldwin Hills Conservancy that would enable it to secure the remaining half of the estimated $10.3 million project.
When completed, the project will include a 4,000-square-foot community facility with a multi-purpose room, an outdoor classroom, and protected open space, all to be managed by the county Department of Parks and Recreation. Also, the project design will incorporate sustainable and environmentally friendly design elements that are compatible with green building design, construction and maintenance.
If the application is approved, county officials estimate that the project will be completed in two years.
“For over five years, stakeholders have been working towards the goal of creating open space that suits the needs and desires of both students and nature lovers,” said Baldwin Hills Conservancy Executive Officer David McNeill. “The Stoneview Project will be a welcome addition to the parklands . ”
The county plans to include an at-risk youth component to the ongoing care of the site though the county’s Youth Employment Plan. Youth will be hired to maintain the facility and landscaping surrounding the nature center.
Located at the former site of an elementary school that was purchased by the Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority in 2011, the Stoneview Nature Center is part of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas’ vision to create more accessible open space in the Second District.
“It’s an opportunity to expand parkland and public recreational amenities, allowing residents and visitors alike to enjoy open landscape with native plants and behold the natural wonders of Los Angeles,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “This project is a win for county residents all around. It will expose youth to nature, create jobs, and serve as a protective habitat for wildlife.”
Second district residents will soon be seeing a lot more green.
Beginning in July, eight cities in the district will receive $250,000 in funding remaining from a 1992 ballot initiative to upgrade and make a variety of improvements to their local parks. Culver City’s Syd Kronenthal Park, for example, will get a playground that is renovated in accordance with the Americans with Disability Act; the city of Carson will have new outdoor fitness zones at Anderson, Calas, Dolphin, Dominguez and Hemingway parks and swimming pools at Compton’s Lueders and Gonzales parks will receive improvements.
The money comes from the interest earned on funds collected from a November 1992 ballot measure that taxpayers approved to fund more open space; Proposition A parcel tax assessment passed with 64 percent of voters supporting the formation of the Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District.
And more improvements are on the way.
Beautifying open space and creating exercise areas in these communities has been a top priority for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. Because of the historically low number of parks and limited options for healthy food, many residents in the Second District suffer from high levels of childhood obesity, high blood pressure and other health related issues.
With the support of Chairman Ridley-Thomas, the Department of Parks and Recreation applied for and received two grants that will help to address these issues and enhance the overall quality of life in communities.
Specifically, the department is currently working on a m aster p lan that will address the park and recreation needs of residents in the county’s unincorporated communities. Funded by a $1 million grant from the state, the first phase of the master plan will focus on East Rancho Dominguez, Lennox, West Athens, and Willowbrook in the Second District. Community members will have a chance to shape the plans by participating interviews, focus groups, workshops, community surveys and outreach fairs.
With an additional $38,500 grant from the state, the Department of Parks and Recreation will do a comprehensive inventory of trees at 26 parks in the county, including Athens Park, East Rancho Dominguez Park, Lennox Park, Helen Keller Park, George Washington Carver Park, Mona Park, Earvin “Magic” Johnson Recreation Area and Martin Luther King Jr. Fitness Garden. This tree inventory will also provide valuable information for the Master Plan.
Both the master plan – phase one and the tree inventory projects will be completed within two years. The funding, upgrades and renovations come as part of the county of Los Angeles’ effort to improve the quality of outdoor life in the region.
“I am so pleased to see these urban “greening” initiatives going forward,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “Creating desirable and beautiful open spaces for our residents will impact future generations in a positive way. This initiative will continue to be a top priority for me.”