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Happening in Highland Park: NELA’s Historic Community Garden Ready for Summer 2016

Highland Park, Los Angeles, is an epicenter of change currently. Property values are skyrocketing, and new businesses are attracting people from all around to come and indulge in the unique culture and atmosphere of Historic Highland Park.

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Just across the street from the iconic Frank’s Camera building and newly opened Highland Park Bowl, the Highland Theatre lights up the sky on the weekends with its locally famous green marquis lights, reminiscent of the exciting buzz of yesteryear, when families would head out to Figueroa Street for a night of wining, dining, entertainment and socializing.

Behind the theatre, whose backside is tattooed with awe inspiring street art, is the Milagro Allegro Community Garden. As summer falls upon us, new life is breathed into the once parking lot that now serves as a focal point of community activity and natural beauty for the Northeast Los Angeles (NELA) community.

The garden itself is a place for gardeners to come a rest after stressful days at work, and reap the fruits of their labor (literally). While each plot serves a different purpose to their individual plot owners, the 30+ collective raised wooden plots create an oasis amid an urban landscape.

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Last year, among the most successful of the community programs held at the garden was our Amaranth Harvest, hosted by Liz Goetz, MFA in partnership with the Souzas of Art in the Park located in nearby Hermon. A series of educational art classes educated children about the history and purpose of Amaranth plants in Guatemalan culture. By the end of the three-month project, the grains were ready for harvest, and community members gathered to harvest the seeds in traditional Guatemalan practice, and the seeds were then stored in the local seed library to be re-used for this year’s harvest. There are more of these types of programs in the works.

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In an ongoing effort to be a zero-waste and water conservative community garden, we have added giant 300-gallon caged water tank. The benefit of the plastic tank is that it is easier to quantify exactly how much the garden is using, as opposed to over watering with traditional hoses and water cans. Another perk is that these plastic tanks are durable, yet easy to mend if they were to become punctured. They don’t rust over time like the heavier, galvanized steel tanks do, making them easier to maneuver around, and more cost efficient.

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Sunflower

Rather than watering in the middle of the day, most of our gardeners have taken to the habit of getting to their plots early in the morning, or in the later afternoons to hydrate their plots. By doing this, the water is able to soak to the roots, and enrich the roots as opposed to watering in the middle of the day, when the sun quickly evaporates the water.

It is also imperative to not over water the plants, and make sure that gardeners are not just watering dirt. Native Southern California plants are resilient and actually do well with little water, as they have had to adapt and evolve over the years, especially during the historic drought we have found ourselves in the middle of.

Felix

One of our favorite gardeners, Felix, tends to his plot, which has been producing a wealth of amazing mint and abundant lettuce. 

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Here’s some of the lettuce we are taking home to eat from Felix’s plot! 

Another addition to the garden is a large compost system. Generally, successful garden composts are divided into three categories (and they don’t have to be all nice and neat, contrary to what you might read on the internet or in official gardening books). You just need three quasi-separate piles: new compost, aging compost, and ready to use compost. A combination of brown (dry) and green (wet) compost will create the proper nitrogen and carbon to help break down the material, creating a compound of nutrient rich soil to better help your plot become a flourishing bed of growth. It’s easy to get in the habit of creating a designated bin for kitchen scraps that you can heap into your local compost at your convenience!

It is also important to aerate the compost, this can be done with a pitchfork, and by just making sure that air and moisture are reaching all parts of the materials in the compost. This will deliver oxygen where it is needed, keeping the cultures within alive and active. This can be done weekly, or whenever a hefty amount of new material is being added to the compost.

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sprouts

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The best things for your compost are easy to find and will help you take step to living a more sustainable and zero-waste lifestyle! Composts can include dead leaves, lawn clippings, food scraps (not including meat and fat), black and white newspaper, manure (preferably from organic-fed sources), and all organic matter.

Each raised plot should cultivate a combination of fertilizer, rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, grass clippings and/or wood chips (to prevent weed growth, more susceptible in places with direct sunlight), and compost. Grass clippings are an optimal source of organic fertilizer, as it is available via often free local sources, it does double duty preventing weeds and conserving water and garden soil moisture, which is something that not even all bags of pre-packaged commercial mulch does.

The benefits of raised bed garden plots are seemingly endless. They produce a better yield for area because there is better drainage and better opportunity for deeper rooting and stronger crops. It is also easier to rework the soil and top layers from season to season, making your plot ready to serve you all year round.

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This season, my plot-mates and I decided to turn all the soil, removing all weeds and excess roots, to make room for our new seedlings. With about five bags of manure from a local source, our plot was ready to get started! It is always encouraged to plant from seeds, and we advocate for this at Milagro Allegro. This year, we purchased our organic seeds from Sunset Nursery in Silver Lake and used a seed started kit to germinate the seeds. When they were ready to be transplanted, we transported them to the plot and arranged them in their appropriate rows. So far so good!

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Our giant trellis is being used for our melons, tomatoes, and my favorite—watermelon. Last year, with just one watermelon seed, I was able to manipulate my watermelon vine to work its way all around my giant trellis to create a watermelon tree of sorts. Because of the adaptability of the fruit, the vines strengthened to adapt the the weight of the melons, allowing them to grow and hang in a unique and creative way. I hope to do this same this year! The results were delicious.

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mint

There is not shortage of trellises for gardeners to utilize at the garden and there are a variety of sizes and types that can cater to your individual gardening needs. Summer trellises can be used to help grow tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, pole beans, gourds, melons, squash and pumpkins.

During the months of May and June, it is prime time to plant the following for the best results; basil, beans (bush and pole), beets, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, jicama, lima beans, mustard, okra, peppers (of all varieties), pumpkin, radish, squash, sunflowers, Swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelon, and zucchini.

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There is something satisfying and fulfilling about caring for something and watching it grow. Not only are there aesthetically pleasing benefits of gardening but functional rewards as well. There is a community of local gardeners that congregate to chat and enjoy the outdoors in the middle of a neighborhood where some have lived for generations. But people are welcome to enjoy the garden, whether you are an established resident of the area, or looking to get more involved. Each plot gives a little glimpse into each gardener’s character. So stop by and watch the evolution of the harvests of summer 2016!

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Jasmine produces a seducing aroma for passerby’s of every variety. 

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Fruit trees lining the garden create a more inviting ambiance as opposed to the often deterring chain link fence. The apples are in bloom as wells at the beautiful flowers that grow with them. 

If you are interested in starting some sort of community programming in the garden, please contact Andrea Kainuma at andreakainuma@gmail.com for more information.

For more background on the genesis and mission of the garden, here is the description as listed on its Facebook page:

“The Milagro Allegro garden is located at 115 S. Avenue 56 in the Northeast Los Angeles community of Highland Park. The garden features 10,000 square feet of land divided into 32 raised plots for cultivating fruits, vegetables and flowers. The garden also features a gathering circle for hosting classes, workshops and community events.

Milagro Allegro is located behind the historic Highland Theater, on 10,000 square feet of land belonging to the City of Los Angeles. Before Milagro Allegro began negotiations for a community garden, the land had remained vacant for 30 years—full of weeds and surrounded by barbed wire.

Thanks to the tremendous efforts of several community members and the support of Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes, Assemblyman Kevin De Leon, L.A. Department of Transportation, L.A. Community Garden Council, L.A. Conservation Corps, Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council and Home Depot, the Milagro Allegro Community Garden was able to open its doors.

The Milagro Allegro Community Garden is organized under the Los Angeles Community Garden Council, which supports 70 community gardens throughout Los Angeles County. Collectively, the gardens serve nearly 4,000 families and have become a vibrant part of their communities aimed at reducing poverty, mitigating global warming and benefiting the environment.

Its mission is to be a center of peace and beauty in the community where the cultivation of vegetables, fruits and flowers as well as creative ideas, artistic expression and neighborly values may take place.

The Milagro Allegro Community Garden integrates urban farming, art and education in the heart of the Highland Park neighborhood. Garden plots are available for interested community members. A community gathering space hosts classes, workshops and events. Local schools may incorporate the garden into curriculum or after-school activities. “

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The Whirling Girlish for @HappeninginHighlandPark !

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As of late I’m writing for @HappeninginHighlandPark (http://happeninginhighlandpark.com) and below is a feature that just posted today about the urban garden in, you guessed it—Highland Park!

Link to full article here!

Whirling Girlish walk in the (Highland) Park!

andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaI’ve wanted to do this for so long, so I finally did! I have always loved the historic architecture around the neighborhood, especially the unique signs. It gives the area a lil somethin’, somethin’ ya know? These are all candid shots taken in motion with my iPhone 6 (and they are unfiltered too!)

Above is my Eden, the Milagro Allegro Community Garden located behind the Historic Highland Theater, and it’s lined with recycled water jugs as we wait for our upcoming drip water system! andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaThe ever-changing walls of graffiti around the neighborhood always makes for strolls around town that are short of boring. I always like checking out what’s happening inside Sun Beam Vintage (creating a mental inventory of things that I wouldn’t mind owning in the future). They’ve had truckloads of stuff coming in lately it seems.  I always come across something new ie: this random door. Good thing too, because you have to remember not to always stare at the ground! There are some renovations happening in the upper levels of lots of the buildings along Figueroa, so I’m interested to see what becomes of them. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california This is getting to where it seems like the cool cats like to hang out. I can never tell if the stores are open or not, but the tiny cafe, The Kitchen Mouse, is always hoppin’ and seems to be a place for the young and hip to congregate and agree with whatever the other person is saying. There are a lot of denim jackets and ironic t-shirts involved (not that I’m not guilty of those things myself, I’m just saying…)andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaIt wasn’t until this specific stroll that I realized there are a ton of options shop-wise to go to get beautified. Salons, barber shops, nail places etc. I guess Highland Park wants you to be pretty. In case you couldn’t tell, this place wanted to make sure you know they are open. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california

My favorite place to get beer! At “The Coldest Beer in Town”. The folks that work there are awesome, they have a good selection and are, well, Brasilian, which gives them automatic kudos in my book (sue me!). Birds of a feather!

There’s also an ever-so-present theme of classic cars. Why does everyone have them? Also, when they have time to restore them? How do they do it? Isn’t that expensive? I feel like I moan every time I have to just get an oil change. IMG_5188andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california The people watching can’t be beat. I’m always wondering where bystanders and commuters are going. Sometimes you see some heartfelt stuff…other times not so much, but I try to keep it positive. I like the interactions I have. The other day I saw a man watching hard-core porn on the public computers at the library and that was interesting. It was uncomfortable, but even the librarians and I agreed that there was something to be admired about his gives-zero-shits approach to doing what he felt like doing. You never know what you’ll come across! andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaAh, yes, La Estrella. This place has saved me once or twice at 2:00 am after and evening at La Cuevita Bar (the home of Sunday Service, my favorite LA queer night!) God love ’em. Like I said, there are no shortage of barbers in these here parts. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Another gem of a wall that has been here longer than me! andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california I love this, because it makes me wonder if I have ever consciously been talking to a millionaire and then knew I was learning something from them. Have you? Just a reminder that you might be craving a breakfast biscuit, and maybe a little bit of Jesus on the side. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california The Highland Park recreation Center. Great lawn, better people watching (and you get the wi-fi from the library next door). So, you can’t really lose here. This food truck is the jam, and the people who run it are cool. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Note the hair studio. We are now approaching York Blvd. (there will be more York pics in a later post)  I also associate mattresses with Highland Park. Like, they might be on the side of the road, or they might just be stacked sky-high in the bed of a pick-up truck. Either way, people got them some beds to choose from around here .andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california It could be weird, but I think documenting gas prices is always a good testament of time. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california There’s no shortage of this rubbish littering the sidewalks! Real estate agents up the wazoo trying to get everyone to sell their houses. (Don’t worry, I picked it up and threw it away along with about 30 other miscellaneous property-related flyers along the walk).  Your dog is a mini-poodle, my friend. But sure, I’ll beware! andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california There’s also an emergence of cool gates. Could it be competitive? It never stops! Now we gotta try and have the coolest gate. Let’s just take down all the gates. Unless I get the coolest gate, then we can all have gates. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Along with the multitude of mattresses, I always find some bed frames that are looking for a new home. And behold! Yet another classic car as the backdrop. Oh wait, and a barbershop in the back ground. We are some bed loving, vintage car driving, style fiends around here. I wonder if this used to be someone’s home, or even what kind of business it was before. Either way, it’s pretty cute. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Loving the houses turned pop-up restaurant. There is a lady on my street that sells these amazing pupusas once a week and she just sets up tables in her front yard. There’s always a LINE. But it’s worth it. Find your currency, then use it, ya know?andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california This place has unassuming looking margaritas that you should a) go and enjoy and b) beware and have your Uber app ready. Trust me. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california This store rules! And the prices aren’t too crazy. If nothing else, it’s good for creating that mental inventory I talked about before. Sometimes it’s fun to do it in person rather than just on Etsy or Amazon. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california It took everything I had to not go in (I want answers, damnit!), plus there’s nothing more convenient than having my future told to me while getting my latest lower back tattoo. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california When I want to remember Florida, I come here. The aggressive tension of the waiters is remniscent of the geriatric bullies outside of a Cracker Barrel on a Sunday morning. Some people take their giant checkers games seriously. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california This museum has some rad stuff including but not limited to some real artifacts from some crazy chases and happenings that took place during the infamous LA Riots!  Sort of like the gas thing, but it’s always fun to document these and use them as visual time capsules. Plus, from an architectural standpoint, they have a cool history that I will delve into in a future (very upcoming) post! andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Jesus and classic cars. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Something about these always intrigues me.  There’s Daisy, making sure we dress to the nines again. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaAm I the only one who worries when I notice someone hasn’t checked the mail in a while?  andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Clean up your fake bamboo tiki fence and talk to your neighbors, dude. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaWe all do!  Note the “More Art for LA” banner swaying ever so gallantly in the forefront of McDonalds. Hey, who says you can’t have both?andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california This lady was not amused and wanted to make sure that I “don’t end up like her” and I asked in what way, to which she responded, “Oh, shit, it’s already too late….just keep going.” I was concerned. But I pressed forward. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california There’s always some character to these liquor stores (characters on the inside) and a personality of their own on the outside. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california This place is a picture/experience treasure trove and the people that work there are gems in themselves. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Again with the hair.  Also, the hair. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Also, do you need a haircut? andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california I really dig these benches but have yet to pass by this place and it ever be open. Color me intrigued.  I’m going to do a future Whirling Girlish posts dedicated to all the Lavandarias around the neighborhood and I’ll be stoked to do so. Stay tuned! andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Look at that open sign! Open for business and open to diversity is how I see it! Who knows.  Thank goodness there is somewhere to get my hair done. I do like that logo though. I always said if I had a bar of my own I would call it the “Scissor” and the logo would kind of look just like that. Way to be on the same wave length, peeps! andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Why can’t I ever say “no” to fruit…why?andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california     andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california  andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Shopclass offers, well, classes, for those of your that want to get your wood-working on! andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california This is where we used to bring (Tesla, the xolo, who now lives in Florida with her confidante, Lucy the labrador). andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california  andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california

andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaCool guy, working on some deals. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california  andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california  andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california   andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california  andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california   andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california “That’s what she told me!”, said no one ever.  andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california Cafe de Leche rules and the management is second to none (she’s a good friend of mine). Grab a cup!  andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california IMG_5449andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california   andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaThe Monte Vista projects (on arguably the most historic stretch of buildings in Highland Park!) andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california  andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaIMG_5484IMG_5485IMG_5486IMG_5487IMG_5488IMG_5489IMG_5490IMG_5491IMG_5492IMG_5493IMG_5499IMG_5500IMG_5501 IMG_5502  andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california  andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california This is Dr. Moore. He taught at Pepperdine for 33 years and walks around the neighborhood with his African Gray Parrot on his shoulder as to ensure that she doesn’t “get restless”. She poops on him constantly, and he genuinely doesn’t care, and I hope to adopt his mentality one day. andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_california andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaIMG_5557IMG_5546IMG_5552Couldn’t resist throwing in a trailer pic! Love the light this time of day. But I still need to figure out how to hide my power cables! andrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaandrea_jackson_whirling_girlish_highland_park_los_angeles_californiaPS I cannot WAIT to go to this event, it’s going to be awesome/interesting and there will be lots of “YAHS” hollers (on my part) I’m imagining.

Home is where you park it! : Tiny living in my freshly renovated vintage Silver Streak trailer in Highland Park! (I did it under $1500)

This dream of a project consisted of A LOT of power tools, sorting of scraps, recouping after random El Nino storms, and organizing what seemed like an endless to-do list. But persistence (and mild OCD) got us to where we wanted to be!

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I’ve always been pretty into the idea of living with as few material possessions as possible. Since living like a true Semana isn’t a viable reality for me, I at least try to stick to the essentials (or at very least quality goods that mean something to me).

I had an amazing living situation in Highland Park with two of my best friends that are getting their doctorates from CalTech in physics (intense!) But alas, when I was introduced to my knock-out artist/feminist/rock star of a neighbor, Stormie Art (of Roseark Jewelry), my Sagittarius instinct kicked in (classic) and I convinced her to let me live in and renovate the vintage Silver Streak “Jet” trailer instead of turning it into her mobile boutique (she’d been toying with the idea for a while). 19′ and she’s all mine.

She was down (what, really?!), and I was surprised about it. Luckily, the move wasn’t a long and/or strenuous one (I’m across the street), and it only took one car load to move my belongings. So begins the journey of the budget-minded (and epic) Highland Park Silver Streak renovation!

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She needed some work. I saw the potential and never doubted her! We got started right away clearing out the insides of what used to be a mobile office for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

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And with the help of some tiny laborers, we chiseled away at the project day-by-day. Luckily, I had just acquired amazing lumber from the San Franciscan Bay area from a dear friend (and my favorite artist), Kyle, who owns Bay Area Custom Furniture as well as creates work that can be seen here.

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After scraping away at a few decades of dirt and grime from the walls and coating her with some new stark white matte paint, she was beginning to feel the new life breathed into her. I used some of my lumber to create some accents throughout the trailer included the Douglas fir, boiled linseed oil varnished, entrance wall.

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We got lucky on the floor and found a lad in the area with a limited supply of hardwood cherrywood (a step up from the most cost-efficient option of linoleum wood flooring). Generally, the floor planks are staggered, but I chose the quality of the wood over the standard design because we had to be as efficient with the planks as possible.

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I had purchased the small dresser drawers from a pretty great store in Ventura, California called Rotations. I need to be as space efficient as possible, so I just sawed an inch or so off of each leg and applied little sliders to the bottom of each foot to eliminate scratches on the hardwood floor.

While I do have power to the trailer, it helped saved space and electricity utilizing a couple of fans (for summer) and a small portable space heater (for winter) as well as some pretty great value camping lanterns that I think add to the authentic aesthetic of the trailer.

The large print on the wall is one o the original layout prints for the community garden (Milagro Allegro), so I framed it and it’s just one more element of my tiny home that means a lot to me!

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The most labor intensive part of the project was replacing and reinstalling light/air ventilation units in the top of the trailer. We had to take out the old units, replace them, seal the air holes, and tar the surfaces to protect against water damage. In the end, they allow for pretty impressive air circulation and natural light.

The tire cover box is a multi-functional sitting surface as well as a sort of display area where I used a soft throw and some big throw pillows to add some more texture in the room. If you look closely, you can see my issue of the latest Tom Tom magazine sitting on it!

I purchased two air plants from Echo Garden  on York Blvd. in Highland Park, and the other finer details sort of popped up organically. The two antique table lights are compliments of antique-junkie/entry level hoarder, Stormie. The genuine leather (bad ass) vintage barber chair was purchased from the buyer for a local store, Sunbeam Vintage (okay, okay, it was my splurge).

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The yellow rolling chair (one of my favorite pieces) was also found at a thrift store in Ventura. On the bottom of it there is actually an etched “property of” tag, tracing it back to a hospital office in the late 70s!  The filing units under the desk were original from the previous office set up. They had been painted and after scrubbing away with some steel wool, I was able to reach the layer of cool sea foam green, then seal it off with some anti-rust spray.

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The avocado table is an original piece created by yours truly! I wrote an article about it in 2014 which can be read here, and I am so excited that it (and it’s counter part, the side table/ stump next to the bed) have found a home where I think they really vibe.

The books on top of the table are a gift from a good friend. They are graphic novels by artist Jaime Hernandez and part of a series called Love and Rockets (and I recommend you get your hands on a copy whenever you get the chance). There’s also some good read on the shelf that I’ve collected through the years and even some recent purchases from one of my favorite places, The Last Bookstore, in Downtown Los Angeles, where I sift through the $1 book section for hours.

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Homey touches are along the walls, where I printed some old pictures of my family and stacked some of my favorite art prints on the empty light canisters (original to the trailer). I also have some original prints hanging (you can see them in the “Drawings” section of The Whirling Girlish) as well as a piece from Highland Park artist, Bleys Lieuallen, and one of my favorite prints by artist Tom Lamb, who does hand drawn maps of different L.A. neighborhoods.

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Not shown above are the 100+ year old tiles that are from the original house on the main property that was built in 1906 and rest on one acre of land (even amidst the burgeoning nature of the neighborhood). I still need to wipe away the excess grout! Eek! The only caveat is that the internet connection in the trailer is a little less than desirable, so I had to improvise.

Sidenote: (Shout out to the bowl of packaged seeds from the Amaranth harvest we had at the Milagro Allegro Community Garden for the seed library!). I manage the garden and we do some pretty cool stuff. Another perk? It’s right up the street from me, located by my daily spot, Kinship Yoga who partners with us at the garden for various projects, and also the Historic Highland Theatre off of Figueroa.

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I attached a simple curtain to the closet area not only to take away from the business of my wardrobe, but also to add a bit of texture to the space. I also did this by adding some different printed wool blankets from Pendleton (via eBay), and adding some large throw pillows to the day bed (also what I like to refer to as, you know, “my bed”). Most of that I just got from some of my favorite Goodwill stores (Glassell Park, Santa Barbara, Redondo Beach).

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(There have since been multiple succulents and other such wonderful living things moved onto the deck using recycled containers and water!)

Another one of the my favorite elements is the bright yellow door….my spirit color! When it’s shut and you are on the interior of the trailer, it adds a pretty awesome pop against the white walls and ties together different yellow access around the space ie: the rolling desk chair. The outdoor deck ain’t too shabby either. I’m using a lot of the old drawer units and remaining filing cabinets as planters for different plants and succulents I have growing about.

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Now there are more pictures on the walls and texture added by the combination of fleece and wool blankets. It would also be a good opportunity to add some sort of sheep skin, or maybe a cow hyde (artificial if you are sensitive about real furs!). Instead of bulky curtains, I opted for a crochet scarf I found at the Bearded Beagle in Highland Park. It allows for sunlight to stream through and still gives me privacy without the inconvenience of bulky drapery or shutter blinds.

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There are some awesome left over pieces of lumber and I was able to make this bike table (created from a vintage movie-prop bike that had been rusting away in my neighbor’s yard for years, and some of the refurbished Douglas fir panels!)

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Next to come? An outdoor brick bread oven. Then the holiday trailer/oven parties will be a go-go! She’s going to be a work in progress for as long I live there, and I am looking forward to every minute of it!

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Proof it can be done! Use your resources (do you know anyone that might have the materials you’re looking for?), try to keep it local (it’ll mean more if you do), and say “yes” when the opportunity comes up! Is it conventional? I mean, not really.

But if nothing else it does make for a good ice breaker at parties.

WHIRLING GIRLISH THROWBACK!: that ever-present artistic push against “neo-mannerism”—a favorite piece for The Suburban Apologist (SubAp!) magazine!

whirling girlish for the suburban apologist resisting neo mannerism art article featuring artist kyle austin dunn of san francisco california

Here’s an original Whirling Girlish article published in The Suburban Apologist in 2013! SubAp! just celebrated its first PRINT issue that you should try to get your hands on! SubAp! has been a friend of The Whirling Girlish for a loooooong time, and there is more greatness to come! Congrats, SubAp!

Check it out here!

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You can re-red the original article here

These days artist, Kyle Austin Dunn, still resides in San Francisco, CA and is creating a collection of large-scale pieces out of his studio in Oakland, CA. And his custom furniture business is booming! You can check out some of his unique and hand-crafted pieces by checking out BayAreaCustomFurniture.com here.

He creates some really cool pieces like the ones shown here at: 

bay area custom furniture by kyle austin dunn san francisco california

bay area custom furniture artist kyle austin dunn san francisco california

ENJOY, GIRLISHERS! 

I made a thing! Handcrafted reclaimed avocado wood goodies!

Hello readers!

Just a full little side note of what I have been filling some of my free time with!

When we moved into our house, the yard behind it had the two biggest avocado trees that I have ever seen! The biggest a lot of people have ever seen. It made the biggest fruit. Seriously. It impressed people.

But the developer that owned the lot cut down the trees because he wants to build apartments (so horrible!). People protested, and they had the hardest time finding a company that would agree to cut them down….
But finally they did, and when they showed up, I ran into one of the guys hired for the job. Like everyone else…he was totally bummed! But the bills weren’t going to pay themselves. So I asked him if he could cut the tree in such a way that parts of it would be salvageable for woodworking projects!
They were really excited about that idea, and complied the best they could, trying to cut the slabs flat. After two days, the beautiful trees were gone, and in their places, just two large stumps and big piles of lumber.
So stump by stump, I started gathering pieces that I thought would make beautiful furniture, cutting boards etc. After about two days of rolling and lugging, we had a nice collection of genuine Ventura, California Avocado wood in our backyard!

There was one stump in particular that I knew would make the best side table! But the wood was really wet and still alive. I would have to wait a month at least for it to dry out. But in the meantime, I bought some chisels and hammered the bark off of the pieces I wanted to use! After a couple of weeks, the stump looked something like this…

And with some more chiseling and A LOT of sanding…it started looking like this…
and after it was sanded and smooth, I started added layers of boiled linseed oil to seal it from water and serve as a protective coating!
It is still unfinished (it still needs some coats), but so far this is what the top looks like…

And there was a slab section I knew I wanted to use as a coffee table. My favorite piece. It was cut from one of the main stumps. After a couple of months it warped a bit but I was able to saw it in half, and sand it down so that it was level! It was a lot of sanding. A lot.
But all worth it!
Today I applied the first coat of boiled linseed oil just this afternoon, and so far this is what it looks like…

And here is a side view. Right now it is just resting on another unfinished stump. Eventually I will add metal hairpin legs, and it will be a mid-century modern style avocado coffee table! Here’s a side view…There are definitely some knicks and nooks, but I kind of think it adds some character.

It still needs about a weeks’ worth more of varnish/oil, and then I need to attach the legs…but so far so good!
There are other stumps like the one below that have had no work done yet, and I plan on sectioning them off into cool cutting boards!