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Morning Brief: Green Schoolyards, Sriracha Shortage, Skid Row Symphony

 First graders at Brainard Elementary demonstrate the very lengthy process of lining up, socially distanced, outside.
First graders at Brainard Elementary demonstrate the very lengthy process of lining up, socially distanced, outside.
(Kyle Stokes
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Tuesday, June 28.

I remember back in the day in elementary school (I went to Wilshire Crest Elementary School), me and the other tiny kids used to play tetherball, handball and jacks out on the hot asphalt with the Cali sun just beaming down on us. This was back in the late ‘90s, when kids had plenty to do outside so they stayed outside.

Even though a lot of kids may not intentionally go out of their way to go outside nowadays, thanks to smartphones, they still have outdoor recess in school.

There is just one big problem — our planet is getting warmer. It’s so much hotter now than it used to be when I was a child. For example, the National Weather Service tweeted that by noon yesterday it had already hit 100 degrees in many areas in Los Angeles. We’re dealing with some severe, life-threatening heat here. So that asphalt I used to play on? That’s down right unbearable these days.

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The L.A. Unified School District’s solution for the babies who have to deal with the heat outside? More green space.

The school board just approved a $13 billion-dollar operating budget. About $58 million of those funds will go toward outdoor education initiatives, including more greenery and shade on all these asphalt-heavy campuses. 

My colleague Erin Stone reports that green space in schoolyards, like gardens and outdoor learning spaces, can cool temperatures and improve air quality. Erin also writes that it can help kids focus, release stress and improve mental well-being. 

Right now, LAUSD has more than 400 school campuses with a garden or agricultural area. More than 150 school campuses have edible teaching gardens. But for the second largest school district in the nation, with more than 1,000 schools, that’s simply not enough. 

According to the Trust for Public Land, these green campuses are inequitably distributed across the district. Due to a history of institutionalized racism, Black and Latino communities have an unfair share of asphalt and tree-thirsty campuses.

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For more on why this is a good move by LAUSD, consider this an interesting tidbit from Erin’s article: “A recent study by the Trust for Public Land found that when factoring in benefits gained by greening schools, such as increased student attendance, better test scores, higher teacher retention and lower utility costs as a result of a cooler campus, California schools could save $600,000 over 20 years per campus. And as the climate crisis makes the world hotter, schools may not have a choice.”

I’m really interested in seeing the progress of L.A. Unified’s green schoolyard plan. Let’s stay tuned to see if they follow up on their promises.

As always, try to stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below the fold.

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What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go...Street Symphony Brings Professional Musicians to Skid Row

Vijay Gupta performing with some of the professional musicians in Street Symphony at the Midnight Mission on LA's Skid Row.
(David Zimmerman )

Skid Row has a bad rap as the homeless capital of America, but did you know that classical musicians regularly bring joy to that community by performing? The cool thing is that these musicians do not just parachute into the community and then leave. Meet Street Symphony — an organization that brings professional musicians to play for people in clinics, homeless shelters and jails around the area.

Luis Garcia, a social worker who is now on the Street Symphony board says this about the group. "It's not like they're outsiders. They're like, integral to the community.” Basically, they care.

Read more about Street Symphony here.

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