Of any area in Los Angeles County that offers a canvas to create a genuinely new exciting urbanism, the opportunities are in Long Beach . . .”– Author Mike Davis
Designed for scholars, media professionals and civically engaged citizens, “Re-Thinking Greater Long Beach” will examine the region, past and present, contemplating its politics and economy while exploring related future challenges and opportunities. Throughout the exploration of the region – its people, culture and unique position as a burgeoning urban counterpoint to Downtown Los Angeles – panelists, moderators and attendees will discuss key developments underway with an eye for what the future holds. The morning, afternoon and plenary sessions will address aspects of urban planning, politics, economics, poverty and the struggle for social justice in an area characterized by poor, young, ‘minorities’ (in the City of Long Beach: one quarter live in poverty; one third are under the age of 18; and ‘white’ is no longer a majority.) The most compelling papers and proceedings of the conference will be published in the premiere issue of The Southlander – the official publication of the Re-Think conference series. The Southlander is available for advance order at the web address given below.
In the California epic, Greater Long Beach is a hard-boiled character straight out of the murk of Chandlerian mist. Indeed, some of the grittiest bitparts in California fiction are reserved for South Los Angeles County: Upton Sinclair called it a seductively debauched ‘paradise city’ drunk on nouveaupetrol; for Louis Adamic, it was about the sea-cured faces of Serbian fisherman; for Chester Himes – the poet laureate of the port underworld – the hard-bitten, rain-slicked dockworkers; and for Raymond Chandler himself, a ‘spat at an Iowa picnic.’ Yet the complete chapter for Greater Long Beach remains unwritten, or only as a forgotten postscript to its unwieldy neighbor, Los Angeles.
Declared by USA Today as the nation’s “most diverse city,” Long Beach – itself a mosaic of many heterogeneous neighborhoods – remains the center of an even more diverse municipal and industrial commonwealth, including San Pedro and the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles (in the 1930s, a bellwether of radical unionism and playground for the LAPD’s red squad), Compton, Bellflower and Paramount (brimming cultural fountains of contemporary Africana along with Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian diasporas) and Lakewood (the original Keynesian suburb: at its founding, the world’s largest housing development) to name only a few. Today, the Greater Long Beach area roughly approximates that of the late 18th Century Spanish Land Grants where nearly 1 million people have replaced cattle of yesteryear. After an early heyday as a top Southern California tourist and movie-making destination, followed by a long period of economic doldrums and anonymity with “second city” status under the shadow of Downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach is now poised for a renaissance. With ample opportunity to grow into a vital urban hub for the southern Los Angeles County region, the fifth largest city in the nation’s most populous state is positioned to take a leadership role for itself and neighboring cities in the years ahead.
Saturday, October 30, 2004: 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
6120 South Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90044
An impressive roster of individuals from various esteemed backgrounds have already agreed to support this first of many ReThink sessions for Greater Long Beach.
Richard Hollingsworth, president and CEO of the Gateway Cities Partnership, Inc., will kick off the day of panels and discussions with an opening speech addressing the major challenges facing the region in the years ahead.
Dr. Jack Humphrey, a former professor, demographer and advanced planner for the City of Long Beach will chronicle the changing demographic dynamics in the region over the last 100 years and also explain the challenges that the ever increasing population will pose in the years ahead. Humphrey will pay particular attention to the region’s housing crisis.
Prach Ly, a Long Beach-based hip hop artist who has sold more than 50,000 of his CDs in Southeast Asia, will discuss Long Beach’s Cambodian population – the largest in the country – as well as the efforts underway to establish a Little Cambodia in Long Beach.
Anthropologists Karen Quintiliani (CSU, Long Beach) and Susan Needham (CSU, Dominguez Hills) will discuss their groundbreaking research on the exploding Cambodian population in Greater Long Beach.
Billy Norfleet, a research editor for the The Southlander and graduate student at University of California, Irvine, will address political power in his speech: “From Merriam to the Iron Duke: Urban Politics and the Long Beach Republican Machine.”
Alex Norman, professor emeritus of social welfare at UCLA’s School of Public Policy and Social Research, will explain how community policing efforts could help build coalitions, collaboratives and encourage community development in Greater Long Beach communities.
Alan Rifkin, author of the critically acclaimed book, “Signal Hill,” will discuss the rise and fall of non-places in the Greater Long Beach region.
Tyler Reeb, editor of Destinations magazine and the Long Beach Business Journal will explore how area businesses can improve their bottom lines while also improving the communities in which they are based.
Mike Sonksen, music editor of Joints Magazine and Poetix.net, will give attendees a fresh look at new and established underground subcultures in the region.
Evan Garcia, a research editor for the The Southlander and graduate student at University of California, Irvine, will address 21st Century suburbia in his speech: “Looking at Lakewood and Suburbia: Tomorrow’s City Today.”
The deadline for registration with lunch is October, 20 2004.
Fee: $10, cash or check, payable to “Southern California
Library.” (Please indicate your name and choice of sandwich for lunch: MEAT or VEGETARIAN)
Send payment to:(payable to: “Southern California Library”)
ATTN: BILL NORFLEET
3605 East Anaheim St. #415
LONG BEACH, CA 90804
For further information, go to the website below or e-mail SCSA at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research website at www.socallib.org.
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