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

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

A Teen's Reflections on Volunteering at Human Library

A Teen's Reflections on Volunteering at Human Library
by Alison Leocadio

I didn't know what to expect while walking through the automatic doors of the library. I was volunteering for the Human Library event on May 31st. I was nervous and anxious, mainly because this was my first time volunteering at an event like this. My uncle told me that I would be interacting with people, asking how they were, and making sure they were alright. I happen to be a somewhat shy, reserved person who doesn't socialize well with strangers and hearing about this event made my anxiety spike. How long would this be? Would I be able to do something else? Can I just skip this and not go? However, I realized that I needed to go because I’d probably regret it if I didn't.

Being alongside my father made going to this event easier. He sort of eased the anxiety I’d been feeling on the way there and I was somewhat comfortable being there. We arrived at the room where the event would take place and helped set up. At the end of set up, I was already sweating and hot. I don’t know if it was nerves or if the room itself was hot but I was sweating and it’d only been twenty minutes since I’d been there. There was still about an hour or so remaining until people would start arriving. To kill time, my father and I sat down and conversed about random topics. It was about lunchtime so we went inside a room to eat sandwiches and soon enough it was time for the event to start.

Clutching my clipboard, I stood by and waited for a person to escort to one of my stations. Sure enough, someone came and checked out one of the books I was monitoring. I escorted them to the station and wrote down their name and check out time on my sheet. For the first few minutes, I thought everything would be alright and chill. I was wrong. Things started getting hectic with keeping track of check out times for each reader in my section and making sure to check them back in when their time was up. My brain was so focused on keeping time that I forgot to introduce the readers to the books! I didn't interact with the readers as much but I did escort them to their books. That counts as some sort of interaction with the reader, right?

One great thing about being focused on my responsibilities was that time passed by very quickly. I expected that day to be very long but honestly it went by in the blink of an eye. Before I knew it, it was already time to wrap things up. I noticed that there were no more check outs and it was almost 4:00pm. The event came to a close and I was relieved that it was over. My shoulders were stiff, my brain was pounding, and my eyes ached. Even though I was burned out by the end of the day, I actually really enjoyed volunteering at this event. I loved how fast-paced it was and that I was kept busy all the time. I’m also happy to say that I’d prefer volunteering at an event like this again rather than the previous event I volunteered at raking weeds in the scorching sun. I’m grateful that I came to this event and I look forward to volunteering at events like this in the future. 

**To see more photos from the Human Library event, go to the page here.

Reflections on the Human Library

Reflections on the Human Library
by Justin Hall

My experience at the human library event on May 31st was one that began with extreme intrigue as it was the first time I had been involved with such an event.  I was asked to volunteer as a "monitor" for the event which meant that I helped escort "Readers" to the "Human Books." This gave me the opportunity to view the interactions between book and reader from the outside looking in. As both readers and books began showing up for the event, it was difficult to tell one from the other as the books didn't necessarily have any discernible characteristics that made them stand out from the crowd. This only peaked my interest further. 

As readers came in and received their “library card” (a name tag), they were able to enter a separate room where the book titles were posted, along with short summaries. Each book had a unique story, and it was interesting to see the intrigue on the readers' faces as they read the summaries.

Teddy Breceda shares his story with a Reader at the Human Library. Photo by Tracie Rodriguez.

Among the many interesting books, I particularly noticed two popular human books that day. Teddy Breceda had a book title of "Forever Changes." He is transgendered and transitioned from female to male. I could tell that many readers had lots of questions for him.

Anita Grant had the catchy book title of “I’m So Glad I Didn’t Die.” She talked to people about her background growing up in Harlem, NY having lived through poverty, incest, and teen pregnancy. She's now a successful woman in her 70's and serves as a counselor and a minister.

There were readers of all ages, races, and cultures who showed up, and it was interesting to me that while many had a particular book they were interested in, most wanted the chance to meet all of the books while they were there. It was amazing to see the connections that were forming between reader and book. Teddy seemed to attract a lot of older women readers. Anita, an older woman who may have had the longest and diverse list of readers, had many young readers that were very interested in her story.

Anita Grant shares her story with a Reader at the Human Library event. Photo by Tracie Rodriguez.

With the majority of books and readers being from the Long Beach area, I felt like that really promoted a sense of understanding as the human books were instantly able to connect on several levels and break down many potential barriers right away. Not only were readers able to develop a more realistic view of those who are cloaked in stereotypes, but it seemed like the books were able to gain more understanding of how others view them, as well as overcome any ignorance by answering the many questions that readers had for them.

**To see more photos from the Human Library event, go to the page here.

Meet Jane

This is Jane. She's a young college student at Cal State University, Long Beach. As Link #24 in the Catalyst Giving Chain, she shares her story of what it was like to look after her younger sisters when her mom got sick and had to live in Mexico until she recovered. Check out her brief story here!

#givingchain #InspireEmpathy

Breaking the Stereotype of a Continuation School Student

Leo Catalan is a featured human book at our upcoming Human Library event on May 31st. His life's human book title is "Breaking the Stereotype of a Continuation School Student."  He attended Jordan High School his freshman year of high school, and was kicked out at the end of the year. From there he went to Beach High School, a continuation school, where he joined their first ever student council. He is now the President of the Student Body. He is hoping to enter the Marines with plans to become a police officer, and then eventually become a federal agent at some level.

Hear more of his story personally by checking him out for 15-20 minutes at the Human Library event, Saturday, May 31st from 1-4pm at the Long Beach Main Public Library, 101 Pacific Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802.

To read more about the Human Library event, click here.

Click here to see related posts for: #HumanLibrary

Volleyball Was My First Love

Jo Rae Zuckerman is a featured human book at our upcoming Human Library event on May 31st. Her life's human book title is "Volleyball Was My First Love." She was an early volleyball competitor and leader when the game rules changed to reflect the current sport. She led players, tournaments, and the game to new levels as one of the leading authorities for the sport. Now she leads the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library in its advocacy efforts.

Hear more of her story personally by checking her out for 15-20 minutes at the Human Library event, Saturday, May 31st from 1-4pm at the Long Beach Main Public Library, 101 Pacific Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802.

To read more about the Human Library event, click here.

Click here to see related posts for: #HumanLibrary


Chasing the Dream Til We Meet Again

Juan Cardenas is a featured human book at our upcoming Human Library event on May 31st. His life's human book title is "Chasing the Dream Til We Meet Again." He currently attends Beach High School with plans on re-entering Long Beach Poly High School in the Fall. He has a passion and deep love for soccer and will be attending tryouts for the Chivas USA Club Team. Has been separated from his parents for awhile now, as they are in Mexico, unable to come back to the United States. He is able to be here today because of the Dream Act. While it is tough to be separated from his parents, he knows that one day he will be reunited again with them!

Hear more of his story personally by checking him out for 15-20 minutes at the Human Library event, Saturday, May 31st from 1-4pm at the Long Beach Main Public Library, 101 Pacific Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802.

To read more about the Human Library event, click here.

Click here to see related posts for: #HumanLibrary

Forever Changes

Teddy Breceda is a featured human book at our upcoming Human Library event on May 31st. His life's human book title is "Forever Changes." Teddy’s life arc has swung back and forth, in many directions. From female to male, blue collar to white collar (and back-then back again), far-flung to grounded.

Hear more of his story personally by checking him out for 15-20 minutes at the Human Library event, Saturday, May 31st from 1-4pm at the Long Beach Main Public Library, 101 Pacific Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802.

To read more about the Human Library event, click here.

Click here to see related posts for: #HumanLibrary

Renaissance Man On A Mission

Darick J. Simpson is a featured human book at our upcoming Human Library event on May 31st. His life's human book title is "Renaissance Man On A Mission." He is Executive Director of the Long Beach Community Action Partnership (LBCAP). In his first seven years at LBCAP he has led the agency from 24 staff and a $1.3 million budget to 150 staff and $9 million. Throughout his career he has established an excellent reputation as a community leader with diverse experiences that include business development, community development, youth programs and entertainment.  In addition to corporate and community accomplishments, Mr. Simpson is a creative writer with two published books and one CD that can be found on iTunes. He is a member of the Recording Academy and a voting member of the Grammy Awards since 2008. He is also a graduate of Leadership Long Beach, California and a graduate of Leadership Mobile, Alabama. He is the first Alumnus of the year for Leadership Long Beach in 1994. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Alabama and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from The University of Phoenix.

Hear more of his story personally by checking him out for 15-20 minutes at the Human Library event, Saturday, May 31st from 1-4pm at the Long Beach Main Public Library, 101 Pacific Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802.

To read more about the Human Library event, click here.

Click here to see related posts for: #HumanLibrary