Category Archives: Blog

Summer Jamathon!

Like a boss, Rachel makes it happen, Event Managing like nobody’s business. Arranging logistics for the 4th OF JULY BLOCK PARTY to SUMMERTIME EVENTS. Remember NYELA? She did that too.

Comfy weather aside, Angelenos WORK HARD. Some days it’s difficult to get pumped for that 8 / 12 / 14 hour day. Some folks are into yoga meditation, doing fist pumps in front of the bathroom mirror, or using their pets as therapists.

Rachel has some amazing good taste in music (ain’t gonna lie) and knows how to get those days started. Here are some jams to help you to KNOCK IT OUT before your boss asks for those TPS reports. HAPPY SUMMER!

To Live and Dance in LA

who's ready?!

LA Contemporary Dance Company during a light test at Grand Park. Photo by Javier Guillen

In anticipation for the upcoming Dance Camera West’s Dance Media Film Festival happening at several venues across Grand Avenue including Grand Park, I reached out to Julia Diamond, Grand Park’s Director of Programming. We talked dance in LA and, more specifically, about some site-specific work being presented in the park. Here’s what came of our convo:

MC: So I’d like to start off by touching upon the importance of dance in Los Angeles. Given the plethora of emerging companies and the unique types of work being presented, what do you think the current state of dance in Los Angeles?

JD: I think it is awesome. There is a lot of negativity and hand wringing about the LA dance community but that is not new and will likely also not change anytime soon. The cause of worry is not the lack of work being produced. The concern is that it doesn’t look like the way other cities do it. Since when has LA ever done it anyone else’s way??

MC: I agree, there can be a bit of negativity in the sea of awesomeness. I see critics lay claim that Los Angeles has no large resident dance companies. Who is to say Los Angeles needs them? Regardless of the size or type of the company, there is so much work being created here. I think we should take more opportunities to celebrate it.

shmancy dancy

LA Contemporary Dance Company in preparation for the upcoming performance in Grand Park. Photo by Javier Guillen.

MC: Okay, let’s move on to what is happening in the park. During the upcoming Dance Camera West Festival, Grand Park has commissioned LA Contemporary Dance Company to perform its work, Prite Oef Springh, as a site-specific piece. When did you first encounter this piece and what was your reaction?

JD: I saw the piece at LACDC’s spring show in 2013. I was completely drawn in. I felt the beats and the pulsation and the emotion it in my gut. That is when you know that you are watching something truly great whether it is a movie, a DJ set… Prite is about being an insider or an outsider. It is interesting to note which side you identify with. Do you see yourself on the inside or the outside? It is also about how those on the inside persecute those on the outside. Prepare to be a little unsettled.

MC: This sounds riveting. I’m excited to see it for the first time, especially in a completely new setting. So what about LA Contemporary Dance Company? I understand the company is unique in the way that it employs choreographers. How is it distinct from other companies?

JD: A choreographer recently told me that LACDC has created a dance community. I think this is a hallmark of the work specifically of Kate Hutter. Kate invites the LA dance world in and gives them the freedom to express themselves however they wish. That is a major reason why I think this company is such a great fit for the park. LACDC is a platform for LA dance artists. It showcases what makes LA awesome. Grand Park is dedicated to supporting organizations and the projects and creative thinkers who make LA such a wonderful place. All of our events bring people together and the partners we work with are all experts in bringing certain folks together around some common thread.

splash dance!

Ate9 dANCEcOMPANY performing at Grand Park in the spring of 2014.

MC: This is not the first time contemporary dance has been presented in the park. From your experience presenting site-specific pieces, how does gathering in an outdoor, public space affect the work?

JD: That might be a question for a choreographer but I’ll give it a shot. It loosens up the control that a choreographer has on the audience experience. When you create work in a theatre, you know where they are sitting, you know more or less how they will be behave (when they will stand, sit, clap, etc). In a space like Grand Park, there are a million places the audience can stand and a million things they can be doing. So their experience could be anything. That is probably scary but also likely exciting. It is also the reason why not every artist is interested in creating that kind of work. I get it. I am a control freak.

MC: I hadn’t thought of it in that way, that an audience can have an incredibly unique, yet shared, experience because of the space itself. It’s really exciting!

dance dance revolution

Photo by Javier Guillen.

MC: So, following the live work by LA Contemporary, park-patrons can enjoy two screenings of dance-related film in Grand Park as a part of the Dance Camera West Festival. What can we expect to see the evening of the 7th?

JD: First, a dance performance: get ready to feel your heart beating. Second, and awards ceremony: the best in LA dance. Third, 2 films: this will give you a little bit of what artists are doing here and now with film and dance and then it will tell you the story of an amazing woman who really was a pillar of dance. Even crumpers and twerkers should thank Miss Hill.

MC: Sounds like a great night to celebrate LA Dance.

Come celebrate with us! Check out the details on Grand Park’s Event Calendar.

–Julia Diamond, Grand Park’s Director of Programming & Mitchell Colley, Grand Park’s resident blogger.

The Gringo’s Guide to Salsa Swagger

THE SECRETS TO SALSA SWAGGER from Grand Park on Vimeo.

Video by Javier Guillen.

As the park began gearing up for the The Salsa Session this Memorial Day, one thing became abruptly clear: this gringo didn’t know the first thing about salsa!

I’m intrigued by salsa dancing, the history of latin jazz music and Afro-Cuban rhythms, but these have never been things I have sought out. I thought to myself, “how can you begin to engage with an event at Grand Park that you know little or nothing about?” I was suddenly on a mission.

The one thing I did know above anything else is that true salseros and salseras are cool. They are WAY more cool than I could ever hope to be. I’m talking on the level, like James Dean, Miles Davis or Aretha Franklin cool.

spicy

Brother sister team Junior and Emily. World Salsa Champions and the directors of Amicitia Dance Company will perform at The Salsa Session. Photo by Javier Guillen.

I wouldn‘t be able to master any dance moves or suddenly bring a conga drum to life in a few short weeks, but maybe I could find that special something that separates salseros from the rest of us. I needed to harness that look in the eyes when you find a partner on the dance floor, the confidence that rolls off a person when they move and the sense of passion that can give you goosebumps: I needed to find the secrets of salsa swagger.

I set out to see what I might uncover at a weekly dance class taught by Erica Bowen, Director of Arya Movement Project. She unveiled my first revelation: salsa lives in the hips of women and the shoulders of men. Additionally, she began to connect the dots between the rich Afro-Cuban history of Rumba, the Colombian-born styles of Cumbia and the emergence of  Salsa in the United States and elsewhere.

No really, it's that easy! JK it takes A LOT of dedication.

World champion dancers Jefferson Benjumea and Adriana Avila. Photo by Javier Guillen.

Armed with these first secrets of salsa swag, I set out to see what Los Angeles had to offer. I hit the dance floor and got a dose of Cumbia as we caught Viento Callejero’s set during Mucho Wednesdays at La Cita.

I took in the salsa and sunshine as I got a chance to see a bit of Rumba while standing around the drum circle during Presencia Cubana en Los Angeles at Echo Park Lake. While there, I ran into Albert Torres, the founder of LA Salsa Fest, who agreed to give up some secrets of his own: most importantly, that salsa is all about pasión and comes from the heart.

I caught Oscar Hernandez, Music Director of the Grammy award-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra, who spelled out a long list of musicians he attributes his salsa swag to.

Lucas Rivera, the Director of Grand Park even gave his advice. He reminded me to keep an ear out for the clave, and to be aware of the rhythms of your heart. Did you know Lucas is a dancer and a DJ?! Yup, he’s on the level too.

salsa splash!

Global sensations Kevin and Beverly strutting their stuff in Grand Park’s splash pad. Photo by Javier Guillen.

Ultimately, the most important thing I’ve learned so far is that salsa swagger can’t be taught by any other means than experience. The best dancers and musicians devoted to the salsa tradition got to where they are because they live it in every facet of their lives. Salsa lives in every breath, the movement of the hips, shoulders, feet and most of all the heart. You can experience it for yourself at Grand Park’s Salsa Session this Memorial Day from 2pm to 6pm.

Mitchell Colley, Grand Park’s resident gringo.

Messi is the best-i

8 Tips To Help The Environment This Earth Day

#EarthDayLA

Join the Music Center and Grand Park this April 22nd for Earth Day LA. Photo by Javier Guillen.

April 22nd is Earth Day and I am personally very happy to think about how we can lend a helping hand to Mother Nature. In observance of this international day devoted to the preservation of our planet’s environment, The Music Center, DWP and Grand Park are hosting Earth Day LA. The event, scheduled from 9am-2pm, features an e-waste drop off, tours of Grand Park’s sustainable landscaping, composting, recycled art and so much more! Whether you spend the day at the park, or plan to go green elsewhere, here is a list of tips (inspired by the EPA) to make sure you have the Earth’s back:

1. Reduce: Consider cutting down on the amount of things that can become waste. When shopping, keep an eye out for products that are made from sustainable, reused or recycled materials, or choose to purchase  items in less packaging. It might feel like a small step, but the impact is huge.

2. Reuse: Feeling crafty? Upcycle! In other words, take items that might otherwise be thrown away and turn them into something useful for the household or workplace. There are so many awesome DIY projects, from milk cartons turned bird feeders, to potting plants in a pair of old stilettos. Let your imagination run wild!

3. Recycle: Help keep our public spaces clean! Properly dispose of trash and waste in receptacles and dumpsters. Recycle metals, plastics, and paper. Did you know that Grand Park has both trash and recycling receptacles placed throughout the park for easy access? There are even solar powered trash compactors to consolidate waste!

Have old batteries? An old P.C. that, in its heyday, ran Windows 95 ever so wonderfully? Those old games for Super Nintendo? The answer to those eyesores: e-cycling. That’s the process of recycling or properly disposing of electronic waste such as computers and other gadgets. For the the upcoming Earth Day LA event at Grand Park, The Music Center and DWP, there will be an e-waste drop-off in The Music Center Plaza from 9am-2pm. You can also find a center near you here.

4. Buy locally, or grow your own! This can reduce air pollution caused by food and goods transport.

Colors, colors, colors!

Photo by Javier Guillen.

5. Use only the water you need, and reuse when possible. Californians rely heavily upon our water supplies to keep agriculture productive throughout the central valley and elsewhere. In the midst of an epic drought, like the one we are currently facing, it is now more important than ever to conserve water use.

6. Use human-powered and alternative modes of transportation to get to where you are going! Let’s face it, not only does it make you feel great to  walk, jog, cart-wheel, dance or  ride a bike from place to place, but it also improves our air quality! Why spend your life in the car? Take public transportation, carpool, plan your day in order to reduce trips and vehicle emissions, and avoid Los Angeles’ traffic. Need to go to the laundromat AND the grocery store? Do them both in the same trip to save your dollars and help the environment at the same time.

Stop! Smell me! :-)

Flowers can be found blooming at different times of year throughout Grand Park.

7. Plant a tree. Or plant several trees!  Plant native species in your gardens and encourage important pollinators such as bees and birds by featuring their favorite plants. You can learn about composting tomorrow at Earth Day LA. You can also take a tour of the sustainable landscaping to learn more about the Grand Park’s plant life.

8. Save energy at home. Turn off the lights and unplug appliances when they are not being used. You can also choose to purchase energy-saving appliances. Don’t know which ones are energy-saving? Look for Energy Star!

Give us a shout out on Twitter or Instagram @grandpark_LA to let us know how you plan to spend your #EarthDayLA

By Grand Park’s resident blogger, Mitchell Colley

The Plant Life of Grand Park: Designers Talk Their Favorites

rendering

A rendering of Grand Park during design phase.

It is hard to believe that the park is now well over three years old. I remember four and a half years ago when I would go out of my way to walk or drive by Grand Park on my routes home just so I could catch a glimpse of the construction progress. Watching it evolve through the cracks of the mesh green fences became a part of my daily trek. It was so exciting to see this much-needed green space grow from rendering to reality.

block 3

Wherever you are in the park, you will find an abundance of plants.

When I heard I was getting to meet with the masterminds of Grand Park, I became so excited. As a young boy, I dreamed of becoming an architect. My dad would drive me through various neighborhoods for inspiration, and I would immediately request to rush home so I could sketch a better version of the homes and public spaces we had discovered. Paper pads and colored pencils were a consistent birthday gift for me each year. This is probably why I love downtown so much. I have the same routine as I did when I was younger. I continue to imagine the future. When I sat down with architects John Fishback, Tony Paradowski and Jessa Chisari of Rios Clemente Hale Studios, I had many questions on my agenda. What was their vision for the park? What were their obstacles? What were some of their favorite features?

As we chatted over lunch, I quickly learned that as landscape architects, their favorite feature of the park was to no surprise, the plants. A huge component of the park that some may not have noticed is that park is home to plants from all over the world and planted within with curved lines all throughout the park. These lines represent the meridians of the earth. Various floristic gardens feature plants that are living in Los Angeles but are also native to different regions all over the world. During the year these native plants come alive and go dormant. No matter what the season there is always something in bloom.

meridians

The curved concrete lines represent the meridians of the earth. (Taken during construction)

“One of my favorite parts of the Grand Park project was tree selection and planting.” John explained. “During the construction process I had the pleasure of visiting many nurseries in search of the 325 new trees that were to be planted at Grand Park.” With the exception of the 40 Sycamores trees that were planted throughout the park, each tree was individually selected for its branching structure and overall form. John had the opportunity to personally oversee the planting of new trees as well as a number of existing trees that were being relocated to different parts of the park. “I specified the orientation of each individual tree based upon views to promote the growth of major branches over the walkways and to create shade. It was so much fun!”

palms

Palm tree installation during construction.

“One of my favorite trees in Grand Park is the Phoenix Canariensis, the Canary Island Palm.” Though the park is filled with the unofficial tree of LA, the palm, John did not originally love the tropical tree. “When I first moved to Los Angeles I did not like palm trees. They seemed so pointless because they never made very much shade and were usually planted as single trees, far apart from one another.” The palm garden at The Huntington changed John’s mind. “I learned to really like a lot of the palms, especially when planted in a cluster to create an oasis of shade.”

palm

John’s favorite plant, Phoenix Canariensis, the Canary Island Palm

community table

The blocks between Grand and Broadway (Blocks 1, 2 and 3) are all nestled above parking structures.

The designers at Rios Clemente Hale also had many obstacles and restrictions when choosing what plants went where. Because two blocks of the park sit above a parking lot constructed in the 60s, engineers had to come in and determine just how many plants and soil the parking lot could support. Because of this Tony told me a little secret on just how they made it work. Many planter beds in many parts of the park sit in about four feet of soil, atop various depths of good old-fashioned polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) to decrease the weight put on the existing parking lot. This fascinated me. We are walking through this urban oasis that, come to find out, literally has so much depth to it.

Though the designers spent years selecting what plants would work with these restrictions, nowhere in the park will you find a lack of foliage. Over the past year I have enjoyed exploring the different plants that make up the park. One of my favorite plants is the Evergreen Fountain Grass. Growing up in northern California, there was never a shortage of huge fields filled with this grass. One could gaze out and see acres and acres of grass. There is a different backdrop with this grass here in Los Angeles as shown below, but it meshes a little bit of my old home and my new home quite nicely!

fountain grass

Evergreen Fountain Grass

What is your favorite plant located in the park?

Give us a shout out tomorrow on Twitter or Instagram @grandpark_LA using the hashtag #floresdegrandpark to let us know!

Joshua Levi, special to Grand Park, Downtown With Me

¡TACO GLADNESS!

Happy snappy taco time!This past Saturday, Taco Gladness was achieved.

Legions of taco lovers came out to the park on a stunningly beautiful day to enjoy the fares of nearly a dozen of the finest taco purveyors. The most fascinating aspect of the event wasn’t the quality of the tacos (which was superb across the board), but rather how many different types were available. Tacos Árabes was serving a Middle Eastern-influenced taco popular in Central Mexico, while Plant Food for People offered an alternative for vegans, with wonderfully seasoned jackfruit as the protein. The rest was a dizzying array of everything in between. Everyone around me was having a blast with this madness.

... taco, taco, taco ...Eating as many tacos as I did, with our homegrown DJ’s grooves bumping through the air, the day progressed more and more into an daze.  Arteries constricted, my lips burned from the ghost chili pepper sauce in Mexicali’s delectable blue corn tortilla tacos, and the pages of my notepad became increasingly transparent from the oils on my fingers. Is this what it’s like to be Anthony Bourdain on an epicurean glutfest? Perhaps, but what I do know is that from this wonderful cacophony, 3 deserving winners emerged.

For my first-ever recognition of superior taco-making in 3 categories at Grand Park’s ¡Taco Madness!, I award the following talented institutions:

The ‘Make Your Abuelita Jealous’ taco award goes to: FRIDA TACOS

FRIDA It’s clear that Chef Vicente Del Rio is very interested in a classic, solid taco. It had asada, carnitas and chicken tacos all topped the same way and they were fantastic. All elements were cooked and prepared very well, with a marvelous yin-yang balance between their guac sauce and chili de arbol sauce. I can see abuelita giving Vicente the stink eye.

The ‘Taco to Take Home to Meet Mom’ award goes to: GUERILLA TACOS

Does it get better than this?!A sweet potato taco with Oaxacan cheese, braised leeks, almond chili, chives and fried corn is not only worthy of meeting mom and making a good impression, it would be a winner with the whole family at Christmas or Thanksgiving. There were so many surprising flavors and textures, all unified and working together to create a classy (vegetarian!) experience. It’s a keeper.

The ‘Alright, Alright, Alright…’ taco award goes to: CARNITAS EL MOMO

Mmmomo When I took my first bite of this simple yet breathtakingly succulent carnitas taco, the rest of the world disappeared for a moment. It was just me, a tortilla, and über-savory pig parts (stomach, shoulder, skin) that had been cooked in their own fat.  No fixings were needed. The Acosta family makes the best damn carnitas ever, and when they make a taco with it, well then, alright, alright, alright…

Ebner Sobalvarro, Grand Park’s resident foodie.

Mr. "Do I Smell Bacon?" Sobalvarro

6 Essential Things You Need To Bring To A Music Festival

representin'While a ton of excited festival goers gear up for Coachella this week, we checked in with one of Grand Park’s Event Managers and music festival guru, Matt Saltzman, to see what he thought was ABSOLUTELY essential when going to a fest. Here are the SIX things he promises no festival goer should be without:

1. Cash…and backup cash

What happens if you just lost your wallet in the restroom or it got picked out of your pocket or your friend holding your wallet just walked away never to be seen again? Bring backup cash and stash in various places – In your shoe, your hat, in a different pocket separate from the wallet. Keep a $20 bill with you, you’ll be glad you did.

2. Water bottle maintenance

Bringing a water bottle to any music festival is my first choice, but you’ll most likely lose it. Instead? Buy water throughout the daytime when the sun is out while the refill lines are long (with your cash!). This saves you from frying while you wait to refill. When the sun goes down and it cools off a bit, you can start refilling the collection you now have. Make sense?

3. Phone… and backup phone 

Obviously, your phone is important, but don’t spend your whole day taking pics and videos (future Spielbergs: please be mindful of those behind you) or trolling Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/SnapChat, etc. Instead, use your phone to find your friends because, after all, being with your friends is what makes music festivals such a blast! Make sure you have a plan ahead of time in the chance that your phone runs out of power. For example, team up with a few best friends and share each other’s numbers with the rest of your group so people have more than one option when trying to get in touch with you. Most big music festivals have charging stations, but are you really going to spend an hour waiting to charge up?

4. Protect those peepers and the rest of you.

Yes, looking cool is important. Protecting your eyes? Far less cool, far more important. Festivals like Coachella, etc. are normally several days long and your eyes may hurt from all the intense non-stop sunshine. It’s a good idea to bring an extra pair. Stash it with your bestie. Sunscreen is super important, but normally very plentiful at music festivals. In the case you “forgot” yours, chances are good someone may lend you some SPF.

5. Dancing shoes

You’ll probably be on your feet all day – dancing, walking, jumping etc. Make sure you’re comfortable. Don’t obsess about style because when you’re in a crowd no one can see your feet anyway.

6. One tall friend

Having a meeting spot is often the right choice, but sometimes it doesn’t always work. Instead, designate a super tall friend as your meeting place.  Suggest they wear something super bright and/or hold something that beams light. This will help the group, ESPECIALLY when it’s dark out. If you’re the tall one, it can be kind of a bummer to have that responsibility, but on the upside, you’ll have friends all day long relieved to find you. Take it from me, it’s fun being that person.

– Matt Saltzman, Grand Park’s music festival guru.

Matt Saltzman_250

P.S. Matt prefers to wear $5 wayfarer-style sunglasses and likes to rock running shoes. He hides his extra cash in his backpack, manages to get cell phone service just about anywhere, and comes into the fest at 6 feet, 3 inches.

L.A.’s TACO TIME

IMG_2100Who doesn’t love tacos?! Satisfied taco seekers at ¡Taco Madness! 2013. Photo by Javier Guillen.

Just look at what Los Angeles has done to the venerable taco. Our city has taken this Mexican staple and turned it into a vibrant expression of our diversity and creativity. This is not an insignificant civic achievement. In Los Angeles, you can find any taco you want: high-end, mom-and-pop, wild and zany. There is no end to the variations of palm-sized tortillas, proteins, toppings and sauces.

This little handheld vessel of happiness is being celebrated this year at ¡Taco Madness!, presented by Grand Park and L. A. Taco. We will celebrate all the tacos: traditional, fancy, messy, exotic. I’m particularly excited about the reveal of L.A.’s favorite taco, being decided by method of bracketology.

new-tacos-4Via Kogi Truck.

At this year’s ¡Taco Madness!, Grand Park’s blog will announce winners in the following categories:

• The “Alright, Alright, Alright…” Award. This taco should cause involuntary head bobbing and a concentrated feeling of ‘life is good.’ Nothing could possibly get better than this taco moment, right now.  This is the taco whose name you’ll be tenderly whispering at night in your sleep.

• The “Taco to Take Home to Meet Mom” Award. This taco will be pretty, elegant, and is well mannered enough to keep its elbows off the table.

• The “Make Your Abuelita Jealous” Award. This recognizes a traditionally inspired taco that is so warm and cozy it could have only come from the hands of a wonderful home cook.

Look out for the winners on the blog next week. In the meantime, I hope to see you all at the park on Saturday, April 5. If I’m passed out on a pink bench from all the tacos, a gentle nudge should do.

Ebner Sobalvarro, Grand Park’s resident foodie.

 

 

Reading Up On Bookfest

4cfb4826839b11e2bb0f22000a1fbc94_7  Grand Park’s Downtown Bookfest, 2013. Photo by Javier Guillen.  

“I hope you’re still writing.”

Writing is like wrestling a beast every day and knowing you will never win. No matter what the form, be it poetry, plays, or prose, it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to carve out a voice as a writer. Writers usually have to work alone at first then send out the work to the public space, which is not always easy.

I’m inspired every time I meet someone new who has garnered his or her livelihood using the written word. I’m twice as inspired by those who have not used writing as their source of income and continue to lay down the pen for no other reason than this:

Something deep inside compels them to communicate.

When I was given the opportunity of writing and curating the content for Grand Park’s blog, I got really excited.

I recently sent a letter to a mentor of mine telling her about the different projects I was working on at the time. She was glad to hear from me, (it had been a while,) and sent me a note, “I hope you’re still writing.”

Half the battle for new writers is just to find the time and space to sit down and churn out the work.

The other half is getting your voice heard.

So when I heard that Grand Park was having a Downtown Bookfest, presenting Los Angeles based publishers, authors, non-profits, arts organizations and performance groups, I was ecstatic! The participants of Bookfest are all devoted to cultivating literary excitement and accessibility for Angelenos.

So, what kinds of activities am I going to find at Bookfest? The list seems endless:

picstitchPhotos via 826LA.

Patrons of bookfest can add a line of genius to The World’s Longest Story by 826LA, a non-profit organization dedicated to “supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.”

1521999_655016174541489_655725566_nAbram Gomez delivering a Poem On Demand at Poesia Para La Gente in Pershing Square.

You can receive your very own poem-on-demand by Poesia Para La Gente! How cool is that?!

1782544_607606162651133_1197713924_oZinefest 2014.

Shop the local pop-up bookshop and discover books, zines and literary gems written by L.A.’s finest!

56283_543812195634896_938558363_oVia Story Pirates.

Onstage you can catch Story Pirates, a one-of-a-kind sketch comedy musical based entirely on stories by children, including those written by Grand Park kids.

Grand Park Pop Up Parks from Grand Park on Vimeo.

Bring your books for Grand Park’s wee library system – the Little Libraries. Find’em, fill’em, love’em! In anticipation of Bookfest, our Little Libraries were taken for a walk around Downtown (Ace Hotel Downtown Los AngelesHandsome Coffee, and Grand Central Market). Check out the video above!

Excited yet? Well, that’s not even the half of it: the list goes on!

super-nerd

When trying to wrap my head around the amount of activities, independent publishers, artists, writers, readers, performers, and fellow super nerds I would see at Bookfest, I wanted to get some perspective. I reached out to Chiwan Choi of Writ Large Press to talk shop about the written word, literary accessibility, and a project being activated in the park: PUBLISH!: You Can To.

858752_486259148098585_1589722658_oChiwan Choi at Bookfest 2013. Photo by Jason Gutierrez. 

Here’s a little of what he had to say:

MC: So tell me more about PUBLISH!: You Can Too. Can you break down what patrons of Bookfest can expect to experience?

CC: At the Bookfest, we will have multiple typewriters set up. We will also have a writing prompt or two. We will ask patrons to sit down and write to the prompt for 3 minutes.

Once that’s done, we’ll invite everyone to come back at set intervals, where they will then change hats and become the editors, as each person selects a handful of different writings from the day (including their own if they choose), then change hats again by becoming the publisher and assembling the books that are called “You Can Too”.

We will have book covers made. The books will be blurbed. And each book that each person makes will get an official Writ Large Press and Kaya Press stamp of approval, making it an official publication.

MC: Do you think placing the project in Grand Park will affect the writing?

CC: Of course. Physical space always affects writing. The weather. The noise. The size of the crowd. It will all have an impact.

MC: Can we expect to see more literature centric events in public spaces around Los Angeles?

CC: Yes. Definitely. That is one of the driving passions for Writ Large Press. To turn the entire city into a literary playground. We have a few things brewing that are incredibly challenging and exciting. Keep an eye out.

We’ll be on the look out!

You can experience PUBLISH!: You Can To and so much more at Grand Park’s Downtown Bookfest tomorrow, March 29th from 12-5pm. #homegrownlit Click here for more info!

– Mitchell Colley, Grand Park’s resident super nerd.

Little Libraries

In the age of the Kindle, the Nook and all things electronic, I really thought the end of the paperback book was near. It seems so easy. I can have digital versions of all my favorite books and save a lot of space. I was beginning to think this was the new way of the world, but this does not seem to be the case, especially downtown. In fact, the exact opposite seems to be taking place. A literary revolution has begun.

centrallibrarylarge

Our beautiful Central Library has now gone back to operating 6 days a week, and our beloved The Last Bookstore isn’t showing any signs that their ginormous store will stop growing anytime soon. It is quite comforting to see that turning a page is not only still cool, but it is an ever-growing obsession. We love to read! Even if we don’t, at least those unread books are a great design aesthetic in your bookcases! You’ll get to them eventually.

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As many know, there are more and more people coming downtown as time goes on. Tourists, workers and residents have filled the buildings and filled the streets with electric energy. With a growing comes a demand for services such as our library and bookstore. We then desire an urban oasis to pause, relax and dig into our latest novel. I am so excited that we now have both, and Grand Park has managed to create a one-stop shop for this literary revolution. Little Libraries are what you call them, and they have been added all throughout the urban oasis. Intrigued? Little Libraries are these ridiculously adorable pink dollhouses that have been filled with a variety of books for all ages. You can find these pink dollhouses near Starbucks, on Olive Court, near the Metro station, and across from City Hall. Some things just don’t need much fuss in life. Lending libraries are one of them. They operate on 3 basic principles:

  1. You take a book…or…You leave a book
  2. You read the book  (preferably on some park furniture or under a leafy Grand Park tree)…then
  3. You do it all over again

Find’em, fill’em, love’em!

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Little Libraries are meant to be a never ending cycle of discovery. Whether you have one in your neighborhood, are inspired to put one in your front yard, or passing through Grand Park to drop off your newly cleaned bookshelves, it is about sharing, connecting and learning with other people. If there is anything that I have come to find out over the years, it is that Angelenos are more connected to each other than ever before. We learn from each other and we grow every day. This is the essence of our city and it begins downtown.

Joshua Levi, special to Grand Park, Downtown With Me