Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hollywood: Fashion Show & Fundraising Gala!

Daood: Imani Corporation seems to be a great organization! Can you provide for us its genesis and the primary focus of its programs?

C.E.O. Nicole Roberts: Imani Corporation was founded with our original program for youth Imani Phi Christ at First AME Church (FAME) on September 19, 1993 in the wake of the Los Angeles riots. Our mission is simple - "helping African American teenage girls maximize their potential". Fulfilling the purpose calls for us to challenge the negative aspects of the inner city. A community plagued by inferior educational systems, few recreational outlets, lack of adequate post-secondary opportunities, struggling with the menace of all low-income communities - gangs, violence and teenage pregnancies and a lack of positive role models that could inspire young women to excel.

Imani Phi Christ is a faith-based program aimed at developing the whole individual via three components: Mentoring, training/development and community service. These activities include:

  • Mentoring (members are matched with a mentor/advisor who helps them learn positive life choices and run the programs of the organization)
  • Training/Development
  • Self Development (Workshops on topics such as etiquette, self esteem, job
    skills, time management, peer pressure etc...)
  • College Prep (Empowering our members to move from day to day thinkers into
    long term goal oriented achievers. We give our girls the skills they need to
    apply, be accepted and sustain themselves in college)
  • Financial Literacy (teaching our members the importance of managing money
    and investing)
  • Community Service (members learn the importance of giving of themselves to help others by performing community service)
  • Leadership Development (Members learn leadership skills by organizing meetings special events, fundraisers and other activities)
  • Other Activities include: Educational Outings (such as museum trips, cultural fairs, plays, horse back riding etc...) & Fun Outings (such as sleepovers, movie trips etc...)
These programs are geared toward at risk young women of color between the ages of 13-19 years old. Imani seeks to build life skills by continuously encouraging our members to develop their creativity and ingenuity. Imani is unique in that its young members not only participate, but also help to create the programs of the organization.

Additionally, due to the fact that in the African American community, the church has traditionally been the place where our families go to for help, and still is, Imani utilizes this concept and is a one-stop service at churches to help young women.

Our track record to date is that:
  • 98% of our members are grdauating from high school,
  • 85% are going on to college, and
  • 95% are graduating from colleges and univesirities throughout the country.

Daood: This is your third annual gala event. Congratulations! The public who will be attending this extravaganza for the first time, what can they expect?

C.E.O. Nicole Roberts: They can expect an afternoon of mixing and mingling, a silent auction full of fabulous items, a fashion show highlighting up and coming and well know African American fashion designers.

However, the most important part of the event is that we recognize women who are MAXIMIZING their potential and who are a light for other young women to follow. We like to call this our moment of paying homage to those legends that came before us who fought and pushed to pave the way so that we all can have the opportunity to live in our MAXIMUM potential. This is as Imani's objective is to stand in the gap to make sure the young women of today reach out and partake in the opportunity afforded to them due to the fight of our ancestors.

Daood: What are the future goals and objectives for Imani Corporation?

C.E.O. Nicole Roberts: The ultimate goal of Imani Corporation is to start chapters of our youth program, Imani Phi Christ, in churches throughout the country. We currently have 3 chapters - 2 in South Los Angeles and one in Orange County but I am also happy to share with you that due to monies we raised last year we are currently developing Imani Phi Christ, in an additional church here in Los Angeles as well as one in Texas and one in Milwaukee.

Daood: I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions!

C.E.O. Nicole Roberts: No thank you! The more people that hear about our program, the more doors that open for us to work with a greater number of women.

Imani's MAXIMIZE 2006 Fashion Show & Fundraising Gala will take place October 1st at LA's premiere special event venue, The Highlands Hollywood, with catering by Wolfgang Puck. The star-studded event will bring together prominent women and men from all across the country combining their efforts to raise money for this worthy cause. For more information on the event please visit the website at


Monday, September 25, 2006

Transit: Wilshire/Vermont Station Does Exist

Wilshire/Vermont Station This entry refers to the recent article on LAist, "The Red Line Station at Wilshire & Vermont: Legend or Legit?" where writer Lindsay William-Ross and her travel companions tried to take the Red Line from North Hollywood to Wilshire/Western and back. Unfortunately, they ran into some trouble on the way back. They were directed to take the subway at the Wilshire/Vermont station after being told that Wilshire/Western was closed for construction (and I assume this means Wilshire/Normandie was also closed). Unfortunately, they weren't able to find the Wilshire/Vermont station when they made their long walk eastbound on Wilshire Blvd.

While it's rare a station would be closed, here are some transit tips that might clarify the situation and be helpful to those traveling in the area, taken from my own personal knowledge of transit and the following ExperienceLA guides Getting Around Downtown LA and Koreatown Metro Adventure:

  • Wilshire/Vermont Station: It does exist! But unfortunately there is a lot of construction surrounding the exterior, ground-level of the station. The entrance is actually on Shatto Place/Wilshire Blvd. The entrance has been narrowed down and increasingly tucked away given the recent demolition of the building adjacent to the station, but it's still there. Completed construction inside the station shows stairs that seem to head up to Wilshire/Vermont, so I imagine once construction is finished that station will be more accessible and live up to its name. See map above if you need a visual.
  • Rapid 720 - Metro Rapid Wilshire: This Rapid bus runs east and west on Wilshire Blvd until sometime after midnight. Instead of walking down Wilshire Blvd, it might be best to take this Rapid instead. The bus will also take you into Downtown LA with easy access to the next available station 7th/Metro Station (on 7th/Figueroa Street).
-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Friday, September 22, 2006

West LA: Discovering A Hidden Gem: LivinStone!

Livin Stone - Photographer: Skye Moorhead
I'm here at LivinStone Gallery with the owners, husband and wife Mr. Olivier Morange and Anne Marteville. Mr. Olivier is available at this moment so I'll ask him a few questions.

Hello Mr. Olivier Morange, I'm Daood!

Hello Daood!

Daood: What is the genesis of the concept LivinStone?

Olivier: LivinStone! It's all in the name. Living in an environment made of the finest stones. When properly sourced and handcrafted: stone can be soft, warm and gentle to the feet, the eyes and to the fingers. It will last a lifetime providing you with a renewed sense of serenity as well as express your personal taste for the finest things in life.

Our showroom features complete earth-centered environments in which customers can experience the serenity of natural stone in its many utilitarian forms--from basic settings to exotic baths, vanities and bedroom sets. An integral part of our design vision focuses on creating spaces that enhance relaxation and pay homage to nature such as Zen Gardens complete with fountains for the living room and dining room tables with centerpieces made of live fishes and organic stones. Inspired from Roman Atriums and California architecture that brings the outdoors in, these comfortable spa-like settings are intended to welcome, draw nature into your environment, and promote social gathering.

Daood: How long have you been established?

Olivier: I found the space in June 2005, signed the lease immediately and started the renovations right away. LivinStone opened officially on October 27th, 2005

Daood: Why do you think LivinStone is so much more compelling than other galleries?

Olivier: There is no other gallery like it coast to coast. Truly unique and original; LivinStone is a trendsetter. The store already received acclaim and recognition in its first year from influential trade publications.

Daood: Are there any new products that people can look forward to viewing?

Olivier: We purchased a fine selection of vintage furniture, lighting and home accessories from Europe. The container should reach Long Beach Seaport at the end of September. We are very excited because there is beautiful designer's pieces from 1960 & 1970 that will complete our line and will go well with our environment and our concept

Daood: Before the end of the year is there any shows or special events that will take place?

Olivier:On October 12th, 2006 LivinStone will host the monthly ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) networking mixer. LivinStone is a proud new partner member of this association. We are looking for an enchanting and enlightening social gathering among industry professionals.

Daood: Thank you for taking the time out to answer my questions.

Olivier: Thank you Daood!

This has truly been an odyssey and unlike furniture that amalgamates with its surrounding ambience; entities of the gallery flirt with the possibility of being inconceivable to the imagination! No one can suggest that minimalism artwork, denies the viewer the proper experience of the esthetic mediums, once inside "LivingStone."

937 N. La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Business hours: M-F 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday: 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m.
Tel: 310 659-0600
Fax: 310 659-0945

Photographer: Skye Moorhead

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Downtown LA: Little Tokyo - "kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa"

kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa Recently I was able to attend the kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa exhibition currently at the Japanese American National Museum. This exhibition features portraits taken by Kip Fulbeck, an artist who traveled the country photographing more than 1,000 Hapa. The photographs are compiled in a book of the same title.

For those who might not be familiar with the term "hapa", it was originally a derogatory term derived from the Hawaiian word meaning "half". In recent years, the word has been embraced as a term of pride by those of mixed-race heritage who have Asian ancestry.

Each subject in this exhibition was asked to hand-write the answer to the question: "What are you?" As interesting as it was to place a face to the varied responses to that question, it was the responses themselves that I found the most interesting, especially given that the subjects were of different ages and backgrounds. While many of the answers reflected personal narratives influenced by each subject's upbringing and sense of racial identity, I think some of my favorite responses were from the children including one from a young boy who said that his mother made him come to get his picture taken; another young boy who said that he didn't tell people he was part Danish, because then they'd think he was a pastry; and a little girl who drew a picture of herself saying "I'm a person."

Perhaps the power of the exhibition is equal parts the presentation of so many different stories all at once, as well as the story of the visitor seeing these portraits and reading their responses. The question moves from external to internal, provoking the visitor to apply that question - "What are you?" - to their own sense of identity, their own sense of self and history. For those visitors who truly feel the need to expand upon this potential reaction, the exhibition also has a section where people can take a polaroid picture and write their own answer (subject to the museum's scheduling).

The exhibit runs until October 29th, 2006.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum will also be screening Chasing Daybreak: A Film About Mixed Race in America on October 28th.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Santa Monica: Club, Dancing & Dining!

24 hours from today at the time of 8:00 p.m. I'll be waiting in line among those who've discovered night life's internationally acclaimed sacred dwelling...The Temple Bar. A red and black decor ambience with a lounge for those who like to sit and chat upon a plush sofa; a pool table for those that enjoy a game of billiards; romantic candlelit tables for those who have a significant other and artwork tastefully displayed on several of its walls; creating a warmth and intimacy and in the words of the pop hit single by the group Shalamar "A Night To Remember."

This up and coming artists venue expands the genres of music from Sabar drums of Senegal Africa to Australia's Didgeridoo (pronounced Did-jer-Y-DOO) Music to arouse your soul, music asking of you to contemplate the beauty of life, and music that doesn't require a spaceship to take you into another galaxy.

Stevie Wonder, Ricky Lee Jones and new generation of recording artists such as Ben Harper have also taken the pleasure of performing there as well. Between live guests is a dance floor that is always at capacity as the DJ keeps spinning records until you can't take no more. And if your thirst and hunger has reached a crescendo, there's a bar to quench whatever desire that you may have and meals equal to those of an exquisite restaurant.

Well I've laid out my clothes, and shoes that will keep me toe tapping until wee hours into Saturday morning.

Hope to see you there!

The Temple Bar
1026 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, California
General Admission:
(Varies according to performing artist)
Hours: 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Nightly
(310) 393-6611

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Market

Many years ago, while working as a summer intern for Governor Jerry Brown in the mid-1970's, I witnessed the development of legislation that gave birth to the Farmers Market movement in California, and helped to launch such movements in other states. I suspect what we see today in California, far exceeds the original goals of this direct marketing program to benefit small farmers. Along with a strong organic food movement in California, the Farmers Market can provide an opportunity to experience a wide range of fruits and vegetables that never make it to the grocery chains or even the upscale markets. In addition to providing local jobs, creating a community of chefs and purveyors, your local Farmers Markets functions as a public plaza, where one almost always crosses paths with friends. As one supports a local Farmers Market, you will develop a bond with your favorite sellers. With the advent of branding by these farmers, it is much easier to spread the gospel of a favorite seller, i.e. Weiser Farms, Maggie's Farm, West Coast Fish, Harry's Berries, etc.

I am afraid to admit, one market I had never been to was the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market, on Arizona at 2nd Street, just off the Third Street Promenade. I have been many times to the Saturday Santa Monica all organic market, but never the one on Wednesday. This is the one frequented by the "foodies" and chefs of Los Angeles and provides the backdrop for Laura Avery's weekly market report featured on Evan Kleinman's weekly KCRW Good Food radio program, available as a podcast from Itunes or on the KCRW website. The Wednesday Santa Monica market met and exceeded my expectations and at times I felt like I was in France with a number of residents and tourists speaking French. I also saw for the first time, baby purple artichokes with no choke; the same as in Provence. In fact the Wednesday market has many types of produce that aren't found in any of the other local farmers markets in Los Angeles, as the vendors know that there is a market for these items in Santa Monica.

So get yourself in the mood by listening to Laura Avery's weekly market report while commuting on public transit or in your car, and treat yourself to the surprises that can be found in Santa Monica, Hollywood, Pasadena, Long Beach, or any of the many Farmers Markets in LA. Much of the produce changes with the seasons, and you will soon have your favorite vendors.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

West LA: Original Farmer's Market/Grove

My friends Serena, Joni, and I headed off to the Original Farmers Market/Grove on August 26th for lunch, some shopping, and a movie.

One of the best parts for me about the Original Farmers Market are the many different wonderful smells coming from its variety of eateries. The mix of smells and eclectic shops make for a great atmosphere for strolling, fooding or shopping. We all settled on The French Crepe Company (which serves French crepes, waffles, salads, sandwiches, coffee & hot chocolate) and chatted for a bit while enjoying our food.

Then we headed off to the Grove next door to browse through a few of the major chain stores and caught a showing of the Illusionist (which was a great movie, btw).

To get a feeling for the Grove's sights and sounds, check out the Metro Video about the Original Farmers Market/Grove on ExperienceLA!

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator