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News & Updates

Measure A and APIs

Asian and Pacific Islanders (API’s) may comprise 15% of LA County, but often the voices of these communities are left out of large environmental policies and campaigns. This is surprising, given that when API’s were surveyed in California if they would take action at the polls to protect the environment, nearly 90% of API respondents shared that they would likely vote, with 50% sharing they were “very” likely to. The disconnect is that while the community supports environmental policies, there is not an organized effort in LA County that ensures API voices are heard on park issues.

Forward Movement fights to address this by leveraging our relationships with local API community leaders to create a coalition that crafts culturally-tailored,
in-language materials/messaging, and also serves as a pipeline for sustainable representation of API voices in the local environmental movement.

The Los Angeles County Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks and Beaches Measure of 2016 (Measure A) asked voters to continue their support for local parks, beaches, open space, and water resources by approving an annual parcel tax of 1.5 cents per square foot of development. If approved, the estimated tax for the owner of a 1,500 square foot home would be $22.50 per year, and will be included on the annual property tax bill. Generating approximately $94 million per year for our local parks, beaches, and open space areas, Measure A will replace expiring dedicated funding from the voter-approved Propositions A of 1992 and 1996.

Measure A was developed with extensive stakeholder input from throughout Los Angeles County and designed to meet the Countywide Comprehensive Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment of 2016. The Needs Assessment was an 18-month process which provided detailed information from all 88 cities and unincorporated areas within Los Angeles County about the quality of their local parks, their current access to parks and recreation facilities and overall park needs, including public meetings and project lists developed and prioritized by members of each community.


About Measure A

Yes on A Flyers

Op-Eds on Measure A

Every child deserves their own Story Park by Aaron Lockett (Alhambra Source)

Why local parks are important by Janelle Zamora (Alhambra Source)

 

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Park ranger discusses urban recreational space in Downtown Los Angeles

The following post was written by intern Maggie Su as part of a series of profiles of API members of the community.

Kya Marina Le never realized that working as a park ranger was an option for her, let alone in the city of Los Angeles. Growing up, the only rangers she encountered were Caucasian males working at national parks. Now, though, she is an interpreter with two ranger hats, working for the National Park Service and supervised by the California State Parks. Le is currently based at LA State Historic Park.

As an interpreter, she serves as the face of the park — a resource available to visitors who have questions. She enjoys the creative aspect of the work.

“What’s nice about [interpretation] is that it gives me the freedom and creativity to explore concepts that align with the National Park Service or with California State Parks, but also present it in a direction or voice that suits me the best,” Le said.

LA State Historic, 32 acres of recreational space bordering downtown that opened in April, was built with lots of community input. There were 65 community meetings held prior to the park’s opening, according to Le, during which residents could voice suggestions and concerns about the park’s facilities and programming.

While the park was still in its planning stages, it — then just a dirt lot — was made available to the public in the interim, from 2006 to 2013. Community members embraced the space, using it as a place to work out, teach their children how to ride a bike and go for runs. When it was closed, all they wanted to know was when it would be open again. Their enthusiasm for the space only increased when the park reopened earlier this year.

“Then, this was literally a dirt lot with porta potty bathrooms, and the community took it,” Le said. “It took three years for us to reopen this park, but all I’ve heard is, ‘it was worth the wait.’”

Although LA State Historic is a beautiful, green space in the heart of the city, Le said it can be difficult for California State Parks to find people willing to work there. In addition to the relative unaffordability of life in LA, the park simply can’t compare to the natural beauty of more remote locations in California.

“It’s like, if you’re a nature person, why would you go to this previous brownfield and work at a place where you’re congested with traffic?” Le said.

But Le is happy to work in Downtown LA; she understands that urban locations are where such parks are most needed. Indeed, LA State Historic’s greatest asset is its accessibility, especially to residents of neighboring communities such as Chinatown and Lincoln Heights. Although other parks may also be accessible by Metro, none are as welcoming as LA State Historic.

“This is where you can picnic with your family,” Le said. “This is a place where you can take your biker friends and hang out under the bridge after school before you get tacos and go home.”

Le, who lives in Little Saigon, Orange County, commutes an hour and a half to work each day by train. She takes the Metrolink regional train to Union Station then transfers to the Metro Gold Line, which takes her to the Chinatown station directly adjacent to the park. Although she hopes to eventually move to LA to avoid the three hour round-trip commute, for now, she is content — she can sleep on the train.

“I think public transit has always played a really big role in my life because I hate driving. The stress and mental load of driving is such a waste of time,” Le said. “Yeah, public transit takes a little longer, but at least you can spend that time being distracted.”

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Interview with Farm to Chopsticks Awardee Kevin Liao

At Farm to Chopsticks on August 10th, we are recognizing three AMAZING people who help make our work possible. Meet Kevin Liao!

Kevin Liao was born and raised in Chinatown, Los Angeles and currently lives in Lincoln Heights, a small residential community 3 miles away from Chinatown. He’s a fourth year student at Cal State LA where he is pursuing a degree in Biology. Currently he works at a non-profit called Para Los Ninos where he works on projects on college prep, social justice, and youth empowerment with local youth.

Here’s our interview with Kevin!

How did you first get connected with API Forward Movement (formerly known as APIOPA)?

I was first introduced to APIFM, then APIOPA, through a HS teacher; Mr. Wong. He knew that I was very interested in cycling and I loved cycling at the time. There was a program he mentioned that was called Bike to China where I then applied for and luckily I was picked from a competitive pool of high school students.

What would you say is the key thing you learned from the 2013 Bike to China (BTC) program? What did you end up doing with your BTC bike?


Kevin (pictured in the middle with his bike) with the rest of the 2013 Bike to China cohort after completing the last 65 mile marathon ride of the program.

One main thing I learned from the Bike to China program is how rewarding non-profit work was. At the time APIOPA only had Scott and Kyle around but they still managed to plan and run a successful program like Bike to China. I knew the work they did was out of their heart and it was because they loved the work they did. It also taught me that non-profit work is hard. One person might have to do two peoples’ worth of work and funding is always an issue. The bike that was given to me upon completion of Bike to China is now ridden by my dad and he actually rides the bike one or twice a week. He uses the bike to go to his friends house and sometimes to walk our dog Tyson.

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Interview with Farm to Chopsticks Awardee Jessica Wang

At Farm to Chopsticks on August 10th, we are recognizing three AMAZING people who help make our work possible. Meet Jessica Wang!

Jess Wang is a Los Angeles based fermentation enthusiast and local food advocate. In early 2014, while working in the pastry department at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, Ms. Wang was diagnosed with prediabetes and has since sought a more intentional lifestyle for well-being and seeks to promote wellness in her community. Along the way, she picked up dealing vintage kitchen ware and found work as a recipe tester for publications such as luckypeach.com. These days, she divides her time in Los Angeles between Filipino inspired restaurant, LASA; PIQUENIQUE, a seasonal hand pie pop up; and Picklé, a fermented pickle project. Ms. Wang volunteers with  Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement (APIFM), a nonprofit organization that brings sustainably grown produce from Asian family farms to LA neighborhoods through Roots Community Supported Agriculture. Her work through APIFM includes developing recipes using seasonal produce and leading cooking workshops, with an emphasis on making probiotic foods more accessible.

Here’s our interview with Jess!

How did you first get involved with APIOPA/Forward Movement? 

Jess picking up her CSA bag from us in Monterey Park over 4 years ago! 

I was checking out the Monterey Park Farmers Market in the summer of 2013 where Forward Movement (APIOPA at the time) had an info booth, and I learned about the Roots CSA program. I became a subscriber that summer. I moved away that fall, then moved back to LA a year later, and got involved as a volunteer in the Spring of 2015.

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Interview with Farm to Chopsticks Awardee Carol Lee

At Farm to Chopsticks on August 10th, we are recognizing three AMAZING people who help make our work possible. One of those is Carol Lee!

Carol Lee has devoted her entire professional career to the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, and is currently a member of the grants management team at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. In her free time, she manages the Circle of Change, a giving circle that supports Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations working to make a positive change within AAPI communities located in the Los Angeles, Orange County or Inland Empire areas. Carol is a native Angeleno who cherishes all the diversity and good food that LA has to offer. She also enjoys Fitbit challenges, the occasional half-marathon, and overanalyzing her favorite TV shows and movies.

Here’s a fun interview we had with Carol:

How did you first get connected with Forward Movement (then APIOPA)?

I first learned about APIOPA/Forward Movement through a mutual friend, Sissy Trinh.  She told me about your CSA program and I ended up signing up.  That was I think 5 years ago?

It’s been quite a few years! What keeps you involved with this scrappy nonprofit? 

The CSA program was great. My mom certainly appreciated the freshness of the vegetables. By the time the Historic Filipinotown location was discontinued, my involvement changed. I had nominated APIOPA for funding through my giving circle for several years and saw the organization’s growth over time.  I had made new friends and now I look forward to the monthly hikes.

Carol rocking it on local public radio interview with KPCC

As a former Roots Community Supported Agriculture subscriber, can you share what your experience was like with this program? Why should someone consider joining the CSA? 

I really liked the program when I was a subscriber for several seasons. At the time, I lived with my mother so the vegetables were primarily for her use, but I got to enjoy the fruits of her labor! She would always remark that she could tell the difference between the CSA vegetables and the ones she bought at Asian markets. She looked forward to the Sunday pickups. The CSA was also a good way to be introduced to unfamiliar vegetables and APIOPA/Forward Movement would provide tips on ways to cook them. Lastly, I felt good about supporting Asian farmers. I would still be a subscriber now if it were more convenient with my schedule but that hasn’t worked out yet.

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CSUN graduate student discusses El Monte history, development

The following post was written by intern Maggie Su as part of a series of profiles of API members of the community.

Dat Tran, a graduate student at California State University, Northridge, is particularly knowledgeable when it comes to the Asian American immigrant experience. The El Monte native, who participated in APIFM’s Bike to China program in 2013, has conducted extensive research on the history of Asian Americans in his hometown.

In June 2016, the city of El Monte partnered with Metro and other organizations to host Viva SGV Open Streets, and event during which streets in El Monte and South El Monte were closed off from cars for five hours. The purpose was to allow residents to reclaim the space, enjoying recreational activities in their city without having to worry about traffic.

APIFM (APIOPA at the time) was involved with Viva SGV, leading a bike tour of the city that featured Asian American history. Tran, who did the research for the tour, spent several months on the project, uncovering numerous tidbits in the process. For example, he discovered that there used to be a Japanese-owned vegetable stand on Valley Boulevard, right next to where El Monte’s city hall currently stands.

“I had to consult our local museums, I had to dig in into the weirdest parts of the internet that is not well known just to try to find snippets of Asian American existence,” Tran said.

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Local student discusses park access in Alhambra, Monterey Park

The following post was written by intern Maggie Su as part of a series of profiles of API members of the community.

Carmen Chen, Mark Keppel High School Class of 2017, has spent her entire life in Monterey Park — a city that is over 50% Asian. Her parents immigrated from Guangzhou, China, before she was born in search of a better life. Chen, who is fluent in both Cantonese and English, will attend the University of California, Irvine in the fall.

In high school, Chen was part of a club known as Promoting Youth Advocacy (PYA) — a group of students that partnered with APIFM (then APIOPA). PYA educated its participants on social issues such as environmental justice and planned park cleanups. At one cleanup, the group collected trash at Almansor Park with gloves, trash bags and other supplies provided by APIFM.

Chen considers Almansor Park, a 22-acre park in Alhambra, the nicest, most spacious park in her area. Only five to 10 minutes from where she lives, the park has a pond, a golf course and ample space for people to run. Yet despite the generous size of Almansor Park, Alhambra only has a total of 78 acres of park space — 0.9 acres per 1,000 residents. This is in contrast to the county average of 3.3 acres per 1,000.

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El Monte environmental justice advocate discusses parks, bikes and access to the San Gabriel Mountains

The following post was written by intern Maggie Su as part of a series of profiles of API members of the community.

Amy J. Wong fell in love with nature in her family’s backyard, where her grandmother had planted fruit trees of all sorts: jujube, kumquat, guava. It was among those trees and more that she grew up hearing stories of her grandmother’s past in Cambodia and Vietnam. But it wasn’t until her college days at the University of California, Berkeley, that she discovered the world of environmentalism and environmental justice.

In addition to the sustainability initiatives that the Berkeley community embraced, Wong was introduced to case studies of cities such as Oakland and Richmond in environmental health classes. She learned about such cities as places in need of environmental justice, not realizing until she returned home from college that her native El Monte was the perfect example of an environmental justice community.

El Monte, located in the San Gabriel Valley, is a particularly park-poor neighborhood. In addition to its lack of green space, the city is surrounded by freeways and has some of the worst air quality in the nation, according to Wong.

“We’re surrounded by the 10, the 605 and the 60,” Wong said. “[The freeways] become like the clogged arteries of the neighborhood.”

The parks that El Monte does have are often flanked by one of these surrounding freeways. Fletcher Park, for instance, is directly adjacent to both the 10 freeway and the El Monte Bus Station — what Wong described as the largest bus station west of the Mississippi.

The San Gabriel Valley Greenway Network is an initiative intended to restore balance to the area, hoping to transform storm channels, washes and creeks into a network of multi-use paths. The paths, in addition to providing space for residents to walk and bike, would connect neighboring communities — and the parks in those communities — lessening the need for cars.

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Community organizer discusses life as a senior in Little Tokyo

The following post was written by intern Maggie Su as part of a series of profiles of API members of the community.

Yasue Clark, a community organizer at Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), works with low-income seniors who live in affordable housing units in Little Tokyo. She has worked at LTSC for the past seven years, advocating for seniors who are ill-equipped to raise their own voice.

About 800 seniors live in Little Tokyo, according to Clark. Most are monolingual, speaking either Japanese or Korean.

“Because they’re monolingual and also [because] they’re low-income, their voice hardly ever gets heard,” Clark said. “Most of them are invisible.”

Clark, a Tokyo native, does not speak Korean, so she primarily works with the Japanese-speaking seniors. Nevertheless, she does her best to organize activities for the seniors, planning crafts, workshops and field trips. She hopes to take them to the Downtown Women’s Center soon in an attempt to address misconceptions they may have about the homeless.

Compared to Tokyo, Los Angeles is much less pedestrian oriented; far fewer people walk on LA streets. Clark believes insufficient public transportation is a major contributing factor to LA’s excess of cars, which, in turn, makes the city less hospitable to pedestrians.

“Most of the time it feels like cars have the right of way, not pedestrians,” Clark said.

Furthermore, many sidewalks are poorly maintained, with exposed tree roots that pose a tripping hazard and nonfunctional street lights that make residents feel unsafe after dark.

Little Tokyo, though, is a more pedestrian-friendly neighborhood than most in LA. Both a grocery store and a medical center with doctors’ offices, a pharmacy and a blood testing lab are within walking distance for senior residents.

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