A group of Holocaust survivors, Councilmember LaBonge and other government officials assembled at Pan Pacific Park to open the new Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. The museum, the oldest of its kind in the nation, had previously rented space for its educational exhibits. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, councilmembers Eric Garcetti and Paul Koretz, Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky, Assemblymember Mike Feuer and other government officials also welcomed the new, permanent space, which was partially built underground to avoid obstructing park space.
"We have to encourage people to come to learn and remember the story of the 6 million Jews who murdered because of hate," Councilmember LaBonge said. "This place is not just about mourning, but about inspiration. People can be inspired by the stories of survival. Children can become inspired to move the world past unreasonable hate."
Fifty years ago, Holocaust survivors sought to create a place in which the Holocaust narrative could be shared. The opening of its permanent space ends a five-year process to establish the museum's new home. Museum of the Holocaust Board Members applauded Councilmember LaBonge's effort to rally support around finding a permanent home for the historic exhibits.
The high-tech structure was created by award-winning architect, Hagy Belzberg. The building boasts one of the largest green roofs in the nation and mixes technologically-advanced exhibits and authentic artifacts, including a concentration camp uniform. Admission to the 27,000 square-foot museum is free, and attendance is expected to soar to 50,000 per year from the 13,000 average of years prior.
For more information, please visit LAMotH.org.
In a dramatic re-enactment of the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago, more than 800 Los Angeles residents gathered on Wilshire Boulevard at midnight last night to tear down a replica of that infamous symbol of the Cold War era.
Councilmember LaBonge, the City of Los Angeles and the Wende Museum of Culver City (and many others) sponsored The Wall Project, which involved erecting a temporary wall across the boulevard in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
"This is what's great about living in a big city like Los Angeles - coming together to celebrate history in a meaningful event like this one," said Councilmember LaBonge, who had been in Berlin just two months before people - regular citizens - began destroying the wall on Nov. 9, 2009 in a historic event with worldwide political implications.
At midnight, the Councilmember joined German Consul General Wolfgang Drautz, artists Shepard Fairey and Kent Twitchell and Wende Executive Director Justin Jampol and many others in dismantling the temporary wall. To see photos of the dramatic moment, click here. “This is an important event to commemorate a historic milestone… to remember the more than 200 people who died trying to cross the Berlin Wall from East to West... and to reflect upon the real and imagined divisions in our city, our nation, and our globe,” said Mr. Jampol of the Wende.
Four pieces of the original Berlin Wall will remain on public display at 5900 Wilshire Blvd. through the end of 2009.
About 50 school principals, teachers and parent leaders joined Councilmember LaBonge at his conference on recycling, traffic and fire stafety at his fifth Schools Collaborative on Thursday afternoon. The two-hour event, which was held at the Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax, continued the Councilman's series of meetings bringing school and community leaders together with city officials. The goal of this ongoing discussion: making schools work better for Los Angeles children and their families.
"I don't want to run the schools; I want to help the schools," Councilmember LaBonge said.
Amonge the speakers were Cheryl Lopez, a special education teacher at Dahlia Heights Elementary School who developed a recycling curriculum for her students; David and Cameron Barrett, who discussed fire safety and Pat Hines, a traffic safety advocate.
The Councilmember will hold his next Schools Collaborative in the Spring.
In several dramatic moves, cranes lowered ten sections – thirty linear feet in total – of the original Berlin Wall into position in the Los Angeles Museum District last night in anticipation of a November 8 ceremony to commemorate the momentous 1989 destruction of the wall that signaled the end of the Communist era.
This morning, Councilmember Tom LaBonge helped unveil the largest section of the wall outside of Berlin at onto the lawn of 5900 Wilshire Blvd., directly across the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
"It's hard to believe this, but people throughout the world thought they'd never see the day that the Berlin Wall would come down. Now, here it is on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles," said Councilmember LaBonge. "This wall is a enduring symbol of how the world can change for the better in one dramatic historic moment, and I'm very proud that it's here in Los Angeles." The wall sections were acquired by The Wende Museum of Culver City, which houses one of the largest collections of German Cold War art and artifacts in the world. The installation gives Southern Californians the chance to see and feel the actual 11‐foot – tall sections of the infamous wall that separated East and West Berlin from 1961-1989.
Councilmember LaBonge, president of Los Angeles Sister Cities, Inc., is a co-sponsor of the Nov. 8 event. For more information on the event, click here.
Dancers, musicians and singers in brilliant folk costume entertained thousands of Grove shoppers on Sunday at the 4th Annual Sister Cities Cultural Day. This day-long international performing arts festival was presented free of charge by the City of Los Angeles, The Grove and Los Angeles Sister Cities, Inc.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge is president of the Sister Cities non-profit organization. Between performances, he and a dozen Los Angeles-based Consuls General took a moment to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Sister City relationships between Los Angeles and both Nagoya, Japan and Eilat, Israel.
The Sister Cities program, established in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, fosters diplomacy among cities in different countries to promote cultural, educational and commercial exchange.
To see photos from the event, click here. Among the featured artists was a finalist from the Israeli version of “American Idol;” dancers from Lusaka, Zambia; a Berlin chanteuse and Taiko drummers from Nagoya.
Councilmember LaBonge thanked a donor for the new $60,000 fitness area at Pan Pacific Park, which was immediately in use after a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday.
"It's so satisfying to see so people exercising and enjoying themselves in the park on a beautiful Los Angeles day," Councilmember LaBonge said, pointing to folks walking, playing basketball and using the new exercise zone. "What a great gift to the park and all the people of Los Angeles this is."
The isometric equipment - which includes a cross-country skiing, leg curl, lat pull-down and sitting arm press machines - is easy to use and vandal-resistant.
The equipment zone was donated through the Trust for Public Land by the widower of a woman who loved Pan Pacific Park as a memorial to her.
To encourage people to walk to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Councilmember LaBonge allocated funds to re-install the traffic light at the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Ogden Ave. The traffic signal was removed last year, when the City vacated Ogden Avenue north of Wilshire to make room for LACMA's new Broad Contemporary Art Museum. The Wilshire Boulevard medians were extended as well to create a T-intersection. The result was that people, rather than walk one block in either direction to cross to LACMA, sometimes climbed through the median foliage to cross the street, creating a dangerous situation. "I was not notified in advance that this traffic signal was being removed," the Councilmember said. "I wanted it back in place to make it easier for neighbors south of Wilshire to walk to and enjoy the museum." The councilmember transferred about $400,000 from a transportation trust fund to cover the cost of opening up the median for a pedestrian walkway and re-installing the traffic signal. Construction on this project will begin soon.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge completed his “Tour LaBonge” series of summer evening bike rides on Wednesday, August 20th, by leading about 40 cycling enthusiasts on a 10-mile tour of Hollywood, Larchmont and the Miracle Mile areas. The ride culminated with a cruise along a neon-lit Hollywood Boulevard just past dusk.
“We could solve so many of the challenges facing Los Angeles right now if more of us rode bikes,” the Councilmember said. “We could take a big chunk out of air pollution, traffic and our waistlines, too.”
The Hollywood Ride was the fifth and final ride in “Tour LaBonge,” a series of five Wednesday evening rides in Council District 4. The councilmember launched the bike series to promote good health, instill a sense of community and help people avoid the financial strain of high gas prices. In keeping with tradition, the Councilmember served ice cream cones to all riders at Fire Station 27 at the end of the 10-mile ride.
The Councilmember highlighted some of his favorite spots in the area, including the new BCAM, Broad Contemporary Art Museum on Wilshire Boulevard. Michelle Mowery, bicycling coordinator for the Los Angeles Dept. of Transportation, joined the ride. The City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation is updating its Bicycle Master Plan, a process that includes the gathering and analysis of data on improving the city’s bike route system. You can read more about the bicycle master plan by clicking here.