A world of Earth Day options
Earth Day is upon us. Folks have been marking the occasion for a couple of weeks already, but this weekend is the real deal. Here are some of the options.
Saturday, April 20
- Los Angeles Waterkeeper will host its second annual Stand-Up for Clean Water Earth Day Festival and Paddleboard Race. There will be environmental speakers, races, stand-up paddleboard demonstrations, lessons and a beach cleanup, all at the historic Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica.
- In the South Bay, Earth Day Bird Fest is asking volunteers to help clean up Cabrillo Beach in the morning, and then experts will lay down some science about the coastal environment and its inhabitants. Food and live music will round out the event.
- At the Mar Vista Green Gardening Showcase, you can check out one community’s approach to urban environmentalism. Tour drought-resistant landscaping, aquaponic farming and native plant gardens—then learn how to create them in your own neck of the woods.
Sunday, April 21
- Children’s Earth Day plants the seed of stewardship in the next generation of environmental caretakers, activists and leaders of L.A. There will be crafts, games, a recycling maze, live entertainment and over 200 exotic rescue animals—all part of a schedule designed specifically for young eco-warriors.
- Tree huggers unite at LACMA’s Earth Day Tree Walk. Learn about the diverse trees of Hancock Park with botanist Matt Ritter, who will sign copies of his new book, A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us, following the tour.
- Heal the Bay’s education-focused Earth Day Festival takes place Saturday, April 20, and Sunday, April 21. In addition to family-oriented fare at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, participants can check out the BlueGreen Beach Sweep and Deck Party, which includes a conservation-minded swap party and an Eco Beer Crawl. Volunteers who participate in a Saturday morning beach cleanup receive free admission to the aquarium.
- Downtown at the Los Angeles State Historic Park on Saturday, April 20, Earth Day Latino will feature green career exhibitions, drum circles, healthy food, bicycle safety check-ups and an overnight urban campout that will merge into CicLAvia’s car-free street fest on Sunday, April 21.
- Topanga Earth Day takes place Saturday and Sunday, too. The theme this year is “Awakening Essence,” so there will be a variety of healthy programming—including yoga, vegan foods and dancing—to nourish body and soul. Several stages of live music will provide the soundscape in the scenic canyon.
Operatic opportunity, open to all
This one’s going out to all you shower-singing sopranos, tenors and basses out there. If you’ve ever wanted to belt out the toreador song from Carmen in public, your moment has arrived.
And you can do so under professional supervision, as LA Opera presents its first annual “Great Opera Choruses” program on Saturday, March 2.
The event is free, but reservations are required to take part in the opera’s presentation of “Sing Out Loud!” at 1 p.m. at the Campus Theatre at Cal State Northridge. Billed as a “participatory recital,” the audience will get to sing along with opera professionals on works including “Toréador” from Carmen, “Libiamo” from La Traviata, and even “Oh, What a beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma! (There will be handouts, so no worries if you haven’t committed all those lyrics to memory.)
Call (213) 972-3157 to reserve free tickets, or email email@example.com.
Earlier in the day, an 11 a.m. performance of a specially-commissioned short version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute—featuring San Fernando Valley schoolchildren along with opera artists and audience participation sing-alongs—is sold out, but there will be a standby line.
The theatre is located at 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge, 91330. Parking in Lot B1 on Nordhoff is $6.
Grand plans for Grand Park
“All politics is local,” or so goes the saying coined by the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill.
This Monday, January 21, the newly-minted Grand Park will embody that maxim at “Hail to the Chiefs,” a community celebration of Martin Luther King Day and President Obama’s inauguration. The program will feature musicians including hip-hop artist Mathai, who’ll incorporate King’s “I Have A Dream” speech into his act. DJ Anthony Valadez of public radio station KCRW will drop clips of Obama’s inauguration into his typically eclectic set. Attendees will be invited to write their thoughts in a “Letter to the Prez,” a large scroll that will be delivered to the White House.
“Hail to the Chiefs” will mark the second installment of the “Park Your Politics” series, which was launched on election night last year. It’s one of a number of evolving programs aimed at attracting diverse audiences to the park, which fully opened last October.
“The idea of coming together to celebrate those moments that are memorable, that’s the thing we want to create in the park,” said Lucas Rivera, the park’s director. “We want to be the place that, when you are older and reminiscing, you’re telling the kids about your time in Grand Park.”
So far, the park has hosted 23 events, attracting an estimated 30,000 visitors, in addition to those who’ve been participating in a number of ongoing programs in the park, such as noontime yoga.
The biggest draw so far was the National Dance Day Celebration, which kicked off the park’s grand opening and featured “So You Think You Can Dance’s” Nigel Lythgoe. The audience-participation event attracted about 5,000 dancers and onlookers. The election night party, meanwhile, drew about 2,000 celebrants and coverage on CNN. Some events that organizers predicted would have modest turnouts have performed better than expected. They anticipated, for example, that about 20 dogs and their owners would show up for a “Pooch Party” but ended up with more than 100.
Julia Diamond, Grand Park’s programming director, said the park’s most immediate beneficiaries have been its “captive audience,” the people who work, play and do business in the surrounding buildings, like the courthouse, Hall of Administration, Music Center and City Hall.
Music Center staff members, who handle programming for the park, pride themselves on reaching a wide audience with diverse entertainment and activities. In the end, though, it’s all about growing a sense of community at downtown L.A.’s largest outdoor public venue.
“The park should always be fun and multi-sensory—great music, great food and playing with the dog you’re going to bring,” Diamond said. “The way we design our events, we let people have a hand in how they design their experience.”
For the future, Rivera and Diamond envision literacy programs for children, events for seniors, arts and crafts festivals and programming featuring the interactive Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain. The park also has begun the process of getting its own farmers market. As for the “Park Your Politics” series, plans are in the works for live debates with local high school and university students and a speaker series based on whatever’s “hot” in politics at the time.
Larger offerings also are on the horizon, including events on the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve, which Diamond said wasn’t done this year because the park was just getting its staff in place.
“When we do New Year’s Eve,” Diamond said, “we want to do it really well.…Every event we get to know our audience a little better; every event we get to know our space a little better. What Grand Park is to me is a gathering place, and our city really doesn’t have another natural spot to gather.”
Meteor lovers, look up—maybe
If you’re a night owl, and if the weather cooperates, you just might be able to glimpse the annual Geminid meteor shower at its peak tonight.
Meteors will be blazing across the sky (three per minute under ideal viewing conditions) with no moonlight to interfere with the show this year. Rain and clouds are another matter, however, so if the skies are wet or overcast, the Geminids will be performing undercover.
More details, including an audio report from the Griffith Observatory’s Anthony Cook, are here.
So, if you’re up between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. and the skies seem clear, bundle up, go outside and take a look. You won’t have another chance until next year.
Honor veterans? Let us count the ways
This Veterans Day weekend, you can pause quietly to honor those who served—or jump on your Harley and take a ride with a difference.
From a “Ride for Her” motorcycle event honoring women veterans in Long Beach to a traditional parade in the San Fernando Valley to Malibu’s annual ceremony in Legacy Park, the Sunday calendar is full of possibilities. Other events—including a ceremony at McCambridge Park in Burbank—take place on Monday, the day after the holiday, when government offices will be closed.
This list, assembled by the county’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, includes more events along with an array of special offers for veterans.
Election-watching for the people
Why watch the election from your living room when you can tune in from Los Angeles’s newly-remodeled civic core? Grand Park—nestled between City Hall and the County Hall of Administration—is throwing a free Election Night party, and everyone’s invited.
The event is being dubbed “Park Your Politics,” and the park’s director, Lucas Rivera, says it’s a chance to share a sense of history in a way that few people do anymore.
“We as Americans have stopped coming together in moments where we could see and witness something that changes the movement of this country,” said Rivera, adding that sharing the experience could make the outcome more enjoyable (or tolerable, depending on your outlook.)
CNN’s coverage of the 2012 Presidential election will be projected onto a huge 10-foot-by-30-foot inflatable screen, so every detail of Wolf Blitzer’s perfectly-manicured beard will be visible far and wide. While the results trickle in, guests will be entertained by music from KCRW’s Anthony Valadez and Dublab DJs. L.A.’s famed gourmet food trucks will keep hunger at bay and a beer garden will offer refreshments for the celebratory and weary alike.
The party takes place on the performance lawn between Grand Avenue and Hill Street on Tuesday, November 6, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. To get there, take Metro Red Line to the Civic Center stop or visit the park’s website for driving directions and parking instructions.
Haunting with a homespun touch
In a world full of gory, glitzy theme park Halloween extravaganzas, a hand-crafted small town production would seem to have about as much chance of survival as an ingénue in the first reel of a slasher flick.
But for the second year, the resourceful Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon is staging a spirited fright-fest that’s more about old school creativity than slick effects.
At “Theatricum BOO-tanicum,” stage performers, business owners and residents of the famously artistic mountain community come together to conjure an eerie atmosphere without a ton of technology or expensive effects. Recycled theater sets and old netting are used to complement donated traditional decorations.
“We try to take a high-toned chill factor rather than a gore factor—a spookiness rather than severed heads,” says event organizer Matt van Winkle.
The setting helps. Craggy trees and old wooden structures form an ominous backdrop come nightfall, when the shadows stretch across the canyon.
The event may be the perfect destination for families, van Winkle said, noting that last year’s crowd included more children than expected. Peter Alsop will entertain with songs, and costumed theater company veterans will bring ghost stories to life. Kids and adults are encouraged to wear their costumes, with a contest scheduled to honor the best.
There are plenty of other attractions, like pumpkin carving, magicians, old school carnival games and an improv comedy performance by “Off The Grid,” a local troupe. In a nod to Los Angeles culture, chicken and waffles will be the featured menu item—all organic, of course.
Even with all the wholesome fun, the BOO-tanicum promises its fair share of shrieks, too. Van Winkle boasted that last year he got complaints from a few parents that the gore-free haunted house was “too scary.” There is also a haunted maze, and undead thespians will roam the grounds to keep visitors on their toes.
It all takes place Friday, October 26, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event is the fall fundraiser for the Theatricum, a nonprofit theater and center for the arts. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for teens and $5 for kids ages 5 to 12. Children 4 and under are free. See the website for directions and, if you decide to go, keep an eye out for Zombie Shakespeare.
AIDS Walk’s afoot in WeHo
The 28th Annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles will fill the streets of West Hollywood with more than 30,000 supporters this Sunday. Celebrities and local officials will be among those hitting the pavement to add to the more than $72 million the event has raised since 1985.
The walk has been shortened this year to accommodate the space shuttle Endeavour, which is making its way to its new retirement home at the California Science Center. Nevertheless, some streets will be closing for the event. Starting at 6 a.m. on Sunday, sections of La Peer Drive and Melrose Avenue will close, as will parts of Robertson, Santa Monica, San Vicente, Beverly and Fairfax. To allow for set-up, San Vicente will also close between Santa Monica and Melrose at 6 a.m. on Saturday and from Santa Monica to Cynthia Street at 12 a.m. on Sunday morning. All roads will reopen when it’s safe to do so. Click here to see a map of the walk’s route.
The grandest opening of them all
It’s been rolling out, bit by bit, since mid-summer, but this weekend, Grand Park will finally get the grand opening Los Angeles has been waiting for.
As the third and final section of the 12-acre space opens to the public, a festive block party is being planned on Saturday, October 6, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., with dancing around the fountain, Cuban jazz on the lawn, food trucks on the street and, at the park’s eastern boundary, a soaring aerial ballet up the sides of L.A.’s iconic City Hall. Then on Sunday, the park will leap into action as a hub for the wildly popular CicLAvia.
“It’s really exciting,” says Dawn McDivitt, who has managed the park project for the county’s Chief Executive Office. “The opening of the first two blocks in July drew 5,000 people in the first weekend, and we think this weekend will draw even more.”
Stretching from City Hall to the Music Center, the new park—an inviting 4-block rectangle of grass, plants, water and hot pink lawn chairs—has been drawing crowds since its first segment opened this summer, offering the first substantial stretch of green space in downtown L.A.
Conceived nearly a decade ago as part of a plan to redevelop Grand Avenue with luxury hotels, condos and retail, the park moved ahead while other elements were postponed by the economic downturn, largely because of a $50 million payment that was negotiated upfront from Related Cos., the project’s developer.
The first section, opened in July, is anchored by a Starbucks and the Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain, which features an ankle-deep membrane pool that has become a major weekend draw for nearby families. The middle section features a community terrace with a Court of Flags, a Vietnam Memorial and 24 cherry blossom trees from the Japanese Consulate. The final section, at the City Hall end, will offer a dog park and a spacious event lawn that planners already are programming for local gatherings. Also on tap for the future is an anchor restaurant or café at the City Hall end of the park.
“I think if you ask anyone, the park is already a success,” says McDivitt, noting that none of the park events so far have drawn fewer than 200 to 300 people. “And when you compare that to the mall that was there before, where, if you saw 20 people in all three blocks, you were lucky—just looking out my window at the Hall of Administration, it’s amazing. People who have driven in from their communities for events, neighborhood people from the lofts, mothers sitting around the membrane pool with their children. There are more people than I’ve seen down there in 22 years of working here.”
This weekend’s kickoff is expected to draw crowds from throughout the county, starting with 11 a.m. dance lessons at the Music Center Plaza in a salute to Latino Heritage Month.
At 4 p.m., the Grand Park celebration will officially begin with “A Fanfare for Grand Park,” a reprise of a dance performance that premiered at the park’s July dedication.
At 5:30 p.m., down the hill on the park’s performance lawn, the Latin jazz duo Dos y Mas will launch the park’s new World Jazz Series, and at 6:45 p.m. outdoor videos will be projected onto the wall of the county’s Richard Neutra-designed Hall of Records building that flanks the park.
After a welcome from public official and dignitaries, the party will move to the event lawn. There, at 7:45 p.m., the aerial dance troupe Bandaloop will perform a spectacular vertical dance on the walls of the city’s towering City Hall building, suspended hundreds of feet off the ground by climbing ropes.
Park officials view Saturday’s celebration as just the start of Grand Park’s new role as a downtown centerpiece. Programming will be handled for the first three years by the Music Center, and Park Director Lucas Rivera has predicted the park will soon be home to farmers’ markets, arts festivals, book fairs, and other regional gatherings. McDivitt says she won’t be surprised to see regular movie nights, with outdoor films projected on the Hall of Records. Already, one segment of the park is home to the downtown speakers’ series Zócalo.
Events scheduled for the near term include an October 14 Pooch Party for dogs and the people who love them on the event lawn, an October 27 performance by the AXIS contemporary dance company, a November 2 night time Dia De Los Muertos party and a November 4 arts happening called Flash Fest.
Says McDivitt: “This really is a brand new chapter for downtown L.A.”