Tiyulim Week: City of Angels


Danielle Lewis

Spotlight Editor

The 33 students who participated in the City of Angels Tiyul were given the opportunity to tour various organizations that work towards providing residents of Los Angeles with the help and resources they require to live. Advisors of this tiyul had the intentions of opening the eyes of Milken students to the throwaway culture of their own city, a culture not often exposed.


The tiyul began with an insight into a whole other side of Los Angeles. Participants of the tiyul convened at the Culver City Metro Station where they used public transportation to arrive at Union Rescue Mission, a nonprofit organization that supports the homeless. They set up camp on the roof of the organization and split into two groups, one serving members of Union Rescue Mission and the other serving those of the Midnight Mission organization. That night, they heard the captivating stories of multiple residents of Union Rescue Mission.

The next morning, the two groups got the chance to serve the mission they had not yet served. For lunch, they headed to Homeboy Industries, an organization that helps former convicts and gang members “redirect their lives” with resources and job opportunities. They got a personal tour and reserved seating for lunch at Homegirl Cafe.

The third day brought the students to LA Kitchen, where they learned the power of repurposing food that would have been thrown out, such as produce that does not meet cosmetic standards. Students washed, cut, and bagged vegetables to be later transformed into healthy meals and snacks. The next stop was Ron Finley’s garden, a source of fresh produce for a neighborhood in South Central considered a food desert in which quality fresh food cannot be found for miles. Despite the city’s opposition, Finley uses the government grass in front of his house to make his street not only beautiful, but also a source of healthy food. The last day had a theme of water conservation, giving the students a tour of two water treatment facilities that repurpose wastewater for agriculture.


Although the trip consisted of countless meaningful moments, there were a few personal and inspiring ones that stood out. While serving dinner at both missions, students especially recall the gratitude of the patrons. By just placing an apple on a tray, Milken students heard multiple people respond with “God bless you” or “thank you, man.” This left students feeling fulfilled. Students were then given the opportunity to hear heart-warming stories from mission patrons about hitting rock bottom and bouncing back with support from sources like God, family, and Union Rescue Mission. This inspired their own table conversation reflecting on the stories, discussing God, homelessness, and Judaism, leaving students thinking deeply about the power of community and religious passion. The next day, students were in awe of Ron Finley’s enchanting grass strip garden. He expressed vast generosity by sharing life experiences, lessons, and words of wisdom with the group while allowing them to eat from the plants he grew. Finley then gave each one of us a sunflower plant to care for and grow on our own and sent the students on their way back to Milken, minds filled with inspiration and an overwhelming admiration for Ron Finley.


City of Angels put a whole other side of Los Angeles on display for Milken students to experience. It popped the Milken bubble by exposing the prominent throwaway culture of the city. Not only does the city throw away 40% of its food, but it throws away people, water, and opportunities for improvement. By witnessing the enormous homeless population and hearing their tragic stories, students saw the unjust ramifications of being raised in poverty or developing an unhealthy addiction. They also saw how the city does not provide enough resources for support, but instead throws these people into crowded and dangerous neighborhoods like Skid Row, leaving thousands of homeless people in the care of a few organizations. After seeing how precious food is to these people, students were then exposed to how much those with sufficient food supply waste. While repackaging food, they thought back to the many faces they saw lining up to eat a free hot meal who would have utilized the wasted produce. After meeting Ron Finley, the students were enlightened by the ability of one man and one strip of grass to create something lush and useful instead of letting the land go to waste. Water waste is also especially prominent in California and with the establishment of powerful treatment plants, students saw how Los Angeles works to decrease the amount of water wasted. The tiyul left the participants with a sense of obligation to change the throwaway culture of their community.