News, events, and articles for the Catalyst Network of Communities.

Succulents For Your Water-Wise Garden

Molly Jenkins (aka The Garden Doctor) is presenting a class for Don't Ditch Day called "Succulents for Your Water-Wise Garden." It will be an informal and interactive demonstration for people wanting to choose water-friendly plants. The class will also give some attention to solving problems you may have with existing plants.

Some of the questions the class will explore:

  • How do you choose a plant for your location?
  • Does the plant do well in pots?
  • Don't all succulents and cacti do well in the sun?
  • Do you need a special soil?
  • Do you need a special pot?
  • What are the most common mistakes for the succulent gardener?
  • What does drought-tolerant mean?

Molly Jenkins is a self-taught organic gardener, with fifteen years experience in solving problems ranging from insect control to mysterious die-offs. Specializing in soil rehabilitation, rose cultivation and cacti and succulents, she is able to solve almost any problem simply, efficiently, inexpensively, and organically.

Don't Ditch Day will be on Saturday, Sept. 20th from 10am - 1pm at The Growing Experience Urban Farm, 750 Via Carmelitos, Long Beach, CA 90805.

For more info, go to the Long Beach Free School page here!

Song Lessons By Jake Woodruff

Singer/songwriter Jake Woodruff will be offering short Song Lessons at Don't Ditch Day this Saturday, Sept. 20th from 10am - 1pm. Come on by and you can learn to play and sing a new song on a guitar. He'll have both one on one sessions just for you or he can do group sessions for you and your friends. He'll also have a couple extra guitars for you to learn and play on. Don't Ditch Day will be The Growing Experience Urban Farm, 750 Via Carmelitos, Long Beach, CA 90805.

For more info, go to the Long Beach Free School page!

Check out Jake's official web site here.

Rain Stick Making

Catalyst and the Long Beach Free School is happy to partner with the Teachers Association of Long Beach as teacher Diane Gulley offers a Rain Stick Making crafts class for kids during Don't Ditch Day. It'll be this Saturday, Sept. 20th from 10am - 1pm at The Growing Experience Urban Farm, 750 Via Carmelitos, Long Beach, CA 90805.

For more info, go to the Long Beach Free School page here!

Natural World Science Academy

Satisfy your curiosity about our natural surroundings as we voyage into our different ecosystems and environment. Join Erlinda Cortez in this Science Academy of discovery into our natural world. The activities are fun hands-on activities so that you will want to engage and explore more of our natural world. It will be held this Saturday, Sept. 20th from 10am - 1pm at Don't Ditch Day hosted at The Growing Experience Urban Farm, 750 Via Carmelitos, Long Beach, CA 90805.

For more info, check out the Long Beach Free School page here.

Creative Dramatics

Creative Dramatics have been used in and out of the classroom as a tool to capitalize on the natural play of children to create learning experiences using theatre games. Generally improvisational these games help take the participant out of their own element and allow them to think as others through imagination and action. Joseph Torres will be employing a few different games for adults and children to learn and perform for one another.

Joseph is an Actor and Director currently finishing his degree at Cal State Dominguez Hills, and hopes to join an MFA Acting program next Fall. He has been active in the local Theatre community for the last 10 years. He is extremely excited to share his passion for Theatre with everyone at Don’t Ditch Day on Saturday, Sept. 20th at 10am - 1pm at The Growing Experience Urban Farm, 750 Via Carmelitos, Long Beach, CA 90805.

For more about Don't Ditch Day, go to the Long Beach Free School page here.

MAMA RAINBOW Featured at Long Beach QFilm Festival

Catalyst is excited to be partnering with the Long Beach QFilm Festival in screening MAMA RAINBOW as part of the 2014 QFilm Festival-- Long Beach’s longest-running film festival.

Fan Popo’s touching documentary MAMA RAINBOW opens with a series of street interviews with passersby about their feelings on homosexuality. The filmmaker follows this with a more pointed question, one which leads us into the heart of Mama Rainbow: “What if your son or daughter told you they were gay?” In the film, we meet six different Chinese mothers, all the parents of gay and lesbian children, who share their experiences with the camera. Though the specifics of their stories are all quite different, each of the mothers experiences their own version of a “coming out” tale—recognizing, acknowledging, and accepting their children’s sexualities. MAMA RAINBOW paints a hopeful portrait of the slowly changing mindset of a culture where the fear of persecution and rejection still makes coming out and living openly a great challenge.

MAMA RAINBOW will be showing at The Center on Sun, Sep 14th at 1:30pm.  Seating is limited, so we’re encouraging everyone to buy tickets in advance.  They are available at We hope to see you there!

About the Festival (Long Beach QFilm Festival):

Long Beach’s longest-running film festival since 1993, the Qfilm Festival annually presents narrative features, documentaries and short films that embody the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. Last year’s event was the most successful yet with over 1,500 attendees and featured several West Coast, Southern California and area premieres as well some of the most acclaimed features on the 2013 film festival circuit. With one of the largest LGBTQ populations in the state, QFilms Long Beach is THE queer film festival to see AND be seen. All proceeds benefit The Center and our LGBTQ community programs.

About the Organization (Long Beach QFilm Festival):

The Center Long Beach Q Film Festival’s mission is to present films that embody the LGBTQ community. Along with The Center Long Beach, we advocate the inclusion of all individuals into a free and just community, without judgment or restriction due to sexual orientation or gender expression.

Don't Ditch Day

Don’t Ditch Day is a day dedicated to learning. We transform a space into a makeshift campus-for-the-day for the Long Beach Free School, where you can attend or teach classes and participate in fun learning activities. Plan to come!   

Campus for the Day:
The Growing Experience Urban Farm
750 Via Carmelitos, Long Beach, CA 90805

Saturday, September 20th from 10am – 2pm

First Fridays at TALB - Sept 5th

Catalyst Network of Communities is partnering with the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) to set up a Pop Up Long Beach Free Store at First Fridays Long Beach in Bixby Knolls this Friday, Sept. 5th from 6:30pm - 8:30pm. We'll also have our Long Beach Free School set up with info about our upcoming Don't Ditch Day. We'll be in the TALB parking lot at 4362 Atlantic Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90807.

Bring your donations of clothes, housewares, toys, and more (maximum 1 bag) to add to the Free Store inventory. Anyone who comes by is welcome to shop for FREE!

We're also asking anyone (parents or just the community at large) that if they'll buy an extra pack of pens or markers or notebooks while shopping and bring them to TALB on First Fridays, we'll set aside a special section of the Free Store for teachers to receive some school supplies for their students. Please help spread the word!

The Children's Theatre of Long Beach will also be performing excerpts from their show Velveteen Rabbit. Be sure to come by and watch them sing, dance, and act! Here's a pic from their summer production of Willy Wonka.

Check them out at their web site here.



ndie folk musicians Jake Woodruff and Erik Perez will be performing some of their original and cover songs!

heck out Jake's music pages:

On Facebook

On Reverbnation

Meet Sambo and Vansong

Can you imagine leaving your home country because you didn't have enough food for your family, then walking for 3 days and 3 nights to a neighboring country with the family in the hope of being able to feed them? That's what Sambo experienced in 1980 having left Cambodia and then went to Thailand, moving from camp to camp. Her mother passed away at one of the camps. Her journey eventually led her to the Philippines then to the U.S. She and her husband Vansong have a touching story, and they share some of it here with us as Links #30 and #31 in the Catalyst Giving Chain. Watch them here!

Meet the Participants of the Catalyst Giving Chain

We've made it past the halfway point for our Catalyst Giving Chain project and so we're having a gathering to introduce some of the Links to everyone. It'll be a fun time for you to meet them, reconnect with each other, and talk about how we can continue to inspire empathy and understanding in our community. Will you join us?

The gathering will be on Sunday, August 10th at 3:00PM at Gina M. Woodruff Gallery, 5555 E. Stearns Street, Suite 203, Long Beach, CA 90815. It's in the area where there's a Target and a Trader Joe's off of Bellflower Blvd in Long Beach. If you go on Stearns Street, it's nearest the cross street of Stearns & Marwick. This is behind Trader Joe's (not in the plaza next to it). Once you find the address and park, there will be a lobby entrance that let's you go upstairs.

If you can join us, please RSVP and let us know so that we can plan refreshments and space accordingly.  To RSVP, send email to

There will also be art on display throughout the gallery and the owner has offered to donate a percentage of any purchases back to the Giving Chain project - so if you're so inclined to get something you like, yay!

Want to catch up on giving chain videos? Check them out by click here.

Latch & Link Long Beach Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week

On Saturday, August 2nd, 2014, from 10am-3pm, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach (UUCLB), families from all over Long Beach and surrounding areas will gather with local maternal and child health organizations and professionals at the 2nd Annual Latch & Link Long Beach: A Community Fair celebrating World Breastfeeding Week. The event is sponsored by UUCLB's Social Action Committee, City of Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services, Berlin Wellness Group, Birth by the Sea, Full Circle Chiropractic, Taproot Midwifery, and Zen Baby Shop. The event will be held at UUCLB's park-like campus located at 5450 E. Atherton St., Long Beach, CA 90815. 

Click here to see the Press Release.

Meet Rita

This is Rita. She is a fashion designer and researcher and is passionate about creating more jobs in Cambodia in the fashion industry - not just low-level production but also creating fashion design. As Link #28 in the Catalyst Giving Chain, she's got a great message! Get to know her a little bit through her video here:

The Monthly Shareholders Meeting

The Monthly Shareholders Meeting
By Rasheta Driver

Remember when you were younger and you were forced to share your toys with the other kids? If your experience was anything like mine, the situation probably resulted in a temper tantrum on your part and an adult saying something like, “You have to share.” Then, they would pry your sticky little fingers off of your favorite toy and hand it to your classmate. As a kid, all my experiences with sharing weren’t the most pleasant, but they did eventually become rewarding in my eyes when I began to see how the other kids enjoyed playing with my toys as much as I did. Sharing is something most of us are taught early on and is a concept we sometimes forget as we progress through life.

Photo by Tracie Rodriguez

Last month, I attended an event that reminded me about the importance of sharing and the benefits it has in bringing people together as a community. Catalyst holds an event every month called the Seven-Ten Swap where everyone is invited from the community to come out and participate in exchanging gently used items all while eating and enjoying each other’s company.

Jewell Faamaligi, a coordinator of the event, explained, “It builds community in that we tie people to the area. People come from all over. They are coming around a shared interest (sharing, swapping) but they are also connecting to larger things like Long Beach and things that are going on here.”

The Seven-Ten Swap has been happening on the third Friday every month and the community is celebrating its four year anniversary on July 18, 2014 at 6:30pm at 641 Pine Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802. It has inspired many people across Long Beach to come together as a community.

Photo by Tracie Rodriguez

Photo by Tracie Rodriguez

“This is a piece of society that I believe most major cities have lost touch with,” said Pastor Brent Williams, an attendee of the event. “It represents people of different backgrounds coming together,” he continued.

Williams also stated how this event is completely different from any other he has attended.  There are people of different backgrounds, viewpoints, and age groups gathered together in this small communal space.

In business, shareholders own a piece of a company. But here these shareholders are demonstrating what it looks like to collectively own the community together - by giving and sharing and engaging with one another. The Seven-Ten Swap is like the monthly shareholders meeting for the community.

Sharon Moiseiff, another coordinator of the event, elaborated on the impact events like these has on the community. “This is important because we don’t do this enough and we should be doing this all the time. It’s not like charity. It’s different and there are no expectations about giving and receiving. People show up and become more open to sharing,” she said. “People initially attend the event hoping to gain material possessions, and they do, but they also make friends and become closer to Long Beach as a community.”  

“It means a lot of giving and sharing. There’s no way we can turn our backs on one another,” said Gwen H., frequent attendee and volunteer of the event. She described her feelings towards sharing as positive ones and explained she feels the event exemplifies a pay it forward message which we could all apply to our daily lives.

When I left this event last month, I took away a healthier outlook towards sharing because it made me realize how easy it is to band together as a community over something as simple as sharing food and clothing. The people around me and the kindness they showed towards one another represents the closeness of a community that I had not seen in a while.  I’ll be happy to see it again this coming Friday at the anniversary celebration.

Rasheta Driver is new to the Long Beach area and is a full time student attending California State University, Long Beach. She is an intern with Catalyst Network of Communities and hopes to become a positive influence on the community by connecting with the people of Long Beach.

Applications Now Available for 3 Meals Documentary

Catalyst has partnered with The Center Long Beach for our new project 3 Meals - a project that brings together individuals who are characteristically different from each other to spend a full day of sharing stories while sharing three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).

The project begins with the 3 Meals Campaign: "Sexual Orientation" bringing together 5 individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, and asexual to spend an entire day together to become better known and to better understand each other without debate, defense, or desire to convert perspectives.
We will be creating a documentary film on their Meal experience and their back stories and we are looking for participants. We're now accepting applications from anyone interested in being considered. The deadline to submit applications is Saturday, July 26, 2014.

For more information or to apply, go to our 3 Meals project page here.

Sharing Reciprocally to Build Community

Sharing Reciprocally to Build Community
by Sharon Moiseiff

When I first encountered the concept of a Human Library, I thought to myself “wow that is a cool idea!”  I had seen articles that spoke about people sharing stories, opening up, and showing genuine interest in just listening to others talk about their lives.  

I was also skeptical.  I couldn’t imagine that it would be easy for people to just open up to others and share so much about themselves. I didn’t think that it would be easy to get people to show up ready to ask questions and show genuine interest and just listen.  I thought that it could be hard on both ends of this for people to truly engage in this kind of activity because I think most people are not accustomed to approaching others in that way. I would suppose that most people are more closed off and put up barriers.

Photo by Mehriya Jashniya Sidiqi

I’ve participated in a lot of Sharing Events and I can see parallels between sharing stories and sharing material items.  Working with the Long Beach Free Store project through Catalyst, we set up opportunities for people to come together to simply share with each other.  We learned that  we could encourage people to make deeper connections and have meaningful interactions with each other by creating an environment for people to share.  And that’s what we saw happening every time. They shared!   

At the same time, there is still apprehension.  There are always some who are reserved about the giving, and they hold back.  On the other end, there are also people who are reluctant to receive. Some feel uncomfortable about getting something that is freely given.

The thing about sharing is – for it to REALLY work, it has to be reciprocal.  People who come together to share need to be open and ready to both freely give and receive.  They don’t need to feel guarded or regret about letting go.  It’s okay to reach out and offer what we have.  They don’t need to feel uncomfortable or guilty about receiving; it’s okay to accept graciously.  When we are all committed to reciprocal sharing, all of our needs are met and we can feel good about knowing that our community as a whole has become all the more better.

Photo by Tracie Rodriguez

So when I saw the Human Library event in Long Beach actually happen, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was wrong about my initial skepticism.  As a volunteer I was able to work behind-the-scenes and just observe what was going on. What I saw was exactly what I always hope to see at any sharing event. People were openly, freely, and eagerly sharing. It was reciprocal. The sharing of stories went both ways and everyone seemed excited about it.


**Editors Note:

For another opportunity to share, come by the 4th anniversary event of the monthly Seven-Ten Swap hosted by the Long Beach Free Store on Friday, July 18, 2014 at 6:30pm for a community exchange and potluck. The location is 641 Pine Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802. Find more info on Facebook at

Sharon Moiseiff is a sharing economy, gift economy, collaborative consumption, alternative economy enthusiast. She is founder of the Long Beach Free Store, Board of Director for Catalyst Network of Communities, and advisory board member of the Whittier Time Bank.

Meet Vouchmeng

"Meng" is a wonderful woman who is passionate about preserving Cambodian culture and especially wedding traditions. As Link #27 on the Catalyst Giving Chain, she received a hand-made Cambodian outfit that she can add to her collection. As a refugee, she traveled from Cambodia to Thailand, and eventually made her way to the U.S. and landing in Long Beach where she settled, went to school, and built her career of serving others. Watch what she has to say in the video below!

#givingchain #InspireEmpathy

Watch more videos at the Giving Chain project page here.

Meet Socheat

The next participant in the Catalyst Giving Chain is Socheat. He established the Mietophoum National Library and Cultural Center (aka the Mietophoum - Khmer Spirit Center) located in Cambodia Town at 2338 E. Anaheim Street, Suite 102, Long Beach, CA 90804. His heart is to preserve Cambodian culture, history, literature, and music while educating people about his culture. As Link #26, he received $50 worth of books to add to their extensive library! Check out his brief video here.

#givingchain #InspireEmpathy

Watch more videos at the Catalyst Giving Chain project page here.

Connect and Swap

Our monthly Seven-Ten Swap is tonight at 641 Pine Avenue (aka 635 Pine Avenue), Long Beach, CA 90802. Come on by for a community exchange and potluck starting at 6:30pm. The double address may sound confusing but don't fret - it's easy to find. It'll be right next to the Art Park/Lot on Pine Avenue between 6th & 7th streets. See map and picture below.

As Always - you don't have to bring something to the swap - to take from it. You don't have to bring something to the potluck to join in.

  • Swap clothes, shoes & accessories
  • Swap sports equipment, games, toys and books
  • Swap music, movies & media
  • Swap household items & décor
  • Swap anything that is clean and in good condition

If you’re done with it – but it still has a lot of life left in it . . . pass it on.

Get something new ( to you) for free!

Reuse * Reduce * Recycle