• Babouch Moroccan Restaurant Celebrates 38 Years

    By Gina Ruccione, Restaurant and Cuisine Writer

    If you are a true foodie like I am, then you have a running list of restaurants ready to take on at a moment’s notice. My current list is so long, it’s exhausting. I actually slip into a food coma just looking at it. Truth be told, I could eat out every day for the rest of my life and still not cross every “t” and dot every “i” on my list. There’s simply not enough time in one’s lifetime, let alone my own.

    I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, please— spare me. This woman is young. She has plenty of time.”

    Fine. But hear me out. Age argument aside, I’d like to think that I’m pragmatic. I know better than anyone that eating out can be costly and even more time consuming.

    And with regards to beating the clock, well — let’s just say, when it comes to both my relationships with restaurants or me, I don’t fear commitment. I fear wasting time.

    My job as a food writer is to inform, entertain, but I also need to be somewhat discerning. I choose my time out wisely. Taking into account the opportunity cost of every dining experience leads me to this conclusion: every eatery serves a different purpose.

    If you’re looking for a lively evening with plenty of food and entertainment then you need to go to Babouch in San Pedro. I’ve driven past the place on a weekly basis, but hadn’t been inside in more than 25 years.  If you’ve never been, you need to go. If you haven’t been for a while, here’s why you should go back.

    Babouch is the full package—not just dinner, but an experience. The Moroccan eatery resembles a movie set. The low tables and fabulous rugs seem to glow in the dim lighting, under a tent-like canopy. Before dining, rosewater is brought to the tables for guests to wash their hands. And what would dinner be like without the belly dancers and tarot card readings? Well, it probably wouldn’t be as fun.

    April marks Babouch’s 38th anniversary, and time has brought some changes. Don’t worry, your favorites are still on the menu. But that menu now boasts craft beer and wine, interesting cocktails and artisanal bread. Most importantly, the prices are lower.

    Come with group of friends. Come prepared to hang out for awhile. Come hungry. Make reservations and make a night of it. Order several appetizers, especially the spicy “cigars,” which basically consist of sautéed beef, onions and peppers, minced and wrapped in light, flaky filo dough. Have your fill of those, then move on to the prix fixe menu. There are six courses, which allow you to navigate through several options. If you like sweets, the lamb entrée with honey and roasted almonds would most definitely suit your fancy. If you’re like me and tend to veer away from sweets, I recommend the beef tri tip kabobs. Six courses later, driving home felt like a Lamaze class; I ate so much, I had to learn how to breathe again.

    But did I dance with the belly dancer? Abso-fuckin-lutely.

    Details: (310) 831-0246
    Venue: Babouch Restaurant, 810 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro

    Gina Ruccione has traveled all over Europe and Asia and has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County. You can visit her website at www.foodfashionfoolishfornication.com.

     

    Read More
  • Deke Dickerson Tour Stops at Godmothers

    By Mike Botica, Editorial Intern

    Veteran rockabilly singer, songwriter and guitarist Deke Dickerson will perform at 8 p.m. March 19, at Godmothers in San Pedro.  He will be headlining a bill that includes local band Lazy Lance & The Longhorns. The cover charge $10.

    In a career that reaches back to the 1980s, Dickerson is notable for his work in the eponymous Deke Dickerson and The Ecco-Fonics, which released three studio albums and toured the world.   

    “I moved to California in 1991 and the first gig I did, the band leader handed me $75 at the end of the night, and I told him that if I was gonna pay the other guys out of this, I’d need to get some change,” said Dickerson. “He said, ‘No, this is all for you!’ And I thought I had died and moved to the lost gold city of El Dorado!”

    “California has been really good to me,” Dickerson said. “I’ve lived here 25 years this year and have never wanted to live anywhere else.”

    Dickerson often plays a TNM double-neck guitar embossed with his name. The instrument has become a major part of his sound. He also owns vintage custom amplifiers, including a rare custom Echo-Sonic, which has been used by legendary guitarists, such as Scotty Moore and Chet Atkins.

    “I recently put some new Throbak pickups … on my old Gibson ES-335 [that] I’ve had since I was a teenager,” Dickerson said.  “It’s like a brand new guitar and I’m really enjoying playing it, so I’ll have that with me on Saturday.”

    In addition to his own prolific musical output, Dickerson is a collector of rare and wacky vinyl.  On his website, he lists dozens of albums with ridiculous and hilariously dated covers.

    Dickerson also hosts the annual Guitar Geek Festival Show, which will be in Las Vegas this year. The show is part of the four-day rockabilly festival Viva Las Vegas, which takes place from April 14 through 18, at The Orleans Hotel.  

    “Myself and a few guitar-obsessed friends always found ourselves talking about gear after shows and one of my old girlfriends always talked about how she dreaded the ‘guitar geeks’ who would never let us leave the club after a gig, so the term was born, and I thought ‘Guitar Geek Festival’ had a good ring to it,” Dickerson said. “Turns out, there are a lot of guitar geeks out there. So I wasn’t alone.”

    In past years the event has taken place in Anaheim. It has featured artists as diverse and influential as Duane Eddy, J.D. McPherson, Nokie Edwards of The Ventures, Los Straightjackets, Sandy Nelson, Nick Curran, Brian Lonbeck and Del Casher.

    “It’s much smaller and only two hours instead of two days, but it’s still a blast and a good way to carry on the tradition,” Dickerson said.

    Dickerson played at Godmothers back in 2013 with the same openers.  You can find photos of the event on Facebook at: http://tinyurl.com/Dickerson-Godmothers-2013.

    Seatbelt and Lazy Lance & The Longhorns have opened for me every single time I’ve played at Godmothers,” Dickerson said. “They are all great guys.  Looking forward to it!”

    More details about Dickerson, including tour dates, are available on at www.instagram.com/dekedickerson, www.facebook.com/deke.dickerson and www.dekedickerson.com.

    Read More
  • Harold Greene Creates

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    Harold Greene’s talents expand beyond creating one-of-a-kind furniture, for which he has been featured over the years in Random Lengths News. Greene also builds and creates music.

    “Unlike furniture making, which is an art that takes a lot of pre-planning, careful technique and execution of a piece of furniture—sometimes over a long period of time—music is performed in the moment,” Greene said. “That’s what I like about it. It’s different than what I normally do. There is room for improvisation and spontaneity.”

    Greene is part of a duo called Switch Off. He plays the cajon, backing Freddie Schreuders on guitar.

    Switch Off has been performing at Sirens in San Pedro for just over a month. The duo’s funky, head bopping grooves and easy vibe, coupled with Sirens whimsical mermaid theme, will set your weekend right. Energetic? Absolutely. You feel Switch Off. It’s a groove thing. The duo brings its own creative touch, adding surprising beats and rhythms to classic rock songs and some rhythm and blues.

    Greene met Schreuders this past year. The guitarist was helping Greene with a big project for the Port of Los Angeles.

    “I had instruments down there in Warehouse 57,” Greene said. “It’s an unbelievable warehouse, 50,000 square feet and the acoustics are like the Sistine Chapel. Freddie heard me playing the cajon there, so just recently he asked me to back him up. He can throw out any beat, Latin, reggae or bossa nova and I can just play it because I know all the beats and rhythms and how they interact.”

    Greene said their show is paired down. Sometimes he has just a cajon, a cymbal or shakers, but it’s energetic. Both players have such a deep level of skill and intuitiveness that as they play, the music inhabits you.

    Greene describes his part in this duo.

    “When I listen to music I really listen to drums and bass and how the player attacks the drums,” Greene said. “There’s a big difference between a digital drum track and an actual live drummer. You can almost feel the drummer breathe and you can feel that each hit is different than the last, so that’s what I try to emulate when I play the cajon.”

    Performing is a time of play for this artist, who works 50-plus hours weekly at his furniture craft. But Greene takes music seriously and speaks attentively about structure and sound. He should, because a few decades ago Greene was a member of the band Magnum with one of his brothers and six other players. They produced a successful, highly collectible album titled Fully Loaded.

    “It was a really big group with a really big sound,” Greene said. “A few years ago I saw the album go in Europe for the equivalent of $800 (U.S.). I even still hear some of its tracks played on the radio.”

    Greene said his recent pairing with Schreuders is different for him because he’s never backed a guitar player with percussion. But he always experimented with different percussion instruments going all the way back to his Magnum days.

    “Freddie is a drummer as well, so he will switch to percussion and I will play guitar, bass or Chapman Stick, or, through the magic of modern electronics, all three at the same time through a loop pedal” Greene said. “Since we are switching roles our group is called Switch Off.

    Growing up in musical family, percussion instruments were around his house. One of six children, all took classical piano lessons plus at least one more instrument. Reared in a small house, they somehow fit a baby grand piano in the living room.

    At 15, Greene’s mother brought home a guitar she intended to learn. He picked it up, liked its sound and began learning.

    “My friend brought an electric guitar and a Jimi Hendrix album over one day, that really blew my mind,” Greene said. “I got into electric guitar and played all through high school with a band called Titanic.”

    He switched from guitar to fretless bass when Magnum formed because there were no bass players around.

    In the early 2000s Greene also took percussion ensemble class at Los Angeles Harbor College. He said it was an almost academic approach to percussion.

    “We had to read charts and learn parts on lots of different percussion instruments,” Greene said. “That was a challenge. We learned African, Latin, Indian percussion – or at least the spoken rhythms of Indian music. Percussion included marimbas, xylophone, all of the struck toned instruments and orchestra bells. I also sometimes filled in on electric bass.”

    Greene has recorded different instruments, either bongos, wood blocks or instruments similar to tavlas. He’s also been building musical instruments, primarily basses, for almost 40 years.

    Greene made his cajon from wood scraps in his shop. The inside is strung with guitar strings to get that snare sound. He is a long time player of the Chapman Stick, a 10-or-12 string instrument, designed by Emmet Chapman, which is played by tapping. It has five treble and five bass strings and a six octave range. Greene learned to play the stick on his own, wanting to develop his own musical style on it.

    “It’s great because you can play it like a piano,” Greene said. “You can play the bass lines and cords with your left hand and chords and melodies with your right hand. It’s more similar to piano than it is to guitar or bass. It goes much deeper than a normal bass.”

    Greene will soon bring his Chapman Stick, electric bass and a guitar to Sirens so they will have a full rig to perform with.

    Greene said he has not had to think commercially with music.

    But when there is money, it’s nice. He stressed one thing he does not do is play for free. That would undercut musicians who do play for a living.

    “If you give music away for free it’s less likely someone will hire a musician and pay them,” Greene said. “It’s hard for bands to make a name for themselves.”

    Switch Off performs at Sirens, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday or Saturday. You can walk in and grab a great cup of coffee or tea and relax immediately upon hearing this duo’s groove.

    View Greene’s handmade furniture at www.instagram.com/contemporarycraftsmarket and antiquesofthefuture.net

     

    Read More
  • Polluters’ Coup Takes Over Air Control Agency

    Multi-Front Response Begins

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    Polluting industries and their allies pulled off a coup at the nation’s top regional air quality agency on March 4, firing the long-time executive officer in a closed door session.

    Barry Wallerstein had served as executive officer at the South Coast Air Quality Management District since 1997. He was fired without explanation, and with just four days notice, when the closed door action item appeared on the AQMD board’s online agenda. The 7-6 vote reflected a new Republican majority on the board.

    The incident prompted public shock and outrage, and a promise of state legislative action to restore majority representation to protect the region’s public health.

    Clean air advocates at the meeting denounced the firing as “radical,” especially ill-timed and politically motivated. State Senate leader Kevin de León immediately denounced the firing as a “shameful action” that “is only the latest in a disturbing trend of dirty energy interests dismantling clean air rules that the public overwhelmingly supports.”

    De León commended Wallerstein “for his outstanding leadership and commitment to protecting public health,” and pledged to “work to ensure the board returns to its core mission of improving and protecting air quality, rather than catering to oil industry needs.”

    The following Tuesday, March 7, de León announced his intention to pass a law adding three more members to the board, a public health expert appointed by the governor and two environmental justice members appointed by state Senate and Assembly leaders.

    The leadership coup—engineered in secret—follows a controversial vote this past December to reject a staff-proposed revision of the district’s nitrogen oxide reduction program (NOx RECLAIM) to meet clean air goals. The program had been three years in the making. The proposal would replace the program with a last-minute industry alternative, another back-room, business-backed plan.

    But as has long been the case in California, the polluter’s influence has crossed party lines. This is reflected in the NOx RECLAIM vote, when San Pedro Councilman Joe Buscaino (a Republican-turned-Democrat) and Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, also a Democrat, both voted to approve the industry plan.

    “I thought that Barry was doing a very good job at what he was trying to get accomplished on the major issues that were confronting AQMD,” Board member Joe Lyou told Random Lengths. “We finally have the technology we need to get to clean air now. And, it was thanks in part to his work and support for the development of that technology, and that he had, at least, a willingness to try to get the agency there.”

    “As soon as we learned that this was something being considered by the board, we were absolutely outraged,” Sylvia Betancourt, of the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma, told the board in her testimony.

    Betancourt praised Wallerstein especially for his leadership in regulating the freight transport industry.

    “When we were calling on the California Air Resource Board and on the EPA to address rail and their negative impact on our communities who were on the front lines, it was AQMD and through Dr. Wallerstein’s leadership that we were able to challenge industries who were not doing anything to protect our communities,” Betancourt said. “When you make that decision… your name will be etched on the lungs of our community members.”

    “When Barry was dismissed from his position, it raised a lot of questions, doubt, uncertainty, and certainly, anger, a lot of anger,” Betancourt told Random Lengths afterwards. “A lot of work has been going into this over many years, and they got rid of that in one meeting.”

    There is a great deal they were ignoring, Betancourt said.

    “There is a definite link between the kinds of decisions they make and the impact it has on communities in Long Beach, Wilmington, San Pedro, along the 710 corridor, and out through the inland valley,” she said. “They make these decisions, but don’t have to live with or experience the consequences directly.”

    Andrea Hricko, professor of preventive medicine at USC, presented comments on behalf of 19 scientists from USC, UCLA, UC Irvine and Cal Tech.

    “We have always respected Dr. Barry Wallerstein’s commitment to promoting the health and welfare of Southern California,” Hricko said. “For decades, his leadership and vision have helped to improve air quality and health for millions, but we still do not have healthy air to breathe in the Southland, and the job is not done.”

    “We are very upset, we have worked closely with Dr. Gary Wallerstein and his staff for decades,” said James Provenzano, president of Clean Air Now, in his testimony. “A strong economy is not mutually exclusive of strong regulation. Quite the contrary, we have the lowest per-capita energy use in the country, and our economy is the sixth largest in the world. Stop using this specious argument that strong environmental policy hurts business. It is the exact opposite.”

    Indeed, the AQMD has repeatedly analyzed the costs and benefits of its regulations using an extensive, sophisticated model covering every sector of the local economy—94 occupations in 19 sub-regions in 2007. It has always found that the benefits far exceed the costs. Reporting on the 2007 Air Quality Management Plan, AQMP, Socio-Economic Report, Random Lengths noted:

    While industry costs for new pollution control measures will range from $2.0 to $2.7 billion per year, benefits will top $14 billion, according to the AQMP’s socioeconomic report prepared under the supervision of Dr. Elaine Chang, deputy executive officer for Planning, Rule Development and Area Sources.

    “It’s always easy to quantify [industry] costs. We’re trying to quantify the benefits as well,” Chang explained. “We can see the ratio [of benefits to costs] is 7 to 1, so society is bearing the costs of not internalizing the economic costs of polluting.”

    Of course, businesses will pass on most increased costs to customers. But these costs will more accurately reflect the true costs of production, transportation and distribution. And they will be far less than the costs born by the public today.

    This is the fundamental reality of the economics of clean air regulation—a reality that the worst-polluting industries have done everything in their power to distort and deny. Above all, they’ve repeatedly sought to mis-portray the costs of clean air as resulting in job loss, when the most polluting industries, such as oil refineries, have high profits and relatively small workforces.

    They haven’t convinced the economists, scientists, public health experts or those suffering from dirty air’s health impacts. But they have convinced the business community leadership, as reflected in the parade of testimony against reconsidering the December RECLAIM vote, the AQMD agenda item immediately preceding Wallerstein’s dismissal. This included representatives from the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Southern California Business Coalition, and others, along with Chevron, Western States Petroleum Association, and Independent Petroleum Association.

    “It’s taken three years to adopt these amendments,” said Elizabeth Warren of Future Ports in defending the December decision, “The board was dutiful and reasoned in its authority and responsibility to make a decision on this policy.”

    Those two false claims were echoed repeatedly by other business groups.

    “The plan that was ultimately adopted by the board was not the result of a three-year process, it was something that was introduced the day of the board vote,” Natural Resources Defense Council lawyer Morgan Wyenn pointed out.

    Earthjustice lawyer Adrian Martinez agreed.

    “The AQMD at the last minute adopted a Western States Petroleum Association plan for their pollution program, which was not supported by the extensive record before the agency,” he told Random Lengths.

    On March 9, Earthjustice and NRDC filed suit to block the plan, representing three other groups as well.

    “This suit challenges the failure of the air district to deliver on the most important smog fighting regulation in the agency’s jurisdiction in the last decade,” Martinez said.

    The suit’s claims involve the plan’s substantive shortcomings, in violation of state law, as well as the flawed procedure, calling for a declaration that “the approval of the industry proposal was arbitrary and capricious.”

    The suit was only filed after the reconsideration vote failed. That vote, in turn, reflected pressure from the State Senate, as well as the California Air Resources Board, which underscored the inadequacy of the Western States Petroleum Association plan.

    On January 7, Air Resources Board’s Executive Officer Richard Corey wrote the AQMD to inform them that “ARB’s preliminary staff assessment is that the amendments would result in an air quality management plan (AQMP) we cannot approve,” and he went on cite several different provisions of California state law which the plan appears to violate.

    The RECLAIM program began in 1993, replacing specific existing and planned regulations with a “cap-and-trade” system that allowed polluters to choose their methods of compliance — including the purchase of credits from others to offset their own pollution. In theory, it’s supposed to produce the most economically efficient means of reducing pollution. By law it’s supposed to produce the same amount of reductions as would be achieved by requiring the use of the “best available retrofit control technology” [BACRT]. However, the program has been plagued by an excess of credits, making them far too cheap, crippling the incentive to cut pollution.

    “Certain industries have just hoarded or bought a lot of credits rather than installing pollution control equipment,” Martinez said. “The best example of that is the refineries where they’ve saved hundreds of millions of dollars since 2007 by not installing equipment on their stacks and the various things they own and operate, and what the end result is they’re still responsible for a lot of emissions.”

    Adjustments have been made before, but they’ve fallen far short. The recent 3-year process resulted in a plan to “shave” the outstanding credits by 14 tons per day (tpd) from 2016 through 2022, starting with 4 tpd in 2016. The staff plan also called for removing credits from the market when the facility holding those credits shuts down. The Western States Petroleum Association plan called for 12 tpd reduction, starting very slowly, only reaching its first 4 tons cut by 2019, and deferring the shutdown credit proposal for further study. But the Earthjustice/NRDC lawsuit points out that the BARCT-based standard should have required an even sharper cut—17 tpd—in order to comply with California law.

    As things stand now, there’s deep uncertainty about what lies ahead. The secretive moves of the past few months portend even more to come.

    “All these things are connected, and they’re all happening behind closed doors, and were just getting glimpses of them as things are coming to the public,” like Wallerstein’s firing, Wyenn said. “It really just feels like a major foreshadowing of what’s to come, given that we know that right around the corner in the summer is the AQMP for ozone, so it’s kind of like this ominous foreshadowing situation.”

    The RECLAIM decision will directly impact the ozone AQMP—just one of the reasons guiding AQMD staff, which the board chose to ignore.

    At the same time, community environmental justice activists are more knowledgeable than ever in fighting back. Jesse Marquez, founder of Communities for a Safe Environment, epitomizes this development. In his comments before the vote to fire Wallerstein, he spoke directly to new board members regarding “violations of environmental, public health, safety and welfare laws.” Communities for a Safe Environment did some legal research into the different laws that the board seemed to have ignored in its RECLAIM vote.

    “The protection and care of the environment, public health safety and welfare are rights granted and regulated under state and federal law,” Marquez said.

    But “private business and industry have no rights under any state or federal law to violate the protection and care of the environment public health and safety and welfare,” and the board has no authority to violate those laws.

    “The board has no authority under any state or federal law to use employment, the economy, or cost as the sole basis for rejecting limiting, canceling, or denying existing air pollution rules and regulations, or new proposed stricter rules and regulations and programs,” he noted.

    Afterwards, Marquez explained his intent to Random Lengths. Board members are often appointed with no background in the body of laws and regulations governing the realm of responsibilities they’ve been given. And, there’s no special training they’re given to get up to speed.

    “So, I wanted to remind them that they’re under certain legal mandates,” he said.

    Also, that the public knows about those mandates, and has the capacity to do its own research, and/or to gain expert advice, when needed.

    “I may not have a PhD physicist on staff, but I know several PhDs I can call to give advice, and that’s what we do,” he said. “Something has changed over the years, so 15 to 20 years ago, we, the public, my parents, grandparents were not very knowledgeable about applicable rules and regulations that are out there, under various California laws and regulatory agencies. But my generation, and my sons have grown up with me knowing that there are specific laws, rules and regulations, that we are familiar with, and that when we give an opinion, or we present information, or facts, we are fully capable of doing excellent research.”

    So, on the one side, there’s a phalanx of business interests repeating a well-manicured set of talking points that just don’t square with the public record, with public health research, with economic analysis, or with the body of existing law. Acting in the shadows, they’ve temporarily managed to gain control of the AQMD, but they’re fighting an increasingly aroused public, as well as the laws of nature, California and the United States.

    The coup may be over. But the battle has only just begun.

    Read More
  • A Balancing Act Part II:

    Harbor Interfaith Walks a Tightrope Between Large Caseloads, Politics

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    While the city and the county of Los Angeles are taking steps forward to address homelessness, the entities seem to always take a step back. Their pursuits seem to address visibility of homeless people rather than the underlying issues related to their homelessness. Such has been the case with recent confiscations of tiny homes that activist Elvis Summers built in South Los Angeles.

    Advocates for the homeless may have hoped that the threat of El Niño storms in the New Year would force city leaders to take immediate and substantive action in addressing homelessness.

    The Los Angeles City Council has pledged to spend $100 million and the county has committed to working with cities in addressing the problem. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti requested and was denied disaster relief funds from Gov. Jerry Brown ahead of the expected storms.

    In San Pedro and Harbor City, police are conducting regular encampment sweeps, only to find those same locations occupied by the same and more people.

    In response, residents frustrated by the seemingly never-ending cycle push local officials to impose or enforce even more criminal procedures, making it difficult for homeless persons to stay in one place. Yet, they do.

    Underlying these efforts is the thought that if homeless people don’t accept the help, they should be subjected to criminal enforcement procedures. Moreover, anyone helping homeless people, in any capacity, are in effect aiding and abetting criminal activity.

    In this context and in this region, Harbor Interfaith has been pushed forward as the one agency that can best handle this crisis.

    However, there are cases that have raised questions about how quickly people can get off the streets even under the best of circumstances. Denise Vigil is one example. She was a homeless woman, whose story was touted as a success during a September 2015 homeless forum in San Pedro, all while still sleeping outside of Councilman Joe Buscaino’s office with a Section 8 voucher in hand. She didn’t move into permanent housing until this year.

    Another example involved a pregnant mother and two children who were living in a Harbor City encampment known as “The Pit” during this past holiday season. In that instance, local homeless advocates paid out of pocket for a hotel for the family before Harbor Interfaith was able to provide the hotel vouchers.

    Harbor Interfaith is called upon to be the primary response in addressing homelessness in Los Angeles Harbor Area, even as it services a significant part of Southern Los Angeles County.

    Harbor Interfaith’s Outreach Director Shari Weaver recently noted that few people outside of other service providers understand the challenges they face.

    “There are a lot of similarities and very few differences,” Weaver said. “It always seems like no matter where you go in Los Angeles County, when you talk to your partners who are veterans in the same business, we all have the same challenges. Trying to see our way through [has] been frustrating.”

    The challenges come from residents frustrated with the apparent growth and visibility of homelessness in town. Add to that, homeless advocates on the outside looking in either believe Harbor Interfaith is pre-selecting clients on criteria other than need and program requirements or not doing enough to catch clients who fall out of compliance with program requirements.

    In its March 3 edition, Random Lengths recounted Tisha Dolby’s journey from the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row to a place of self-sufficiency at Harbor Interfaith. The challenges that Harbor Interfaith faces are more complicated than is reflected in Dolby’s story since the organization is called upon to help both the chronically homeless and the newly homeless.

    “Generally, people who have been homeless for a year or more, have numerous episodes of homelessness, four or more in a three-year period, have disabling conditions whether it was substance abuse issues, mental health problems or complex health conditions,” Weaver said.

    Weaver explained that Harbor Interfaith recently received funding to help people who have experienced short episodes of homelessness— people who experienced homelessness for less than a year—an attempt to put in place a safety net for people who have not been homeless as long.

    The goal of the new funding is to shorten the number of times a person is homeless and shorten their experiences of being homeless. Both of these models are focused on permanent housing.

    “It used to be when Harbor Interfaith managed its own shelter and it was tied to other resources, it wasn’t as long,” said Harbor Interfaith’s Executive Director Tahia Hayslet. “Now we do everybody that is in the South Bay. It may be even longer than 30 days…. The backlog is ridiculous at this point.”

    Hayslet confronted the critiques she’s heard in the homeless advocate community that Harbor Interfaith is not serving all clients that come to their doors.

    “We can’t control the system that exists,” she said. “The government shifted and said that one agency will serve as the lead. That’s fine. But imagine, everybody that is homeless is now being funneled through this agency. These are people we’ve never seen in the history of this agency…so it makes our job that much tougher. It’s not like we have the extra resources to deal with it. We still have the same staffing. There are 450 [people] that we’re working with.”

    Hayslet explained that if a client is homeless in a city outside of the South Bay, they are supposed to stay in that particular city.

    “If they can show some type of ties to this particular area then we’re supposed to take them,” she said.

    Weaver noted that even when a client meets all of the criteria and do all they’re supposed to do, finding a place for them to live is still difficult.

    “Take for example the HUD-VASH of the Homeless Veterans initiative [a program] for veterans with a dishonorable discharge on their record, where we see the hang up is not the voucher, but finding a unit that would take that voucher,” Weaver said. ”

    Weaver said they have been really good developing strong partnerships with property owners and following up with clients who have gone through their program.

    “Property owners like the fact that they are getting a tenant who is not only doing their part, but now they have somebody that follows up and troubleshoots, provide case management and resources to make sure that the tenant is staying in compliance with the lease,” Weaver said.

    She notes that when Harbor Interfaith succeeds in that area, property owners are more likely to offer available units to clients. She wishes the frequency of that scenario happening was greater, but a rental market with a 2 percent vacancy rate hasn’t been helpful.

    As if the state of affordable housing wasn’t enough of a headache, the actual work of balancing Harbor Interfaith’s relationships with its clients, community advocates and organizational supporters presents its own struggles.

    Hayslet noted that Harbor Interfaith gets the greatest grief over its shelter’s 80 percent savings requirement. During their stay in Harbor Interfaith Services 90-day program, clients are obliged to place 80 percent of their income in an account that the agency holds—a nest-egg of sorts. The money is returned to clients when they leave Interfaith Services and is intended to serve as a foundation to save for future.

    “Our program prior to this new system has always required a saving of 80 percent,” Hayslet said. “A part of it is to teach them how to survive on just 20 percent. That’s because a lot of people end up in a homeless where they are paying 95 percent of their income on rent. So it’s never going to last. We’re saying that in a worst case scenario, if you have to pay 80 percent of your income toward rent… you can’t even touch this money for three months.”

    Hayslet cited another reason why advocates find the strict adherence to the 80 percent savings requirement.

    “There’s an exception to every rule,” she said. “So, if someone comes in and there’s an 80 percent requirement, but if you needed to buy prescription medication, why wouldn’t we allow you to? But you have to communicate with us.

    “What generates the most complaints about the requirement is that advocates don’t understand that all you have to do is communicate with us and tell us why you need the money. If you have to pay your storage. Allow us to do it. This is the first time ever we had the funds to pay for storage.”

    Hayslet noted that they got funding in July 2015 [for paying for storage].

    She went on to say that clients often hide what’s going on with them rather than communicate with their case managers.

    “The purpose of having a case manager is so that they can get you everything you need,” she said. “It is their job to connect you to resources. You have the right to file a grievance and say that you’re not getting the services that you’re supposed to get.” But between being over worked and so many people coming into the system it’s easy to see how the process breaks down.

    Hayslet admits that Harbor Interfaith under the Coordinating Entry System is at a disadvantage. They have two case managers with 60 caseloads each.

    “How does one person case manage 60 people? You can barely keep up.”

    She also noted that the funding exists to provide clients with assistance, but the question is how to provide effective case management with limited resources?

    Harbor Interfaith has one case manager as a housing and retention specialist for families that have received housing. The other handles intake for every family that comes to Harbor Interfaith.

    Weaver and Hayslet agree that the past couple of years have been particularly challenging, noting the community’s involvement can be a help and a hinderance.

    “We want to help educate our communities,” Weaver said. “But when it’s more of, ‘why can’t you do this differently?’ We have guidelines we have to work within. If we don’t work within those guidelines you can seriously hurt the funding that we are getting down here.”

    Random Lengths recounted Dolby’s journey through Coordinated Entry System from Union Rescue Mission to Harbor Interfaith’s Accelerated Learning & Living program.

    No longer under the immediate threat of sleeping in the street with her teenage daughters, Dolby is excelling in school and working toward the life she’s been dreaming of creating for her daughters. What’s undeniably true is that she wouldn’t be in this position without Harbor Interfaith.

     

     

     

    Read More
  • Across the Divide

    The 2016 Presidential Race: A Choice of Democratic Socialism vs. Corporate Capitalism

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    The 2016 race for president seems to be spinning out in ever more curious and historical proportions without there being clear winners on either the Democratic or Republican sides.

    Clearly the Trumpers’ revolt on the conservative side is causing real teeth-gnashing amongst the Republican Party leadership. But even with his collection of primary “wins”, he still hasn’t garnered more than half the delegates he needs to win at the convention.

    Similarly, Hillary Clinton, the odds-on-presumptive candidate, is in the same position of not having broken the halfway mark to the goal of 2,383 delegates. What this means is that the downstream primaries of California and New York, where the bulk of voters reside, may still hold sway in both parties late in the season. That means that both the insurgent campaigns of Bernie Sanders and that of Ted Cruz could win enough votes to force a brokered convention in the two parties.

    Upsetting as this disruption is for the party elites and the Washington establishment, it does make for an entertaining political process that does have historical precedent and is embedded in the DNA of American political culture.

    Think about the very birth of the Republican Party and the demise of its conservative predecessor the Whig Party—founded in 1833 and dissolved in 1854. Political parties rise and fall based upon the politics of the day, but the democratic process continues. The only question is whether the Republican Party can survive Donald Trump’s candidacy?

    The fear of his nomination has to do with whether the republic could endure his presidency. This, I believe, would be America “making a great mistake.” Trump’s use of widespread fear mongering and race baiting would so drastically divide this nation, that his elevation to the Oval Office would make the current dysfunction in Congress appear slight by comparison. And, he wouldn’t even have the full backing of the Republican Party that nominated him. The July convention in Ohio should really be something to witness.

    What is really curious is how the Sanders campaign is serving as the counterpoint to Trump’s. It is a political uprising of the like we haven’t seen since presidential races of Sens. Eugene McCarthy in 1968 or George McGovern in 1972.

    The Sanders revolt is addressing the very core issues of inequality to which Trump supporters are reacting. The difference is that Sanders’ supporters are more educated and that Sanders’ attacks are specifically directed at the Wall Street banks, the big pharmaceutical corporations and the resulting decline of the American middle class.

    Sanders does this without demonizing Mexican immigrants and everybody else Trump has accused of making this nation less than great.

    Sadly, this is not the first time this country has faced off with its own nativist form of fascism. The American author Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) wrote It Can’t Happen Here in 1935, a novel about the election of a fascist to the American presidency. This was a controversial book at the time of its printing and was a cautionary tale in light of what was rising up in Germany and Italy at the time. It was a thinly veiled critique of American politics of the Depression era. Its hould be used today by history and English professors to explain Trump’s rise as a populist.

    Sanders’ win in Michigan comes as no surprise. His fortunes in Wisconsin on April 5 could go the same way considering the strong Robert LaFollette progressive tradition there.

    However, if the California primary still holds sway come June 7, one might want to revisit the campaign of the other Sinclair—Upton Sinclair, whose End Poverty In California campaign set the historical precedent in 1934. Like Sanders, Sinclair was also a socialist turned Democrat and he ran on a platform that is almost uncanny in similarity to this one.

    The battle lines have been drawn. The best contest would be one that gives the American people the choice of Democratic Socialism or national Corporate Capitalism.

    I fear that Clinton, with all of her baggage, will pull off the Democratic nomination and take the middle path, leaving loyal Republicans with the choice of voting for their party and a candidate who would do more harm than good or voting for the one person (Clinton) they’d rather indict in lieu of not voting at all.

    In the end the battle between Sanders and Trump would most clearly define the issues and the sides of the current political debate. That would be one debate worth watching.

    Read More
  • FALLUJAH — world premiere @ Long Beach Opera

    We all know the broad strokes. After 9/11, the George W. Bush administration misled Congress into authorizing the Iraq War, one of the most ruinous missteps in American history, costing the U.S. over $2 trillion and claiming the lives of over 4,000 American troops. That’s nothing, of course, compared to what has befallen Iraq itself, where over 150,000 civilians died for little more than swapping Saddam Hussein’s rule for civil war and an opening for ISIL.

    Operatic stuff, to be sure, far too sweeping to be told in any single story. So Tobin Stokes and Heather Raffo do well to take on “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (America, fuck yeah, here to save the motherfucking day) by focusing on a narrow slice of life in the eponymous city and how it reverberates for a young U.S. Marine and a younger Iraqi.

    USMC Lance Corporal Philip “Houston” (LaMarcus Miller) is already confused about whether Iraqi civilians should be regarded with compassion or fear, when four U.S. contractors are brutally killed, setting the stage for a major incursion by U.S. forces. While on patrol Philip encounters Wissam (Jonathan Lacayo), a boy more interested in gaining some understanding of why his family is being chased out of their ancestral home than in fighting. Months later Philip is stateside and suicidal, shattered by the death of fellow Marine Taylor (Todd Strange) and his own murdering of Wissam’s mother, Shatha (Ani Maldjian).

    Why Philip kills Shatha—or even exactly how it happens—is a mystery to me. If I’d seen Fallujah on DVD, I’d be going back over this part to see whether I missed something, but all I can tell you right now is that, as staged here, Philip’s killing Shatha seemed like a part of the plot to be fleshed out at a later date. Fallujah is not especially plot-driven, though, so this lack of clarity is more puzzling than fatal (no pun intended).

    What drives Fallujah is the trauma of war. The center of Fallujah is the hospital room where Philip is on 72-hour watch after his suicide attempt, while just outside the door his mother (Suzan Hanson) waits to see him, struggling to grasp how he has been changed by his wartime experience. Fallujah is a world away now, but its effects are lasting, both at here home and back where the now motherless, homeless Wissam will come of age.

    On the emotional front, Fallujah is effective enough. Musically there is probably too much recitative (my least favorite thing in opera), and much of Act One’s music seems unfocused. But Fallujah gets stronger as it goes, largely due to the increased focus on the roles of the two mothers. Stokes’s strongest compositional turns are his evocations of tenderness, and so as the mothers get more involved, Fallujah takes flight. The pinnacle is reached after Shatha’s murder, when she wonders from beyond the grave how she can possibly leave her son, while months later Philip’s mother wonders how she can help put hers back together. Both Maldjian and Hanson excel, and Fallujah is never better when they’re singing together.

    Raffa’s libretto is awkward in places. No doubt most Marines say “fuck” plenty, but in Fallujah singing it sometimes sounds like old folk trying to emulate how kids talk today, an impression augmented by lines like Philip’s singing, “My mother was a whore,” which feels like it’s coming out of mouth of a character in 19th-century lit than a 21st-century Marine. Raffa has come up with a compelling frame for discussing the tragedy of the Iraq War; she just hasn’t quite found the perfect words for it.

    Structurally, Stokes employs abruptness—something you don’t typically get in opera—to great effect in two scenes. The first is Taylor’s death. Although to this point Taylor has been a minor and unsympathetic character, his sole solo comes as over a picture of his 1-year-old daughter he laments that does not know him at all. Suddenly, he is dead, his face blown off by a sniper shot. We get nothing graphic here, but the sudden shift of emotional focus has its way with us. A similar effect is achieved by Fallujah‘s finale, when a short, simple melody is ended almost as soon as it’s begun, leaving an ambiguous apropos of the story and general subject.

    Fittingly staged in the U.S. National Guard building (commonly referred to around town as “the Armory”) at 7th and MLK, Fallujah is the latest entry on the list of Long Beach Opera’s site-specific operas. Hana S. Kim’s video design usually works—especially nice are the projections that more or less envelop the audience on three sides—although on occasion jaggedly rotating images (to indicate distress) are a bit obvious. Equally obvious is how good the stage direction during the one scene when Andreas Mitisek has members of Philip’s platoon move up the aisles to vocalize within and behind the audience, creating a bit of surround sound. It’s curious why Mitisek didn’t exploit this possibility more often.

    There’s an important idea at the heart of Fallujah, and Act Two features some particularly strong music. If Stokes and Raffo use their world premiere as a launching point, don’t be surprised if in 10 years Fallujah is stronger overall than it is today. Unfortunately, Fallujah will be as deadly relevant a decade from now as it is today, because the traumatic effects of the Iraq War will be with us for generations.

    FALLUJAH LONG BEACH OPERA • THE ARMORY (854 E 7TH ST) • LONG BEACH 90813 • 562.432.5934 LONGBEACHOPERA.ORG • THURS-SAT 8PM + SAT-SUN 2:30PM • $67.25–$137.25 • THROUGH MARCH 20

    (Photo credit:  Keith Ian Polakoff)

    Read More
  • DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY @ Little Fish Theatre

    Like so many 1950s suburbanites, Herbert, Ethel, and their daughter Cindy like Ike, and—on the surface, at least—they revel in the predictable, button-down ethos is the rule in Orchard Grove. But three escaped convicts upset their domestic tranquility, raising questions about whether home is really where the heart is.

    If that description entices you into thinking you may get dark explorations of the suburban soul, forget about it. Rich Orloff’s Domestic Tranquility screwball slapstick à la Mel Brooks, though without pushing any envelopes.

    That’s the only thing you need to take away from this review in deciding whether to see Domestic Tranquility, because Little Fish does an apt job with the material. With energy that never flags, the cast is silly and over the top, which is probably the only way to do a play like this. You want Jerry Lewis, not Robert De Niro.

    Orloff’s 1950s suburbia is something like Pleasantville. But unlike Gary Ross’s cinematic masterpiece (sidenote: Ross must have made a deal with the devil on that one, because nothing else he’s done is remotely close), there’s no cultural explanation in Domestic Tranquility. Its mid-’50s culture is just the setting, there for little more than yuks and throwaway period references (Edward G. Robinson, On the Waterfront).

    As for the humor, for the most part you see every punchline coming from a mile away, and the blows Orloff lands are pretty soft. On the rare occasions he goes for more he gets mixed results. The prime example is a pair of flashback scenes. The first, which involves two of the escaped cons in Catholic school as kids, not only falls flat in its satire of priestly lust for young boys, but it gets quite creepy as one of the boys wants to give his bare bottom to the lusty father. But moments later we’re into the second flashback, which involves Ethel (Shirley Hatton) getting electroconvulsive therapy from a doctor and nurse (Daniel Tennant and Bill Wolski, doubling from their primary roles as two of the convicts). This is pure slapstick, and it works to perfection, making for the play’s funniest scene. Orloff follows these up with a disclaimer of an aside that makes for his most clever moment.

    Director Holly Baker-Kreiswirth gets about as much as she can get out of the material. She has her actors covering the entire depth of the stage (the audience at the Little Fish Theatre is seated in a long L configuration that abuts the ground-level stage area, giving the cast a lot of room to roam), so the proceedings never feel physically static. Even the scene changes keep the audience engaged, as in the half-light the actors pantomime various exchanges between the characters during the “offstage” passage of time.

    But Domestic Tranquility is what it is. If Mel Brooks lite is appealing to you, you’re home. If not….

    DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY LITTLE FISH THEATRE • 777 CENTRE ST • SAN PEDRO 90731 • 310.512.6030 • LITTLEFISHTHEATRE.ORG • FRI-SAT 8PM + MARCH 20 (SUN), 2PM • $25-27; WITH DINNER $38-48 • THROUGH APRIL 2

    (Photo credit: Mickey Elliot)

    Read More
  • Brouwerij West Celebrates Its Grand Opening

    By Gina Ruccione, Restaurant and Cuisine Writer

    Most were of the mindset, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” but it has finally happened. After years of delays and construction, the highly anticipated Brouwerij West opened its doors Feb. 27. The grand opening was nothing short of a party.

    For most of the day, at any one time, the Brouwerij West and Crafted warehouse lots were filled with about 1,500 people. At the end of the day, the number of attendees tallied up to 4,500.

    I’m still recovering from the copious amount of beer and snack intake that occurred Saturday. Here’s what you missed and here’s what to expect going forward.

    The brewery, which you all know by now, is in one of the coolest buildings of all time— a massive World War II-era warehouse in the Port of Los Angeles, boasts a five-tank brew house, bottle shop, tasting room and Belgian-style beer on tap.

    I personally don’t know everything there is to know about beer, but I can tell you that I had little to no problem enjoying the first of the batches that rolled out.

    Brian Mercer and David Holop, the magical duo behind the full-production craft brewery, have had tons of visitors in recent weeks for pre-tastings, but Saturday was really meant to be a celebration.

    Four food trucks and several local bands including Bombón, Crow Baby and The Underground Railroad to Candyland fed and entertained the crowds of people.

    Construction challenges proved to be the main culprit behind the lengthy grand opening delay.

    What started as a 16-week project went on for 42 weeks, and while it is not registered as a historic building, it is very old. Parts of the building aren’t level— and that proved to be more than a challenge, but obviously well worth the wait.

    The inside is gorgeous and the space is expansive. The glowing strings of bistro lights illuminate the stunning space, giving it a rather charming ambiance.

    Oh, did I mention that this almost didn’t even happen in San Pedro?

    As it turns out, the brewery was originally intended to be in Long Beach, but Mercer and Holop saw the potential and ran with it.

    As a native to the area, I can say that we’ve certainly been waiting for something like this to hit San Pedro—it deserves to be a destination spot and this brewery will only add to the appeal.

    OK, so what about the beer, right?

    Forgive me, but I don’t know a ton about beer or the whole process, so this called for a bit of research, which basically means I had to read a lot about beer and then drink a whole bunch of different beers (for research, of course). As it turns out, I tend to gravitate towards sour beers. So imagine my surprise to find that Brouwerij West has a sour beer called Super Orange.

    It’s made from more than 500 pounds of sour oranges from Northern California.

    At the moment there are six beers featured and most are saisons. For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t either) saison is the French for “season.” They are meant to be refreshing, highly carbonated and tend to be fruity or spicy.

    Originally this pale ale was brewed in farmhouses in Belgium in the cooler months and intended for drinking during the warmer months of summer.

    They have a blackberry saison called Dog Ate My Homework and it is totally refreshing—fruit forward but not sweet and very drinkable. The Bitter Blonde was another one of my favorites—hoppy, bitter with a dry finish.

    Here’s yet another awesome tidbit about the beer: the bottle art is rad. All of the bottles feature different artists and they are awesome. I’m a very visual person and if I don’t know a ton about a product in the beginning, I tend to lean towards whatever is aesthetically pleasing. I think most of us can attest to that. I mean, consider going into any store to buy something. How long do you stare at a shelf and then just end up grabbing something familiar or something that looks cool? If I am experimenting with a new product, I opt for the cool packaging.

    And yes, there was talk about adding a restaurant to the space and yours truly will happily keep you updated, but it looks like we’ll have to wait on that…for the time being.

    For now, the brewery is open from 4 to 8 p.m. on Fridays and noon to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s family, pet and skateboard friendly.

    Venue: Brouwerij West, 110 E. 22nd St., San Pedro
    Details: www.brouwerijwest.com

    Gina Ruccione has traveled all over Europe and Asia and has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County. You can visit her website at www.foodfashionfoolishfornication.com.

     

     

    Read More
  • LAHC Architecture Department Chairman Invests in Former Students

    Photo by Phillip Cooke

    Michael Song Purchases EZ Plan Franchise to Help Students Gain Experience

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    Students who get a credential or degree from an accredited university or trade school are supposed to be able to find jobs. These days, students are caught in a catch-22. Employers require candidates to have work experience in addition to their credentials.

    Michael Song wanted to solve this problem, at least for the students who completed Los Angeles Harbor College’s architectural program.

    Song, who is the chairman of the department, said about half of his students transferred to universities.

    “The other half don’t go for a variety of reasons: family, money, time,” Song said. “There [isn’t] a market for students who do not have a bachelor’s degree or experience. Now, if they have experience, that’s another story. But coming out of junior college, who is going to give them that experience?”

    Song recognized another problem: consumers with small construction projects couldn’t afford to hire professional architects. Most architects design libraries, government buildings and other large scale buildings. But if a consumer just wanted to add a bedroom or a bathroom to his or her homes, most architects won’t take the job because there is just not enough of a profit margin.

    “So, often times, the consumers turn to drafting services or drafters and some of them do not have the experience or expertise of an architect,” Song said.

    After 15 years of teaching at the community college, he decided to do something about it.

    “I thought, ‘What if I could create an entity that would be directed by myself, who is a licensed architect, provide consumers with a licensed architect that could help them through their project and also provide an opportunity for my graduating students to gain work experience?’” he said. “So that becomes a win-win situation.”

    He invested about $120,000 toward equipment and an EZ Plans franchise that he plans to use to give his former students experience. EZ Plans is a professional services business that offers cost-effective architectural services. According to its website, “the company was founded on the belief that many homeowners are being excluded from their home improvement dreams.” The company offers set prices on most projects.

    “The reason why I was interested is because they identified the same needs that I felt was lacking in the market,” Song said. “So, it just happened to be a good fit.”

    The company sells franchises to people who want to run an architectural office. The franchise provides management training, marketing assistance, a home-based business model, a state- of-the-art mobile office design studio and access to three-dimensional models.

    “But for me it is really about getting my students more work experience and…providing the community with a professional level of expertise,” he said.

    The Way It Works

    The business model is simple. Clients call EZ Plans’ corporate office, which fields the call and finds a franchisee who services the client’s area. EZ Plans contacts the franchisee, who in turn, makes an appointment with the client. After an interface, the franchisee assesses the project and determines whether it is a project that can be undertaken.

    “Obviously, we are not looking for huge projects,” Song said.

    Song and his former students would be in charge of drawing the house as is, do research with the city and the zoning department, then provide the client with a design solution before drafting actual blueprints. Once they are submitted to city and a permit is issued, their job stops.

    Song plans to work with students who have graduated from the architectural program at LAHC and supervise the projects.

    “The idea is that they have graduated,” Song explained. “They don’t really have a place to go in an architectural office because they don’t have experience. So, those are the students who I will take. I will give them real-world experience. Of course, they’ll get paid for that job, too.”

    Song and four of his former students are taking on their first project in Downey. For now, they are looking for a space where they can do their work. The former students will be working as independent contractors, meaning they are working out of their individual homes.

    “It’s an experiment,” Song explained. “I need students who are self-motivated; I need students who are problem solvers; I need students who are technically sound, and I have them. I already have them.”

    To ensure that they are paid fairly, Song’s former students are working under a consultant agreement through the EZ Plan franchise. In essence, Song will be treating his former students as professional consultants and he will be overseeing the work.

    “Whatever is left will cover my overhead,” Song said. “Clearly, I’m not doing it as a money-making venture.”

    He envisions his project would work through a cycle of two to three years. His former students will work with the franchise, gain experience and move onward, making way for new sets of students to become part of the franchise project.

    The Commitment

    Although the workforce involved in the EZ Plans franchise is comprised of Song’s former LAHC students, the school itself is not involved in the project due to liability concerns.

    “It is a huge undertaking,” Song said. “I debated doing it for many, many years and I certainly don’t need the headache of trying to run a business. But there was just such a need.”

    “My students spend two to three years with me. I get to know them very personally. I am committed to them in teaching them and educating them.… But they can have that opportunity if they can go out and say, ‘Hey, I have three years of real-life work experience… and the degree.’ Then they have a fighting job at getting a real job at an architectural office.”

    Beyond the technical skills they’ve learned at school, the franchise offers his former students an opportunity to gain professional skills on the business side of running an architectural office.

    The Long Term Vision

    Song expects his level of involvement with the franchise to lessen within two years. His goal would be that the four former students he is taking under his wing will become project architects, who in turn will do most of the business management.

    “Hopefully, the business generates enough income for all four of them to be happy,” Song said. “Then, all the other students will filter in.”

    Of course, he won’t be able to remove himself completely from the business, because he is the licensed architect.

    As far as his investment, Song doesn’t foresee a return for at least four to five years. That’s OK, he said. As long as the business sustains itself, he’s happy.

    “My hope is that community understands the intent of the business,” he said. “We are really trying to service the community. In turn, the community will service our students by giving them valuable professional experience.”

     

    Read More
  • 1 61 62 63 244