By John Grossi
Over the last ten years we’ve asked a lot of people what they love about Long Beach. There’s really only one absolutely unanimous answer that every resident repeats back to us. Over and over almost like a mantra for our city. It’s already on the tip of your tongue. Diversity.
Long Beach is a melting pot and home to people from all over the world, with all different viewpoints, and every type of interest, passion, hobby, political mindset, ability, age, set of beliefs, and set of ambitions. Long Beach’s diversity in people translates into incredible diversity in amenities, things to do, and reasons to live here, many of which you will read about in the pages to follow.
In many ways, I believe Long Beach is a model city in acceptance and cohesive communities. Perhaps I speak for others who, like me grew up in this city, and thought very little of it during the formative years, but I believe (for those who grew up here) it takes a healthy dose of travel to realize that our amazing diversity is extraordinary and not just ordinary.
Each time I get the opportunity to travel somewhere new, I come back home thankful, impressed, and even more in awe at just how many different cultures we have at every level of life in Long Beach working side-by-side (for the most part) harmoniously.
Still, we’ve all been faced to examine over the past few years how much progress our country and our city still needs to make in lifting up all cultures from all backgrounds.
We at 908 magazine have a lot of work to do as well. And after a long, serious evaluation of our own stories over the past decade, we are making a serious and public resolution to better dedicate our magazine to purposefully lifting up ALL people from ALL backgrounds as long as they fit our primary qualifier. They are a reason Life is Great in the 908!
We begin this magazine issue by asking some of our elected officials to examine the positive impact diversity makes in our city.
We end it on page 78 by asking you, our community, to help us in highlighting the best in Long Beach, from all backgrounds, over the next 10 years.
Councilwoman District 1
Long Beach is a special city and that is directly linked to its diversity and welcoming culture. I wouldn't be where I am today without this wonderfully inclusive city. I am proudly the first Latina wheelchair-user to be elected to a city council, nationwide, and that is because this city sees people, not stereotypes. I have met so many people who are amazed at the feeling Long Beach has when visiting for the first time. You can just sense that this city wants you to be happy and safe being who you are. I love it and am so proud to be continuing that tradition of diversity by serving the residents as a member of one of, if not the most, diverse city councils in the nation. We are better when we are accepting and I think Long Beach is a shining example of exactly that. You are welcome here!
Councilwoman District 3
I love the diversity of our city. Most of the families we socialize with are multi-cultural such that the mother and father are from different races, ethnicities or cultural backgrounds. Ours is no exception. The benefits of this reality is that we learn a lot about different cultures and traditions every day through our own friendships and those of our children. One example that
comes to mind is when our close group of friends gets together for birthday celebrations. We sing the “Happy Birthday” song in 4 different languages for every person’s birthday. Now, almost all of our friends can even sing the song in Farsi, my first language. It’s a pretty cool thing to watch! Our rich diversity here in Long Beach gives our lives here a bit of texture that would not be present elsewhere. The melting pot we call home makes us realize the privilege we have to live in a place that celebrates and welcomes differences and allows everyone to call this place home, regardless of where they came from. Long Beach welcomes all and provides a community that is better because of the uniqueness of it’s members.
Councilman District 4
I have the honor of serving one of the most diverse council districts in the city. CD4 spans from the El Dorado Nature Center at the eastern end to Cambodia Town in the west. Of the district’s two zip codes, 90815 is made up of single family dwellings, and 90804 is the most densely populated zip code in the city. Language access is critical to our Khmer and Spanish speaking neighborhoods. We are home to LGBTQ+ organizations including Long Beach Pride and both the AIDS Assistance and Out of the Closet thrift stores. With all this diversity, there is a profound commonality of civic pride. It is exemplified by our district’s motto, Go Fourth! Independent of ones background, religion, orientation or interests, everyone shares the welcoming spirit of an inclusive community. It is an incredibly positive product of diversity, and pride in our community is a great result. Go Fourth!
Councilwoman District 5
Recognizing and embracing the differences in our community has always made us stronger, more caring and more empathetic. We come from different backgrounds, hold different beliefs, have different orientations, but our acceptance of those differences make us all one Long Beach. Just the other day I had the great privilege of re-connecting with the president of the Long Beach Hmong Association to celebrate the grand opening of Golden Grove in El
Dorado Park East. The project came to fruition because many local cultural organizations host festivals at that location and communicated opportunities to improve the area for festivals and local reservations. This project is a wonderful outcome of community input and diversity. It may have started as needs for festivals, but the project blossomed into a project that improved El Dorado Park and serves everyone. Golden Grove is now an example of what public park spaces can be—a wonderful place for all to enjoy – check out the improvements and share your feedback with me at District5@LongBeach.gov.
Al Austin II
Councilman District 8
Long Beach's diversity is one of our greatest strengths. You see it not only in the Census numbers that provide the latest demographics, but even more so in our neighborhoods, schools and business corridors. That is where our diverse community is living, learning, and working side by side, with the contributions and collective experiences of different cultures, beliefs and backgrounds, coming together to enhance the quality of life in Long Beach. We see our diversity also among our City Council representatives, who bring many different perspectives to our policy discussions. We occasionally are reminded by hate-inspired actions that we must work every day to combat the voices that seek to divide. However, we are empowered by the strength of our diversity and the pursuit of common values of tolerance, equity and an appreciation for our multitude of cultures. This makes life in Long Beach that much more enriching and fulfilling for everyone to enjoy.