Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Pomona Wish List



Here's some things I not only wish for, but believe are possible to obtain, here in Pomona, California:

1. A co-op bakery for either the Garey corridor or Downtown. There's one up north called Arizmendi, and it's so successful that they've recently opened up two other northern California locations. It's a worker owned cooperative which means that numerous "owners" buy in at $5,000 each. Those who can't afford the $5,000 up front (most of us) have it deducted from their paycheck each month. At Arizmendi, owners make $16 an hour, in addition to their share of the profits. With more owners, you have more people getting the word out about the place and and more people determined to make the business succeed (and the goods declicious). Meanwhile, the community is provided with wonderful fresh bread and pizza, and a unique business that will draw people to downtown from all around. When I visit the Bay Area, I have been known to eat two meals at Arizmendi a day -- that's how good it is. More people walking around downtown or on Garey means more support of other area businesses and a greater sense of community. I wish I knew more about business, because I am certain a bakery like Arizmendi would blossom here. Their website is at http://www.arizmendibakery.com. I found more information on how worker owned co-ops operate here: http://www.ncba.coop/abcoop_work.cfm, but I'm still not sure how one would go about starting one. Oh and yes i know that the Claremont Village is home to Full of Life Bakery, but it seems the line is either too long (and full of groups of women with bouffant hairdos) or they are out of what I want. I don't think the breads are all that earth shaking either.

2. An arts/progressive elementary school like The Accelerated School in Los Angeles. Their website is at http://www.accelerated.org. Interestingly, some of the same individuals that were involved in successfully funding and opening Pomona's School of Arts and Enterprises (our new magnet high school) were involved with the Accelerated School. Check out their programs, which include yoga, teaching to the smartest in the class as opposed to dumbing down, and stressing that the children are socially responsible. If we got the ball rolling on this, it could be open by the time our kids hit elementary school. There must be some way to piggy back on the School of Arts and Enterprises. I just read that L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is using the Accelerated School as a model for his partial take over of the LAUSD, so maybe we will be seeing more of these all over. Gosh I hope so. Short of a school, perhaps an Edible Garden for the local schools would be a start, click here: http://www.edibleschoolyard.org/homepage.html

3. A children's space in downtown Pomona. I don't care if it's called a museum or a multi-purpose center or a garage, frankly. The way to bring more life to downtown is to get kids down there. I see so many seemingly empty buildings that would be perfect, including on 2nd Street. Charge a small fee to cover insurance and air conditioning, man it with parents and revolving programs, and let the children do the rest. The Chino Youth Museum, for instance, is a simple space, chock full of items that were likely donated by citizens and city agencies (such as old street signs that decorate one room), yet it works like a magnet. Definitely not asking for the moon on this one.

4. The elimination of all public telephone booths with the ability to accept incoming calls. Phone booths are important. Not everyone has a cell phone, and there is a legitimate need for members of the community to have access to public telephones. But public telephones that accept incoming calls are almost exclusively used for one thing: drug deals. There is a phone bank across the street from the Stater Bros. at Alvarado and Garey, which is a perfect case in point. It always appears that something terribly seedy is going down there, and well, it prolly is. For you see, those phones receive incoming calls and that's why the local ne'er do wells flock there like seagull. In 12 steps this is called "enabling," on the part of whoever owns that phone booth. Granted, the owner of the phone booths doesn't get money for the incoming calls, but as a result of the drug trade that is fostered, the owner racks up more outgoing calls at all times of the day and night. This is one of those easy fixes I was talking about.

5. Trader Joe's. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I'm in their target group, so I love their products and I'm manipulated by their packaging. But then again, a lot of their shelves are full of well-dressed junk food I don't really need, made with soy, soy and more soy and other "natural" ingredients, whatever that meaningless phrase translates to. But they also have some great products that don't have the additives that super market items have. Part of me doesn't even want to hope for a Trader Joe's in Pomona because I know they won't come. We're not alone; they'll never have a Trader Joe's in South Central either. You need only look where they build and where they never will. There have been communities who have rallied for Trader Joe's to open a store in their neighborhood, only to be told absolutely not (downtown L.A. just got the horizontal nod to their Grand Avenue development). Trader Joe's won't publicly disclose how their location scouts make the decision of where to build. But we all know. I hear they're opening a store in downtown Philly, so maybe things are a changing.

A little company background on Trader Joe's: they haven't been owned by Joe since 1978, when he sold the stores to the current owner, the Albrecht Family of Germany, the wealthiest family in Germany, and perhaps on earth. Joe remained active in the company until 1989 and most of his philosophies remain, including paying the non-union employees well (the average full time worker earns $50,000 a year, tho most workers are part time). Here's some fun facts about Joe and Trader Joe's, including why the tropical theme throughout: http://www.privatelabelmag.com/pdf/nov2005/trader-joes.html.

And here's an article about the reclusive Albrecht Brothers, who made their fortune on discount grocery stores in Germany. Brother Theo survived a kidnapping in 1971 and collects old typewriters. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,1791525,00.html

These people don't need my money. I, on the other hand, need their "Vegan" oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. And Pomona needs their shiny red-lettered sign on Garey. A girl can dream, can't she?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey guess what-
There is a gathering place for kids downtown. Older kids, anyway - the Cal Poly Pomona Downtown Center on 2nd street. It is in an old bank building right in the thick of the galleries. It used to house the School of Arts and Enterprises. Now they offer quite a bit of kid's programming, including an intensive arts summer school. Not quite ready for toddlers, but they are starting some neat stuff. The woman in charge of programming, Jonnie, is super progressive and cool so watch them for great things.
-Puppet Lady (who may be doing a puppet thing with them next spring - I'll letcha know what happens with that)

Goddess of Pomona said...

I went to a children's literacy fair there. I knew the Center housed the Ennis Cosby Friends Mobile, a tutoring program headed by Dr. Felicia Friendly-Thomas, who is as likeable and enthusiastic as her name, but I didn't know it had more kid stuff. I just found the Cal Poly Pomona Downtown Center's website at http://www.class.csupomona.edu/downtowncenter/index.html. It sounds like we may be able to request some programs for younger kids, through either this Jonnie that you mention or Cecilia Suarez. Sounds promising.

Twinkies' Mom in the Neighborhood said...

Even if this post is late, I'd like to add to the wishlist: A RESPONSIVE, PROACTIVE, and EFFICIENT COUNCIL-PERSON in our LINCOLN PARK NEIGHBORHOOD!
-Twinkies' Mom in the Neighborhood

Goddess of Pomona said...

I could not agree more, twinkies' mom. Funny, I hear this sentiment voiced by most of the Lincoln Park parents I know. So, here's to getting someone in there whose qualified and gives a hoot for the next election! We deserve so much better.