Author: The Argonaut

Budding Business

Lilla Bello’s Bloom Boxes are a big hit By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski Toby Kassoy had a rough 2020 with her Santa Monica boutique floral and event styling firm Lilla Bello. She was contracted to decorate rooms with lilacs, tulips, roses, lilies and other beauties, but the virus was preparing to annihilate 16 years of hard work. “The bulk of our business was weddings and events,” she said. “Within two weeks of COVID, the whole year was canceled. That was really hard on us. I had a moment where I thought, ‘Oh my God. What’s going to happen?’” A longtime Santa Monica resident, Kassoy gathered herself and pivoted the firm, which is based in ArtStation. She teamed up with friends who own farms and created Bloom Boxes. Delivery in Los Angeles is available on Wednesdays or as a single gift. “When COVID hit, we were paralyzed for a couple weeks,” she said. “In that two weeks, we heard about local farms who, at that time of year, were at the height of spring cuts. The local farmers were dumping their crops. They couldn’t get products to consumers. It was a disaster.” Farms, she explained, stagger their cuts throughout the year in a “massive” timing effort. “It was a domino effect that has on the farming community,” Kassoy said. “We started reaching out to the local farmers and tried to figure out...

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City council passes Agenda Item 13-C with rare unanimous 7-0 vote Editor: Agenda Item 13-C, proposed by Councilmembers Davis and Parra, requested approval and budget requests for a trial program to close three of the more restaurant-dense blocks of Santa Monica’s Main Street to vehicular traffic — in effect, an experimental “Open Streets” configuration that will provide street pavement for community use, street space made available by removing thru traffic. While proposed for only a couple of short Saturday morning to Sunday evening experiments, it promises to learn what the plan would need to make it work and see how Santa Monica could deliver it — and if, indeed, “Open Streets” could work on Main Street. And aye, there’s the rub. How will our mobility and traffic experts mitigate all the concerns about diverted traffic disturbing so many of the critical balances that make Ocean Park such a special area? (Full disclosure: I bought my nearly 100-year-old converted triplex in 1976 and live there happily with my beautiful wife and cat.) It looks like real efforts to unravel the Gordian knot that tangles walkaround street conversions have been kickstarted with the Council’s ask to all the Santa Monica expert staff that they work on budgets and the real nitty-gritty details that could make a successful walkaround attraction for our community and businesses to enjoy. I put in my suggestion that they find some...

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Corona by the numbers & local updates

Compiled by Kamala Kirk Cases and deaths by neighborhood as of May 1: Culver City: 2,205 (deaths 107); Del Rey: 2,016 (deaths 32); El Segundo: 720 (deaths 6); Marina del Rey: 382 (deaths 3); Mar Vista: 2,057 (deaths 37); Palms: 2,593 (deaths 62); Playa del Rey: 110 (deaths 1); Playa Vista: 603 (deaths 8); Santa Monica: 4,776 (deaths 183); Venice: 1,694 (deaths 13); Westchester: 2,506 (deaths 48) Total Westside cases: 19,662 Total Westside deaths: 500 Total confirmed cases in LA County: 1,233,488 Total deaths in LA County: 23,918 Total new cases as of May 1: 500 Total new deaths: 29 Hospitalizations: 414 Positivity rate (seven-day daily average): .70% Total number of people tested: 6,488,927 (Source: Los Angeles County Department of Public...

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Made With Love

DWC offers income, job training to women experiencing homelessness By Kamala Kirk In the heart of Skid Row, a team of baristas make organic coffees and teas and serve light fare in a small café. What’s deeper inside is special. The Made by DWC Café is a community gathering place that helps break the cycle of chronic homelessness by providing women the opportunity to earn income while gaining job skills. Since 1978, the Downtown Women’s Center has been focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless females. Over the years, DWC has expanded to include many different programs and support services, including permanent supportive housing, health care services, advocacy training and a drop-in day center. In 2010, the organization created Made by DWC, a purpose-driven social enterprise that now includes three businesses for women. “Made by DWC was launched 10 years ago with our Home & Gift Collection and our Café & Gift Boutique,” said Zarina Guerrero, Made by DWC’s social enterprise retail and branding manager. “One year later, we opened our resale boutique. Within our social enterprise, we provide hands-on job training for women transitioning out of homelessness. We believe employment is a life-changing opportunity that empowers women to succeed in all aspects of their lives, both at work and beyond.” The resale boutique offers a unique shopping experience that includes women’s apparel and...

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Promoting Literacy

Amazon Books store, The Book Foundation host event to provide books to homeless youth By Kamala Kirk In celebration of World Book Day, the Amazon Books store in Marina del Rey hosted The Book Foundation for an in-store shopping event that donated hundreds of books to local youth experiencing homelessness. “The Book Foundation is excited to be with our partners at the Marina del Rey Amazon Books store to provide hundreds of books to youth experiencing homelessness at the Pacific Sunset Bridge Home,” said Ruth Stalford, founder and executive director of The Book Foundation. “We believe that literacy is the key to opening doors and creating opportunity, and our mission is to get new books into the hands of children in underserved areas. Fulfilling our mission wouldn’t be possible without donations like this from our friends at Amazon Books in Marina del Rey.” The Book Foundation is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that helps get new books into the hands of children in underserved areas, based in the belief that literacy is the key to opening doors and creating opportunity. The books will be used to stock the organization’s upcoming library installation or “Book Nook” at the Pacific Sunset Bridge Home in Venice Beach, a local shelter that houses homeless men and women, in addition to transitional-age youth. The World Book Day event was part of a two-week nationwide Amazon...

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