Estimados Padres y Madres de Back 2 School 2,

Dear Parents & Guardians of Back 2 School 2,

Who Is Your Neighborhood is a local organization of young professionals–many of whom grew up in the vicinity known as East Hollywood in Los Angeles–as well as fellow residents and other supporters, whose mission is to serve and support local families for the benefit and improvement of our community, which is a predominantly working class, immigrant community of renters and first-generation families.

At our first Back 2 School Party last August 2018, we provided a free day of art, food, music, poetry, and other programs for over 50 different guests from in and around East Hollywood; families walked away with artwork, prizes, new information about local resources, and most importantly: a stronger sense of community in their vicinity than when they first walked into our program.

This year, our goal is to provide a second Back 2 School Party with an even stronger program for guests to participate in. And this is the key goal: participation. In order for us to improve this critical service, the ultimate goal of which is to improve the quality of life for families in our community overall, the work requires continual and increased participation from others. We therefore hope that this day with Back 2 School 2 will encourage families to participate in future versions of this program.

As parents of the next generation of our community, you and your children hold the keys to our future. We therefore honor your valuable contributions to life in our city with this special day dedicated to you. In the days ahead, we can use your support to build even more for our community to grow and prosper from. Thank you for your time, and please enjoy a wonderful day with us in East Hollywood this Saturday, August 24th, 2019!

Your friend and fan,

Jimmy “Jimbo” Recinos,
Quien Es tu Vecindario

Advertisements

Okay, Let’s Review this Summer 2019

JMBTMS_WillyW055
Mid-City’s very own Willy West sporting the SkyBlue Los Cuentos; Summer 2019

For summer break this year, we created a list of goals for how to beat Summer 2019. We did this because it’s long been known by educators and other professionals that when summer hits cities like Los Angeles, it can be a challenging time for young people and their families in particular; summer’s heat-laden days and nights without any school in between breaks many of our rhythms, and can lead to issues at home if we lack the best guidance over how to fill the sudden free time. So, The L.A. Storyteller got active with a series of blogs for youth that anyone could do at home with a simple WiFi connection and a dab of motivation:

We called our list of tips How to Beat Summer 2019, Parts I, II, and III, and even threw in a FREE Black & White Los Cuentos Hoodie for students who wanted to go the extra mile with our tips, which ranged from reading & writing activities to exercise, and more! We then followed this list with 10 WAYS NOT TO BEAT Summer 2019, ’cause we know how much kids love to be told what not to do. And also how often it works. Right?!

Following this, we introduced students to our very own outline process for our blog’s schedule with How To Outline Your Summer 2019, in order for youth to try their own hands at planning the days and weeks’ activities. For the more adventurous, outdoorsy young people, we published Secret Agent: How to Discover Your Neighborhood in Los Angeles, which details how to use L.A.’s more popular destinations to think about planning the future of our own sides of the town.

This felt like enough tips for a while then, but suddenly from out of nowhere came the barrage of fireworks leading to the 4th of July. To let students know in case they weren’t having the best 4th of ’em all–that it would still be okay–we published 5 Tips for When 4th of July Sucks.

Then, because I knew that some students still hadn’t put down their Fornite to read about everything else they could do, I published three more blogs to close out the writing series. These blogs featured tips that I felt youth especially needed to read about regardless of what they were doing this summer, including tips on how to get along with the family, how to “stay” friends with the squad, and even how to best deal with relationships.

This made for a total of ten blogs all for young readers this Summer 2019, after which the season would never again slow down for yours truly. This was due to another adventure, which was also one of the challenges on our list I suggested that students try out for themselves: the creation of a podcast. In our first ever podcast together, known as J.T. The L.A. Storyteller Podcast, my friend Ed and I published two episodes to start off a series centered on yet another special project for us, which the whole world and their mom now knows is BTS 2.

Things to do would pick up thunderously with this special day, and in a flicker of time, it’s now been over two months since we first set our sights on making Summer 2019 something special; the event is now just a single week away!

I’m hopeful that by sharing about all these different projects and things to do, a handful of students and families out there learned about different creative strategies for the season that they may have missed otherwise. But I also know that no matter how much I might write, the summer for some students can still be filled with so much going on that even if they really meant to read our blogs, it was still one of those things they just couldn’t get to.

Indeed, it’s like this for many Youngs during the school-year as well, but as I like to tell these and other students during the busy and fast-paced school-year: it’s alright, because of course there’s still the next season to tackle, during which we can try everything we missed before and even more.

In fact, that’s what our 2nd Annual Back to School Party is all about: a culmination of all of our creative efforts this summer as much as it is an invitation to young people and their families to celebrate the possibilities with us. Because no matter how far a person might go or how much time they put in to create something new, there’s still always more to do.

So come on Los Angeles! Go and get your raffle tickets for Back 2 School 2! You and your fams may just be the biggest winners of them all.

J.T.

What a Ride, Los Angeles; Our Final Flyer for BTS 2 is Now Live

It’s going to be a show like no other that day in Los Angeles. I sure hope you’ve saved the date! August 24th, 2019 from 4 – 8 PM.

J.T.

Our 2nd Annual Back to School Party is about Fulfilling a Need, Lunging Forward

It’s exactly two weeks from now that on August 24th, 2019, just after 8:00 PM, a group of twenty-somethings and I will be concluding a special event known as the 2nd Annual Back to School Party at El Gran Burrito in Los Angeles.

It’s going to be a small gathering of people and families in the little vicinity of Los Angeles I call home, but one which will draw many eyes for days after it’s over for being a  demonstration of how to move and shake quickly for communities to educate and organize themselves. I’ve yet to fully come to terms with what the implications may be for my ole neighborhood afterwards, but perhaps I’m not supposed to. Perhaps I’m just supposed to believe, or keep believing, because that’s what so much of this has already been: just belief.

When I stop to think about why this is, however, or just how it is that we got here, how we got ‘so deep in’ to holding events like this for people–particularly youth and families–I have to pause.

My mind thinks back to Pasadena, and I remember the first and only Model United Nations High School conference that I put together at Pasadena City College for Pasadena’s high school students as the President of the Model UN club at the college. It was 2012, and I was 21 years old.

I remember being quite disturbed on the morning of the event, particularly by the stillness of everything, the way it seemed to be just a typical day. It was not. For me personally, the day of that High School Model UN conference was a day I had been waiting and planning for months ahead of time. It was another community gathering: a day when young people were to think critically about the world beyond them in a simulated meeting of nations.

Then, in perfectly ironic fashion, on the morning of the event, when there was supposed to be a microphone and speakers setup for my team and I at the college’s amphitheater, where we’d start our conference, there they were: missing in action, that is.

I had to scramble, and I made my way to the main office. I needed to call the whole world at the college, or whoever it needed to be, to let them know that in case they had forgotten, we’d made an agreement to set up this sound system for our conference to take place.

Finally, I was told by the folks at the main office that the equipment would be arriving. But then, my phone rang.

It was time to greet the students and everyone else who came to participate with a commencement speech. One of my fellow-team members asked if I’d prefer that he give the opening speech instead since we were running late due to the missing sound system.

But there was no chance on earth I would let someone else address the audience in my place. I was the president of the club. And I had spent so long planning this conference for the students that they had to wait. And I to run. So I sprang back across campus in my suit and bow-tie to make the opening speech.

I remember that it started to sprinkle, which made it so that I needed to be even quicker if I wanted to pull it off. In Los Angeles everyone is afraid of a little rain. In Pasadena, we were too.

I lunged forward. When finally I got to the amphitheater, I saw them. A whole swath of heads above shoulders huddled together, just waiting to see what would happen next. Three different high schools at Pasadena City College for the day.

How could a part of me not be afraid then; even if I had something to say, how could I know if they’d hear me?

But the rest of me, the one that would take over, was simply going to finish the job I set out to do.

As I stood before the audience then–all the conference’s high school participants as well as their teachers–looked at me, and I was ready to speak to every one of them; whether they were young or senior citizens, black or white, and regardless of where they came from, I was convinced in my heart that I had something meaningful to say to all.

And I addressed them as their host.

It would turn out to be a beautiful conference. The best High School Model UN conference in five years of being held at PCC.

As I recall that day, I’m nearly set on it as the first occasion or moment in which I showed true love for speaking to the world with some kind of speech.

But then, how can I forget the marches for Immigrant Rights in 2006, through the streets of Los Angeles?

In a world far removed from collegial Pasadena, I was 15 years old, standing at the intersection of Sunset boulevard and Highland avenue when a reporter from the local news approached a group of my peers and I with questions about why we were out of class that day, or why we had walked out. I remember my classmates calling out to me and finding me among the crowd. They wanted me to speak with the reporters.

I didn’t quite know how they all reasoned this out, but what I did know is that I wouldn’t refuse their request. Not with all the emotions on that day, which was the first of three days of marching through Los Angeles and cities all over America in solidarity with immigrants.

I answered the reporters’ questions then, only half-knowing what I was doing as I explained to the woman and her cameraman that marching for immigrant rights was about showing deep love for immigrant people and culture despite any legislation to the contrary–it was House Resolution 4437, or a bill set out to erase immigrants by way of extinction–that spurred us into action. When the reporter asked if I had any last words to say, I remember plucking, from somewhere out of the sky, the most energizing phrase I could recall at the moment:

“Que viva la raza!”

My classmates roared just after me, shouting out for themselves, but all at once in a unity that would reverberate with me always:

“Que viva la raza!” they said.

I wouldn’t even see the news clip until some seven years later. But it spoke. I was ready to speak up. I wanted to. My community at the time could see it. A lifetime later, I can see it now too.

Today, on the brink of the Second Annual Back to School Party in East Hollywood, I’m prepared to speak with whoever I can and must once again.

But I’ve already traveled far and wide for this event, raised my chin up high despite exhaustion from a world of other commitments, and stood tall to speak despite any air of hostility or indifference that could be thrown my way as another advocate haranguing leaders or their representatives to “do the right thing.” In any case, each time I’ve had the chance, I’ve advocated fiercely for my cause.

I’ve been brave, even when it wasn’t expected of me. And when no one asked it of me. But I’ve known for a long time I would have to be brave, just in case. My community taught me that. With BTS 2, I haven’t forgotten for one second. We will continue lunging forward.

J.T.

Our 2nd Annual Back to School Flyer is a Golden Ticket

But instead of tickets allowing entry to a chocolate factory, they unlock entry to an entire land of sweets and stories, to a world meant not to be spoiled alone, but which is made richer each time it’s shared in kind; to a little pueblo known affectionately as JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller.

Have you gotten your ticket yet?

J.T.

Donate to Our 2nd Annual Back to School Party this Summer 2019

Following the great success of this event in East Hollywood last year, it’s my pleasure to announce a 2nd Annual Back to School Party in our community! Back to School 2 (BTS 2) will feature more live art for youth, renter’s rights for parents, live music, raffle prizes for the kids + more workshops and resources. As with our first Party, your donation will support rental space, tacos for all, backpacks, a scooter & bicycle, helmets, printed photography, art supplies & more. Our event will once again bring different members of the community together, from new business owners to long-time residents, discussing how we can support one another for a “richer” and more inclusive neighborhood experience overall. Please click the button below to make your donation!



And to be sure, for any questions or concerns, our team is just a contact sheet away.

You can also make your donation through our Facebook Fundraiser.

J.T.

BONUS: Back to School 2018 RECAP

It’s my pleasure to share this special recap vid with my community, both in and beyond Los Angeles. Please check it out as time permits, and tell a friend! We’re going to as much support as we can get for BTS 2 in East Hollywood, taking place again at El Gran Burrito this upcoming Saturday, August 24th, 2019!

J.T.

5 Tips for When 4th of July Sucks

So it’s supposed to be the big day. The day that everybody goes outside and watches fireworks blazing across The City. It’s also supposed to be the day of the barbecue. From what you’ve seen and heard, the way it’s supposed to be is that your family is supposed to get together, and you’re all supposed to have lots of food over the grill and charcoal, some water balloons, maybe even a water gun or two, and the loudest, most rambunctious fireworks in the world.

But what if you don’t have any of that? Or what if you’re actually totally ‘over’ the 4th of July before the first grill is even lit?

When I was a Young in Los Angeles, 4th of July was more often than not a day when it seemed like everyone except my family and I could enjoy the time. There was never much money for fireworks, and ever since my brother and I were toddlers, mom had completely banned any water guns for us to play with. This left just water balloons, but then, there were only so many kids who still wanted to chuck water balloons at each other as teens; everyone was more interested in the crackle and spark of fireworks. This left my brother and I to mostly just watch as other kids got to light up their explosions.

But now, maybe because you’re luckier, I’ve got 5 tips for you to get through the 4th of July when it’s dragging that my bro and I would have appreciated when we were in your shoes!

1. Go outside because it’s fresher. Even if it’s just to go to the store to get some milk and cookies, that still counts as getting ‘outta the house. You’ll notice the slower pace of the city during a holiday like the 4th. In L.A., most of the roads tend to quiet down some, which relaxes the vibe of the whole place. And if you and your folks can hop on a bus or rail line to get out somewhere farther like the Santa Monica Pier or Elysian Park, the city will feel even more fresh for you to sift through. You need this!

2. Make your own cheeseburger. I’ve got a secret for you: with just a little over five dollars, you can purchase a pound of ground beef and a bag of burger buns. Throw some salt and seasoning on the beef, grill it easy on the oil, warm the buns, then add onions, lettuce, and a slice of tomato, avocado or whatever other ingredients your creativity calls for. Your burgers won’t taste like the kind you’re used to getting, but they’ll be better because they’ll be made by your own doing. Your own personal barbecue!

3. Take a nap. If you’re able to, try to take a short nap, preferably during daylight since the evening will be locked in explosive sounds at least until midnight. A nap also works well with Item 2 on our list, since both the beach and the park can serve as key locations to catch a few Zzzzs. You need this!

4. Start your podcast for the Jimbo Times Hoodie Challenge. Err, I mean, can you blame me for trying to motivate you into some action? Now’s as good a time as ever! At least to get started on the outline, for crying out loud! You realize you’re going to need a new hoodie after summer, right?!

5. Tell mom or dad you love them, then run like they’re zombies. Continue running. What I mean is, you need to take a jog! Why doesn’t anyone believe me on this? A light jog is good for your mind and body! It helps expel the pressure points, or the places where your body accumulates stress!

Now, is this a bulletproof list of stuff to help you get through the day? Nope. It’s just a start. Most importantly, what you have to know is this: if the day ends up dragging for you no matter what, you’re not alone. It happens. And quite a lot at that as you come to terms with reality. But in this case, you might as well give at least one of the items here a shot just to see if it helps. At day’s end, it’s still never too late to make the day count in your own way, and of course you can do it. Jimbo Times believes in you!

J.T.

How to Beat Summer 2019: Part III

Los Cuentos with J.T; Summer 2019

Alright, so you made it past How to Beat Summer 2019 Parts I & II and are now nearing the finish line. However, if you think the third and final part of this series will be easier because you’ve gotten through the first two lists, you’re in for a surprise.

1. START YOUR OWN BUSINESS OR ENTERPRISE. To some, this may sound “too far advanced,” but it can be done in so many ways that it’s actually much easier than it appears. You can start a band, or you can start a rap career. You can start painting, illustrating or photographing the world you live in, or you can start making delicious soup out of it; you can start on your path to becoming a motivational speaker, or you can start on your destiny as a fashion designer. But first, you need to start by getting organized, which is where your outline comes in. Depending on your choice, your outline will answer one of the following questions from this list:

I. What will your podcast talk about to make it unique?
II. How will your raps set you apart from the competition?
III. What will your paintings show about the importance of self-expression?
IV. What will your photo or drawing capture that the world needs to see?
V. What will the name of your soup kitchen be?
VI. What will your motivational speech sound like? Or, who will your ‘target audience’ be? (E.G. Youth, undocumented, queer communities, etc.)
VII. Who will your fashion design be for? (Same as above)

Your business can also be an idea from outside the list, but check with me first about it. No matter what the idea though, you’re going to need an outline explaining the mission of your business. For any questions on your outline, I’m just around the block.

2. RECORD YOUR FIRST PODCAST FOR YOUR BIZ. UPLOAD IT TO SOUNDCLOUD. HIT PUBLISH. Here, you’re not only going to create your own original content, but you’re also going to build a platform to showcase it like a pro. But wait, I can hear the doubts trickling in already: What are you going to record? Or, what if you record, but people think your podcast is silly? Or what if no one stops by to listen? These are the kinds of questions that many creators ask before starting something new, but the fact is that such questions just get in your way; they’re based on fear, not reality, and this is because we all have the ability to be creative in our unique way that others can learn from. Moreover, what you should really be concerned about is how if you’re not taking advantage of how quickly you can make your own podcast in 2019, that’s a way bigger loss than someone thinking your recordings are silly. And. Here’s. The. Best. Part:

This Summer 2019, if you’re up for this challenge on our list, I will show you how to make your own podcast. Wait, did someone say challenge? Like our Hat Challenge, or our New Hoodie Challenge? Yes, indeed, Youngs!

3. COMPLETE BOTH ITEMS ON THIS LIST TO WIN THE FIRST EVER BLACK & WHITE HOODIE BY J.T. That’s right. If you choose to start your rap career this Summer 2019, you’re not only going to write and record your verse, but you’re going to record your own podcast telling people more about your rap. The first step to building your podcast will be an outline. If you choose to start a soup kitchen, you’ll record a podcast describing your kitchen’s menu with details like how I’ve done with these posts.

To make things more interesting, you’ll also be choosing a pseudonym, or a mysterious online name specifically for this project, which in actuality is how a lot of the internet used to be, since a lot us were shy about our work when we were just starting out! Complete these steps, and I assure you that you’ll be the first student to ever WIN the First Black & White Hoodie by Jimbo Times.

SO, are you entering the challenge? Then get a MOVE ON! For all yours questions, try the new contact form to reach me. I can’t wait to see all your ideas!

J.T.