Joyous Holiday in a Tough Year

We’re wrapping up an especially hard year, but our community is still making the holidays special. For instance, the City of Paramount is hosting a virtual tree-lighting ceremony and a holiday home decorating contest. Kids in Bell are telling Santa their wishes from the safety of their homes in the City’s “Zoom Calls with Santa” event.

My office is also hosting a virtual holiday party with special performances from students at Lynwood and Paramount Unified School Districts. I hope you can join us for this community event. You can find more information on my Instagram or Facebook page. However you celebrate this year, I hope you have a safe and happy holiday.

AD 63 Art Talk

Local Art Enlivens Communities

Art and nonprofits have a special place in my heart, which is why I was happy to speak with art-focused nonprofits in an AD 63 Art Talk. I spoke with nonprofit leaders -- Daileen Perez with the Latinas Art Foundation; Dakota McMahand of Budding Artists; and Hilda Gaytan with Puente Latino Association -- about the impactful work they’re doing in our community.

Latinas Art Foundation provides youth education in dance, music, and other fine arts. Daileen, the foundation’s treasurer, expressed how art bridges communities, “Art opens your mind to think in a different way. You’re getting to know different cultures and getting to relate with them.” She emphasizes the importance of art for kids during the pandemic. “They need to express themselves and what better way than with art?” she said.

We also discussed art as activism. Dakota McMahand, co-founder and Executive Director of Budding Artists, joined Black Lives Matter protests after the murder of Trayvon Martin, but she wanted to create more change in her community. “Being raised in Lynwood, there wasn’t much access to arts education,” Dakota said, “We provide art education as a tool for social justice.”

Hilda, President of Puente Latino Association -- which hosts community events celebrating Latino art and culture -- added that art is powerful in underserved communities. “Art can change how they see their neighborhoods,” Hilda said. “We’re looking for the artist inside everyone because that person can change the world.”

I’m so impressed, not only by the impact of these organizations, but also by their innovation. Latinas Art Foundation continues to engage kids with events like their upcoming virtual dance competition. Budding Artists is reaching more children than ever by mailing out process-based art kits, and Puente Latino Association hosts safe events such as their drive-thru Dia de Los Muertos celebration. I’m thankful that these nonprofits continue to serve our community when we need it most.

Local Business Spotlight

Growing up along the border, David Favela enjoyed a tasty blend of cultures. “We loved Tijuana street tacos and hot dogs, apple pie and pan dulce, frijoles de la olla and baked beans,” he said. His upbringing inspired the unique beer and menu at Border X Brewing.

At Border X Brewing, culture and community are as central to the business as the beer. Incorporated by David, his brother, and his two nephews, Border X Brewing has locations in Bell and Barrio Logan in San Diego. Their beers blend European craft brewing traditions with the flavors of Mexico.

Border X Brewing believes every neighborhood has unique stories. “Gentrification tends to homogenize neighborhoods by bringing in a standardized recipe of products, decor, and ambiance,” said David. “That's why we strive to work with local artists, musicians, and organizations to celebrate what makes each location unique.”

Last month, the brewery displayed murals from SELA Arts Fest in its beer garden, a beautiful outdoor gathering space. “It’s a central piece of our localized strategy and few companies embrace their communities like we do,” said David.

When the pandemic hit, Border X Brewing was reduced to pick up and delivery, producing less than 10 percent of normal revenue. However, SELA continues to support the brewery. “We thank the SELA community, business leaders, and government leaders who have helped us survive,” explained David. “We know we’ll be able to return to our original business model and be, once again, a positive force in the community.”

I’d argue that Border X Brewing remains a positive force in our community. They continue to keep tradition alive and give artists a platform during these tough times. Learn more at borderxbrewing.com.

instagram.com/borderxbrewing

South Gate Museum

Day of the Dead: A Virtual Celebration

During your typical Day of the Dead (Dias de los Muertos), SELA neighborhoods become festivals of color, food, and gatherings. After much loss in 2020, it was important that we continue this tradition. That’s why the South Gate Museum and Art Gallery -- in partnership with the virtual museum, Open Walls -- hosted a virtual Day of the Dead vigil called "Living-Room: In Between Walls."

The South Gate Museum is managed by the nonprofit, Friends of the Museum, in partnership with the City of South Gate. The museum gives a platform to emerging artists and houses over 2,000 objects related to SELA’s history. “With Southeast LA being a region that has been impacted by the pandemic disproportionately, we saw it as a time to not only honor those who have been lost to these circumstances, but also a time to reflect on the region’s less-acknowledged history,” said Marissa Gonzalez-Kucheck, Cultural Arts Coordinator for the City of South Gate.

People across SELA submitted pictures and artwork honoring loved ones, which were curated into a virtual community experience. The exhibit was also projected in South Gate Park. “I spoke with one resident who walks that route every evening,” said Marissa, “She recognized her mother’s neighbor, Chuya, who had passed earlier this year. She was so grateful that someone had submitted an image of her to the project.”

This Day of the Dead celebration brought much-needed perspective during this challenging year: perspective about life, death, and the fact that we’re not alone.

If you’re interested in getting involved, the South Gate Museum is recruiting new board members. Membership is open to anyone in the SELA community. You can learn more on the museum’s Instagram page, and you can view "Living-Room: In Between Walls" at open-walls.org.

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