Art, Food Justice, and Bike Rides Make South L.A. the Place to be this Weekend

One of the really fun things about tracking South L.A. as intimately as I have over the past couple of years is seeing how the area is transforming itself, both as a site of innovation in community organizing and as a destination for arts and fun. This weekend’s events offer a perfect example of what I mean.

Community Coalition hosts the first annual South L.A. artwalk in Westmont this weekend.

OK, well maybe not today’s event, which is a webcast of a Center for Science and Democracy discussion on the state of the science around hydraulic fracturing and the state and federal policy landscape. It doesn’t exactly scream “fun” and “exciting.” But, it may offer you the information you need to help you think about your stance on fracking in the Inglewood Oil Field, otherwise known as our own backyard. For more information on the conference and webcast, please click here starting at 2 p.m.

Also decidedly less “fun” and “exciting” but no less valuable is the Quarterly Meeting of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project Community Leadership Council (CLC) tonight, Thursday July 25th, from 6 – 8 p.m. at the First Church of God at 9550 Crenshaw Blvd. in Inglewood. They will be discussing Metro updates on the Design-Build Contract Award, Project Labor Agreement/Construction Careers Policy, Construction Relations, and reports from both the Business Sustainability During Construction and Economic Development Project-Oriented Discussions. CLC Quarterly Meetings are open to the public.

The rest of the weekend will be fun, though, I promise. Two artwalks? Two bike rides? A food justice extravaganza? And one of the most important jazz festivals in the country? It’s all here and it’s all FREE.

CENTRAL AVENUE JAZZ FESTIVAL
This Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28, join jazz lovers in the Vernon-Central neighborhood of South Los Angeles for the 18th Annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival. Not only is it FREE, it celebrates the rich cultural history of Central Avenue.

For those not in the know, the Dunbar was the place where many of the African-American musical greats and other notable personalities stayed and played when in town in the early part of the last century. Although segregation kept them from being able to find lodging in other hotels around the city where they were welcome as entertainers, the vibrancy of the community they created at the Dunbar eventually drew whites to Central Ave. When segregation ended, the need for such a place did, too, and the hotel fell into disrepair. The recent renovation of the site and its conversion into residences has returned some of the physical glory of the site to the area. The event kicks off at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, on Central Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd streets. Check here for more information and the musical line-up.

The good folks at Community Coalition have pulled together the first annual South L.A. ArtWalk, slated for this Saturday, July 27, from 1 – 5 p.m., in the historic community of Westmont. Residents and families are invited to enjoy live music, eats from a variety of food trucks, and more than 50 booths showcasing fine art, jewelry, clothing, posters, and urban art. The event will also offer resources for those that might need legal advice on immigration status, help expunging criminal records, or free health screenings. The artwalk will be held at 108th St and S. Denker Ave. (next to Washington Prep High School). For a preview video of the art and performers, click here. For more information, please click here.

ROOTED IN COMMUNITY

Rooted in Community Flier

All this week, hundreds of youth advocates from disenfranchised communities will be convening in South Los Angeles for the 15th annual Rooted in Community Youth Leadership Summit to focus on food justice. Hosted by South LA’s own Community Services Unlimited (CSU), the theme of this year’s summit is “Reclaiming Our Land, Reclaiming Our Roots.” The event will feature youth-led workshops, field trips across the city, direct policy actions, creative artistic productions, great food, and much more. Participants and mentors will cultivate skills and share strategies geared towards creating sustainable leadership opportunities and green jobs for youth in the economy of the near future. While most of their (awesome) activities (i.e. field trips, cooking demos, youth-led workshops) are limited to the youth participants, public “Day of Action” activities will be held at Mercado La Paloma on of Saturday, July 27. At the press conference, beginning at 4:15 p.m., participating youth will advocate for actionable policy changes they hope will ensure equitable access to agricultural land. Afterwards, participants are invited to enjoy live music, theater, and spoken word performances. For more information, check out youthfoodbillofrights.com.

SUNDAY — Bike Rides and More Art
Next month GOOD LA will be helping lead a Watts Ride and Reinvention that will focus on rediscovering and celebrating Watts, while thinking about the future of its underutilized spaces. But there is no reason that you need to wait til next month to get to know the community. Los Ryderz and the East Side Riders — the groups that will be serving as ambassadors and road captains on that tour — are hosting a tour of Watts this Sunday. The riders will meet up at 9 a.m. at Augustus Hawkins Park at Slauson and Compton, before leaving on a tour of Watts and Florence-Firestone that includes a pit-stop at the Watts Towers and other area sites of interest. Get a feel for the area before considering its reinvention. For more information, go here.

Also riding Sunday, as they do every last Sunday of the month, are the Black Kids on Bikes. The FREEDOM RIDE will launch from Pico and Fairfax this month. The group meets around noon and rolls out around 1 p.m. For more information, check out their group page.

Finally, you are invited to check out the Leimert Park Artwalk this Sunday, starting at 2 p.m. The event, always the last Sunday of the month, plays host to a number of local artists, food vendors, vendors of incense and homemade body oils, jewelry makers, and performances from spoken word artists and musicians. It all goes down in an open park space at 43rd Place and Leimert Park Blvd. against the backdrop of beats generated by a powerful drum circle. Come to sate your curiosity about the area; stay for the community and feeling of family.