Sit-in CSU Fullerton aimed at raising awareness about budget cuts

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image Sleeping bags and boxes of food lined the halls of the administration building at CSU Fullerton on Thursday. However, students weren’t preparing for the outdoors. They were protesting budget cuts and tuition hikes to raise awareness for the issue.

“It’s kind of uncomfortable at times,” said David Inga, a fourth-year history major at CSU Fullerton. “I mean, it can get kind of cold in here. Not really being able to shower. But I mean for the most part, I think everybody has helped each other to make it as comfortable as possible and as relaxed as possible.”

Inga was also one of the dozens of students who started the protest after President Milton Gordon refused to sign a statement the students called a “Declaration to Defend Public Education.”

Last night, six Cal State University campuses joined the sit-in to support the efforts of the Fullerton students.

“So, last night it was so crazy,” said Jaimee Dee, a CSU Fullerton student who stayed over night. “I’ve never seen so many students on this level before. There were students sleeping all the way through the back corridor and around through the lobby area — just sleeping bags and just trying to walk back form the bathroom, you had to be careful not to step on everyone.”

However, university officials said they aren’t the ones in charge of the slashed budgets. Christopher Bugbee, a CSU Fullerton spokesperson, says that students should be standing up to Sacramento instead.

“The issue does not lie on the campuses of California’s public educational institutions,” Bugbee said. “But it in fact lies in Sacramento, with the inability of the state legislature to address this issue.”

Just last fall, tuition was raised 15 percent to reduce the budget gap. And students are worried that Cal State Universities will face another budget short fall — that is, if the legislature passes Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed $500 million CSU budget cut.

City officials hold press conference on assault at Dodger Stadium

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The Giants fan who was attacked by two unidentified men on the Dodgers’ opening day remains in a medically induced coma.

City officials said they wanted the suspects responsible to own up. Councilmen Ed Reyes, whose district includes Dodger Stadium, had a stern message for the attackers.

“[To the] cowards who did this, I know you’re listening,” Reyes said. “I know you’re out there. You have to know that we will find you. We will track you down. You’re better off turning yourself in.”

The victim, Bryan Stow, suffered major head injuries. Doctors said he will likely have brain damage. His family was at the press conference, but they didn’t speak. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa offered his sympathies to them.

“I can safely say, on behalf of virtually every single resident, and there are almost 4 million of them here in the city of Los Angeles, that we can say to the Stow family that our hearts and prayers are with you and your family in this very difficult time,” he said.

imageVillaraigosa also spoke on behalf of the family who told him they know the attack doesn’t reflect the Dodger spirit. However, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said things will be changing at Dodger games.

“There’s a homestand next week,” Beck said. “If you go to that homestand, you’re going to see a sea of blue, and it’s not going to be Dodger Blue. It’s going to be LAPD blue. Public safety in this city is my responsibility, and I will make sure I expend whatever resource necessary to keep fans safe at Dodger Stadium.”

LAPD said they believe at least 100 people witnessed the assault. Currently, the reward stands at $100,000 for the suspects. Officials encourage those with information to call 1-877-LAPD.

South LA garden helps community “grow” in many ways

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The community garden on Raymond Avenue in West Adams has been around for three years, providing space for community residents to grow fresh produce for just $3 per plot.

image In the spring sunshine, lush greenery coats the garden. This season, vegetables can be found throughout the space, including artichokes, lemon grass and lettuce. Along the wood chip path, a cage of bunnies and compost stations can also be found. But the garden hasn’t always looked this way.

“I think prior to my living here, it was kind of a gang hangout, and there was a building that burnt down 20 years ago, and apparently that kind of sat around for a while,” said Julie Burleigh, who originally came up with the idea for the garden. “It was just a big junky lot, lots of weeds, and people would dump stuff, and you know, people would let their dogs run around, and it was just kind of an eyesore in the neighborhood.”

Burleigh was tired of viewing the empty lot and decided to turn it into something for the entire neighborhood to enjoy.

“So I said, ‘Why doesn’t someone start a community garden?’ You know, that would be a good idea,” Burleigh said. “And had a desire to connect with people in the community and I really wanted to grow food. I got really into gardening after moving here.”

What began as an idea has grown into a reality. Now, the garden provides a place to grow for 30 families in the community. But getting a plot is competitive. Since its opening, the garden has always had a waiting list.

“People want to grow their food,” Burleigh said. “It’s a pretty tempting thing to want to do when you see it being done, like right in your neighborhood. You’re like, ‘How can I get a piece of that?'”

Being able to grow her own food was one of the reasons why Ashley Miller, a Raymond Avenue resident, first jumped on the opportunity of having a community garden.

“Knowing what you put in your own vegetables and you didn’t use no pesticides and anything like that,” Miller said. “Growing it all natural, really was like, ‘Oh, maybe that’d be a good idea instead of getting it from the store.’ That’s what baited me in.”

Despite its popularity, the garden has had its struggles. In particular, the garden has been watered down with a lack of volunteers and limited financial support.

“It can be hard,” Burleigh said. “It’s like managing your own non-profit.”

However, the garden’s influence continues to thrive in the community.

“People watch out for each other, I think, a little bit more,” Burleigh said. “And it’s like, obvious its cared for. So I think that affects everyone’s feeling of like, ‘Oh, this is a good place.’ And I think the garden helps spread the love a little bit.”

And that aspect is key to the garden’s success, which is why community gardens are sprouting up throughout Los Angeles.

Photos courtesy of Full Moon Pickles blog

Local organization continues its search for the next entrepreneur star

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image Three small business hopefuls faced the last round in a competition Thursday to jump-start their businesses. The Los Angeles Urban League and Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza have teamed up to give away a six-month kiosk lease to the winner.

Blair Taylor is the president of Los Angeles Urban League. He judged the contestants.

“I’m really looking for entrepreneurs who’ve done their homework and understand a little about the market – a little bit about the dynamics of the market – and are thinking for the long term about how their business might survive over multiple years opposed to just the immediate launch,” Taylor said.

Think of the contest like American Idol, but without the reality television. It’s fierce, but Barbara Lawson, who is selling hand-painted glassware in the competition, said all the contestants have developed a bond.

“It’s really not about necessarily who wins because obviously for the top three to get there they have a viable product, a viable business, and everyone is going to do great,” Lawson said.

Ronald Jackson, another contestant, has hand crafted jewelry for 17 years. He hopes this will be his ticket to success.

“It’s been interesting, and it’s harder when you see so many people with so many great ideas,” Jackson said. “So it’s been challenging because they’re cool people, but at the same time, I have to keep my focus on me.”

They’ve all come a long way. Originally, 60 people signed up for the opportunity. Today, just three remain. The winner will be announced at a dinner held in early April.

Local theater makes a comeback

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imageThe Vision Theatre was once a booming movie palace and Judy Pace remembers it well.

“It is such a pleasure to be in my own community,” Pace said. “Standing here, in my own theater. And I am one who will admit as a kid, I came to the movies here. When Leimert Park still had a covenant where you could not buy a house in Leimert Park.”

Pace and other celebrities joined Councilman Bernard Parks at the theater to announce that the city is funding a project that will restore and renovate the eighty year old building.

“This theater, in my judgment, will become the economic engine for Leimert Park Village,” Parks said. “We believe it will have everything from a grade-school graduation to live performances to plays, to ninety-nine seat theaters. A variety of things that will bring people to the Vision several hundred times a year.”

The project will also include a Junior Arts Center that will provide programs for local children.

“I am so looking forward to all of the wonderful productions that will be held here, and all of the young people who will be trained here,” Pace said. “And all of you who will come and buy tickets here.”

In fact, ticket sales used to thrive at the Vision Theatre until the 1990s, when business declined because of the Los Angeles riots and an economic recession.

Actress Marla Gibbs owned the theater at the time, but could no longer make the payments. She was at Thursday’s announcement to celebrate the theater’s revival.

“I’m sorry we’re losing the classic lines of this old building, but time does march on and buildings do start to crumble,” she said. “So I’m glad we’re doing it before it does start to crumble.”

The project is expected to cost nearly $22 million dollars and will consist of four phases. Phase one of the project will begin in the next few weeks and is expected to take 12 months to complete. And if funding comes through for all of these phases, the city hopes to finish the project in three years.