Willmore’s Neighbors Get Friendly With Festival This Saturday

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Photo by Jorge Lopez

This coming Saturday, residents of the Willmore City neighborhood are hosting Friend Fest at Drake Park. Local artist and activist Micaela Salatino is helping to organize the event, which takes place from 11AM to 3PM, and will feature family-friendly activities, music and a potlock lunch.

“The idea developed from The Friendship Neighborhood,” Salatino explained, “which is a new neighborhood group in Willmore City that sprouted after violence occurred a few months ago. We gathered with peers in the neighborhood who wanted to do positive things. We met and thought about what that might look like, short term and long term. We have been doing monthly neighborhood trash clean ups.

“Friend Fest is our first main event. It is a safe space where neighbors can become friends, and learn about different things happening in our community. Our vision is to foster a proud, safe, vibrant neighborhood of diverse, yet connected, friends and acquaintances, empowered through education, cultural and activist history, shared resources, and community building activities.”

Community outreach has been a primary effort for The Friendship Neighborhood, and connecting with other local organizations has been a big part of that.

“We have reached out to other Long Beach organizations, including several Hispanic ones, to help spread the word to their staff and members. We have also gone canvassing door-to-door in our neighborhood and received a good response from our neighbors. Doing the ground work of canvassing is what really counts because you get to meet your neighbors. Besides getting to know them by name, you also get a glimpse of who they are, what their wishes are, what they like, what their fears are and, on that ground, we connect and we can start to help each other.

“The event itself will be a family style potluck, not your usual huge festival full of booths. It will be more of a calm musical space, with shared food, and free workshops for all ages. People can learn how to make their own natural non-toxic cleaning products, and participate in a clothing and book swap hosted by the Long Beach Free Store. We’ll also have a hydration station by Green LB, seed starting by Foodscape LB, OJ by SoCal Harvest, face painting, up-cycled art and more.

“Some of the neighbors we connected with are families with children looking for activities, especially since summer school and other programs have been cut. Friend Fest is just one of these events that will bring activities but, from our outreach efforts, we have connected to wonderful organizations who are doing activities in our neighborhood as well, so the Friendship Neighborhood is helping to spread the word about their work.”

Salatino is a self-taught finger crocheter, and has taught workshops at the Long Beach Depot for Creative Reuse, and at community events around town.

“Finger crochet is the same as crocheting with a hook except you use your fingers instead. The TSA won’t bother you at the airport. I finger crochet clothing and accessories, and also do up-cycled art.

“I come from a family of crafters. My mom taught me how to crochet at a young age. I started finger crocheting when I was around 20 years-old, when one day I found myself with a yearning to crochet, but only had yarn and no hook. I think it’s a craft and it’s art. It’s handmade and one of a kind. Many times I reuse discarded materials as yarn, such as video tape.

“Much of my work is at The Long Beach Depot for Creative Reuse, who has been a huge inspiration and support for me. You can also find some of my clothing and accessories at Native Sol, Primal Flower, Kress Market and Iguana Imports.”

For more information about The Friendship Neighborhood, visit their open facebook group. To learn more about Salatino’s work, visit AldanaMica.com

Drake Park is located just west of Maine Avenue, between 9th and 10th streets, adjacent to the Historic Bembridge House.  

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