WASH ME (Water Article 3) by Tom Grode

lavamaeWash me in Spanish is lava mae.

Lava Mae is the name for a San Francisco community effort to serve the homeless population of San Francisco by offering mobile showers and bathrooms.

Lava Mae was birthed from an epiphany experienced by San Francisco corporate executive Doenice Sandoval.  After hearing a cab driver refer to San Francisco as a land of broken dreams, she began to look at the city differently and when she encountered a homeless woman crying out “I need to be clean”, Sandoval took the cry literally.

Over the past two years, Sandoval has slowly built a strategy to provide mobile showers for the homeless positively embraced by the government, non-profits serving the homeless, the business community, and the media.

The first Lava Mae bus, a retrofitted retired city bus, is due on the streets this May containing two sets of a shower, a toilet, a changing room, and a sink with mirror.

The larger vision of Lava Mae is to work with other cities on similar issues with a goal of creating an international online community helping one another deal with sanitation and hygiene issues in urban areas.

Over the past year, Lava Mae has been interacting with numerous people and groups in Los Angeles.  This past March 28th Leah Filler, Community Engagement and Mobile Services Manager for Lava Mae, took a ninety minute tour of Skid Row.

On April 7, a ten page proposal by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana was delivered to the City Council and released to the media.  The proposal suggests an additional two million dollars expand Operation Healthy Streets.  Part of the two million targets increased toilet and shower services for the homeless in Skid Row.

n April 9, this proposal sparked a Twitter exchange which turned into a group email involving Doenice Sandoval and Leah Filler in San Francisco and several people in Los Angeles, some Skid Row residents and others throughout the city.

On April 15, the dialogue continued with a San Francisco/Los Angeles conference call.

The issue of toilets and public hygiene has been a very serious one in Skid Row for many years.  A variety of people and groups have wrestled with finding solutions and continue to wrestle.  How Lava Mae fits into this bigger picture is a puzzle to put together.

By Tom Grode

Blogger’s note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Trees on San Pedro Street Project editrix, Ms. McNenny. This is a Community improvement blog and not faith-based.

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Mobile Toilets & Showers in Skid Row + Lava Mae Conference Call

Lava Mae for LA

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Sweet Water (Water Article 2) by Tom Grode

New mural @ the corner of Winston & Los Angeles St.

New mural @ the corner of Winston & Los Angeles St.

The last vomit of Satan.  One of the 100 most important events of the last 1000 years.  According to Time Life in 2001, the Azusa Street Revival of 1906 was one of the 100 most important events from 1000 to 2000 AD.

The Azusa Street Revival was incredibly controversial, mainly due to the free interaction of the races under the leadership of Pastor William Seymour, the son of slaves, at a time when it was illegal in some parts of Los Angeles for a black man to be on the street at night.  A prominent church leader called what happened at Azusa Street the last vomit of Satan.

Today around seven hundred million Pentecostal Christians trace their spiritual heritage back to this small side street in the Little Tokyo section of Downtown Los Angeles.

Azusa is a Native American word of the Gabrielino-Tongva people.  Father Juan Crespi of the Portola Expedition coined the word Azusa from the Native village Asuksa-nga, now the City of Azusa.  Father Crespi said Azusa meant “blessed miracle” as a reference to Coma Lee, a Native woman with a ministry of miraculous healing.  Translating Azusa as “healing” was added with it said - if you need healing go to Azusa.

Modern Tongva language restorers now give “sweet water” as a translation of Azusa.

A group of Japanese American Christian pastors in Southern California spent two years praying and talking to Little Tokyo community leaders on how Little Tokyo could appropriately honor the legacy of William Seymour.  The Azusa Street Revival took place on what is now the courtyard of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center(JACCC).  In December 2012, the pastors led an honoring ceremony on the courtyard which involved the planting of a grapefruit tree.

This past February 22nd, the day William Seymour arrived in Los Angeles from Houston in 1906, was a special tour of Azusa Street and the Biddy Mason Memorial Wall led by Pastor Fred Berry of the Azusa Street Mission and Mel Roebuck of Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, considered the foremost historian of the Azusa Street Revival.

Biddy Mason came to Los Angeles in the mid-1800′s as a slave.  Gaining her freedom in California, she went on to become one of the early matriarchs of Los Angeles.  Today we might use the word entrepreneur to describe her accomplishments.  Her life is presented in the Historic Core section of Downtown Los Angeles, a fifteen minute walk west of Azusa Street, in the form of a Memorial Wall and small park.

Part of her legacy is the first black African Methodist Episcopal church (AME) began in her living room.  As it grew it moved into a building on Azusa Street.  It later became a barn for horses and later the location for the Azusa Street Revival.

One of the reasons for the tour was to announce with Leslie Ito, President and CEO of the JACCC, the development of a million dollar project to build a Memorial Wall for William Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival along Azusa Street.

In December 2002, I was given a prophetic word that my life would dramatically change in twenty-seven days.  Twenty-seven days later I met Elizabeth Hawker of the Tongva people.  At that point I had no involvement in, and little understanding of, Native American issues.  In June 2012, I was made an honorary Tongva by the San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians.  My Native name is Woorypot Moompet, which means Man of the Sea.

Elizabeth Hawker now lives in Eugene, Oregon.  We spoke this past February 28th because she was about to fly into Los Angeles the following day, March 1st, the first time she would be in Los Angeles in two years.  I told her it was pouring rain.  She told me the past couple of days the Lord had been speaking to her about the latter rain from the Book of Zechariah – “Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain.  The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone.”

The following day the rain continued.  On February 28th and March 1st Los Angeles received about eighty percent of all the rain she received from November to April.

The latter rain are the months of March and April.  The former rain are the months of November through February.  Both rains are needed for a harvest.

This Los Angeles rainstorm of the final day of the former rain and first day of the latter rain is a symbol of Little Tokyo (former rain) and Skid Row (latter rain).

In 1910, William Seymour gave a prophecy that in 100 years there would be another outpouring of Holy Spirit and Shekinah Glory that would be greater and more far reaching than Azusa (azusastories.com).  The Shekinah Glory is a Hebrew concept referring to extraordinary manifestations of the Presence of God. An example of Shekinah Glory is a Voice from a Burning Bush telling Moses the time has now come for him to deliver his people from the bondage of Egypt.

Skidrokyo.  The nickname for the overlapping area of Little Tokyo and Skid Row.  According to a street sign on San Pedro, Little Tokyo begins between Third and Fourth Streets.  According to a Federal Court in 2006, the boundary of Skid Row extends to the southern half of Third Street.

As this bland industrial building in Skidrokyo on a side street one block east of San Pedro undergoes a transformation by Brazilian muralists Bicicleta Semfreio, a glimpse is being painted of the fulfillment of Seymour’s prophecy.

New mural by Bicicleta Sem Freio on Boyd & Omar Streets

New mural by Bicicleta Sem Freio on Boyd & Omar Streets

By Tom Grode

Blogger’s note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Trees on San Pedro Street Project editrix, Ms. McNenny. This is a Community improvement blog and not faith-based.

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April’s Scheule for Skid Row 3ON3 StreetBall, Gladys Park DTLA

3 on 3 Flyer (April)

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New mural in Skidrowkyo by Bicicleta Sem Freio

Pic by Cindy Schwarzstein on April 3, 2014 in MAGAZINE

Pic by Cindy Schwarzstein on April 3, 2014 in MAGAZINE

Wow! Check out this beautiful mural going up in “Skidrowkyo” right now by Bicicleta Sem Freio just above The Escondite! Read more here on cartwheelart.com.

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The Water Articles by Tom Grode

Operation Healthy Streets crew, Oct. 2013

Operation Healthy Streets crew, Oct. 2013, pic by Tom Grode

Water. The human body is composed mainly of water.

Water. A Japanese scientist conducted an experiment and discovered a water molecule subjected to discordant sounds and harsh words results in murky color and jagged edges while a water molecule subjected to relaxing music and pleasant words results in clear beautiful colors and smooth edges.

Water. Religions and cultures worldwide employ water as symbol and ritual for cleansing and baptism.

Water. The place we spent the first part of our life.

Water Article Number One: Operation Healthy Streets

If you were walking along the streets of Skid Row and someone said Operation Healthy Streets, you might think it was a multi-dimensional vision of what could be.  And you would be right.

But for the moment Operation Healthy Streets is the name for the city “streets of Skid Row” emergency clean-up program in response to a County Health Report.  Operation Healthy Streets is still operating, witnessed by the above powerwashing.

A multi-dimensional vision.  If the cities emergency response and now ongoing street maintenance is one dimension of Operation  Healthy Streets, what are some others?  One other dimension in the multi would definitely be trees.

Industrial District Green’s project-in-development is planting trees along Seventh Street, the border of Skid Row and the Fashion District.  Seventh Street (nicknamed Seventh Heaven) is also waiting for the bike lane that already goes through the rest of DTLA and currently stops at Main Street, the western border of Skid Row according to a Federal court in 2006, to complete it’s journey by going through Skid Row, the Arts District, ending at Boyle Heights.

A major delay in the bike lane is now inevitable with shifting traffic due to the Sixth Street Bridge construction.  Bike lane advocates are waiting to see how much of the Seventh Heaven bike lane will need to be delayed.  Continuing the bike lane through Skid Row would take it from Main to perhaps Alameda.

Trees are healthy on streets.  Bikes are healthy on streets.  What else is healthy on streets?

Since this article is about water, it’s time to stop talking about those who use oil.

Trees need water and they need to be watered for a long time.  In Los Angeles, a long time is five years because it takes that long before the roots go deep enough to access the water table.  Then the tree can take care of itself.

That’s a good analogy for Skid Row. Historically, Skid Row is a place where people go who need serious help.  Years of help so those newly planted seeds can take root and the roots go deep enough to where the person can take care of themselves.

A goal of Industrial District Green is to hire the homeless as “tree ambassadors” to water and nurture the newly planted trees.  Industrial District Green is warm and fuzzy so they just gently note the city doesn’t have money in their budget to care for newly planted trees.

However, I’m not part of Industrial District Green and so I feel no responsibility to be warm and fuzzy.  For the city not to budget caring for the trees is dysfunctional at best if not scandalous.  Okay, there are financial issues at play.  Perhaps the County would like to partner with the City and water her for five years.

If you’d like to donate money to help take care of trees, good.  If you’d like to donate money to provide jobs for the homeless, that’s good.  But if you’d like to donate money to hire the homeless to take care of trees, CLICK HERE.

By Tom Grode

Blogger’s note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Trees on San Pedro Street Project editrix, Ms. McNenny. This is a Community improvement blog and not faith-based.


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Skid Row 3ON3 StreetBall League Opening Day! March 29th, Gladys Park DTLA

3 on 3 Flyer Opening Day-1

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