Visit a New Grocery Stand, Help Build Bikes for Kids, Participate in a Vacant Lots Project, or Help Recode L.A.

Members of Community Coalition and the LA Conservation Corps clean up the alley and parking lot where they will hold their new produce stand. (photo: Community Coalition, click photo to visit page)

There are several things afoot in South L.A. this weekend that will essentially cover the four food groups of livability: fresh food stands, bicycle building (and donating), recoding the city’s outdated zoning codes (OK, that’s a stretch), and vacant lot identification. The best thing? They’re spaced out well enough that you can check out all four events if you plan right.

FRESH FOOD FRIDAYS!

One of the things I love and admire about Community Coalition (CoCo) is that they don’t just complain about an issue, they actually contribute to finding solutions.

Their targeting of liquor stores as nuisances in South L.A. prior to the riots and continued campaigning afterwards prevented the rebuilding of 150 such shops that had been burned to the ground during the unrest. Concern over the school-to-prison pipeline fed by suspensions of young men of color for “willful defiance” led to two years of campaigning with youth both to see such suspensions banned and to champion restorative justice techniques that would help teacher and students work together in restoring harmony in the classroom over the long-term.

A few weeks ago, they led a protest outside a South L.A. Ralph’s grocery that closed up shop suddenly after years of being a bad neighbor. But even as they were throwing rotten tomatoes at a mock Ralph’s target, they were working behind the scenes to set up their own produce stand.

That stand — created with the help of some of my favorite healthy food freedom fighters, Community Services Unlimited — will be open Friday, July 12, from 3-6 p.m. at 3894 S. Western Avenue.

The site of the new “Fresh Fridays” stand is the parking lot of the Century Market, a liquor store that, only a few years ago, CoCo and the community targeted as being a public nuisance. In an effort to be a better neighbor, store owners have been working to stay in compliance with city ordinances as well as community standards, and have agreed to play host to the new produce stand every Friday.

Stop by for the grand opening to get free samples, see cooking demonstrations, and access some of the best organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables available in South L.A.

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BUILD A BIKE, MAKE A KID SMILE

On Saturday, July 13, grab a wrench and head over to the Lower Olympic Forest at Kenneth Hahn State Park to celebrate Christmas in July.

Why a wrench?

Because the East Side Riders have been asked by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell’s office to put together 150 bikes that will be given away to kids in need, and they need your help!

The event will be the Assemblywoman’s third such summer Christmas extravaganza celebrating literacy and health, and boasts a Fun and Fit Zone, a Health Zone, an Environment Zone, a Reading Zone, and a visit from Santa Claus.

Although the event doesn’t kick off until about 11 a.m., the East Side Riders would like to have the bikes assembled before they are handed to the kids. Thus, if you think you can help out, they’ll need you to get there early — perhaps as early as 7:30 a.m. Check their website for more details or contact president John Jones III directly, at eastsidebikes(at)gmail.com.

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RE:CODE L.A.

If you finish wrenching early, head up the street and stop by the West Los Angeles Listening Session between 10 a.m. and noon to add your thoughts to the mix on how to recode L.A.

What does that mean?

According to re:code L.A.’s website, “the Los Angeles City Planning Department is embarking on one of the City’s largest planning initiatives to date: [the] re:cod[ing of] LA, a comprehensive revision of LA’s outdated zoning code. First adopted in 1946, the current Code has grown from a simple, 84-page pamphlet to an unwieldy, 600+ page book that inadequately realizes a 21st Century vision of a better Los Angeles for all residents.”

They want your help in revisiting the codes and setting the tone for the Dynamic Web-Based Zoning Code, Guide to Zoning, and Unifiied Downtown Development Code that they hope to create over the next 5 years. Saturday’s listening session will be held at the Henry Medina Parking Enforcement Facility at 11214 W. Exposition Boulevard. For more details, please click here.

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UNEARTH ABANDONED GREEN SPACE

Are you outraged by the juxtaposition of a shortage of parks and an over-abundance of vacant land in this city?

If you are a sentient human, you probably are.

So are Community Health Councils and the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, two of several partner organizations that recently won an LA2050 grant for their L.A. Open Acres proposal to catalog parcels of abandoned and under-utilized land in L.A. They are also working on a second open space project — Transforming Inner-City Lost Lots — which will (hopefully) help transform some of the cataloged lots into actual usable green space for communities.

Through these two efforts, and with partners C-Lab and 596 Acres, they hope to “unlock the potential for new community-serving green space in neighborhoods impacted by vacant, blighted, and otherwise abandoned land.”

They are in the early stages of the process and will be holding a vacant lot summit at Mercado La Paloma next Tuesday, July 16th, from 6:15 to 8 p.m. to gather feedback and ideas from community stakeholders. If you’d like to participate, please RSVP to sondrina(at)chc-inc.org to reserve a spot. Dinner and refreshments will be provided.