The Wonders of Traveling to the City – Los Angeles

We landed at LAX, the international airport of Los Angeles, California today.  I love traveling.  Yes.  There are delays, many personalities, and some inconveniences.  Those little “bothers” dim when compared to the phenomenal wonders of witnessing the human experience in the process.  There are those who are laid back, as I tend to be, because we know we cannot hold back the tide, such is air travel.  There are those who appear to be stressed and uptight, perhaps, because they have no control over time and space, such is travel.   And there are those who appear to be oblivious to the process of travel and other life realities, in general.   

On the flight from Colorado to LAX, I had the pleasure of observing all three.  First, there was my seat mate who was traveling to LA to meet up with friends at Disneyland.  She amused me, not because she was unaware of direction in her home town of Colorado Springs (I mentioned that Cheyenne Moutain is always on the west, and if she faces it, her right would be north, and her left would be south.  To which she replied, “I don’t know what that means”.  Okay.  I get that, I think.  She appeared to be a nice young lady, no matter how unaware of her surroundings.  The great perplexing thing was that, once we landed, she did not know how she would get to Disneyland.  She thought of taking an Uber or Lyft for the 35 miles to Disney.  I suggested public transportation.  We were glad to help her get there, through a little research.  I was glad to help an elderly lady get her three big bags to the curb queue for waiting on family to fetch her. 

What I enjoyed the most, was the train ride to Pasadena.  Los Angeles has a very nice light rail.  On the ride, I spoke with homeless people who rode the rail for most of the day.  I interacted with some who were suffering from untreated mental illness, and with hard-working folk who toiled long, hard days to support their families in jobs that contribute to the economy, put food on our tables, and tend toward jobs that most of us do not want to do, nor do we raise our children to do such jobs.   

On the train in LA

I loved watching a little girl explaining to her mother, in Spanish, about her Russian Nesting Dolls, which she received as a gift from her teacher at school in the first day.  The little girl explained to me, the origins of her gift, in perfect English.  She was about 9 years old and very bright.

Little girls with nesting dolls on train

The first train from LAX takes us to Union Station, built in 1939 as a Passenger Terminal.  Called the “Last of the Great Railways, LA Union Station gained notoriety in 1980 by being place on the National Registry of Historic Places.  When we took the train from Kansas City to Los Angeles two years ago, we had the pleasure of departing from a great Union Station and Arriving at an equally great Union Station.  If only the walls could speak! 

The ride from LA Union Station to Pasadena afforded the observer with great contradictions.   Hibiscus “hedges” lined the streets while on those streets were small microcosms of tent “villages” inhabited by homeless people.   My heart breaks for the many circumstances that render one homeless, , and I believe we can learn much from them, because I witnessed great survival skills and resourcefulness in those with whom I’ve interacted.   

By the time we reached our destination of Pasadena, CA, I had spoken to 15 people each with a story to tell.  If we, but, listen, the voice of humanity shines, and we walk away a little smarter for the experience.   

Not only does the city offer the continuum of the human experience, I like to go to grocery stores to see what the locals purchase.  I like a well-stocked grocery with a wide array of ethnic ingredients, and Los Angeles does not disappoint!  Opportunities for dining out are fabulous!  One of my favorite hamburger spots is In-n-Out Burgers!  Opened in 1948 by the Snyders, the franchise boasts that it has no freezer or microwave.  Each “store” provides a viewing window, where we wait and watch each burger assembled.  The “double-double” has two freshly cooked patties that are place on buttered-toasted buns, freshly sliced onion and tomatoes and a chunk of lettuces pulled from the freshly broken head.  The fries come from a potato placed in a chopper directly into the hot oil.  All this is washed down with a sparkling cola.  There are even items from a “hidden” menu such as “animal fries” and a patty cooked for your dog! 

In and Out

After sitting with my brother-in-law, as he received chemo-therapy infusion, we treated ourselves to a snack of “inari-sushi” from a “stand” that has been in existence from Dale’s (my spouse) childhood. He’s 69 years old, so that Inari-Sushi stand has been around for a while.  One orders from a window, and the person brings the order to the car.  Inari-shushi is sushi rice, sesame seeds, with seasoned rice vinegar tucked into a tofu pocket.  Eaten with soy sauce and pickled ginger, it’s a taste explosion you won’t soon forget.  Now, I’m on the hunt for recipes on making the tofu pocket!   

Thank you for reading.

Socio-Ecological and Logic Models

If you’ve read any of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s work, you, no doubt, know about the socio-ecological framework.  In that Bronfenbrenner asserts that we have “spheres of influence” in which we develop who we are and what we like and do.  That’s an easy way to understand why we become that person we see when we look in the mirror.

Another framework that helps us to organize our thoughts, objectives, and ultimate results is called the “logic model”.  I love the logic model.  As an abstract-random thinker (as opposed to “concrete-sequential), the logic model helps me to think linearly.  As a historian, I have the ability to think linearly when I’m looking at time lines of events. But when I approach my day, linear can go out the door.  So the logic model helps us to see a situation that needs to be addressed, decide who and what the players will be (inputs), what the activities around addressing the situation will be (outputs), and the different levels of results (short-term, medium-term, and long-term).  Of course long-term results (outcomes) are the future we hope to see.  Long-term outcomes are the ultimate.  “I put $500 a month in the bank”.  It’s happening, and there is not future tense in the long-term outcome.  I have my logic model workshop participants either tie their shoes or get dressed for the day using a logic model.  Believe it or not, you use a logic model more often than you think!

Now, I have a colleague who worked on a national nutrition program.  Her team, in their infinite wisdom, combined the socio-ecological and logic model in one document to address a working model to bring nutrition to the masses.  I love their model and have adapted it into a model that I call, “adaptive and culturally relevant practices”.  My first go at the title was, “culturally relevant and adaptive practices”, but you can see it made for a terrible acronym!

As some background, my work is to find ways to address inequities that exist among families living in poverty and families of color.  I say if we see a situation, we can find ways to address those inequities with the help of a logic model that’s been embedded with the socio-ecological model. My example is the featured photo today.

Thanks to Major F.M. Hernandez (U.S. Army) and Dr. Charlotte Olsen for collaborating with me on this.