Random Letters — 12-19-19

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A Successful Thanksgiving

Thank you for your support. Our thanksgiving community lunch was awesome, thanks to you, Random Lengths, we fed over 150 people. The flyer in your paper brought the community out!

Lawanda Hawkins, Justice for Murdered Children, San Pedro

Seven Years in Pedro

When I moved to Pedro in 2013 I had a practical reason and a sentimental reason. The practical reason is that I work at LAX and the crawl through the Sepulveda Pass from Sherman Oaks five days a week was making me age before my years. The sentimental reason was that my mentor from El Camino College had moved here from Boston and never looked back. That rubbed off on me. She spent over 25 years in the same apartment building over by White Point before she fell asleep one night in her favorite chair and let go of this world and the Parkinsons that was causing her body to fail.

I treasured her friendship for 20 years. She loved the breeze, the pelicans and the small town sense of community. When I wanted to move I decided that of all the places between here and the Valley, no matter how pretty or even uber-trendy they seemed to be, they didn’t feel right. I love going to the boutiquey restaurants or strolling the Promenade but when I come home, ‘San Pedro’ is where I want to be.

My first apartment was over by what is now Crafted and BW and I had a roommate who was usually gone on business. There was something very special about keeping my windows open so I could hear the buoys, Taps at 9 p.m. and foghorns from the channel. I would walk over to the Alhambra in the afternoons and see older veterans order a whiskey and a beer.

Their hats tell a story of where they’ve been and those stories were important to me, especially the ones identifying the Korean War, which is where my dad went at 18 years of age. He got the Purple Heart within a year of service but it changed how he saw the world and I can’t know how much because I’ve never been a soldier. These men I didn’t know reminded me of him.

The first time I went in there I’ll never forget how comfortable I felt, like I was stepping into some vintage movie. A cheerful woman with auburn hair sat at the bar, selling Avon, accompanied by her cat, Handsome. The bartender was friendly but definitely in charge. Even though I’ve learned this is not considered the best part of town, I never felt unsafe. I come from a very small town in Washington State that still has no airport, no train station, Greyhound comes three times a week and moose cross the road, so this scene is familiar to me. Unpretentious. Genuine. Real.

I’ve been in Pedro almost seven years now and in many parts of Los Angeles that sounds like a long time if someone isn’t a native. In Pedro, people are proud of this town and that their roots are here. The kids go to the same schools as their parents and even grandparents did … third generation Croatian, Sicilian, Mexican, Greek and others I’m sure I just don’t know yet.

My hairstylist told me her son has the same first grade teacher she had. Who says that anywhere else in L.A.? While much of SoCal strives to remain progressive and embrace change — which is not always bad but is sadly sometimes to a community’s disadvantage — it only focuses on looking forward.

For me Pedro helps me keep in mind where we’ve been. It keeps me honest. Pedro really is like an anchor for me while sometimes the rest of LA feels like a wave.

Pedro is quirky, unique and wonderful, but it is not Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice or Long Beach. I feel so fortunate that we have new places downtown like Sebastian’s and La Buvette to enjoy a good meal or glass of wine with friends, but I also love places like The Whale & Ale and Niko’s, especially if a game is on.

I know that change is coming and change always has to come, one way or another. I guess it’s like the rolling tide — it’ll come whether you want it to or not. You can either fight it or learn to ride it, but at least you still get to pick the board.

Cassandra Heredia, San Pedro

Dear Cassandra Heredia,

I’ll only suggest that the concept that “change is inevitable” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is either progress or good.

James Preston Allen, Publisher

Trump’s Gaslighting

In your most recent editorial, you continue to bemoan Trump for his positions and erratic attitudes, including the reactions by most people while citing the current manipulating efforts by him as “gaslighting,” a term otherwise manufactured by a professional “spinner.” If the truth were recognized, however, one would notice that the symptom is not “Gaslighting” but a genuine belief that a massive manipulation has been going on from both sides of the political spectrum and by Congress, as well as the other two branches of government.

What is fascinating about this new reality is that both progressives, as well as globalists, have joined forces with each other while spouting out divisive pap intended to make their decades-long destruction of America, through outsourcing our economy, turning vast tracts of the country into veritable rust belts and pauperizing the people and all of this occurring with the connivance of several administrations and active criminal participation of Congress, [which] instead of representing America and the American people, continue representing globalists and spurious interests that have nothing to do with the “National Interest.” Ironically, they have now decided to impeach the executive but failing to institute an impeachment process on themselves!

By their distorted definition, “National Interest” is now the interest of globalists. Sadly, all [of this] happening with the supine approval of the media! And perpetrating, in the process, the biggest scam on the American people to financially support and fund a monstrous Military Industrial Complex, inimical to the best interests of America.

Roger D’Altavilla, San Pedro

Dear Mr. D’Altavilla,

The very convoluted picture of the “new reality” you paint shows that you too have been gaslighted– not that you are wrong about the military industrial complex, or the globalist offshoring of jobs but in how you get it mixed up with who to blame. Clearly you believe that Trump is attempting to go back to some golden era of American dominance, yet you can trace the long slide of decline in the rust belt and elsewhere in America’s heartland to the same kind of trickle-down economics that are now being promoted as saving us.

Reaganomics, Clinton’s neo-liberal NAFTA and Bush II’s tax cuts have brought us nothing but a decline in middle class standard of living, ever larger Wall Street profits, off-shoring manufacturing and tax breaks for the wealthy. Trump talks populist rhetoric to stir up his base but he is nothing more than elitist bully who is only loyal to those who give him money and his own exaggerated self reflection.

James Preston Allen, Publisher

LA Maritime Institute’s Mission

It is easy to be distracted by all that is before us in our communities: homelessness, hyper-partisanship, the future of work, trade wars, immigration, energy sources, plastics in the ocean, social justice, climate change, citizenship, and the list goes on.

For us, our mission is clear, the better we prepare our youth, regardless of their circumstances, the better they will be able to successfully navigate all of the issues confronting us as a society.

Our programs are designed and delivered by our passionate, driven, and inspiring crew to increase young peoples’ self-reliance and self-confidence, develop their leadership and communication skills, awaken their connection to the environment, and prepare them with Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) foundational instruction. These are core competencies necessary for our youth and our society to be more resilient to the unpredictable times ahead.

For the last six years, LAMI has seen sequential growth in the number of student sailing days and is now well over 7,000 per year. But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to meeting the positive development needs of the youth in our underserved communities. To do our part, LAMI is expanding our transformative programs and aims to more than double our services to young people — committing in our five-year strategic plan to increase the number of annual student sailing days to over 15,000 by 2023. To achieve this ambitious goal, LAMI is growing its capacity, including the number of educational tall ships in our fleet. After two and a half years of restoration, the three-masted schooner American Pride received her USCG Certificate of Inspection, COI, and became operational on March 11, 2019. We have quickly ramped up her services to students since. LAMI has also made exceptional progress in the reconstruction of the organization’s original educational tall ship, the Swift of Ipswich, with the launch of the vessel on Dec. 6, 2019. We anticipate her returning to service before the end of next year.

One life lesson learned onboard a sailboat is that the path from point A to point B is seldom a straight line—it requires course corrections due to encounters with changing winds, unfavorable seas, and unexpected hazards. This experience is not unique to sailing at sea — we all adjust to unforeseen circumstances as we navigate toward our goals. As a nonprofit organization, LAMI is particularly sensitive to the adjustments our supporters need to make due to their situations, whether it is government rollbacks or funding priority shifts for foundations.

As a seasoned sailor sets their eye on the horizon, LAMI remains steadfast in our mission and our commitment to our youth. We are prepared to respond to these changing conditions with agility, innovation, and care. It is from our commitment to grow our capacity to meet the critical needs of young people that our appeal to you, our supporters, takes on particular importance this year.

We take significant pride in the positive impact LAMI is having and are keenly aware of the ever-increasing challenges life presents to our young people. LAMI is motivated by a passionate disquiet to do more. We hope you will join us to celebrate our accomplishments and also help us continue to empower our youth and prepare them for the future with a generous donation during our annual appeal.

Bruce Heyman, Los Angeles Maritime Institute, San Pedro