Join Me for “I-Ran Out of the Closet” — an Iranian coming out story and an important discussion about LGBTQ Iranians

I am proud to co-sponsor an important discussion in Irvine on Wednesday, February 21, on Iranian LGBTQ identity.

Hear the personal stories of LGBTQ Iranians and their families.

The goal of the conversation is create awareness of and increase exposure to LGBTQ Iranians, among fellow Iranians and the larger community.

Panelists include:

Mastaneh Moghadam, LCSW Executive Director CCE, Moderator

Ashkan Yekrangi, Esq. Lawyer / Activist

Kathy Tavakoli, Mother / Activist

Shervin Khorramian, Executive Director of Raha, Activist

Ali Vassigh, Activist / MC

Jessica Laed – Marriage and Family Therapist Intern / Lesbian

Hedyeh Rezaei – Master of Social Works Candidate / Activist

RAHA is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a safe space where the Persian LGBTQ community and its allies come together to embrace their shared experiences.  RAHA’s mission is to positively impact its members’ lives by connecting Persian LGBTQs through their cultural identity.

Reserve your free tickets here.

You can like RAHA on Facebook here and follow RAHA Instagram @rahaintl

I hope to see you there!

Happy Korean American Day!

On January 13, 1903, a group of 102 Korean laborers arrived in Honolulu from Japan aboard the steamship RMS Gaelic to work in the Hawaiian sugar cane fields. This date is traditionally regarded as marking the first Korean immigration to the United States and celebrated as Korean American Day — although several individual Koreans had immigrated to the United States earlier, including Philip Jaisohn (Seo Jae-pil), a journalist and medical doctor and a noted champion for Korea’s independence, who in 1890 became the first Korean to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

At our City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 9, we issued a Korean-American Day Proclamation, celebrating “the long and prosperous journey of Korean Americans in the United States” due to their “strong family ties, community support, and hard work.”  Accepting the proclamation on behalf of the Korean American community were a number of Irvine Korean American civic leaders, including my friend and appointee to the Irvine Senior Council, Juneu Kim.

From these humble beginnings, a large and vibrant Korean American community has grown, now numbering nearly 2 million people of Korean descent in the United States, including nearly half a million people in California.

Irvine has had two Korean American mayors — Sukhee Kang and Dr. Steven Choi (who now represents part of Irvine in the California Assembly).

Our city has adopted the South Korean city of Seocho-gu as one of Irvine’s four “Sister Cities.

Irvine is proud to celebrate our thriving Korean American community each year in our annual Irvine Korean Cultural Festival, designed to share Korean culture with the entire community by showcasing its customs, heritage, arts and cuisine.

As the daughter of a Korean War combat veteran, the cousin of a United States Marine who was killed in action in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, and as a resident of Irvine, I feel a deep connection to Korea and a deep appreciation for the vital contributions that Korean Americans have made to our city, our state, and our nation.

I am proud to live and serve on the City Council in a city that celebrates and treasures our Korean American community and I join my Korean American friends and neighbors in celebrating Korean American contributions to our shared American heritage and way of life.

Happy Korean American Day!

Councilmember Melissa Fox with her father, Korean War veteran Stan Kay, and other Korean War veterans.

 

Irvine Parents: Join Us for a “Diversity Play Date”

In Irvine, we are proud of saying that our city is not only among the most diverse cities in the nation, it is also the most fully integrated.

There are no ethnic, linguistic, religious, or cultural enclaves in Irvine: every neighborhood reflects Irvine’s ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural diversity.

How diverse is Irvine?  A non-English language is spoken in a remarkable 58% of Irvine homes, with more than 70 different languages spoken in residences throughout Irvine.  Nearly 40 % of Irvine’s public school students have a primary language other than English.

Irvine is also home to more than 80 different churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship, serving Irvine’s wonderful cultural and religious diversity.

But sometimes we face prejudice in Irvine.

That’s what happened recently when a young African-American boy was teased at school because of the color of skin.

His mother, Kourtney McGowen, was understandably hurt and upset and reached out on social media to other Irvine moms.

I’m proud of my community to say that the response she received was 100% love.

Kourtney then decided to create a “diversity play date” at an Irvine park to share — and celebrate — our diversity.

Here is how Kourtney describes what happened:

“It all started with Johnathan sharing his experiences at school with me.  He told me that children were calling him names because of his skin color. As a mom of course I tried to make him feel better about being black by purchasing books, watching certain movies and talking to him about it. I even reached out to the school leadership. But his peers quickly diminished what confidence he had just gained.

I then decided to vent to my Irvine moms group on Facebook and share my concern and frustration. I even went as far as saying ‘please teach your children to accept other children that look different than they do, it starts at home.’ I wasn’t sure how the response would be. But, to my surprise, the post went viral. I had many moms express how sorry they were, private message me for play dates and share their own similar experiences with the same thing! I felt like this was an opportunity to make a difference so I went for it!

I am now planning a play date for the entire community and calling it “Celebrate Diversity”. To my surprise so many families got excited and I have over 84 saying they’re going. I now have the City Councilwoman Melissa Fox of Irvine as well as the Irvine Community Service Commissioner Lauren Johnson-Norris co-hosting this event with me! It will be next Sunday January 14th at 2:00pm. I plan to go live on Facebook for a portion of the event.

This is just another example of how one voice can make change happen. How are we using our voices? For change? Or for gossip? So excited for this opportunity!”

Here are the details:

What: Diversity Play Date

When: Sunday, January 14, 2018  2:00 pm — 5:00 pm.

Where: Santa Ynez Park, 110 Santa Ynez, Irvine, CA 92606

Description:  “All ages are welcomed! Come bring your kiddos dressed in cultural clothing (if you’d like) and their favorite snack to share! This is an opportunity for us as parents to bring awareness to an ongoing issue of separating by race, culture, religion, skin color. Please join me in bringing our little ones together to encourage acceptance of others! Can’t wait to see you all!”

You can see the Facebook page for the event here.

As a member of the Irvine City Council, I am extremely proud of our city for surrounding Kourtney McGowan and her son with so much love and delighted to co-host this event together with Kourtney and Community Services Commissioner Lauren Johnson-Norris.

I am also tremendously impressed by how Kourtney McGowan turned a negative incident into a positive learning and sharing experience for our whole community!

Please join us!

See you there!

 

 

Join Me Saturday for Irvine’s Global Village Festival!

My favorite Irvine cultural event of the year is almost here!

This coming Saturday, September 23, 2017, is the Irvine Global Village Festival!

Irvine Community Services Commissioner Melissa Fox at Irvine's Global Village Festival 2013

In Irvine, we are proud of saying that our city is not only among the most diverse cities in the nation, it is also the most fully integrated.

There are no ethnic, linguistic, religious, or cultural enclaves in Irvine: every neighborhood reflects Irvine’s harmonious ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural diversity.

How diverse is Irvine?  A non-English language is spoken in a remarkable 58% of Irvine homes, with more than 70 different languages spoken in residences throughout Irvine.  Nearly 40 % of Irvine’s public school students have a primary language other than English.

Irvine is also home to more than 80 different churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship, serving Irvine’s wonderful cultural and religious diversity.

This year marks the 16th anniversary of the Irvine Global Village Festival – Irvine’s largest and most attended community event.

Founded in 1998 by a group of Irvine residents to help promote understanding and build harmony within Irvine’s many diverse cultures, the Global Village Festival is now Irvine’s signature event, featuring more than 100 performances on five stages; international cuisine and food from more than 50 restaurants; an international marketplace filled with unique crafts and textiles; interactive, educational and entertaining cultural displays, demonstrations, and performances; and an international village just for kids.

More than 40 local restaurants and gourmet food trucks serve up samples of regional and international specialties from boba smoothies, miso soup, falafel, Mexican fusion tacos and German pretzels to Japanese dumplings, Hawaiian shaved ice and the all-American bacon-wrapped hot dog. Please be prepared with cash for food and beverage purchases.

At the heart of the Festival is the Community Partners Pavilion, where nonprofit, local community groups and government agencies have an opportunity to showcase their programs and services to the community. Be sure to stop by the OC Voters Trailer and take the Festival Survey.

I’m looking forward to celebrating the many facets of Irvine’s diversity at the Global Village Festival – and I look forward to seeing you there!

Here are some important Festival details:

What: Irvine Global Village Festival

When: Saturday, September 23, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Where: Bill Barber Park, 4 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, CA

Cost: Admission is FREE! Please be prepared with cash for food and beverage purchases.

Parking: There is no on-site parking at the event.  Festival Parking is permitted in the lot at 20 Corporate Park and in the structure at 30 Corporate Park only. The Festival is 0.7 miles from this location.  Take the free shuttles to the Festival that will be in operation 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. or the walk (about 15 minutes) via Murphy to Alton. Disabled Person Parking will be available at the San Juan or Civic Center parking lots adjacent to Bill Barber Park. Please have the appropriate placard visible when entering the parking lot.

Bike to the Festival:  The easiest way to get to the Festival is by bike. The City of Irvine has an extensive system of bike trails to get you to and from the event, and once inside, riders can safely and securely store their bikes at the Festival’s free Bike Valet area, hosted by the Bicycle Club of Irvine and the Orange County Bicycle Coalition. Use Irvine’s Bike Map to plan your trip.

Pets: Dogs are welcome at the Irvine Global Village Festival! However, owners must be responsible for their pets; dogs must be on leash, interact well in a large crowd and remain in the charge of a person competent to restrain them.

See you there!

Stay Cool!

Temperatures will reach triple digits this week in some parts of Orange County, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke for those who are sensitive to heat.

Stay hydrated, limit outdoor activities, and NEVER leave kids or pets in a parked car!

ALL City of Irvine facilities are designated cooling centers.  Click here for a list of facilities and open hours!

Here are some recommended precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses:

  • Drink plenty of water; don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Stay out of the sun if possible, and when in the sun wear a hat, preferably with a wide brim. Use sunscreen.
  • Avoid strenuous activities if you are outside or in buildings that aren’t air-conditioned. If you are working outdoors, take frequent rest and refreshment breaks in a shaded area.
  • Never leave children, older people or pets unattended in closed vehicles.
  • Ensure outdoor pets have access to shade and water.
  • Check on those who are at high risk to make sure they are staying cool – including seniors who live alone, people with heart or lung disease, and young children.
  • Stay cool indoors – if your home is not air-conditioned, visit public facilities such as shopping malls and libraries to stay cool.

Prolonged exposure to excessive temperatures may cause serious medical conditions and can even be fatal. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and dizziness. Warning signs of heat stroke may include an extremely high body temperature; unconsciousness; confusion; hot and dry skin (no sweating); a rapid, strong pulse; and a throbbing headache. If symptoms of heat stroke occur, immediately call for medical assistance. Assist those with signs of heat stroke to a shady area and begin cooling their body with water.

Let’s be cool — and make sure we all survive the heat!

Irvine Should Move Forward with a Memorandum of Understanding for Pretend City Children’s Museum at the Great Park

Irvine Should Move Forward with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Pretend City Children’s Museum at the Cultural Terrace of the Great Park.

I am disappointed that at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, only Councilmember Christina Shea joined with me in agreeing to an MOU with our great Irvine-based Pretend City Children’s Museum regarding a lease of property at the Cultural Terrace of the Great Park.  Mayor Don Wagner and Councilmember Lynn Schott voted against.  Councilmember Jeff Lalloway was absent.

Because of the City Council’s decision, Pretend City Children’s Museum is in danger of losing a seed money grant from the County for $5 million that depends on the MOU.

Pretend City Children’s Museum, which opened in Irvine in 2009, is an interactive children’s museum that builds better brains through whole body learning experiences, educational programs, and creative exhibits.  Designed as a small city, with a grocery store, construction site, art studio, house, café, bank, emergency services, health center and farm, Pretend City will be a familiar environment in which children infant through eight-years-old will have joyful opportunities to build problem solving and critical thinking skills, develop creativity and begin a life-long love of learning. It is dedicated to ensuring that each child is ready for school success by providing the ideal real-world learning experiences needed by children to develop their essential foundational learning skills.  This month, the Institute of Museum and Library Services announced that Pretend City is a finalist for the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

Susan Bolton, the Executive Director of the Pretend Museum, has explained that the museum “seeks to move to the Great Park to expand its mission in serving the county’s children in providing early childhood education, developmental screenings, hands on play environment for children of ALL abilities and school readiness.”

The arguments against the MOU were that it would give Pretend City Children’s Museum an advantage over other possible occupants of the Cultural Terrace, and that the Cultural Terrace project should not be approved piecemeal. However, we already know the value and quality of Pretend City, which has operated in the city for many years, and the MOU would not commit the city to any final decision regarding the Cultural Terrace.

Moreover, we should be not be pitting the fine organizations that are seeking space in the Cultural Terrace against each other.  As Don Croucher – the leading advocate for a California Fire Museum at the Great Park – has pointed out, he and other supporters of the Fire Museum “are very much in favor of Pretend City getting their MOU so they do not lose the grant that is offered to them. We understand the need for them to move forward. It is NOT putting them ahead of any others at the Cultural Terrace, but rather a hand up to get the $5 million grant. We, in no way, want to hinder this important step for Pretend City.  We will support them in every step of the way to make sure they get this MOU ASAP.”

Irvine is a great city for families with young children, but we can and should make it even better.  We need more childcare and more pre-school programs for children under six-years-old, and I and my Commissioners are working to make this happen. We should also do everything we can to support the terrific work being done by the Pretend Museum for young children right here in Irvine.

As Councilmember Christina Shea has said, “If Pretend City loses their grant and we in turn lose a fantastic partner that supports our children and families, the community will lose and this isn’t what Irvine is about.”

I hope that we can move forward with the MOU soon and that the grant is not lost.

I recommend that those who are interested in this issue contact other members of the Irvine City Council.

Join Me Saturday at the Grand Opening of the Orange County Great Park Sports Park!

Join me for a free Grand Opening and fun-filled day from 2-9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, as the first phase of the Orange County Great Park’s Sports Park is unveiled.
No RSVP is needed. Click  here for the map for directions into the Great Park.
All fields will be activated at 2 p.m., then join the Mayor and City Council for an official ribbon-cutting at 3:30 p.m. inside the Soccer Stadium at the Great Park, followed by the first soccer match in the new stadium.
There will be exhibitions, and opportunities, on the six soccer fields, 25 tennis courts, and five sand volleyball courts that will be open on that day.
Bring the family to enjoy the new Children’s Play Area. Food trucks will available for guests to purchase food from 2-8 p.m.
A  special free family concert featuring The Blues Brothers with Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi will begin inside the Soccer Stadium at 7:15 p.m.
Wear comfortable shoes to experience the first 53 acres of what will become the 194-acre Sports Park!
Here’s the schedule of events for the Sports Park Grand Opening on Aug. 5:

2:00-5:30 pm: Exhibitions, clinics, competition at tennis courts, soccer fields, & volleyball courts.

2:00-8:00 pm: Food/dessert trucks available on-site.

3:30 pm: Opening ceremonies – FivePoint/City of Irvine – at the Soccer Stadium.

4:00-5:30 pm: O.C. all-star soccer shoot out at the Soccer Stadium.

7:00-9:00 pm: Free community concert featuring The Blues Brothers with Dan Aykroyd & Jim Belushi at the Soccer Stadium.

See you there!