• Garden Church Growing an Urban Sanctuary

    By Melina Paris, Contributing Writer

    The bustling Friday farmers market in San Pedro was starting to close. The prayer garden was the first area I saw as I entered the Garden Church. Bedded in the west corner, a space for offerings blooms in perennials of red, yellow and pink. Ribbons of the same color are tied on the lattice. Here you can plant a seedling or tie a ribbon on the lattice as a tangible way to offer a prayer.

    The Garden Church is the inspiration of Rev. Anna Woofenden of the Swedenborgian Church. She has partnered with Green Girl Farms to create this space for the community. Green Girl Farms is a group whose mission is to create a system that provides communities with food grown locally. Green Girl Farms designed this space. It collaborates with the Garden Church to help maintain this site.

    The Garden Church is looking for interns and volunteers who can come weekly. People who not only want to come and participate, but also to help form it and hold it for others to come and participate.

    Within three months, a vacant dirt lot on 6th Street, which was occasionally utilized, was transformed into a bountiful vegetable garden for the community. We sat in the garden as Woofenden told me about the Garden Church’s vision, which is to feed and be fed.

    Ninety percent of this garden of edibles is grown from seed, right here in town. Lara Hughey from Green Girl Farms is the master gardener. Everything happens right here, including the compost, which they started this past January.

    Gatherings take place from 3 to 4 p.m. Sundays. The reverend says there’s always gardening to be done as well as art projects, music and ways of engaging with one another in this intergenerational space. At 4 p.m. they gather around the altar, befittingly a tree stump in the middle of a seating area with benches. They have worship along with singing, prayers, scripture readings and a message, and always have communion.

    Woofenden explained her calling, which over the years has been to reimagine what church can look like.

    “I’m the tail end of Generation X,” Woofenden said. “Many of my friends have left religion and I get that. But I haven’t given up on God or the need to come together in spiritual community. I’ve been asking, ‘What are the needs in the world?’ ‘What is it that the church can be to not just respond, but be in conversation to those needs?’ Four needs kept jumping out at me… We are disconnected from our food, from the earth, from each other, and from God.”

    She wanted to create a place where people could reconnect with putting their hands in the soil. To know where our food comes from and connect with people who wouldn’t interact otherwise across race, class and/or ideology.

    “I thought, what is the best human leveler?’” she said. “When we put our hands in the dirt, some of these other things just fade away.”

    The reverend is particularly interested in mixing different classes together, which she feels is needed. She calls it an urban sanctuary here, a hub where good transformation can happen individually and collectively.

    The Garden Church is kin to the Wayfarers Chapel in Palos Verdes. Both are part of the same Christian-based denomination, the Swedenborgian Church of North America.

    “You can come here with any faith background or no faith background at all and you’re welcome and are a part of it,” Woofenden said. “We are not about conversion; we are about transformation.”

    “What I love about Southern California is everything grows here,” Hughey said. “In this garden alone we have chard, basil, zucchini, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, fennel and sage. Winter squash beets and corn are coming. You name it. We either already grew it or we are growing it.”

    Hughey believes education is very important and every time they open the gates in this garden it is an educational opportunity for San Pedro. Her expectations were surpassed.

    “We realized this space, given its proximity and location to the farmer’s market and being downtown, has just had such a synergistic effect on all of our goals here,” Hughey said. “So many people come in and interact with the soil and each other that this would not necessarily have happened in another location. I’m impressed. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

    “We hope to be doing this work here for a long time,” Woofenden said. “Whether it’s physically in this spot, or not, is unknown. This is a big experiment but we are very committed to this community and feeding and look forward to partner with anyone who wants to be part of that.”

    The Garden Church is open on First Thursdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays from 3 to 6 p.m. The Garden Church builds out the hours as volunteers come. Its lease started May 1 and goes through the end of October 2015.

    Details: http://gardenchurchsp.org/


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  • Fear and Loathing of Transitional Housing

    By Ivan Adame, RLn Contributor

    Homelessness is one of those intractable problems that requires bold action rather than words. That’s the main takeaway from the controversial Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council meeting that took place Aug. 11.

    During that meeting, the council voted unanimously to turn its ad hoc committee on homelessness into a standing committee and allow it to move forward with the Tiny Houses project in San Pedro.

    Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council President James Allen said that the council support for the Tiny Houses project didn’t involve financial or any other material support, but rather it was a statement of moral support for the homes and the search for a suitable location for them other than on city streets.

    The tiny houses on wheels, built by the charity Helping the Homeless In Need in San Pedro, exist on legally ambiguous grounds. On one hand, the Harbor Division of the Los Angeles Police Department says the structures, which are about the size of a small car, are illegal on public streets. Yet, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office has not yet spoken on the legality of the structures. Proponents argue that the tiny houses on wheels, like motor vehicles, can stay in one location for 72 hours before having to move again.

    In his written motion to the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee, 15th District City Councilman Joe Buscaino requested from the city attorney “to report on the legality of the placement of such structures in both the public right-of-way and on private property, and recommend removal protocol for city departments to follow.”

    Up until the emergence of the tiny houses, there was no action locally or otherwise on providing transitional housing for people who are on the verge of attaining permanent housing.

    During the meeting, Karen Ceaser, head of Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council’s homeless committee, said that even under the best circumstances, it still takes several months to make the transition from living on the streets to living in permanent housing.

    Ceaser points out that the majority of homeless people on the streets have already been reached by the agencies in town—such as Harbor Interfaith Services and the Department of Mental Health—and registered into a coordinated entry system that matches them with a home.

    “Just because the form gets filled out for them, [permanent housing solutions] doesn’t happen overnight,” Ceaser explained. “These tiny houses we’ve been building [are] merely transitional housing. It’s just us trying to provide them that temporary housing so they don’t have to live on the street. It will be turned over once they go to permanent housing.”

    The only other solution that’s been offered has been Council District 15’s order of homeless sweeps and bulky item clean-ups. The people who were swept away tended to return a few days later.

    Meanwhile, the tiny houses, a step in the direction of creating transitional housing, had already come to the attention of area residents the previous week, following social media postings about them and their occupants near the San Pedro Post Office on Beacon Street, which generated hundreds of comments ranging from concerned to vitriolic. Volunteers working with Helping the Homeless In Need have reported being pelted with rocks by assailants because of their work.

    The comments at the neighborhood council meeting largely mirrored the comments on Facebook.

    One public commenter called San Pedro “a haven for druggies, thieves and ne’er- do-wells that have no interest in seeking public assistance…” and blamed them for the increasing crime rates.

    “You are not helping them [by] putting these tiny houses out,” someone wrote.

    Another person wrote that, “A large majority of them…don’t care. They get everything for free, so why get a job? Everything comes to them for free.”

    Ceaser said she had been working with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s policy director on homelessness, Greg Spiegel, since before the Aug. 11 meeting.

    “He is going to propose to them that this be looked at as an interim innovative project throughout the City of Los Angeles,” Ceaser said.

    However, San Pedro is not the only place the tiny homes have been popping up. The tiny structures have been popping up around downtown Los Angeles, as well as in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Elvis Summers, the 38-year-old founder of the charity Starting Human, has been building these tiny homes for the homeless in South East Los Angeles.

    He built his first tiny home for his neighbor, a 61-year-old Irene McGhee, who was sleeping in the dirt. The home is complete with a door and a lock. A time-lapsed video of the creation of the home went viral on social media and has led to more than $84,000 in private donations on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to fund more tiny shelters.

    Ceaser invited Summers to the homeless committee meeting late July, where he gave a presentation.

    Inspired by the presentation, homeless advocates, Helping the Homeless In Need, along with Ceaser, formed a team to build a tiny home for a local homeless person. Since then, they have spent every weekend building new homes for those in need.

    Nora Vela of Helping the Homeless In Need said that the first recipient of the tiny home in San Pedro has already transitioned into permanent housing.

    The second person to receive a tiny home is Francis, a 61-year-old woman who lives with her West Highland White Terrier named Scottie. She has applied for housing two years ago and is now seeking approval for a Section 8 voucher.

    “They figured that I needed it,” Francis said. “I did need it. It’s scary out there when you’re a lady. It’s a godsend. I can put my blankets on the floor. When you lay on the cement, it’s bad for you. I have a sciatic nerve and two bad discs in my back. Cement drains you.”

    Despite the public backlash, the very presence of the tiny homes is spurring action on the issue.

    A community forum on homelessness is scheduled for Sept. 3, at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.


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  • A Long Journey from Brighton Beach

    Terminal Island—Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher
    Most of you have probably never heard of Brighton Beach. The name kind of conjures up images of languid summers in the South Hamptons, where wealthy families escape their mansions in the city for a vacation.

    Most people in San Pedro don’t even question the designation on the numbered streets indicating west 6th Street, as if there were an east part of that street somewhere past the Main Channel.

    And if you stand up on the hill overlooking the vast industrial complex of the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors, it might be incomprehensible to imagine that Terminal Island was once the preferred escape destination for the wealthiest of Los Angeles’ very rich and famous.

    Terminal Island circa 1900, as recounted by former Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, and Naomi Hirahara, in their book of the same name, was just such a beach resort town that offered large beachfront homes, grand hotels, sport fishing and yachting. Long before the canneries and shipyards—decades before the POLA became the No. 1 container port in North America–San Pedro, or at least that part of it, was “gentrified.”

    Long, sloping sandy beaches allowed for wading far out from shore with warm water and no riptides, and thousands of Angelinos made the excursion on passenger trains directly from downtown, a convenience that no longer exists today.

    Nearby, and directly across from what is now the San Pedro waterfront, was the town of East San Pedro. And, a little farther south, toward the jetty that connected the island with Deadman’s Island (which was demolished to widen the channel in 1929), was where the “not so well-to-do” squatted on idyllic waterfront property for free.

    These were a hearty, stubborn group of bohemians, outcasts, loners, artists and intellectuals who lived on stilted shacks made of driftwood and discarded lumber. They could fish from their front porches, according to Knatz and Hirahara, in this biologically diverse and plentiful bay.

    The famous journalist, poet and founder of the Southwest Museum, Charles Lummis, was one of the luminary squatters across from what now is Ports O’ Call.

    You couldn’t quite call these people “homeless.” They had constructed their tiny homes along what was unused land, but they didn’t pay any taxes and none carried a mortgage. What a life.

    Terminal Island recounts how at low tide, the residents of San Pedro could casually wade across the Main Channel to go fishing or swimming on the island, long before it was dredged. All of this started to change when the towns of San Pedro and Wilmington voted narrowly to annex to the “octopus” of Los Angeles.

    If LA was going to be the big city of its chamber of commerce’s booster-ish dreams, it needed a major seaport, a harbor, even if 26 miles distant from City Hall. And the “big dream” of Los Angeles would have consumed the rest of the harbor and most of Long Beach, if the founders of that city across the bay had not fought back and built their own harbor. Their resistance proved more fruitful when oil was discovered there.

    The boom years between the annexation to Los Angeles in 1909 and the stock market crash of 1929 brought major changes to this harbor area. First, squatters along the Main Channel were evicted, the railroads purchased the land rights to wharfs in the harbor and Deadman’s Island was demolished.

    If you look around at most of the older parts of the communities surrounding the San Pedro Bay, the dominant architecture is of this period. But the past is never dead.

    With the dream of an industrial harbor, both cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach invested hundreds of millions of dollars, which was matched with federal dollars to build this vast port complex. These two ports now handle more than 40 percent of all imports into North America—cargo with an estimated value of $200 billion a year.

    This investment allowed Southern California to become the economic epicenter of Pacific Rim trade. The effort was visionary, but it came at a cost—decades of environmental destruction that only recently is being addressed after community activists fought back and sued the cities.

    The memory of Terminal Island, East San Pedro and Brighton Beach still exists in the subconscious of both San Pedro and Long Beach like a dream. The resonance of what came before is somehow instilled in this place and resurfaces with those who argue for “gentrification” of certain parts of these cities, while others hold stubbornly to a different vision of bohemian art culture.

    Both of these perspectives are competing against the economic imperative of international trade, global economics and the power of the city of Los Angeles.

    Oddly enough, Terminal Island was released almost at the same time as George and Carmela Cunningham’s Port Town—published by their respective harbor departments within months of each other. One seems to be the counterpoint to the other—two versions of the same history.

    In the end, however, both are documents of a drive spanning more than 100 years to industrialize the two ports—a drive that came at the expense of limiting citizen access to the waterfront and non-industrial uses, accompanied by environmental destruction of the San Pedro Bay.

    Sometimes, I look out over this vast harbor and imagine what might have been if our civic leaders weren’t in such a mad rush for profit. An astute reader will realize that the commercial success of the harbors has come at the expense of these competing visions. Terminal Island—Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor tells us how this happened.

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  • Tianjin Tragedy Shakes Up Local Concerns

    Frightening Parallels with Threat Posed by Rancho Storage Tanks

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    On Aug. 5, after months of delay, a group of citizens concerned about the public safety threat posed by Rancho LPG met with Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka and staff members.

    “Mr. Seroka expressed his abiding commitment to the safety and security of the port complex, as well as the surrounding communities,” said port spokesman Phillip Sanfield. “The group had an opportunity to share its views and concerns regarding Rancho LPG. Port senior staff is reviewing the information provided and will follow up in writing with the group.”

    Rancho LPG is a liquefied petroleum storage facility located near the confluence of Gaffey Street and the 110 Freeway.

    Local activists Janet Gunter, Noel Weiss and Adrian Martinez and other participants expressed cautious optimism in the immediate aftermath of the meeting. But a deadly explosion in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, just one week later, Aug. 12, renewed a looming sense of urgency and impending threat.

    “Why is 25 million gallons of highly explosive butane and propane gases being stored within 1,000 feet (333 yards) of residences, schools, shops and public highway?” Gunter asked in an email linking to a story about the Chinese blast. “Why is it allowed to sit on the inner harbor, threatening the destruction of both ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach…and all of those within a 3-mile blast radius?”

    Although entirely different explosive agents were involved, there were still strong parallels between the Tianjin blast—with a death toll now at 114, including 39 firefighters—and a possible disaster scenario at Rancho LPG.

    “China on Friday defended firefighters who initially hosed water on a blaze in a warehouse storing volatile chemicals, a response foreign experts said could have contributed to two huge blasts that killed 56 people,” Reuters reported. “Chemical safety experts said calcium carbide reacts with water to create acetylene, a highly explosive gas. An explosion could be caused if firefighters sprayed the calcium carbide with water, they said.”

    “Calcium carbide CaC2 and water react to make acetylene, C2H2, which is the material in welding torches,” said retired oil industry consultant Connie Rutter. “So, whatever first caused an explosion, when firemen trained water on more calcium carbide, they increased the explosion, rather than preventing it.”

    This recalls Rancho’s ill-considered reliance on the standard response, fire-fighting foam, which is generally effective against gasoline fires, but is not recommended for LPG fire, as Random Lengths reported in June 2012.

    “The reason is that foam is warmer than the liquid butane, which is not yet evaporated, and hastens evaporation, and therefore, burning,” Rutter explained at the time. “There are lots of parallels between the risk from Rancho and the explosion in Tianjin….For one thing, they’re both in port facilities, but Rancho’s position has the added threat of being a good target for terrorists, because an explosion of even one of the smaller ‘bullet’ tanks would do damage to the port property nearby.”

    The multiple tanks also set up the risk of multi-explosion disaster, as occurred at Tianjin. Rutter also noted that the position of the bullet tanks violates industry standards which require them to be lined up so that if they explode and become “airborne, like a jet plane,” they cannot hit passerbys.

    “Rancho’s bullets line up with the ball field,” she pointed out. “As people near the site in Tianjin describe the explosion, they talk about feeling the first pressure wave.  This is what would also happen if a butane tank—the large ones at Rancho—were to release its contents…. Although initially the liquid would be caught in the impound basin, it would very rapidly vaporize as it picks up heat from the air and the ground, and increase 230 times in size.

    “This rapid increase in volume would first form a pressure wave, invisible, but strong enough to knock things over…. This will happen before it ignites! If it finds a source of ignition—even a static charge, or car engine—it will form a fiery explosion. Now, that extra heat will cause whatever butane has not already evaporated to evaporate, creating a pool fire. This unfolding, multistage disaster is very much like what occurred in Tianjin,” Rutter noted.

    “Other similarities between the Tianjin site and Rancho are that the public was closer to the site than the Chinese environmental rules allow,” according to the New York Times report.  “There are no limits to how close people should be allowed to live in the U.S. rules…but the American Petroleum Institute standard holds that no tank or equipment should be closer than 200 feet from the facility border. Rancho fails that on 3 sides. This reflects the fact that it’s never gone through a permit review by the city.”

    Finally, Rutter noted that both here and in Tianjin the rules on the books fail to protect the people.

    “That’s not surprising in a totalitarian system like China, but we’re a democracy,” she said. “We should expect to be protected, for the rules to be transparent and for them to be enforced. But that’s not been the case.”

    “In the wake of China’s massive destruction, deaths and casualties in their port city…and recently what seems like a never-ending stream of ruptured pipelines, toxic contamination and devastating explosions and fires…our society’s reckless ambivalence to disaster prevention appears to be catching up with us!” Homeowner activist Janet Gunter wrote in an email after the explosion. “By their own admission…Plains All American Pipeline, AKA Rancho LPG, in LA’s Harbor area stores…(at their 42-year-old, 25- million-gallon butane and propane gas storage location) the energy equivalent…of over 50 atomic bombs…all on the back doorstep of pre-existing homes and schools, on the precipice of the 110 Freeway, within one-quarter-mile of the inner harbor of the Port of LA…and amazingly a mere 150 feet of the ‘active’ Palos Verdes Fault (magnitude 7.3) on [U.S. Geological Survey] designated ‘landslide’ and ‘liquefaction’ areas….Its two massive 12.5 million gallon butane tanks were built without building permits over 4 decades ago to a seismic substandard of 5.5, the email noted.

    “When will the relentless disregard for public safety end? When will the political “will” to prevent these cataclysmic losses kick in?”

    On Aug. 17, Sanfield provided additional assurances of port safety, in contrast with Tianjin.

    “The Port of Los Angeles works with all levels of government as well as other maritime stakeholders to inspect and monitor hazardous materials coming into the port complex,” he said.

    He ticked off a long list of agencies, starting with Homeland Security and the Coast Guard.

    “Through a variety of federal, state and local laws, as well as inspection and enforcement procedures, the agencies work collaboratively to keep the port complex safe,” he said. “All dangerous cargo that passes through the port requires a permit….Tankers and hazardous materials coming into the port are inspected by the Los Angeles Fire Department. Additionally, explosive shipments are inspected by Port Police hazmat units. Additional preventative, inspection and safety measures are handled by Customs and Border Protection, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security.

    “If an incident were to take place, all the above-mentioned agencies train regularly through a unified command model to react swiftly with whatever resources are necessary…. This multilayer agency prevention and inspection approach makes the port complex as prepared as possible to prevent an accident and respond with appropriate resources if one were to occur.”

    As for the Tianjin tragedy, Sanfield said, “Details have yet to be confirmed but it appears that exceeding large volumes of multiple hazardous materials were stored in a factory-like setting.  Partner agencies here will dissect information as it becomes available from China and review for lessons that may be applied in the port complex.”

    “In truth, the port has performed a mammoth job in the coordination of container inspections and the litany of regulatory obligations set forth to protect it on that level,” said Gunter, in response. “No small job to be sure. That does not go unnoticed nor unappreciated by community residents.

    “However, there appears to be a huge gaping hole in their guardianship…. A simple look at the Plains All American Pipeline-operated Rancho LPG facility and its storage proximity (within one quarter-mile of the port) of over 25 million gallons of highly explosive butane and propane gases, clues you into the incredible vulnerability of the port from the mere presence of it,” Gunter said.

    There are “two rubs” here for the local communities, Gunter said.

    First, “The port introduced this hazardous and highly explosive operation into our community over 40 years ago, (without a public process and exempting it from various regulations) and then more than a decade ago terminated its ocean shipping opportunity based on the much delayed realization that it was a ‘far too dangerous cargo’ to be shipped out of their port.”

    Second, Gunter said, “When the port refused to renew the pipeline to the ocean shipping wharf, which transported 68 percent of its gas by sea, the facility’s business model changed “dramatically” with the gas suddenly shifted entirely to transport by rail and truck.  This major change should have triggered a new environmental impact report, but, did not.”

    The rail transport now used is “more inherently dangerous” than the pipeline was, but nothing’s been done to protect the community—in stark contrast to how much effort is put into other safety measures such as those Sanfield laid out.

    Chinese officials have promised a thorough investigation into the causes of the Tianjin tragedy. So far, American officials have promised nothing better than to protect Harbor Area neighbors of Rancho LPG.

    So far. But there’s still hope that this will change.

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  • Sister Corita

    Seeds of Renewal, the Language of Pop

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Beginning Sept. 3, Marymount California University, in collaboration with the Corita Art Center and fINdings Art Center, will present Be the Change: The Corita Experience, an exhibition at the Klaus Center in San Pedro that surveys the work of artist, activist and educator Sister Corita Kent.

    More than 60 pieces of Sister Corita’s vibrant pop art serigraphs will be featured in the show, reflecting her passion for tearing down the walls that separate people, confronting injustice and promoting peace.

    Sister Corita’s work has been traveling around the world since about 2011, but “now is the time” for its message to really transmit, said Annette Ciketic, director of fINDings.

    I wanted a firsthand understanding of Sister Corita from those who knew her and had a relationship with her. I have found that many lionized heroes of the left, after many decades, tend to get diced, sliced, repackaged and then mass-distributed in a form palatable enough that even old, ideological foes can stomach and regurgitated at their convenience. That is, if they weren’t forgotten. I suspected that was part of the reason Sister Corita’s work has been touring around the world for the past few years.

    Annette is one of several San Pedro alumni of Immaculate Heart College, whose class graduated during the 1960s. The college, which operated in the Hollywood Hills, closed in 1981. Through Annette, I met her fellow alum and Sister Corita student, Laurine DiRocco. Laurine was named educator and artist of the year by the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce women’s conference this year.

    Both Laurine and Annette are dedicated to art and teaching other teachers using Sister Corita’s methods. Neither are gallery artists.

    These teaching methods eliminate the barrier between student and teacher and posits that a learning environment conducive to excellence can be achieved through diligence, hard work and engagement between students and teachers.

    Annette recalled Sister Corita telling her students, “I don’t want you to copy me. I want you to become the best you are.”

    “There was a famous [often repeated Balinese] quote in our art department, ‘We have no art. We do everything as well as we can,’” Annette explained.

    Annette recalled how Sister Corita and her class created their own rules.

    “We sat in class one day; it was in a space about like this,” Laurine said, carving an invisible three-dimensional space with her finger that included Annette’s office to the edge of the sidewalk outside. Annette then read off from a list of Sister Corita’s general rules for teaching, which Annette and Laurine abide by to this day:

    • Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.

    • General duties of a student: pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

    • General duties of a teacher: pull everything out of your students.

    • Consider everything, and then experiment.

    • Be self-disciplined. This means finding someone wise or smart and following them. Be disciplined and follow in a good way. Self-discipline is to follow in a better way.

    • Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win or lose, there’s only make.

    • The only rule is work.

    • Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They are two different processes.

    • Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It is lighter than you think. There’s always a sense of celebration.

    • We’re breaking all of the rules, even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.


    Annette read the “Helpful Hints” addendum to the rules. They included: “Always be around, come and go to everything; always go to classes; read anything you can get your hands on and look at movies carefully and often; save everything—it might come in handy later; there should be new rules next week.”

    I found the first rule the most intriguing. It was also the one I remembered the most clearly. Annette’s and Laurine’s description of their time at Immaculate Heart College made the idea of “place” seem like something more than a physical location. It was as if the word “place” was really a description of a relationship.

    “We were always a school without walls,” Annette explained. “Every Friday in the art department, we’d go somewhere as a group. It might be Buckminster Fuller’s house, Charles Hughes’ house, Mark C. Bloome’s place [and] other famous people’s homes… the park, the beach…”

    “She’s always giving us ways to see bigger, deeper, more…” Laurine added.

    Laurine recalled Sister Corita took her class to a car and tire shop in Beverly Hills owned by the wealthy entrepreneur Mark C. Bloome. It took up a whole city block. Sister Corita gave each of the students 35mm slides with the film cut out, called “findings” to frame the details of what they saw in ways they never saw before.

    “When you’re looking through something like that [the finding]…rather than getting this whole room, I can get a portion of this whole room,” said Laurine, attempting to explain the shift in perspective that comes from focusing your attention on a particular detail of an object.

    “We get out of our cars with our findings, people are getting gas, people are getting tires and we’re doing this,” said Laurine as she joined her left thumb and index finger with her right to form the square of a finding.

    “[Later] I realized I learned to see…that without the card… I would be driving along and I would be talking and then I would stop and say, ‘Look at that,’” Laurine said, describing the experience of seeing something new in a scene she had numerous times before from a different perspective.

    Finding Sister Corita

    Like the environment out of which Sister Corita matured as an artist and scholar, in which she helped foster her students during the late 1950s and ‘60s, her life’s work was a world without walls. Her medium of choice was serigraphy (silkscreen), a process that lends itself to mass production with the potential of reaching more people and traveling further than one-off fine art meant for gallery spaces.

    Her oeuvre was pop art. Andy Warhol’s 1962 iconic exhibition of Campbell’s soup cans was lightening in a bottle to Sister Corita. It opened up the possibility of inserting layers of meaning to the viewer, whose subconscious is already bombarded with advertising imagery.

    Sister Corita’s work was very much tuned in to the politics, culture and societal moment of the 1960s. Whether it was Civil Rights or the anti-war movement, she engaged it the best way she knew how: first through her teaching. When she left the order, she kept up that engagement through her art.

    My conversation with Annette and Laurine reminded me of conversations I have had with my greatest teachers in my academic life—teachers I’ve called close friends and mentors. This was the kind of relationship Annette and Laurine had with Sister Corita. I realize that I couldn’t fully appreciate Sister Corita’s legacy without understanding to some degree the environment in which she matured intellectually and professionally at Immaculate Heart.

    Annette and Laurine and I did not have enough time to talk about this part of Immaculate Heart of Mary and Sister Corita’s legacy, but they recommended that I read the first-person account of Dr. Anita Caspary, who served as the order’s mother superior during this turbulent transitional period of the church.

    Sister Corita joined the order in 1936, earning advanced degrees in art and art history. What’s really important about Sister Corita’s biography is that she was a teacher inside the order during the period of transformation—almost in anticipation of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI’s call for renewal of the church and the opening of Vatican Council II.

    One of the key things the Vatican Council II called for was experimentation on adapting religious life within the order and outside of it. This was to engage modernity while doing all that they were called to do as Christians.

    That also meant addressing injustice, inequality, and suffering even as they shared their faith. This change meant changes in prayer life, favoring the vernacular as opposed to Latin to communicate with the faithful, connecting authority to service and movement away from the kind of clericalism that can emerge in a 2,000-year-old institution.

    I can’t say that Sister Corita intentionally worked to be an activist. She was the tip of a sword that pricked all things unjust. The first conflict came from her religious art, which began to capture attention by the late 1950s, but was considered sacrilegious. Another seminal event that drew Sister Corita into conflict was the attention garnered by the 1964 Mary’s Day celebration.

    The order organized the annual event that included a day of prayer and procession dedicated to Mary, as mother of God. The event was a fairly dour and low-key affair that would end with an evening procession winding up the college hill on the campus, and a crown of flowers would be placed on the statue of Mary by a specially chosen student.

    That year, Sister Corita was asked by the college president to create a new Mary’s Day festivity that celebrated the real woman Mary of Nazareth, as opposed to the solemn event it used to be. This break from tradition caused conflict with the traditionalist male hierarchy of the church and the order.

    This very public dispute led to the removal of all Immaculate Heart sisters teaching in Los Angeles diocesan schools, who were given an ultimatum: either conform to the standards of traditional religious life, or seek dispensation from vows. Annette noted that about 90 percent of the sisters that held advanced degrees in the order chose to leave their vows and reorganize as a nonprofit lay organization, the Immaculate Heart Community.

    In many respects, the forces with which the sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary had to contend were similar to the forces of Jim Crow, American exceptionalism and imperialism, and the patriarchy that allowed celibate priests to dictate when and where nuns should pray and the kinds of habits they should wear.

    The order, Immaculate Heart of Mary, ceased being a canonized order. As a lay community, it thrives and arguably it better fulfills the order’s desire to achieve what the Vatican Council II called them to do as part of the renewal of the church: comfort the afflicted, heal the sick, and extend the hand of friendship to all who need it.

    I asked Annette why we are now remembering Sister Corita Kent. But I know the answer: her work has never stopped being relevant.

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  • LBMA Misses Opportunity

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    It wasn’t that long ago that street art was just considered the scribbles of street vandals on private property. In the past few decades these “vandals” have become “artists,” and their works have moved from the street to the interior walls of art galleries and museums. The Long Beach Museum of Art was the latest venue to exhibit such art, called “Vitality and Verve.”

    When the Long Beach Museum of Art decided to host the exhibit, curators seemed to be unaware of the origins and intentions of street art, which is to attract attention toward a cause, or to be used as a form of provocation.

    Street artist Saber achieved that goal with one mural in particular, “Too Many Names.” In contrast to the aesthetically appealing murals in the rest of the museum, Saber’s mural confronts an unsettling subject with a grizzly artistry. His monumental mural covering an entire wall, contains the names of the more than 557 people killed by police in the United States in 2015. The names, written in the spray painted technique of taggers – and emblazoned with the name of Long Beach tagger Hector Morejon – is controversial for it’s subject matter and its stylistic symbology.

    In the midst of a timely and national conversation about victims of police shootings, the museum passed on an opportunity to participate in the dialog. The question remains: Why is this mural so controversial for the Long Beach museum?

    “I think at first it was difficult to absorb,” Saber said. “This particular piece draws a line in the sand between people who support the museum and people who support the artists,”

    The suspicion is that donors are uncomfortable with the subject matter. When a reception was planned on July 31 for members of the group Families for Justice, the museum slammed on the brakes. The families invited the press to help promote the young organization and the issue of police shootings in the nation, particularly shootings in Long Beach. The group was founded by the families of Morejon, whose name is in bold blue letters, as well as the families of Donte Jordan, and Feras Morad, who was killed when he experienced an extreme reaction to psychedelic mushrooms.

    The press was greeted by a museum employee who passed out a statement from the museum that read: “The Long Beach Museum of Art (LBMA) is not affiliated with Families for Justice: LBC. The press release that was issued by Families of Justice: LBC on July 31, 2015 was not approved by the Museum nor does it reflect its views.”

    A request for an interview with the museum director was met with an emailed statement. Aug. 7, which read:

    “The media was not barred from the museum. There were several of them here on campus with Saber and the organization Families for Justice. Some of them took photos of the group in front of the mural, which we allowed. Since we are not affiliated with Families for Justice we conveyed to Saber that we would not allow any interviews conducted on campus regarding the formation of their organization.”

    “It shocked me (that they wouldn’t allow interviews in the museum). When somebody else is paying your bills, I guess you have got to toe the line.” said Michael Brown, a member of Families for Justice. “I’m sure media has come into the museum before. This issue is in the headlines and it’s not going away. We are glad that they showed enough fortitude to leave Saber’s work on the wall. There’s 557 names on that wall. People are being exposed to this problem.”

    Pamela Fields, mother of Donte Jordan, was hopeful that her son’s story could be told that day through the mural. The families had grouped together for support following the devastation and loss of their loved ones.

    “I felt alone, like nobody felt my pain,” Fields said. “I needed to be one-on-one with the mothers of those killed. In Long Beach, police brutality is our reality.”

    They want the police department to know that families have been affected. After her son was shot 10 times in the back, and twice more on the ground, she lost her job as a nurse and Fields found herself homeless for 19 months.

    During this citywide exhibit, 21 artists were invited to participate. The mural project is presented in collaboration with Thinkspace and Pow! Wow! Ron Nelson, museum director, described an effort to spotlight artists who are stepping out of their studios to paint on a grand scale using outdoor walls as their canvas, as well as urban artists who are beginning to work in a traditional studio setting.

    Muralists were not simply given access to the museum walls. As a result of this exhibit, murals cover walls all over the city. The stunning murals have added the desired aesthetic to downtown Long Beach. Street art has become more accepted by the general public due to its artistic recognition, and the high-profile status of Banksy and other graffiti artists. This has led street art to become tourist attractions in many cities.

    “Street art is very popular right now,” Saber said. “It is used as a vehicle for gentrification. It’s something that looks great on T-shirts and it looks great on Coca-Cola bottles. I’m happy that it has opened doors for the artists, but it has watered down our message. At the end of the day, this was never meant to be commodified. This was meant as a way to express ourselves on our own terms.”

    Saber was especially drawn to the tragic death of Hector Morejon, a 19-year-old, who was killed while tagging. Although Saber is an internationally recognized artist, he began as a tagger, leaving his marks on trash cans.

    “I felt an affinity to Hector because he was killed tagging,” he said. “I have had friends killed tagging. I talked to his family and he was not a gang member. He had no gang affiliations. He was a kid trying to fashionably fit into his environment.”

    The artist is concerned that, since this genre of art has achieved popularity, many have turned their backs on the roots of the work. Young taggers take inspiration from renowned artists such as Saber. Street art exists worldwide. Cities and towns throughout the world are home to street art communities, from which pioneering artists emerge. It is in every city now, but taggers are still being killed for misdemeanor infractions.

    “We’ve turned our backs on them,” the artist said. “It’s not cool to be them.”

    Saber considers it a victory that his mural remains on the wall of the museum. Although he is grateful that his art remains, he admits that during the weeklong installation, concessions were made. The artist was asked to change the color of Hector’s name from red to blue and was not allowed to add finishing touches that were meant to create a memorial at the foot of the mural. Most troubling, his artist’s statement was taken down off the wall. In the world of conceptual art, the artist’s statement serves to summarize the artist’s message. Random Lengths News has decided to print his statement in entirety for our readers. See “Too Many Names

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    Editors Note: the following artist’s statement was disallowed by Long Beach Museum of Art :

    In 2015 there have been 534 people killed by police in America and the year is not over. This is not a fully compiled list. These numbers are not unusual as every year hundreds of people’s lives are senselessly cut short due to the violent tactics implemented by these officers. Hundreds of millions of dollars are paid out to the victims’ families in civil suits at the expense of the taxpayers.

    To be fair, police have a difficult job. Most of the time their good deeds go unnoticed. This is a thankless job. In some cases the killing of another person is justified if it means another life is saved.

    Of course, it is easy to blame the bad apples within the police force but unfortunately the statistics speak for themselves. These numbers are so consistently overwhelming that the conclusion leads this discussion away from the individual officers to the bigger problems within the system and structure in which they are trained.

    If the tools given to these officers were more focused on de-escalation as opposed to “shoot first and ask questions later,” then thousands of lives could be saved as well as millions of taxpayer dollars.

    New body camera legislation is being put forth, which could help lead to more transparency, saving lives in the end as well as millions in taxpayer dollars. Billions of dollars worth of military equipment, as well as the failed “War On Drugs” campaign, has led to the police acting as an occupying force within our communities.

    The relationship between the police and the communities they serve are strained to a breaking point. Long Beach is no exception to this strain on the community. In the last couple of months, two young people have been tragically killed in violent circumstances due to these police tactics. Both of these kids were unarmed and posed no threat to the officers. If only restraint and tactics of de-escalation were implemented then maybe these young lives could have been saved.

    The mantra “To Protect and Serve” gives us the feeling that we could trust these officers in these difficult circumstances. But until the system is overhauled, this vicious cycle will continue and the body count will only grow.

    — Saber



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  • Arrest Made In Murder Case: RL NEWS Briefs Aug. 18, 2015

    Arrest Made In Murder Case

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 17, the Long Beach Police Department arrested 25-year-old Patrick Fereti Mose of Long Beach was arrested in connection with the Aug. 2 murder of Vaiola Vaipulu.

    LBPD officers were dispatched at about 7 p.m. Aug. 2, to a residence in the 6700 block of Olive Avenue regarding a natural death of a female adult. The woman was later identified as 60-year-old Vaiola Vaipulu of Long Beach.
    The Los Angeles County Coroner investigator responded and detected suspicious circumstances. Long Beach Homicide detectives also responded to initiate an investigation. Through their investigation, detectives discovered surveillance video linking a possible suspect vehicle to the case and, subsequently, to the identification of a suspect.
    Mose is being held in Long Beach City Jail on $1 million bail. He is scheduled to appear in Long Beach Superior Court for arraignment on Aug. 20.

    Hotel Workers File Class Action Lawsuit Against Long Beach Hotel for Wage Theft

    LONG BEACH —Workers employed by the Long Beach Westin Hotel have filed a class action lawsuit alleging that the hotel has subjected them to numerous wage and hour violations, including off-the-clock work, the denial of meal and rest breaks, and failure to reimburse them for work supplies.

    The hotel is operated by Noble-Interstate Management Group California and Interstate Hotels & Resorts, both named defendants, and is 95 percent owned by Utah Retirement Systems.

    The lawsuit, brought by the law firm of Alexander Krakow + Glick and the Law Offices of Kyle Todd, claims that the hotel’s housekeepers are not paid for work they perform off-the-clock.

    The lawsuit is the latest step taken by Long Beach hotel workers, the majority of whom are women, in a campaign to put an end to workplace abuse in the Long Beach hotel industry. In July, workers and community members held a march to Long Beach City Hall to call attention to housekeepers’ experiences of inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature by hotel customers, as well as other workplace concerns.

    The workers’ campaign is supported by Stand With Women Against Abuse, a coalition of women’s organizations, health professionals, clergy, and community leaders.

    The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information regarding the murder is urged to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    Transportation Technology Strategist Fellow Appointed

    LOS ANGELES — On Aug. 18, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the appointment of Ashley Z. Hand as the transportation technology strategist fellow at the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

    The fellowship is funded through a grant from the Goldhirsh Foundation.
    Most recently, Hand served as chief innovation officer in Kansas City, Mo. — the first woman in the nation’s history to serve as a municipal chief innovation officer. In that post, she developed Kansas City’s first-ever digital roadmap; established a public-private partnership to build a smart city network along a new streetcar starter line; and utilized data to deliver city services more efficiently. She previously served as an architectural designer and planner for the global firm AECOM, where she worked collaboratively across the public and private sectors to encourage clients to use sustainable best practices.
    As an architect, Hand’s commitment to green, durable, and environmentally-sound buildings has earned her the designation as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, with a specialty in Building Design and Construction. In 2014, she was recognized by the Central Exchange as a Rising Star in Technology, and by Next City Vanguard for urban leadership. Hand was selected in 2013 as the Kansas City Business Journal’s inaugural NextGen leader and was recognized in the previous year as Emerging Professional of the Year by American Institute of Architects-Kansas City.
    As the transportation technology strategist fellow, Hand will work closely with DOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds and Chief Technology Officer Peter Marx to position Los Angeles as a national model in sustainable, tech-enabled transportation and as a test bed for technologies that will change the future of transportation.
    In her new role, Hand will create a citywide transportation technology strategy to plan for the future of road safety, road use efficiency, traffic regulation, and traffic enforcement, and will be responsible for a policy plan to ensure a safe, mobile, sustainable future for Los Angeles. This strategy will also help LADOT meet the transportation goals outlined in the Mayor’s Sustainable City Plan.
    The fellowship is funded by a grant from the Goldhirsh Foundation and serves as part of Garcetti’s effort to build a tech-savvy transportation system that helps Angelenos navigate the city — including wi-fi equipped smart bus stops, ridesharing at LAX and creating a data-sharing partnership with the Waze app to help cut commute times.


    Career Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison

    LOS ANGELES – On Aug. 17, one of the principal cocaine traffickers associated with an international narcotics ring was sentenced this morning to 20 years in federal prison after law enforcement seized more than 170 pounds of cocaine and $1.5 million in drug-tainted cash linked to his narcotics-trafficking activities.

    Zaid Wakil, 43, of Winston Salem, N.C., was sentenced for his drug trafficking activities in which he acquired cocaine from Los Angeles-area traffickers with the intent to distribute the narcotics on the East Coast.

    In a sentencing memorandum filed with the court, federal prosecutors said that Wakil “participated in an extensive scheme to traffic in extraordinary quantities of cocaine.” They argued that Wakil “willfully pursued a criminal lifestyle” as reflected in his 20 prior criminal convictions over the course of more than two decades on charges that included drug trafficking, forgery and burglary.

    Following a jury trial in February at which Wakil represented himself, he was found guilty of participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy and three counts of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute. The three narcotics-possession counts were the result of three seizures between May and July of 2011 in which more than 170 pounds of cocaine was seized. Authorities in Arizona and seized nearly 70 pounds during two traffic stops, and investigators were able to intercept a 105-pound shipment that Wakil attempted to send to the East Coast via FedEx.

    The first cocaine seizure in this case came during a May 2011 traffic stop of Wakil’s car in Flagstaff, Ariz. by officers with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. After he was released from custody less than two months later, Wakil contacted his Los Angeles-based supplier and stated that he was “still moving,” despite the law enforcement seizures of his drugs and money. According to wiretapped phone calls played at his trial, Wakil told his supplier at that time: “Let’s make the profits bigger.”

    Wakil engaged in “sophisticated means to conceal his activities,” according to prosecutors, who noted that he operated a “shell business” in Santa Clarita – a purported trucking company that he used to conceal his cocaine shipments and to make his drug proceeds appear to be legitimate.

    In 2010 and 2011, law enforcement in the San Fernando Valley, Ohio and Maryland made three seizures of cash totaling more than $1.5 million from vehicles that Wakil was driving. “[O]n each occasion, a trained narcotics detection canine gave a positive alert on the seized money,” according to the government’s sentencing brief.

    Wakil was one of 22 defendants charged in June 2012 in two grand jury indictments with participating in a large-scale conspiracy to traffic cocaine. The conspiracy involved a drug-trafficking partnership between operatives in Mexico, Canada and the United States. Fourteen of the 22 defendants named in those indictments now have been convicted.

    Both of the Los Angeles-based leaders of the conspiracy – Ichiro Tomatani-Guzman and Eduardo Olivares – pleaded guilty and each received 10-year prison terms. The leader of the Canadian nexus of the conspiracy – John Darrell Krokos – pleaded guilty and received a 138-month prison sentence.

    Eight of the defendants charged in this case remain fugitives. They are:

    • Jesus Esteban Felix Leon, 43, of Culiacan, Mexico;
    • Jesus Felix Alvarez, 23, of Culiacan, Mexico;
    • a man known only as “96”;
    • Inocencio Aispuro-Lizarraga, 66, of Mexico;
    • Rigoberto Ortega-Guzman, 60, of Downey;
    • Fausto Medina, 42, of Lynwood;
    • Mauricio Leon-Torres, 41, of Los Angeles; and
    • Luis Cazarez-Beltran, 51, of Downey.

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  • Coyote Ugly: Don’t Kill the ‘Problem’ that We Created

    By Diana Lejins, Contributing Columnist

    Social media outlets roared with outrage, after an American dentist killed Cecil, an iconic lion in Zimbabwe.

    Walter Palmer paid $55,000 to guides, who lured Cecil out of his protective environment. This allowed the hunter to unlawfully trophy hunt and destroy this magnificent creature. On the whole, Americans understood the travesty of this egregious event.

    Ironically, thousands of miles away from Africa, in Long Beach, citizens have lured coyotes to their residential areas with food, water, unsupervised pets and the promise of more to come.  

    Now, because of a few isolated incidents, several groups of residents are up in arms and want to kill all of the coyotes. Extremely troublesome and alarming remarks have been made on Facebook and Nextdoor websites about people wanting to take matters into their own hands with crossbows, spear guns and electrical devices.

    To further put things into perspective, an estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 5,700 letter carriers were victims of dog attacks in 2014 across the United States. According to Long Beach Animal Care Services, about 500 dog bites were reported in 2014 citywide.  Nationwide, 42 fatalities were reported in 2014.

    And, according to USA Today, outdoor cats kill as many as 3.7 billion birds per year in the continental United States. Should people fearful of dog bites or those who are avian devotees have a right to demand that dogs and cats be “mitigated?”

    While there have been a few coyote snipes on pets (mostly unsupervised and outside), there have been zero attacks on humans and none on leashed pets in Long Beach. Experts in the field have explained that it is usually the scavenger coyotes, who are less canny and aggressive, that are trapped and killed. This leaves the more clever ones to propagate. Coyotes also provide invaluable services to the environment such as cleaning up “road kill,” preying on the over 1,500 species of harmful rodents (including gophers), and keeping other “pesky” wildlife and vermin in balance.

    District 5 Councilwoman Stacy Mungo originally catered to the trap-and-kill groups with a proposal to create a “mitigation committee” that would have led to trapping and euthanizing the coyotes. However, at the Aug. 11 Long Beach City Council meeting, she did a 180-degree turn and agendized a proposal allowing the city staff to follow-up with an organized, more humane management plan. Dozens of citizens lined up to speak to the issue, and about two-thirds were pro coyote. The council passed the item unanimously.

    Long Beach staff favors a more educational approach. The current plan includes educating the public about coexisting with coyotes, enforcing laws prohibiting feeding of wildlife and addressing public safety. This will be reviewed and adjusted to keep pace with any changing circumstances.

    Residents need to stop their “bad behaviors,” and adhere to measures recommended by California Department of Fish and Wildlife authorities. These include not making food and water available, keeping pets protected and out of harm’s way, and taking other measures that can be found on the Animal Care Services and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Department websites. It is important to note that hunting is illegal within Long Beach city limits.

    Mahatma Ghandi once said, “The greatness of a nation… can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

    We must heed these prophetic words. Otherwise, what makes us any different than the likes of Walter Palmer?

    Diana Lejins is a journalist and photographer focusing on civil rights, animal welfare, environmental and disability issues.  


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  • Wrong Way Driver Charged with Murder: RL NEWS Aug. 17, 2015

    Wrong Way Driver Charged with Murder

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 13, Alvin Ray Shaw Jr. was charged with charged with murder, driving under the influence of alcohol within 10 years of another DUI offense, driving with more than .08 percent blood alcohol and causing injury within 10 years of another DUI offense and driving with a suspended or revoked license.
    The 28-year-old’s blood concentration level was at least .15 percent.
    The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office stated Shaw, of Hawthorne, is suspected of driving 2012 Mercedes-Benz eastbound against traffic on the Gerald Desmond Bridge on Aug. 1. His actions are suspected of causing the death of one man and injuring another. Shaw collided with a 2014 Ford Fusion, driven by a 21-year-old San Pedro man, and a 2010 Nissan pickup truck driven by 30-year-old San Pedro resident Miguel Gonzalez. The Mercedes Benz and the Nissan truck caught on fire. Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene.
    Shaw remains hospitalized. An arraignment is pending his release. He faces a maximum of 18 years to life in state prison.

    LB North Patrol Cracks Down on Street Gang

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 12, the Long Beach Police Department North Patrol Division Directed Enforcement Team served six search warrants at the residences of North Side Longo Gang members who were wanted on various felony charges.
    These search warrants resulted in three (3) felony arrests:
    Name, Age, City of Residency, Charges
    Steve Orozco, 23, Long Beach, Parole Violation
    Gaviel Mayorga, 33, Long Beach, Possession of Stolen Property
    Clark Cooper, 31, Long Beach, Possession of Stolen Property
    About $35,000 worth of stolen property, believed to be associated with cargo truck thefts that have occurred within and outside of the City, and $4,300 in cash, believed to be related to a north Long Beach burglary, were recovered related to the search warrants and arrests of Mayorga and Cooper. Detectives are still investigating these cases and the origin of these recovered items.
    If anyone has information regarding the crimes listed above or about the North Side Longo Street Criminal Gang they are urged to call (562) 570-7370 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org

    POLA Containers Decrease in July

    SAN PEDRO — July 2015 containerized cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles decreased 2.5 percent compared to the same period this past year. The POLA handled a total of 699,127 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in July 2015. Current and historical data is available here.
    Imports decreased 3.5 percent, from 363,393 TEUs in July 2014 to 350,627 TEUs in July 2015. Exports declined 16.4 percent, from 163,294 TEUs in July 2014 to 136,402 TEUs in July 2015. Combined, total loaded imports and exports decreased 7.5 percent, from 526,688 TEUs in July 2014 to 487,029 TEUs in July 2015. Factoring in empties, which increased 11.2 percent, overall July 2015 volumes (699,127 TEUs) decreased 2.5 percent.
    For the first seven months of 2015, overall volumes (4,602,648 TEUs) are down 3.5 percent compared to the same period in 2014.
    Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles may be found at:www.portoflosangeles.org/maritime/stats.asp


    Long Beach Sets Cargo Record

    LONG BEACH — Cargo container volumes surged through the Port of Long Beach in July, with an 18.4 percent increase over the same month in 2014, making July a record month in the port’s 104-year history.
    Previously, POLA’s best year was 2007, just before the Great Recession of 2008. Now, after a slow start at the beginning of 2015, the gains in July mark the fourth time in the last five months that cargo totals have climbed significantly higher.
    The port’s terminals moved 690,244 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in July, an increase of 18.4 percent compared to July 2014. Imports jumped to 345,912 TEUs, a 16.2 percent increase from last July. Exports increased an impressive 15.9 percent to 143,875 TEUs despite the stronger U.S. dollar, which has made U.S. exports relatively expensive overseas.
    July makes the fourth time in five months that the port has seen import gains – July (18.4 percent), May (4.8 percent), April (7.3 percent), and March (42.1 percent) – an indication that the U.S. economy is growing, and the stronger dollar is giving retailers the confidence to order more products from overseas to stock their shelves for consumers. The National Retail Federation foresees at least 3 to 5 percent gains for the back-to-school and early holiday shopping seasons.
    Through the first seven months of 2015, Long Beach cargo numbers are edging higher, with total cargo up 2.8 percent compared to the same period last year, imports up 1.4 percent and exports down 10.9 percent.
    For all the latest monthly cargo numbers, click here.
    For more details on the cargo numbers, please visit www.polb.com/stats.

    Center Long Beach Announces Free STI Testing, Treatment Program

    LONG BEACH — The Center Long Beach announced that starting Aug. 18, the organization will expand services to include comprehensive testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. This pilot project will start by offering the free service two days a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will include screenings for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and hepatitis B and C.

    The STI testing program will enhance the current rapid HIV testing program that has been extremely successful, conducting more than 7,000 tests since 2010.

    The Center Long Beach will be collaborating with St. Mary’s Medical Center to provide a mobile testing clinic and medical staff during the pilot period that will last through the end of the year. During the pilot period, The Center staff will collect data and feedback from the community to develop a program that meets the needs of the LGBTQ community in Long Beach. Additionally, The Center Long Beach will be remodeling its health services space to accommodate additional STI testing services including an exam room, additional lab space and office space for new and current health services staff.

    Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting Aug. 18
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 434-4455; www.centerlb.org
    Venue: The Center Long Beach, 2017 E. 4th St., Long Beach

    MADE in Long Beach Seeks Crowdfunding for Food Market Expansion

    LONG BEACH — In celebration of seven successful months in business downtown on Pine Avenue, the 12,500 sq. ft. “MADE in Long Beach” retail destination is preparing to launch the second phase of their local business incubator: Market at MADE.

    Having established relationships with local farmers, food makers, bread bakers, beekeepers, and Long Beach Creamery to name a few, MADE will invest in an expansion to help native culinary businesses and brands thrive and mitigate the usual risk associated with small businesses who open storefronts. Among the requisite facilities and amenities are refrigeration units and display installations to provide for the marketing and distribution of local fare. Market at MADE will also create a location for meeting, mingling and experiencing the unique flavors of the city.
    Crowdfunding launched will run until Sept. 6, with a primary goal of raising $75,000.

    At every level of support, starting at $5, MADE will reward its contributors. There will also be opportunities for donors to “put their stamp” on the Market by personalizing seasonal menu items, events, and fixtures within the store. MADE will have limited opportunities for these high-profile opportunities and encourages First to Market contributors to get in early before those rewards sell out.
    Rewards for contributors come from some of the 100+ makers and merchants whose products are currently stocked at MADE, as well as partners such as Our Town Trolley and Renaissance Long Beach Hotel.

    Details: MadeLB.com


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