Archive for April, 2007

The Ashtray of the South Bay  

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:17 pm by Casey KirkHart

What’s so special about Redondo Beach?

Well, aside from its blue, breezy skies, its cute boutique shops and restaurants, and it being the beachside home to a number of our residents, Redondo Beach is the ONLY beach in LA County that is NOT SMOKE-FREE. For you visual learners, look here. Hermosa beach? Smoke-free. Santa Monica beach? Smoke-free. Venice beach? Smoke-free (though I’m not sure exactly what kind of smoke we’re talking about).

Cigarette butts on the beach recently got the attention of Rick Dickert, meteorologist for FOX 11 morning news and Good Day L.A., Redondo Beach resident and surfer:

From Rick Dickert’s blog
Ash Tray of the Bay
Apr 18, 2007

My home town…Something I am not too proud of. That’s right..Redondo Beach is the ONLY coastal city of the Santa Monica Bay that does NOT have a non-smoking ban…I collect more cigarette butts than any other item when I participate in beach clean-ups in Redondo.
Rick Dickert
Ash Tray of the Bay Resident

My response:

Apr 26, 2007
Rick, thanks for using your public voice to bring attention to this important issue.

I’m a physician, I work in Torrance, and I see the awful effects of smoking everyday: in my ex-smoker patients with heart and lung disease, in children with asthma caused by SECOND HAND SMOKE, and when I run the beach in Redondo, only to gasp through a cloud of sooty smoke.

Now, we the people need you, Rick, to take your voice, and the support of your viewers, to the Redondo Beach City Council to finally put an end to smoking in our public areas including the beach AND the pier.

Redondo Beach, the last and ONLY beach in LA County to permit smoking. Shame on US for not demanding our leaders take action.

Attend the next City Council meeting – http://www.redondo.org/cals/default.asp

Contact your councilperson directly. They work for YOU! – http://www.redondo.org/depts/council/default.asp

We have to take responsibility for ourselves in leading healthy lives. We know the right thing to do, but tobacco smoking is an addiction, a disease. We also have to care for each other and our community.

Make Redondo Beach smoke-free.

~Casey KirkHart, D.O.
Family Physician

Want to get more involved? I’m on a two-week public health elective that places me in the LA County Tobacco Control and Prevention Program policy unit and led me to a regular meeting of the South Bay Clean Beaches Coalition. There are always looking for support, especially from physicians, Redondo Beach residents, concerned citizens or all of the above (that’s you!).

Get in touch with me or drop a line to Joan Waddell @ joan@ncaddsb.com. She’s the program director of the Coalition and leading the effort to make all Southland beaches smoke-free.

NO-BUTTS can work for our smoking patients. NO-BUTTS can work for Redondo Beach too.

~Casey

Los Angeles youth — street poetry, creative change  

Posted in Advocacy & Social Justice, Los Angeles at 7:19 pm by los anjalis

From “Young Gangsters’ Special Weapon: Poetry“, LA Times, March 2007:

Use this time to tear up the old contracts, Henrikson told his young writers, who listened to him as if he were a guru. “People die never getting to know who they are,” he went on. He read them a Rumi poem, written in the 13th century, called “Ali, the Fighter,” in which Ali prepares to vanquish a foe who, in a last fit of anger, spits in his face. Ali pauses, sees a younger version of himself in his foe, and helps him up.

Of all the kids in the room, only Mario seemed old enough to be world-weary and wise. He’d already revisited his past — It’s not a life-style, It is a death-style — and wanted to move on. He called his poem “Better Days,” and read it as if he were ready to graduate.

Now I’m looking forward to

The better days

Where I don’t have to steal

For me to buy a meal

Or run around like a menace

Looking for an enemy to kill

“You’re a man now,” Henrikson told him when he was done. “You’re 18, and you’re an old soul.”

And that’s not unusual. “I see a difference in the kids who go through the program,” said Craig Levy, director of Camp Kilpatrick, which is next door to Miller. “It exposes them to things they don’t know well, like reading, writing and expressing themselves in public. They come out of it with a little less slang, and speaking more like young men.”

More of Henrikson and others’ work is detailed on their organization’s website, Street Poets, Inc. They do a lot of violence-prevention themed poetry, sessions with youth in juvenile centers, and performances in public, and they’re based in Los Angeles. There’s a beautiful poem written on the left side of the website, written by a 21 year old boy man.

This is somewhat similar to what two of the faculty members in our Department of Family Medicine (Dr. Puvvula and Dr Granados) do many sunday mornings — talk with kids in LA Juvenile Hall, support them, encourage creative outlets. And Father Greg Boyle created Homeboy Industries in 1992 to help transform the lives of ex-gang members through a variety of personal development and community building programs (that’s also where we — family medicine residents! — are trained to remove tattoos with a yag laser for ex-gang members who are making changes in their lives). All of this is so beautiful, and these methods are much more humane and long-lasting in their ability to make positive change than the negative ways of prison and negative reinforcement.

And thanks to Andy Hilbert for the tip, who blogs about education, the LA Unified School District, teachers, and other related issues.

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