Join Who Is Your Neighborhood at LACC this Saturday, October 12, 2019

That’s right! Los Angeles City College is celebrating the College’s 90th Anniversary in East Hollywood with quite the event: a Community Resource Day this Saturday from 10 AM – 2 PM on the College Campus.

Naturally, the team behind Back 2 School and I have got to be a part of the special day. So we’ll be staffing a table at the event, where we’ll be talking with visitors about our annual Back 2 School Party, our local Neighborhood Survey, and more ways to get involved with our ongoing efforts to uplift this side of Los Angeles. We’ll also be debuting our brand new banner, courtesy of The Think Farm. Come enjoy the festivities with us!

J.T.

Our Community is Getting Stronger, Este Hollywood

From the words of Dr. Mary Gallagher, President of Los Angeles City College:

“On Saturday, August 24th from 4 to 8 PM, staff from the non-credit department of LACC participated in a great local community event called Back 2 School 2, marking the second year of this event. I was able to attend and hear all of the things going on at the ‘grass roots’ level of our community. LACC was included because of the GED preparation and testing we do. We also provided information from some of our students currently attending non-credit classes. It was a fabulous event. I look forward to next year.”

Dr. Gallagher’s recognition of BTS 2 is a milestone achievement for the work to uplift more vecindades in East Hollywood and throughout Los Angeles. In the days ahead, the work to keep strengthening our community will remain challenging, but I also believe that as our special event showed this past Saturday–and last year–the promise of the work will remain bright and full of encouragement. There will be more following up on the success of BTS 2, but for now, I’d like to express my deepest thanks to each supporter, close and afar, who took a moment to contribute to this critical day for our neighborhood and families all throughout this great city.

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.

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.

It’s Going to be Another Trailblazing Summer in East Hollywood

Last summer when the First Ever Back to School Party made its way to East Hollywood in Los Angeles, it was following in the steps of an earlier precedent set in the neighborhood by the First Ever Open Mic at Cahuenga Library in Spring 2018.

Each event was designed from scratch, essentially made up of ‘thin air’, and would go on to create reverberations in and around the neighborhood for days. Now, with a 2nd Annual Open Mic Night at Cahuenga Library officially done and documented, and with the official start of summer just over a week away, it’s my pleasure to announce a 2nd Annual Back to School Party (BTS II), once again at El Gran Burrito in Los Angeles on Saturday, August 24, 2019. BTS II will coalesce with several other projects by yours truly, including the East Hollywood Neighborhood Survey, an upcoming Summer Writing Challenge for Students in L.A., and more Los Cuentos Merch, among other goodies.

In other words, it’s an exciting time to prepare for summer heat in The City, where our marks under the sun wait once again to be remade. In celebration and anticipation of the next ‘BTS’ Party, it’s also my pleasure to publish the gallery in this blog, each picture courtesy of Samanta Helou, of This Side of Hoover. Samanta’s pictures are proof of the power that emanates so boldly when communities come together unapologetically seeking something new for themselves. My world changed magnetically in the flicker of time that was the event–just as it would in the time following it–and I know I’m not the only one for whom that’s true.

I look to create the same opportunity and more for The City alongside my team this next Summer 2019. Expect nothing less than the world!

J.T.

Get Yourself Some L.A. Photography at our Back to School Party this August 25th,

I’m very happy to announce that for our Back to School Party I’ll be installing printed photographs of the L.A. community in what may be called the first “official” exhibit of four years’ worth of L.A. Stories through JIMBO TIMESThe exhibit will be one of several, as we are not playing about art by the community, for our community!

This is how it gets done Los Angeles,

J.T.

The First Ever Open Mic Saturday at Cahuenga Branch Library is Now Scheduled

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April 14th, 2018; 12:15 – 2:00 PM

It’s happening. After 27 years of marking so many ‘footprints’ in a little pueblo now branded by so many real estate agents as East Hollywood–but which to me for so long has just been the place I call Home–I finally get to announce a major event in the neighborhood at which my dirty chucks and I can stand at the fore alongside fellow Angelenos and L.A. enthusiasts alike. Mark your calendars!

Poetry Day for Poetry Month is taking place on Saturday, April 14th, 2018, at the Cahuenga Branch Public Library from 12:15 PM to 2:00 PM.

It is a major event. In the downstairs section of the library, and in conjunction with the library’s book sale that day as well as with support from the congruent Friends of Cahuenga chapter, I will be serving as emcee for an Open Mic celebration of April’s Poetry Month theme. The event will feature poets from Los Angeles, refreshments from the Friends, and of course, many of the library’s delicious books for sale.

If he were still with us, I’m confident that Roger King, the chess coach, would be proud. Roger passed on last year after a brief battle with cancer, and although his games have been missed, this afternoon I could feel Roger’s local friendly spirit stamping through the classroom where the planning meeting for the event was held, just like when he oversaw the handful of chess battles on the boards there.

Naturally, as the event organizer, I’ve got my eyes on other locals in the neighborhood for the big day, but every reader and supporter or friend of a friend of JT is officially invited to come out. There are also more details of the event to come, but for now consider yourself informed:

We are going to make you proud Los Angeles.

J.T.