We Are the Next Announces New North Long Beach Project During Local Fundraising Event

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From left: World Famous VIP Records owner Kelvin Anderson, We Are the Next Director Katie Rispoli Keaotamai and  Field Representative for State Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson, Victor Ibarra. Photos courtesy of We Are the Next.

On Monday evening local nonprofit We Are the Next shared their hard work to date, unveiled plans for 2018, and honored World Famous VIP Records owner Kelvin Anderson for his commitment to Long Beach’s youth during “Cocktails for Community,” a benefit supporting the organization’s programs.

Attendees gathered at Padre in support of the organization, which aims to foster a new generation of residents who will commit to their communities through investing time and energy in making their neighborhoods better places to live.

Field Representative for State Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson, Victor Ibarra, provided Anderson with a certificate of recognition for his service. Anderson’s recognition was aptly-timed, as the iconic sign associated with the World Famous VIP Records was recently recommended by the Long Beach Cultural Heritage Commission to receive city historic landmark status.


“Kelvin has led by example for our community, fostering a sense of place and encouraging young people to realize their potential,” We Are the Next Executive Director Katie Rispoli Keaotamai stated during the event. “We are proud to recognize him tonight for his demonstration of civic engagement.”

Those who addressed attendees included Fernando Navarrete, Wilmington Field Deputy to City of Los Angeles Councilmember Joe Buscaino, who serves on the organization’s Board of Directors who, as well as two members of We Are the Next’s Youth Advisory Council, high school students Jacqueline Tapia and Astrid Quirarte.


Rispoli Keaotamai highlighted the outcomes of We Are the Next’s work in the community, including the results of its CITY101 program, which empowers teens to develop life skills before entering adulthood, Talk the Block, a neighborhood exploration program bringing small business owners, community advocates and residents together to learn more about under-recognized neighborhoods and Step Back, which installed viewing devices in downtown to give pedestrians a chance to reflect on how cities change and develop.

Rispoli Keaotamai announced a new project, “For the Record: A Story Engagement Area in North Long Beach,” which will test out a history recognition concept where public spaces can be fitted with interactive installations that interpret history. Set to begin in January 2018, We Are the Next will work with the office of Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, California State University, Fullerton’s Lawrence de Graaf Center for Oral and Public History, City Fabrick, and others to develop this tool.

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The Story Engagement Tool aims to complement existing methods of history recognition, including the declaration of holidays, the construction of monuments and the designation of historic landmarks, according to the release.

“Of these three tools we have to recognize history, the first two are rarely practiced—most often, we designate the places associated with important history as historic landmarks,” Rispoli Keaotamai said in a statement. “The trouble is, the landmark designation process only allows us to recognize a very narrow portion of our population. For instance in Long Beach, less than three percent of our historic sites are designated for the affiliation with all marginalized groups combined.”

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The installation is planned to be placed along Atlantic Avenue between 60th Street and Harding. We Are the Next also announced they are accepting sponsorships for the project, and are actively seeking partners for this, as well as other youth program opportunities, in the community.

“When you recognize someone’s history you validate their role in contributing to this country… this tool finally gives the opportunity for all populations to interpret their history through a government-sanctioned process without a biased and restrictive approval process,” Rispoli Keaotamai said in a statement.

Learn more about We Are the Next via the website here and Facebook page here

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.