South L.A.-ify Your Weekend

Participants in the 5-mile walk & skateboard ride at the City Lites Inner City Sports Festival and Health Fair. Photo courtesy of Mark Johnson.

If you’re looking for things to do this Memorial Day Weekend that do not involve driving, you’re in luck.

Critical Minimum: A South L.A. Night Ride
Friday night, join the East Side Riders on their Friday Night Ride. It’s fun. Trust me. You want to try it. Read about my experience with the ESR on last week’s ride from Watts to Long Beach here.

Participate in Launching an Urban Farm on South Vermont
If you’ve got time Friday afternoon (from 2:00 P.M. to 3:30 P.M.) before the night ride, learn about a new Urban Farm space being created near Community Build and help Community Services Unlimited (CSU) spread the word about it in the S. Vermont neighborhood.

Or, stop by the site Saturday morning from 9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. and join CSU apprentices and volunteers as they work with Community Build to create the new farm space in between a skate park and the Community Build offices.

Please RSVP if you plan to attend either event. For the Saturday event, bring water to drink, dress appropriately, and be prepared to work hard. CSU will bring fruit to share.

Where: 8730 South Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles 90044

Join City Lites to Celebrate Unity and Health in South L.A.
City Lites Network, Inc. is an organization that works to “promote quality health, nutrition and physical fitness awareness to all youth, and adults with emphasis on those physically challenged and /or dealing with obesity related problems,” according to their Web site.

It was launched by Mark Johnson, a South L.A. native who ran its streets as a kid, often doing decidedly unhealthy things. Seeing firsthand the damage done to the community by drugs, gangs, and a lack of awareness about health, he decided to use the skill set he built in the streets to make a positive contribution to the area. Now in its 9th year, the Inner City Sports Festival and Health Fair run by his organization, City Lites, showcases health while promoting the larger underlying goal of unity. The 5-mile walks/skateboard rides/bike rides starting out from different sites around the area and linking up at the event locale around the festival’s kick-off time Saturday at 9:00 A.M. are intended to help embody the message of unity.

For those who didn’t get enough riding in the night before and would like to tour South L.A., City Lites is also sponsoring a 23-mile bike ride that leaves from Jesse Owens Park on 96th and Western Ave. The Schwinn Masters (based out of Compton), Real Rydaz, East Side Riders, and newly formed YO Watts Rydaz will serve as your guides and riding companions. Registration is free and begins that morning at 7:30.

Once you’ve finished your ride, stick around the event for the health screenings, food, and entertainment. You can even get your Zumba on for free at 10:30 AM. The event runs from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. at Jesse Owens Park.

Art + Walking = A relaxing Sunday
The Leimert Park Artwalk is the last Sunday of every month, from 2:00 P.M. til early evening. Enjoy drumming, art, performances, and community in the heart of this historic and vibrant neighborhood.


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