Jamming at Kenneth Hahn Park


Ready to get your jam on? Thanks to Fallen Fruit, an art collaboration by David Burns and Austin Young, anyone and everyone is welcome to make their last jam of the summer at Kenneth Hahn Regional Park this Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. The only requirement? Bringing some fruit and some friends.

The jams will be made in two stages, preparation and cooking and the activities will be set up on different tables. The only rules for participants? Decide what jam to make and make it with flair by creating unusual flavors such as apple pumpkin jam or quince and pear with lavender — one person in the group should record the ingredients to put on the labels.

Fallen Fruit, an art collaboration originally conceived in 2004 by David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young, has been hosting fruit-related art events throughout Los Angeles County. Since 2013, Burns and Young have continued the collaborative work including hosting several lemonade stands during the summer.

To RSVP for free parking, please go to fallenfruit.org or visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1554659864765939/

Alex Johnson Appointed to County School Board


Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has nominated of Alex Johnson to the Los Angeles County Board of Education, the seven-member board that governs the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

The Board of Supervisors appoints the members of the board, which exercises overall policy oversight and budget approval, hears appeals on student expulsions and inter-district attendance decisions, and authorizes charter schools. The board also governs the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, International Polytechnic High School and Juvenile Court Schools.

Johnson, a recent candidate for the District 1 seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, formerly served as a deputy for education and public safety to Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “Alex has successfully worked to deliver mobile health clinics, quality preschool education and literacy programming in county probation camps. He is dedicated to expanding early childhood education and preparing our county’s youngest learners for kindergarten.”

Johnson plans to work cooperatively with state and federal education officials to fund and implement innovative programs that support teachers paying special attention to reducing school dropout rates and preparing students for college admission or training for an occupational career.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “I could not be more pleased with his nomination and I look forward watching him at work on the board.”

Johnson is a graduate of Morehouse College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science. He earned his Juris Doctorate at American University in Washington D.C. Mr. Johnson previously served as an Assistant District Attorney in The Bronx, New York.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to serve on the Los Angeles County Board of Education,” said Johnson. “I appreciate Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ support and encouragement. I am eager to begin working on issues that matter to Los Angeles school children including increasing our efforts with educating youth in probation camps and advocating for strong early childhood education.”

Johnson will replace Rudell S. Freer whose tenure on the seven-member Board of Education ends in September.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “I want to thank Rudell Freer for her service on the LACOE Board of Education. Her talents and rich experience in education served the people of the county admirably.”

Added, Dr. Arturo Delgado, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools, “On behalf of the Los Angeles County Office of Education, I’m delighted to welcome incoming Board member Alex Johnson. I’m confident he will support our efforts to promote educational excellence for the students and families of Los Angeles County.”

Freedom Schools End with Grand Celebration

Freedom Schools Finale - Ladera ParkEight-year-old, Laci Martin of Compton enjoyed attending her summer literacy enrichment program, so much last year she couldn’t wait to return to Read Lead’s Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School in Lynwood this year.

“Last year I wasn’t a good reader, but now I can read 141 words a minute,” Laci said enthusiastically. “I’ve read so many books this summer, I can’t count how many books I’ve read.”

Laci was one of more than 450 Freedom Schools scholars, ages 5 to 18 celebrating the end of their summer Freedom School program, a six week long program created by the Children’s Defense Fund to prevent the effects of summer learning loss. Throughout the summer, six Freedom Schools sites throughout the Second District, provided these young scholars with a curriculum that was both challenging and entertaining, with activities that included reading, art, dance, music, field trips, athletics and community service.

The model is based on an idea born 50 years ago this summer, during the crucible of the civil rights movement. In 1964, in what came to be called the Mississippi Freedom Summer, when college students from around the nation descended on the state to help African-Americans register to vote and to teach black children as an alternative to Mississippi’s underfunded and segregated school system. For many pupils, the Freedom Schools provided their first introduction to literature by and about black people, encouraging them to both read about and write their own stories.

Freedom Schools Finale - Ladera ParkFast-forward to 2014, and students in today’s Freedom Schools received similar encouragement. As it did 50 years ago, a love of reading blossomed in these young ones too. That’s crucial, because studies have shown that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds suffer a significant learning gap during the 11 weeks of summer vacation.

For the nearly 500 children of the Second District Freedom Schools, however, much of that gap was filled with mentoring, lessons and field trips. At the program’s end, children and their teachers gathered at Ladera Park in Los Angeles recently for a special culmination party. In addition to singing, chanting and celebrating their newfound love of reading, they were treated to a reading from Donzaleigh Abernathy, actress, author and daughter of the legendary civil rights leader Rev. Ralph Abernathy.

She read from her book, Partners to History and told the children how during slavery, reading was not an option for many and in fact, slave owners punished blacks who tried to learn to read.

Freedom Schools Finale - Ladera Park“I wanted to share that history and that’s why I decided to read the book today,” Abernathy, who knew Martin Luther King, Jr. so well he was like an uncle, said. “ I wrote the book because I love my dad and I love Uncle Martin and they made it possible for me to be free in the world.”

In addition, the students were treated to a special baseball clinic by the Los Angeles Dodgers. They learned about earthquake safety, climbed aboard a fire engine and stopped by the Los Angeles County Public Library’s Urban Outreach Bookmobile.

Freedom Schools Finale - Ladera Park“All children are entitled to a strong learning environment,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has sponsored 16 sites over the past five years. “Freedom Schools instill an unstoppable love of learning and reading that positively affects every child. It is always an honor to see the desire to learn passed down to generations.”

As part of the program, college students serve as “Servant Leader Interns” who are trained to work as reading tutors and role models, motivating children to develop positive attitudes about themselves and their abilities. For first-time Freedom Schools Community Coalition Servant Leader Intern, Yvette Aragon, 23 of Los Angeles, the finale was bittersweet.

“I’m happy to be here with my scholars but to see the program end makes me sad,” Aragon said. “I’m so proud of them, not just my scholars but all the scholars here. They are dynamic and I know they are going to be future leaders.”

Hellen Keller Read Lead Servant Leader Intern Crystal Leon, 26 agreed with Aragon: “It’s a lot of hard work, dedication and long hours but at the end of the day when you make a difference in someone’s life, it’s all worth it.”


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 and Jam with Lemons

lemon kid

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.

On Sunday, September 14, at Monteith Park, working without recipes, Fallen Fruit will ask people to sit with others they do not already know and negotiate what kind of jam to make.  If one person has lemons and another figs, a lemon fig jam (with lavender) would be made.  The jam is a social experiment. The Public Fruit Jam will be at the park from 1 p.m. to 4 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 invites the public to bring homegrown or street-picked fruit and collaborate with us in making a collective fruit jams.  Working without recipes, we ask people to sit with others they do not already know and negotiate what kind of jam to make: if I have lemons and you have figs, we’d make lemon fig jam (with lavender).  Each jam is a social experiment.  Usually held in a gallery or museum, this event forefronts the social and public nature of Fallen Fruit’s work, and we consider it a collaboration with the public as well as each other.
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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