Recap: Rotary District 5320 Assembly
“Every human deserves a fighting chance!” Those words were spoken by the Honorable Gaddi Vasquez, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, just thirty feet away from me as he kicked off this year’s District 5320 Assembly, “Peace through Service,” in front of a tightly packed room of over 200 eager and vibrant Rotarians and Rotaractors. (more…)
80th Annual Great Sand Sculpture Contest
Sand sculptures, grand prizes, food and drink vendors, live music, parties… what better way to spend a beautiful summer weekend than the 80th Annual Great Sand Sculpture Contest?
From Global to Local: The Port of Long Beach’s Director of Trade Development Shares His Work
Big names, volunteering, career postings, friends, and a sunset? That’s my Rotaract! In no other club would a generation Y group stroll into a restaurant overlooking the harbor during sunset, only to have one of the most prominent figures at the Port of Long Beach, Don Snyder, the Director of Trade Development, offer his insight into the company that provides 316,000 jobs to Southern California.
Don Snyder began his career at the Port of Long Beach after a successful career in logistics at Mattel. Since being with the Port, he has been a part of drastic improvements initiated by various sustainability efforts and competitive strategies.
He explained the Port’s business model as somewhat of a “landlord” to the freight carriers seeking to transfer goods in and out of America. Mr. Snyder is at the forefront of developing client relationships with the terminal and vessel operators, cargo owners and supply chain partners for the second busiest port in the U.S. Yes, that means he’s busy too. Lucky for us, he’s a down-to-earth individual and took the time to share POLB career openings to the group and encourage us to continue our commitment to the well-being of the community.
California depends on the international business development that Mr. Snyder and POLB facilitate every day. He stressed that POLB operates on zero tax dollars, and that it is committed to giving 5% of gross revenue back to the City of Long Beach. Currently, the Port is involved in reconstructing the Gerald Desmond Bridge, keeping its fleet of trucks regulated for air quality, and giving scholarships to students studying environmental and international issues. It’s exhilarating to hear that the Port is involved in so many projects that keep the local environment from deteriorating and that support students’ education in critical areas of study that will keep our city on an internationally competitive level.
Global California by Abraham F. Lowenthal explains, “Californians from different regions, economic and employment sectors, socioeconomic and educational levels, ethnic and national backgrounds, faith traditions, generations, genders and political perspectives are all profoundly affected- both positively and adversely- by international forces.” Looks like we’re on a roll.
Many thanks to Mr. Snyder for a great meeting!
- Rita Silkensen
New Member Orientation
Periodically, Rotaract Long Beach offers new member orientation sessions to introduce new members to the Rotaract mission and help them understand how they can begin their involvement with the group.
On Monday, January 23rd, I attended the first new member orientation of 2012. We meet at Café Ambrosia, a nice, cozy Greek café located in Downtown Long Beach. During the orientation, I learned more about the Rotaract Long Beach Manifesto, member expectations, and how my skills and passion can contribute to future community projects created by the group.
Overall, it was a great event and I encourage all new and returning members to attend!
- Dennise Lopez
Casual Meeting at Royal Cup Coffee
A group of us took a well-earned rest from our workday on January 31 and headed to Royal Cup Coffee. Located on the corner of 10th Street and Redondo Ave, this local Long beach coffee shop is known for its delicious gourmet sandwiches and exotic smoothies.
As we munched on our food and sipped our drinks, we had some great conversations. Someone brought up the subject of how far Rotaract Long Beach has come since its founding one year ago. People remembered that around this time last year, we were a fledgling club of just fifteen members! Now we have over 40 members who regularly attend the group’s bi-weekly meetings, plan events and participate in ongoing service projects.
Another topic we discussed was how to handle people who RSVP to events but do not show up. Some said those individuals should be provided constructive criticism because not following up on commitments is not professional. Others suggested that if we did a better job with inspiring people and building up excitement about events, they would be much more likely to attend. Overall, it was a good opportunity for members to share their perspectives and examine possible solutions.
Did I mention the food and drinks were amazing?
- Ege Ersoz, Rotaract Long Beach President
Rounding Out a Full Year of Rotaract Meetings!
Our January 19th meeting marked the completion of the first full year of meetings for Rotaract Long Beach! We honored the founding members of the organization, as well as awarded the honor of Outstanding Member to Mike Anderson, Director of Partnerships, for his dedication to the group and work on the Board of Directors.
Blake Christian, President of the Long Beach Rotary, then spoke to the group on “How to Dazzle Your Boss, Clients and Customers.” He tailed his presentation to those of us just beginning our careers, or those looking to change jobs. One of the most important skills to acquire, he said, is learning how to assess your personal strengths to match your career objectives. Without a keen sense of how your skill set relates to your interests and passions, you’ll have a difficult time achieving professional competency in the field and position you desire.
On your way to your dream position, Christian said it was important to stick your neck out, show interest and stay humble yet inquisitive when engaging with peers, bosses and mentors. Showing interest, taking initiative, studying your industry and offering input all demonstrate effective communication skills and genuine commitment to your career.
Overall, Christian said that he felt that our generation, in general, is social, bright, well-read and efficient in the way we view the world and tackle challenges. However, he did reflect that he has noticed that young professionals sometimes lack humility and patience when paying dues in the working world. Taking his advice, though, is a start to overcoming our impatience for achievement and to start building a stronger foundation for successful careers.
No Giraffes Allowed: An Adventure in Long Beach Public Transportation
Before I moved to Southern California, I heard the usual mantra: Los Angeles County has abysmal public transportation. I refused to believe this. There had to be a way to play the transit system to my advantage. I wanted to challenge the idea that our town in particularly doesn’t contain useful alternatives to driving. As a group, Rotaract aims to change our own perceptions – why not apply that standard to an entire city? Besides, I was getting bored driving the same route to work every day from Belmont Shore to North Long Beach. Ege and I happen to work together and live near one another, so I convinced him to come on a public transportation adventure for our commute.
We picked up the bus on Park and Second at 6:40 am. I was impressed by the electric sign post, and the bus arrived at the exact time indicated by the scrolling marquee. With a bus route that passes right by the ocean illuminated by the sunrise, I found it difficult to imagine how any commute could be better. When I’m behind the wheel of a car, I can barely notice the ocean. Instead of slamming on my breaks every couple of blocks, I was able to take in its glistening blue waters for some rare early-morning serenity.
Sidenote: When I picked up a copy of the bus route map, it contained the typical images banning food, drink, smoking and…giraffes? I’m not sure why Long Beach Transit used the image of a giraffe instead of say, a dog, to indicate its no-pet policy, but I’d like to know the back story to the attached image.
Anyway, the bus was speedy, not crowded, and dropped us off at the Transit Mall in downtown on Pine, literally steps from where the LA metro train departs. At the train platform, you can buy tickets for a one-way, two-day, one-day, one-month or incremental number of rides. We paid $1.50 for a one-way and hopped onto the second part of our trip. At 7:00 am, we had our pick of seats on the train. The train briefly snaked around the downtown buildings, passing the stately clock town, apartment buildings, shops I reminded myself to pop into one day and windows reflecting the bright California sunrise. Considering we had just zoomed past the wide open ocean, the dense urban scene showed the diversity of environs that Long Beach contains.
For the most part, the rest of the train ride was uneventful. We passed a lot of shopping malls and the train filled up at each stop with people making their way into LA for work hopped on. There was plenty of space in the front for bicyclists. The train was largely relaxing – Ege and I had a chance to chat without the distraction of traffic and I knocked out a good number of pages in a book.
In all, our commute took about 50 minutes, including walking to and from each bus and train stop, a half hour longer than by car. I will say, on the way home that evening, we waited for the train headed south into downtown for a much longer time than for the train headed north in the morning, and the train was more crowded coming home. I also wouldn’t feel 100% comfortable waiting on the train platforms by myself in the dark, but that’s an individual preference.
The only truly inconvenient element I noticed during transit didn’t related to the bus or train, but is still indicative of the car-centric culture in Southern California. When walking from the train to work, we had to cross the 405 north on-ramp just west of Long Beach Boulevard on Wardlow. The sidewalk bisects the road right at the beginning of the on-ramp (we weren’t just walking on grass here), a scary pass with constant cars merging onto the highway. With no pedestrian crossing or stoplight, the intersection is disconcerting. Cars had to stop for us (and it was difficult to tell if they actually would until the last minute). However, when they stopped, the cars could back up traffic to the nearby stoplight, an inefficient system for all involved.
I cringe every time I have to cross this on-ramp, and I’ve seen children on bicycles and other pedestrians crossing as well. I’d suggest at least a clearly-marked pedestrian crossing that continues the sidewalk across the on-ramp to ensure everyone’s safety –can you please look into this, City of Long Beach?
Riding the public transportation Long Beach from Belmont Shore was easy, safe and hassle-free. Depending on ride frequency, public transportation still isn’t necessarily the most economical choice for our particular route. If we took the bus and train every day, we would have to buy individual monthly passes for each system and could save about $15-20 a month in gas, which is notable savings but not the the significant reduction I thought would be possible with public transportation. Given the additional hour and half spent in transit each day, I’m not sure if the savings are really worth the time sacrifice, especially if one had other plans after work. I’d like to also have the option of buying a pass that works for both Long Beach buses and the LA Metro system. That would probably convince me to ride every day.
However, the efficiency of the Passport Buses will make me question ever driving downtown again from Belmont Shore. With open seats on every ride and spot-on bus arrivals, it blows the inconvenience of driving and looking for parking out of the water. I also enjoyed the change of scenery public transportation offers – I found myself actually smiling at strangers on the train instead of honking at people cutting me off. Even my habits were different – instead of picking up coffee at Starbucks on the way to work, I was able to shop local and pick up much more delicious caffeine at Polly’s in Belmont Shore. The possibility of riding the train all the way to downtown LA also entices my sense of adventure. I hope to continue exploring the public transportation routes for non-work related commutes in the future.
What are your thoughts on Long Beach’s Transit System? Do you take the bus or train regularly, or do you bike? What are the advantages and downsides to our local public transportation? And, who can I call about that on-ramp sidewalk?