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Issue # 25                                                                                    November 19, 2021

This Week's Highlights

  • Editorial: Gratitude
  • City Council: Meeting Recap
  • MBUSD: Board Meeting Recap
  • United Against Hate Chalk Event
  • Pennekamp Elementary: Uniting Against Hate
  • Upcoming Local Events
  • Holiday Shopping with Purpose: La Cienega Vineyards
  • Feeling Charitable? Local Opportunities

For up to the minute updates, check out our social media!

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MB United Newsletter Celebrates Thanksgiving!

In honor of our great country's Thanksgiving holiday, the MB United Newsletter will be taking the week of Thanksgiving off to celebrate and, hopefully, enjoy lots of pumpkin pie!  The LA County Department of Public Health offers this guidance for Having a COVID Safe Thanksgiving.  

We wish you a joyful holiday.  To those who celebrate, we wish you a Happy Chanukah. We will return with our next issue on December 3. 

Editorial: Gratitude

As we reflect on the holiday of Thanksgiving, it's impossible to ignore all of the things for which we are thankful.  Here in Manhattan Beach, specifically, we are thankful for beautiful surroundings, exceptional weather and the ability to walk, jog, swim, surf, paddle board, bicycle and drive vehicles ranging from golf carts to luxury cars.  We have a wide selection of restaurants, local shops, and exercise studios.  We are blessed.  Of course, the past year has not been without its challenges.  Many have lost jobs, lost family members, or suffered physical or mental illness.  We have felt the effects of a global pandemic and, in some instances, have lost friends because of differences of opinion or beliefs. We have witnessed hate crimes and we have witnessed generous and selfless acts of kindness.

MB United hopes we can all take a moment to pause, put down our cell phones, breathe the fresh ocean air, and take time for gratitude.  We wish everyone a blessed holiday and time to spend with loved ones. 

We also acknowledge those less fortunate than we are and we continue to support acts of kindness and charity.  Please enjoy this lovely youtube video created by a Thai Insurance Company that demonstrates the joy that acts of kindness can bring to us. 

City Council Meeting Recap

Bruce's Beach Plaque Language Next Steps.  The history of Bruce's Beach and the Plaque language continue to be a topic of debate at City Council.  At the meeting outset, Councilmember Franklin challenged Mayor Stern's assignment of herself and Councilmember Montgomery to the Bruce's Beach Plaque Language committee that was directed to be formed at the November 2nd council meeting. Mayor Stern invited Councilmember Franklin to speak first on this agenda item.  Franklin said, "I would like to make a motion that the two members of the subcommittee be Richard Montgomery and myself, my reasons being that I was not on Council when the Task Force subcommittee was selected and [I would] be a set of fresh eyes."  Montgomery then offered to step aside and let Franklin take his spot, referencing that he had "nominated" Mayor Stern and Mayor Pro Tem Napolitano to the Bruce's Beach Task Force, and that they should now give Councilmembers Hadley and Franklin "a chance to work on it."  Both Mayor Stern and Mayor Pro Tem Napolitano corrected the suggestion that they were members of the task force or that they were "running" it, stating that their roles were procedural and not to "guide the task force."  Napolitano added that, "we should strive for some kind of balance, and the balance that I see is that Mayor Stern and either Councilmember Franklin or Councilmember Montgomery combine institutional knowledge on what has transpired before as well as a set of fresh eyes."  At this, Montgomery declared that he was declining the appointment. 

After more back and forth, Napolitano said, "a lot of political nonsense going on here.  A lot of things not being said.  This is why subcommittees suck.  They just do.  And we shouldn't actually have them."  As a follow up to this statement, he said "why don't we try something new," and made a substitute motion to have a "council study session with all five council members" to "work on the plaque language together," and that this "saves a lot of time at the end of the day."  Mayor Stern added that "this is an opportunity for all of us to have input."  To Franklin's objections to the study session format, Napolitano said "What are we afraid of?  Working together?"  

Napolitano's substitute motion passed 4:1, with Franklin dissenting.  The Bruce's Beach Plaque language now lies in the hands of all five City Council members.  For more detailed reporting on this Bruce's Beach Plaque agenda item, please reference the article in DIGMB.

View the full Council meeting or read meeting minutes for other topics, including:
  • Kindness Recognition of Janet Jones and the Palm Avenue neighborhood for bringing meals to the Police and Fire departments during COVID in April 2020
  • Police Chief Abell’s Report on recent crimes and holiday safety recommendations
  • Increased cost of 2021 Holiday Fireworks event. 
  • Homelessness services contracts
  • Approval of Catalina Classic statue
  • Request for city staff to draft ordinance to repeal the eviction protections for residents passed during the COVID pandemic
  • Councilmember Hadley’s request to limit kindness recognitions during ceremonial section of meetings

City Council General Info

  • Regular City Council meetings are routinely held at 6:00 pm on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of the month 
  • The public has two chances to speak at a City Council meeting: one during "public comments" at the beginning of the meeting, the other in public comments during the specific item
  • You can email all five Council Members at and cc the city clerk at
  • The agendas are posted on the Wednesday prior to each meeting here

School Board Meeting Recap

Recognition.  Congratulations to Pennekamp Elementary School for being recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School.  Former principal Karina Gerger and teacher Patti Ackerman reported on the reward ceremony they attended in Washington, DC. 

Outdoor Masking.  Superintendent Dr. Bowes gave an update on the COVID dashboard and downward trend in COVID cases. All vaccine clinics for 5-12 year olds have been oversubscribed.  As a result, assuming additional health orders are not put in place by the county, the district will remove requirements for outdoor masks at elementary and middle schools after the winter holidays.

Panorama Survey.  In partnership with Beach Cities Health District, all South Bay school districts have administered two modules of the Panorama Survey to students.  The survey focuses on Social Emotional Learning and Equity and Inclusion, and is a component of the district's goal to "maximize student success and foster a culture of care."  Dr. Bowes announced that the district has added a page to the website with information on the survey.

High School Outside Reading Assignments.  Dr. Bowes confirmed that students are required to have parental permission before approval of any outside reading choice. 

Enrollment Report.  Enrollment in MBUSD has been declining, as has enrollment throughout California schools.  The board discussed 4-year trends, ideas to attract students to MBUSD, and the acquisition of data to help explain the numbers.

SoCal Regional Occupational Center (ROC).  ROC offers courses for the entire community, including career technical training for MBUSD students and other South Bay Districts.  Several 2-3 hour short courses are being offered for all residents on December 3 and 4 to highlight the center.  Details can be found at the SoCal ROC workshop webpage.

Substitute Teachers.  Acknowledging a substitute teacher shortage in the state and at MBUSD, the Board voted to increase the daily pay rate for substitute teachers to keep pace with neighboring districts.  For opportunities, visit the MBUSD Human Resources web page.  

View MBUSD Board Meeting.  

United Against Hate Week Kick-Off Event

United Against Hate Sidewalk Chalk Event, 11/14/21. Photo credit: Lana Rizika

MB United and local non-profit South Bay Cares organized a sidewalk chalk campaign across the three beach cities to kick off United Against Hate Week.  The Manhattan Beach event was led by Diana Skaar, who recently received a Kindness Recognition award recognizing her efforts, along with Madeline Kaplan, for organizing the April 2021 anti-Asian Hate chalk campaign in advance of AAPI Heritage Month. The United Against Hate event was held at Polliwog Park with artwork created by local artist and parent, Derek Billings.  The Sidewalk Chalk Event held last Sunday was a huge success!  It was well attended by numerous Manhattan Beach families and students of all ages along with MBUSD school principals, board members and administrators, past and current City Council members, former Mayor Mitch Ward, and Mayor Hildy Stern.

At the entrance to the park was a huge heart and the words, "MB United Against Hate."  Community members were invited to color in those words and add their own messages to the sidewalk where the phrases "Who Do You L-O-V-E" and "What Gives You P-R-I-D-E" were outlined.  The message was clear: this was an event where people's experiences and stories about hate of all kinds could be told.  

Student speakers addressed the crowd, most discussing their own experiences with hate, but also sharing how they wish to see the community stand up in allyship and support to everyone.  One student talked about how we can love one another.  Students included Pennekamp 4th grader Brooklyn Chan and MCHS seniors Ben Henschel, Caroline Kiely, and Garrett Nose.

Mayor Hildy Stern addressed the student speakers, saying, "Thank you for your bravery, thank you for teaching us how to be your allies, thank you for being the models.  You give us hope that this is a future that we will continue to move forward...."  She ended with an appeal to all, "Let's stay united, let's stay kind, let's move forward with love, and let's be allies for each other."

We were again reminded that anyone can confidentially report a hate incident online or call 211.

See KTLA news report and listen to speeches here.

Pennekamp Celebrates United Against Hate Week

With the support of Principal Witzansky, Pennekamp Elementary School students enjoyed more chalk art as part of Pennekamp's United Against Hate Week celebration. The 5th graders were invited to color in a heart, which ties in with the mosaic heart at Polliwog Park from Sunday's Sidewalk Chalk event.  Parent Diana Skaar shared with the students that the heart is a reminder to be kind to everyone, describing how all of the different colors come together to create a beautiful mosaic, and represent celebrating diversity of color.  Thank you to parent Tina Shivpuri and 5th graders Tara Shivpuri and Gemma Waldman for helping set up this mosaic heart!  

Pennekamp Elementary celebrates diversity, unites against hate, and is honored nationally as a Blue Ribbon School.  We are so proud of Pennekamp Elementary for showing us that a school can teach its students about diversity and inclusion, while still maintaining academic excellence.

Upcoming Local Events

Every holiday season, there are a number of local events in town that celebrate Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas.  These range from last Wednesday's Holiday Pier lighting to the upcoming Menorah Lighting at Metlox Plaza on November 29th and the Sandpiper's Holiday Home Tours, December 3-5.  For a full list of events in detail, check out the DIG MB Events Calendar.  As always, we encourage you to support our local businesses and enjoy celebrating in our community.  
Latke Bar at Manhattan Beach Farmers Market
Tuesday, November 30 at 12-2 PM

Join Sara Mintz at the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market at Metlox as she leads a demo on Vegetable and Potato Latkes with homemade applesauce.  Come and try them!

Holiday Shopping with Purpose

We encourage shopping "with purpose," and supporting local or small businesses and individuals, especially those who donate some of their proceeds to meaningful causes or charities.  We will continue to feature shopping opportunities in our newsletter under this "Holiday Shopping with Purpose" header. 

If you want to be featured in an upcoming newsletter, please email us at

La Cienega Vineyard

La Cienega Vineyard is a family-run, women-driven winemaker in Sonoma County's renowned Alexander Valley.  They employ the latest viticulture techniques and sustainable farming methods to grow reserve quality Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

As a majority women-owned and women-led company, La Cienega is committed to its mission to support the professional development of women and people of color in the wine industry.  A portion of their profits from their 2020 "Winemaker Select" Chardonnay supports WGEdge, which provides scholarships and mentoring services to underserved women in agriculture.  La Cienega Vineyard also provides year-round internship opportunities for BIPOC women, serves on the DEI committee of the Alexander Valley Winegrowers Association, and supports Corazon Healdsburg.

La Cienega Vineyard's wines are available on their website, as well as locally at Manhattan Fine Wines, Uncorked, Bocatto's, and MB Wine Co.  They are currently offering a 15% discount on their 2018 Inaugural Cabernet Sauvignon to MB United readers, with free delivery in the South Bay and complimentary holiday packaging.  Please feel free to email them directly for custom orders. 

Feeling Charitable?

Harbor Interfaith Services, a non-denominational organization focused on the homeless and working poor, will be distributing Thanksgiving meal kits to families in need, and will be accepting food donations at its drive through donation event.  
Thanksgiving Drive Thru Food Distribution (for donations) 
Harbor Interfaith Services, Inc. 670 W. 9th Street San Pedro, CA 90731
Monday and Tuesday, November 22nd and 23rd
from 1-5 pm

Items needed Frozen Turkey (Thanksgiving), Canned Vegetables (Green Beans or Corn). Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing or Dressing Mix, Canned Yams or Sweet Potatoes, Cake Mix & Frosting OR Grocery Gift Cards

ANNUAL Ray Carroll Toy Drive

Drop off new toys for children in our community or donate to purchase gifts or adopt a family!  Help ensure that every child receives a present this holiday season. 

Drop off toys at the Jewish Community Center before December 5th.
2108 Vail Ave. Redondo Beach, CA

In-person gift wrapping on December 5th at 11:00 am at the Jewish Community Center.  All are welcome.   For more information, please call 310-214-4999 or email

  • If you would like us to consider showcasing your event, send us an email at
  • Interested in getting more involved with MB United?  Send us an email at and let us know what interests you.
  • If you were sent this newsletter by a friend, you can subscribe here
  • For previous issues and resources, click here

MB United is Denise Berger, Kim Brant-Lucich, Andy Caine, Jen Dohner, Taylor Gamble, Isla Garraway, Amy Howorth, Mike Jenkins, Laura Kainsinger, Anthony A. Lee, Amanda Park, Lana Rizika, Diana Skaar, Donna Thomas, and April Wayland.
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