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Dodgers Dreamfield Dedicated at Ted Watkins Park

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For many children, the baseball diamond is a place to learn sportsmanship, strategy and self-confidence. And this summer, a freshly renovated baseball field has opened in Watts.

“Beautiful baseball diamonds like these create an inspiring platform for our young players to learn about teamwork,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The Dodgers Dreamfield at Ted Watkins Park, a 28-acre park in the heart of South Los Angeles named after the founder of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee in 1995, is the latest of eight fields built with funding from the Dodgers Foundation, LA84 and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Created in 1998, the Dodgers Foundation provides educational, athletic and recreation opportunities for children in the Los Angeles area, with a special emphasis in helping underserved youth. LA84 was endowed with surplus funds from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles to serve children through sports. Ted Watkins Park is the eighth partnership in the second district following the renovations of Jesse Owens, Athens, Lennox, Mona and Campanella park fields. Dreaming in the batter’s box is Roosevelt Park, which Supervisor Ridley-Thomas hopes will be completed by the end of August.

“This wonderful addition to the park will make it possible for youngsters in the area to learn and practice their baseball skills under the tutelage of coaches and other caring adults while having fun,” said Patrick Escobar, LA84 Foundation Vice President of Grants & Programs.

As part of the dreamfield renovations, Ted Watkins Park received $156,000 worth of upgrades including new bases, paint, remote controlled solar powered scoreboards, signage, dugout roofs and fresh green grass. These renovations follow an $8.7M renovation completed in 2011 and an additional $1M renovation completed last year.

“We are grateful for this partnership,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “And we know there will be many more opportunities for us to work together to build more fields of dreams for children and families.”

Watts Student Athlete Becomes Fulbright Scholar

Left to Right: Calynn J. Taylor Moore and her son, Caylin Moore.

Caylin Moore never had it easy: years ago his mother went through a terrible depression after being assaulted, and Caylin, only in grade school, helped nurse her back to health. His father was not there. However, despite her struggles, his mother, Calynn J. Taylor Moore, who raised her three children on her own, set an example for them by going on to earn a law degree. Inspired by her, Moore, too, has set high standards for himself.

At Verbum Dei High School in Watts, he went on to become a star football player while also maintaining a strong grade point average. Today he is majoring in Economics at Marist College, a private liberal arts college on the east bank of the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, New York, and recently he participated in the prestigious 2014 Fulbright Summer Institute in Bristol, England.

Fulbright, one of the world’s largest international education programs, offers scholarships to promote leadership, learning and empathy between nations through educational exchange. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recognized Moore’s academic achievement at Tuesday’s convening.

“It was an amazing experience,” he told the supervisors and audience in the hearing room, where he recited a poem by rapper Tupac Shakur:

Caylin Moore, student athlete and Fulbright Summer Institute participant at Board of Supervisors presentation, July 15, 2014

Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it
learned to walk without having feet…

After the presentation of a certificate, Caylin recalled his time in England as life altering: It was the first time he ever traveled abroad and lived in a society without guns. He also learned about the slave trade and from oversees, gained perspective on its lasting impacts on the United States and him personally. After college, Moore hopes to engage in public service through improving education — or perhaps become the president of a bank’s foundation.

“I am proud of his accomplishments and recognize his hard work overcoming challenges,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who presented a County scroll to Moore. “In a short amount of time he has accomplished so much and, I am sure, will we hear again from this bright young man as he continues on his path to success.”

Making Art with Lemons

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It’s not often a lemon is considered a canvas. But to the artists David Burns and Austin Young of the collaborative Fallen Fruit, that is exactly what a lemon will be for their next experiment in bringing communities together through, well, fruit.

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On Sunday, August 3, at Kenneth Hahn State Recreational Area at Eastern Ridgeline Trail, they will demonstrate how to have fun with lemons and at the same time create a community portrait. In exchange for an ice-cold lemonade, the artists will ask residents to create a self-portrait on a lemon. The Fallen Fruit Lemonade Stand will be at the park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Over the past year, they have done the lemonade portrait stand in Santa Barbara, California, Houston, Texas, Athens, Greece. Two others will take place this summer.

Fallen Fruit’s life’s work and mission is figuring out how fruit can help bring communities together. Since 2004, using photography, video, performance art, and installations, Fallen Fruit has creating colorful, vibrant places in urban settings all over the world. In Los Angeles, they have created Public Fruit Jams, where the public is invited to make jam together, or Nocturnal Fruit Forages, where they lead nighttime neighborhood fruit tours exploring the boundaries of public and private space and fruit tasting. In collaboration with the county, the group also planted the state’s first ever public fruit orchard in Del Aire Park, where residents can pick an orange or kumquat or lemon off the trees.

“The great thing about the lemonade stand is that anyone can do it. There is no money exchanged and so what happens is that is creates a community portrait,” said Burns. “A 5-year-old child and their grandparents can do this project. We are celebrating everyone in a community and they get to enjoy themselves and be who they are. ”

In addition to visiting the lemonade stand, residents and passersby at Kenneth Hahn State Recreational Area can hear about the Park to Playa project, which eventually will create a 13-mile regional trail that will seamlessly connect Kenneth Hahn Park to the bike trails at Playa del Rey. The trail will also include a fruit orchard designed by Fallen Fruit at the intersection of Stocker and Overhill, just below Reuben Ingold Park.

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Treatment vs. Incarceration: $20 Million Proposed for Mental Health Programs

Los Angeles County incarcerates the largest population of mentally ill people of any county in the nation. District Attorney Jackie Lacey, jail reform advocates, fiscal watchdogs, and the supervisors all have voiced concerns about the County’s inhumane and expensive system, which repeatedly cycles mentally ill people in and out of custody.

The supervisors unanimously have acknowledged this circumstance, and in recent months the board has committed to exploring methods of redirecting mentally ill offenders to treatment instead of jail. At present, however, the county has set aside about $3 million.

That’s not enough to make a meaningful effort at diversion. That’s why Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is asking the Board to start to demonstrate its financial commitment by setting aside an amount that is the equivalent of 1% of the $2 billion already set aside for jail construction and renovations.

The results from successful diversion programs across the country are encouraging. Intensive treatment lowers recidivism, resulting both in fewer new victims of crime and lower incarceration costs. In New York City, the Nathaniel Project saw a reported 70% reduction in arrests over a two-year period and Chicago’s Thresholds program resulted in an 89% reduction in arrests, an 86% reduction in jail time, and a 76% reduction in hospitalization for program participants.

“It is time to stop talking about treating mentally ill people with dignity; it’s time to stop talking about taking a fiscally responsible approach to managing our jail population, it’s time to act,” the supervisor said.

The Supervisor’s proposal, which will return to the Board for a vote in coming days, parallels findings outlined to the Board in a presentation by the district attorney. Lacey, who hosted a summit of 60 law enforcement leaders, mental health workers and community advocates last spring, identified six preliminary goals for the county. They are:

1. Training for all criminal justice professionals.

2. Expanding the capacity for behavioral health treatment for mentally ill offenders.

3. Implementing a data study that examines the types of services needed, the capacity needed for those services and the population(s) most in need of these services.

4. Improving communication/coordination among all system partners to remove silos and implement a shared database.

5. Developing policies and procedures to guide service capacity utilization.

6. Creating crisis alternatives centers/crisis stabilization centers that can be utilized by law enforcement, consumers and families of consumers.

7. Expanding the availability of housing for mentally ill offenders.

Embracing and investing in diversion, however, may not be just a matter of choice. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice warned the county that its quality of care for mentally ill offenders and the high number of inmate suicides in its jails did not meet constitutional standards.

“There’s a moral question at hand in this process,” Lacey said. Are we punishing people for simply being sick. Public safety should have a priority, but justice should always come first.”

Interns Wanted at the Broad Art Foundation

The Broad_exterior renderingWhether it’s Jeff Koons’ playful Balloon Dog, the vivid photographs of Cindy Sherman or the tortured canvases of Jean-Michel Basquiat, three lucky people will likely have the opportunity to see these artists’ works up close. The Broad Art Foundation is currently seeking interns for the fall who are passionate about pursuing a career in visual arts or at a museum. The 10-week internship, which runs from September through December, includes a $2,500 stipend and is open to adults, college and graduate students.

Interns will work with staff on the foundation’s latest project, The Broad, a new contemporary art museum currently under construction on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, that is scheduled to open next year.

“We have a great opportunity for someone to learn about building a museum – from the ground up in every sense – from building our online collections database to helping to establish the museum’s presence in the community through our marketing department,” Alex Capriotti, director of marketing and communication for the Foundation said.

Interns will be selected based on academic background, skills, interests, and long term goals. As part of the full time internship program, interns will participate in a training program, which will include field trips to museums and galleries in and around Los Angeles.  Interns will work in The Broad’s Art Foundation departments including marketing and communications, collection management, information technology and audience engagement to gain an understanding of how a particular department functions within the context of a museum as well as skills related to a particular department’s activities.

Three Broad internships with stipends are available for the fall. Applications must be received by July 28.

The Broad museum, a 120,000-square-foot project of philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, will open in 2015 in downtown Los Angeles and will house the Broad collections of contemporary and postwar art.

For more information about The Broad internship program, please click here.