Please Save the Date: Samanta Helou-Hernandez & J.T. Return Thursday, April 29th for Grand Park’s L.A. Voices Festival

That’s right, Los Angeles!

Samanta and I’s activity for the special, digital gathering by Grand Park L.A. is a two-part informational livestream on how to “Make a Neighborhood” in response to gentrification in historically ethnic and working-class Los Angeles communities.

Part one will touch on how Samanta and I first came together and conceptualized a discussion series for our community based on three themes: historic redlining, current gentrification, and present and future housing affordability issues in the Virgil Village and East Hollywood areas.

Part two will discuss the evolution of our event from a discussion panel into a public art project, an educational pamphlet campaign, archival research and blog storytelling, and finally, round-table discussions with various community members affected by our series’ three major themes. Samanta and I will also discuss how to ensure language justice and accessibility throughout the process of “Making Our Neighborhood(s),” and more.

This event is free for the public. Simply save the date and time: April 29, 2021 at 6 PM at olav.grandparkla.org, which is also where you can learn more about the festival’s awesome digital lineup during the rest of this April 2021.

J.T.

How to Beat Summer 2019: Part I

Los Cuentos with Pierre; Spring 2019

Okay, so you’re (finally) done with school and can’t wait to enjoy the summer shine in L.A. but you don’t quite know how to get started. Moreover, it seems like all these other kids have somewhere to go while you’re just sitting at home watching IGTV re-runs on your couch.

I’ve been there. It’s tough when your routine suddenly vanishes like the spammers on Instagram who follow just to unfollow, but here are the first three steps you can take on the very first day of your summer break to create an amazing time by yourself right away.

1. EXERCISE (yes, not kidding). This does not require WiFi, any long distances, or even that much time, frankly. The fact of the matter is that your body’s health totally affects your state of mind, which means that if you’re just sitting around at home all day, you’re more than likely going to get grumpy. Grumpy kids lead to awkward vibes, and awkward vibes are not at all what you’re looking to get the most of during your break.

So, does this mean you have to suddenly drop everything and sign up for the Olympics? It does not. All it means is that you need to STRETCH OUT your body in order to feel more relaxed throughout the day. You can do this on the very first day of your summer break in multiple ways, including the following:

I. 25 push-ups (or an amount more proportionate to your ability)
II. 25 jumping-jacks (same as above)
III. 1 Mile of light jogging (same as above)

I promise that if you can do any one or a combination of these at least three times a week, you will instantly feel better about nearly everything else in mind.

2. FIND A BOOK. TURN TO THE FIRST PAGE. READ THAT MF. Now let’s be honest, I know that flipping through the pages of a textbook doesn’t prove as IG-worthy as a trip to Magic Mountain or your best friend’s cousin’s quinceñeara, but I’ll explain how it’s just as good, if not better. Let’s be clear about this too: it’s true that when you’re assigned books at school and are required to read them, it can take a lot of the fun out of the reading experience. But this does NOT mean that reading overall isn’t an enjoyable, enriching activity for your mind. It just means that you’ve got to take reading at your own pace is all. Consider three key benefits you’ll gain from channeling your inner-reader this summer season:

I. You’ll improve your vocabulary, which is just better for everyone, including those of us who want to rap, those of us who want to go out on dates to drop a great one-liner or two, and those of us who simply want to better explain to others why they can’t tell ’em nothin’.

II. You’ll get away from home, even if you’re just home. This is especially important when you’re not really trying to go out to anywhere in particular but still want to get away from the predicaments of home. Now, I know what some of you might be thinking: your phone is the best way to get your distance, but consider this: your phone is a warm and tired object that rarely let’s you focus on just one thing. Over the summer, it’s going to need a break from you and vice versa. A book, on the other hand, is literally cooler since it doesn’t require batteries, and is much easier to focus on as it entails just you and the author on an adventure. The latter will not fail you. Trust me.

III. You’ll grow to see yourself in more of the world out there. Again, let’s be honest: your IG is filled with people who are like you but also not. In the throes of being similar to others you’ll inevitably compare yourself to others. But what if you’re really just comparing yourself to an idea you have about someone else based on appearances instead of reality? Don’t overthink it, though; Just consider this: reading allows you to relate to other characters and personalities out there in a way that doesn’t require you to compare yourself to them. This, my friends, is an extremely useful skill that you’ll appreciate being familiar with over the course of many lifetimes.

For a few favorite books by yours truly to get you started, consider Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, or even–if you think you’re tough enough–Alex Haley’s Autobiography of Malcolm X. You can also check out my BOOKS section on the site for more recommendations, which I’ll be adding more reviews to this summer (because of course I’m going to follow my own list).

3. SUBSCRIBE TO JIMBO TIMES FOR MORE COOL STUFF. By far the easiest thing to do on this list is to make sure you’re in touch for all the latest updates with The L.A. Storyteller. There will be more poems, stories, contests for Los Cuentos, and a world of other stuff in the making through the site. Subscribing will also guarantee that you don’t miss How to Beat Summer 2019: Part II. So, what are you waiting for? Find the subscription button on the bottom section of this column and DO IT ALREADY! And if you’ve already done that, tell a friend! Or FIVE. This is not a drill.

J.T.

Ahora Mas Cuentos Los Angeles

On the way,

Today I have the privilege of getting back to The Plus Me Project for a visit to another L.A. school. There should be somewhere between 100 – 120 students that I’ll get to speak with at Alliance Neuwirth Academy this afternoon, and it will be my first time ‘back in action’ since my spectacular time abroad.

I will share pictures with the students from the trip, as well as a few insights on just what it means for me to travel to these other pueblos from which so many of our people hail, which I’m confident will make our time together all the more worthwhile.

From there, we’ve got much more work left to do. It is summertime in Los Angeles, and as educators all throughout The City know well, the summer can be a most critical point of the year for young people everywhere; school is out, mamá y papá ‘tan trabajando, and at that point: What exactly is there to do? Where do we go? And with who? Is it safe?

There is a world to build for L.A.’s youth to make these questions less difficult for them, but as with all worlds, we need time. Today is a matter of taking advantage then, of what little time we’ve been afforded. Indeed it always is, but a healthy reminder never hurts. In fact, I think it’s been quite helpful already.

Let’s get it done Los Angeles,

J.T.