About

Locavore Lit LA is an online literary journal, curriculum resource and classroom presenter designed to spark a love of reading and writing among underserved public school students of Los Angeles. It brings forward contemporary stories that are relatable to all ages, depicting a variety of life experiences in our local communities. Through our program, young people are directly connected to an open source text filled with a variety of works that include fiction, nonfiction, essays, articles, short stories, poetry, memoirs and original illustrations from LA’s rich literary and artistic communities.

“We believe relevant contemporary writing and artworks will inspire young people who may better see themselves and their communities represented in their own reading. Inspiring an investment in reading and writing will lay a foundation for their life-long learning and personal achievements.”

Locavore Lit LA brings its stories to life by introducing our diverse contributing authors into the classroom for student-writer conversations. The writers also serve as role model mentors, leading interactive career development discussion sessions with aspiring young writers, while helping them to workshop and hone their creative writing skills. Along the way, students are encouraged to contribute their own written works to the online publication. In this way, the program becomes a growing, inter-generational library that finds its roots in the neighborhoods and communities that surround us.

Team Leaders

Jervey Tervalon, novelist and founder of Locavore Lit LA

I’ve been involved with education my entire life. I was educated in what many would consider tough inner city schools and I taught high school at a tough inner school. What I learned early on is that teachers and students are given the dregs to work with—expensive dregs designed as textbooks that function as profit centers for multinational corporations. Kids of color rarely see themselves in these textbooks and they get no idea of the cultural immensity of California and how it came to be. What we are doing with Locavore Lit LA is to correct that profit-driven nonsense with contemporary literature that reflects the diversity of California through the work of talented writers from here or who speak to where we came from so that students can readily engage with the text.

Our mission is to celebrate our diverse indigenous literary culture of California and to give our children the kind of literary engagement they so deserve.

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Angelina Coppola, Locavore Lit LA Program Manager

As the Program Manager for Locavore Lit LA, I get a boots-on-the-ground perspective of the program in action and watch students engage with living authors, often for the first time. I see students connect not only with their stories but with the writers themselves. I, myself, admire them as independent thinkers. Their stories, both on and off the page, relate to students and provoke them to dream big. Sparking a desire to read and write frees the imagination and teaches vulnerability and empathy. This can be seen in the student creative writing produced during our sessions. One of my favorite moments is when teachers come up to me after class and tell me something along the lines of, “That student doesn’t usually participate, but they do when you guys come.” Locavore Lit LA fosters a community within the classroom, between authors, artists, teachers and students, and creates a student-driven space that celebrates literary LA.

History

Locavore Lit LA emanated from a discernible need to fill the language arts gap for underserved students of our community. The program, formerly known as Literature for Life, was conceived several years ago with the support of USC’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) in an effort to serve students and teachers in economically disadvantaged areas of our city.

The program then leveraged its presence at the three locations as a field study, to provide feedback from students and educators in order increase effectiveness of the program and enable further expansion. In order to further inform our approach, we formed an advisory board and planning and curriculum committees made up of nonprofit organizers, writers, journalists, educators, curriculum specialists and literary arts supporters. Along with their guidance, we have published multiple online issues, written by over 60 diverse, locally-based writers which include original illustrations created by an equal number of visual artists.