You’re Invited! To the Launch Party for Making Our Neighborhood: The Magazine

Los Angeles,

Over the last six months, we’ve worked tirelessly to produce a panel series, art project, education campaign, and last but not least, a printed keepsake embodying the three themes of our project: redlining, gentrification, and housing in East Hollywood.

This magazine is not only an opportunity to support our work so we can continue doing it sustainably, but it’s also a tangible resource and archive of some of the most important stories and issues that shape our neighborhood and city.

With that said, we’re excited to announce that we’ve finally gone to print this week and have decided to host a Launch Party for our supporters on Saturday, June 12th. The event will be held at Bellevue Park, from 2 PM – 6 PM, and will help us save some postage and gas mileage, as well as provide us the opportunity to say more about our stories in person.

If you’re in Los Angeles, come by to pick up your magazine orders, listen to some music, and enjoy some complimentary pupusas from local California Grill with us!

To let us know you’re coming, simply RSVP at our EventBrite page, set up especially for the first ever customers of our first ever magazine.

Looking forward to seeing you, and in community, always

Samanta Helou-Hernandez & J.T.

Family Continues To Uplift in Luis Ek’s Name with Cochinita Pibil Sale this Saturday, the 24th, and Sunday, the 25th

The Ek family is hosting a special weekend food sale from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM this Saturday, the 24th, and Sunday, the 25th, in the Virgil Village area to raise funds for memorial services honoring Luis Ek, 31, who unexpectedly passed away last Tuesday, April 13th, leaving behind two daughters.

The featured dish for the fundraiser, Cochinita Pibil, is a classic slow-roasted and marinated pork dish from the state of Yucatán, Mexico. Orders placed will be for pick-up only. To get your plate and support this effort by Luis’s family, please call (213) 793-5671.

J.T.

Join Thai CDC in Hollywood this Thursday, April 8th in Resistance to Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans

The rally begins at 11:00 AM at L.A. Metro’s Hollywood/Western Red Line station, and will provide free parking for attendees for the duration of the event at Thailand Plaza, located at 5231 Hollywood boulevard.

Jimbo Times proudly endorses this event for peace towards our communities.

J.T.

Heleo Levya, Lead Community Gardener, Bids Farewell to Madison Ave Community Garden

Dear East Hollywood, Virgil Village and Neighboring Communities,

When a group of us started the Madison Ave Community Garden during the summer of 2019, our team had major challenges concerning soil quality for the garden, as well as several design and policy decisions to make for the space. As the lead gardener, I volunteered to cultivate over 700 square feet of soil in order to develop better planting and organizing space for the communal plot area, also known as the area for local residents to come and grow their own fruits and veggies. I also filmed and edited a bunch of videos about this process, which you can find at the Provost Kitchen on YouTube.

The Madison Ave Community Garden, like 42 other community gardens in the city of Los Angeles, is overseen by a board or group of three to five community members. As a board member, my primary focus was to make the Madison Ave Community Garden an accessible site for the working class Latinx, Asian, and other BIPOC communities that make up East Hollywood. This is why when I learned that of the available community plots for the garden, over 70% of them were taken by white residents, I sounded the bell and noted to fellow board members that it was important to be more inclusive.

Small plots coming to life at Madison Ave Community Garden in East Hollywood – April 2020

I then submitted and ensured passage of a motion to include Spanish in all social media posts. Prior to this, all social media for the garden was published only in English. I also submitted and ensured passage of a motion seeing to it that the next chair/vice chair position be held by a Latinx person, in order to be more reflective of the Latinx residents who make up the East Hollywood and Virgil Village areas. Finally, I created a new position on the board known as the Community Outreach Coordinator, whose goal is to find local, long-time residents who may be interested in taking space at the garden. Thanks to these efforts, we now have more Latinx, Asian and other BIPOC community members at the garden.

In November of this year, I also organized and executed the first ever Dia de Los Muertos festivities at the garden. As a person of indigenous roots, it was very important for me to have the garden blessed with a ceremony.

“There is of course a lot more work that needs to be done.”

Motions currently being considered by the board are publishing social media biographies of the leadership team, making motions available to the public, allowing garden members to sit in on leadership team meetings, and creating a yearly diversity report, as well as Tongva land acknowledgement. All these motions are an effort to further increase diversity, transparency, and accountability at the garden, and I hope to see each of these motions pass by the end of the year.

To the recently-arrived white community in East Hollywood, I invite you to reflect on words such as community and food justice. What does community mean to you? I encourage you to use your privilege to create more access for communities and food justice for communities of color. You don’t need to go far to see racial disparity. According to some of the most recent figures, East Hollywood is comprised of 24% whites, yet they made up over 50% of the people assigned plots at the garden.

“These types of disparities don’t go away with a Biden win.”


After many conversations with the board at Madison Ave Community Garden, as well as with board members for other similar gardens across Los Angeles, I’ve realized that “food justice” is a term that is now widely tossed around in discussions about inclusivity. However, if the garden is not made accessible to BIPOC communities in Los Angeles, and if equity is not a part of the garden’s mission, then there can be no such justice.

To the Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Asian communities in East Hollywood and beyond, I invite you to reflect about the work that we do in Los Angeles. Do we work to keep building those same systems that favor the few, or do we to help build a new system, where all of us have access? Tongva land acknowledgement, for example, shouldn’t even have to be made into a motion. It should be a given. Yet when necessary, we ourselves must speak up about our work and our heritage so that others don’t take credit for our critical contributions to the communities we help make and cultivate.

Baby tomatoes at Madison Ave Community Garden in East Hollywood – April 2020

Work has been hard. I put in over 2,000 volunteer hours at the garden, or the equivalent of $50,000 worth of work over a year and a half. My term isn’t officially over until July 2021, but I now believe it’s time for someone else to take on the role of Lead Community Gardener for the space. My hope is that the next board member in this role will also have diversity as a top priority.

It has been an honor to serve this community and watch it grow, and I now look forward to meeting again in the days ahead for more work in equity and inclusion in Los Angeles.

H.L.

Heleo Levya is a leading community chef and gardener in East Hollywood. He holds a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Finance from Cal State University, Long Beach. In his senior year, he was admitted to the Student Managed Investment Fund, a one-year finance honors like program in which he managed real portfolios consisting of over $750k. His work was recently covered by This Side of Hoover, Eater, and the L.A. Times.

The book cover for Mike the Poet's Letters to My City, published in 2019

Letters To My City (2019)

Through a tremendous last couple of weeks between the Los Angeles Review of Books workshop, the new Los Cuentos Book Club, and more for your truly, I just finished Mike the Poet’s L.A.’s Letters to My City. By the turn of the final page, I both see it and hear it. Sonsken’s ‘letters’ are not just prose, but also songs from the heart to all comers. Most of all, they’re a tribute to those who’ve been here, as Sonsken shows no fear celebrating L.A.’s Black, Indigenous, Asian, Native & Latinx roots. His book can thus be though of as an invitation for all poets, writers, and anyone interested in uplifting this city and keeping its history sacred to tag along for the ride.

Sonsken’s writing also consistently understands that he’s not the guiding hand, but that his is one led by the voices of others, those around him to uncover or pay heed to the roots. Sonsken’s work therefore comes off as a round-table discussion, a gathering of minds from across L.A., but abundant especially with folks from the South and East sides, as well as with folks from less discussed “L.A.” like Long Beach, Oxnard and even Cerritos and the OC. It is a call for Los Angeles’s artists and all creators to come together with major respect to the city, to the communities, for the stories, which form the heartbeat of this sometimes totally cruel, sometimes surreal town. Los Cuentos sees this, and I look forward to passing Mike’s book along to the next generation of historians with major visions for our city.

Towards the end the book also leads to more questions. For one, I found myself reflecting on reparations awarded to Japanese-Americans in Los Angeles who faced internment. In a closing vignette on Little Tokyo’s history and a Buddhist temple in the area Mike writes:

A key component of Japanese religion and culture is the idea of ancestor veneration, essentially the idea of gratitude to your family and specifically appreciating one’s ancestors.

I thought then of the enslaved, and those whose lives were uprooted and taken by genocide and U.S. imperialism. I seriously wondered: where is the discussion in L.A. on reparations for African-American, Native, and also Mexican bodies? These are our ancestors, and there are more, in and even beyond America. I believe Sonsken would agree for a need to come together and discuss it, and that, at least in L.A., his book is certainly one way to start.

J.T.

Did you hear? Our first meeting for the first ever Los Cuentos Summer Book Club was Awesome

Our first meeting for the Los Cuentos Book Club this past Wednesday was a success, with 9 attendants, predominantly muxeres, from places like East & South Los Angeles, and even San Bernardino. Our discussion for LA SIGUANABA and The Magical Loroco was over an hour long, serving as an “online venue” for community engagement with literature made just for them.

Our club now just needs a small push or ‘jale’ to cover the cost of our books, which we’ve handed free of charge to each of our participants in an effort to be inclusive, and which we’ve purchased directly from the author in order to continue shopping from & supporting local artists in Los Angeles. As always, any donation or sharing the campaign with a friend will be of great support, and we can assure you to make it go a long, long way!

Our Book Club will hold its second meeting next Wednesday, July 22nd, and did you hear? Every supporter of our club is more than welcome to attend. To donate, you can find our fundraiser HERE.

J.T.

Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 46

For the 46th column, I’d like to lend attention to another blog in the city of Los Angeles, Slauson Girl: World News with a South Central State of Mind, whose voice is particularly resonant during this time.

Over 28 years since Black and Latino residents of South Central Los Angeles and elsewhere in L.A. expressed outrage over a predominantly white jury’s acquittal of four LAPD officers after the officers viciously fractured King’s skull, broke the man’s bones and teeth, and left him with permanent brain damage, it gives me chills to think that if it weren’t for nine minutes of video, the assault “would otherwise have been a violent, but soon forgotten, encounter between Los Angeles police and Rodney King.”

Today the ability to consume video and photography is all around us and seemingly infinite. But in 1992, footage of King’s powerlessness, considered by many to be “the first viral video” of the modern era, was an anomalous union of technology and the will to use technology to inform the public of a flagrant abuse of power. The video would change the world, even if only for a moment, since many of Los Angeles’s institutions, including the LAPD, would continue using racist policies against communities of color well into the days following.

But this is why today’s voices “on the front lines” are as important as they were 28 years ago. Slauson Girl, who is a native of the historic South Central Los Angeles, is pursuing justice for her community as a community-based reporter and commentator. At her website and podcast, she discusses not only lessons from Rodney King, but also the ongoing displacement of Black culture in L.A. development projects, which continue favoring wealthier wallets over the essential workers whose time and labor create that wealth, as well as on Black businesses during the time of Coronavirus, the passing of Nipsey Hussle, and more.

It is imperative for The L.A. Storyteller to uplift more voices in Los Angeles such as Slauson Girl’s, and so readers (and listeners) should stay tuned, as there will be more from this highlight soon.

J.T.

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