Why I Longbeachize, an open letter. • Long Beach Post

To all you wonderful Longbeachize readers,


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I co-founded this website in 2009 to showcase the burgeoning bike culture I was witnessing around Long Beach. We have grown the site substantially since then, and I would like to share with you readers why I Longbeachize and why I think you should help us keep this going.

It started out with a trip up to the Pacific Northwest. My Friend Stephanie and I were just two college kids eager to get out of sprawling Los Angeles County for a few days. Instead of taking the effortless two hour flight out of LAX, our sense of adventure (read: naiveté) led us on a multi-day train ride up the coast- bicycle and backpack in tote. Our train departed Union Station and we began the slow ascent up North. Every gaze out the large train windows was like an amuse bouche for our frantic SoCal minds; the beautifully framed and ever-changing scenery cleared our heads for the final destination that was ahead.

The following week was filled with leisurely bike rides, meandering walks, and long bus trips in and around Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Like two kids in a candy store, we looked out amazed (and bemused) at the beautiful culture that defined these cities. We wondered what makes these Pacific Northwest communities so wonderful?  The answer hit as soon we returned back to Southern California. The streets and blocks were abuzz not just with cars, but with people. People talking to one another on porches. People riding bikes to work and school. People taking walks to the local shop. People playing games in the parks. It was the people that activated and maintained a sense of community-something that often feels absent from our car-centric lives down here.

Like a middle child, Long Beach has its own unique (albeit sometimes misunderstood) character. Sure, we have some cookie-cutter suburban homes within our city limits and many of our residents own cars, but we also have a diverse stock of buildings, lifestyles, and residents that are linked together through (mostly) walkable neighborhoods.

But when we returned home, we also began to notice the outlier that is Long Beach. While we had lived here for years, we didn’t realize how different Long Beach is from Los Angeles, our more famous neighbor to the north, and Orange County, our more homogenous neighbor to the South. Like a middle child, Long Beach has its own unique (albeit sometimes misunderstood) character. Sure, we have some cookie-cutter suburban homes within our city limits and many of our residents own cars, but we also have a diverse stock of buildings, lifestyles, and residents that are linked together through (mostly) walkable neighborhoods. We, too, have people who activate the public realm simply by not always being inside of a private automobile.

And it was this realization that made us start Longbeachize. At first we were simply posting pictures of the emerging bike culture; taking shots of casual riders from all walks of life who to us became a muse to showcase both the unique culture and settings of Long Beach. However, we realized the site could be much more. Since our initial launch in 2009, Longbeachize has grown to become an independent impact journalism organization. We got the support of LBCF and Vida Feliz and a grant from the Southern California Streets Initiative, which also publishes Streetsblog Los Angeles and Santa Monica Next. We beefed up our staff and became official with a 501(c) non-profit designation.

Despite this tremendous growth, we’ve been operating on a shoe-string budget and from the generosity of passionate Longbeachers who have donated their time, words, photography, and artwork to make us one of the leading local journalistic voices. Help us keep Longbeachize going and to make Long Beach become an example of its best ideals, and for others to take heed and apply these tactics on their communities-for them to ‘Longbeachize.’

See you on the streets!

Sincerely,

bt_sig

Baktaash Sorkhabi

Co-Founder and Art Director,
Longbeachize

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