Los Angeles, CA 90013
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It's more than a 'gym'!
Although it's often called a 'gym' for short, the Little Tokyo Recreation Center would be much more. The core activities would be sports and martial arts centered, with a multi-court gymnasium. But based on community input, the concept of this facility has expanded.
We'd like to build in spaces for a senior citizens' lunch program and related social activities, classes for writing, taiko, music and dance, and theater workshops. Other ideas envisioned by younger Nikkei include a computer/cyber center, billiards, karaoke, or other 'hang-out' activities.
• Provide a place for youth
• Serve seniors
• Multi-purpose space
• Revitialize Little Tokyo
• Bridge the generations
• martial arts
• Koreisha Chushokukai senior lunch program
• leadership development
• computer learning center
The idea of a recreation center in Little Tokyo is not new. In fact, a gymnasium was included in the original plans for a cultural and community complex almost 30 years ago . This changed, however, when world-famous sculptor Isamu Noguchi was selected to produce a sculpture for the project and also proposed to remove the gym to make room for an open plaza to display his work. His idea was accepted, marking a shift in emphasis from the 'community' to the 'cultural' aspects of the complex.
The Japanese American Cultural and Community Center opened its doors in 1980, with the Noguchi Plaza occupying the spot where a community gymnasium could have been. Various community-based athletic groups (basketball, volleyball, martial arts) have continued to speak for the need for a centrally-located space in Little Tokyo to hold larger tournaments, and the effort to build a gym was revived in the 1990s.
In 1994, a series of planning sessions were held in Little Tokyo by the City of L.A.'s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). At the culmination, groups presented their findings. The only group that included young Nikkei college and high school students stood up to give their report. Not intimidated by the architectural renderings of statues, sculptures and gardens presented before them, they held up a hand-drawn picture of a basketball court and said, 'A gym would bring young people down here. I'd come down here if there was a gym.'
In 1995, a Task Force on the gym was formed by the Little Tokyo advisory group to the CRA. The Task Force originally included local businesses and staff from the Little Tokyo Service Center-CDC. (The Service Center�s 'CDC', or Community Development Corporation arm handles the development of affordable housing and community facilities.) LTSC-CDC was asked to take on the gym project. The Little Tokyo Community Gymnasium was incorporated in 1998 with a Board of Directors that included members of the Task Force as well as representatives from community basketball, volleyball, martial arts and senior citizens' organizations.
Over the past ten years, the Little Tokyo Community Gymnasium concept has evolved into the Little Tokyo Recreation Center, a multi-purpose, multi-generation facility. LTSC-CDC and the Rec Center Board, as well as a community coalition, have been working to obtain funding and a site for the Rec Center. The Rec Center has widespread community support, but we need to get ourselves organized to make it through the usual tangle of local politics.
If you'd like to have a hand in the realization of the Recreation Center and the re-creation of Little Tokyo, join the Coalition!
Centenary United Methodist Church,
300 S. Central Ave, Los Angeles
(corner of Third St. and Central Ave. in Little Tokyo)
For more information and to confirm meetings, please call Thomas at 213-473-1690
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