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While our neighborhoods in many ways provide comfortable, safe havens, and especially for immigrant populations, there should exist friendly avenues to enter and exit, and meaningful opportunities to engage across them. Great Leap continues its commitment to use the arts to bridge cultural boundaries. Over our 35 years we have developed methodologies to provide people of diverse ethnicities, religions and other self-identifications with opportunities for deep and meaningful encounters. Important elements of Fandango-Obon are providing a compelling purpose for people to come together, and the creation of an affirming space for exploration and expression without judgment. It is an entrance to a place in time where music, dance, and connection with one’s ancestral traditions can be lived with pride. Our theater techniques, games and other facilitation frameworks help participants bond with people of other backgrounds, often for the first time. Once such a “barrier” is unlocked, it can be more easily be opened in future encounters across the city. We practice assertive outreach to ensure that our gatherings are not only cross-cultural, but also intergenerational, so that young people can learn from elders who may have deeper understanding from direct experience with their cultural heritage. Geographical dimensions of L. A. will be utilized in unique ways. The L.A. River separates Boyle Heights and Little Tokyo. Though only a short walk across a bridge, residents of the respective neighborhoods generally do not interact, other than in passing. Fandango-Obon will give impetus to cross the “bridge” – on foot, bicycle or via the metro. A workshop at the Nishi Hongwanji Temple just west of the 1st St. Bridge, will welcome a mainly Latino community into a Japanese American setting. Conversely, residents of Little Tokyo will travel the short distance to Boyle Heights to be welcomed by our workshop partner Building Healthy Communities. Additional cross-cultural engagements include a workshop at A Place Called Home (APCH) in South Los Angeles, bringing Japanese Americans to a center with mainly African American and Latino youth. APCH is located only 3 miles south of Little Tokyo down Central Avenue, an historic cultural Mecca of its own. Fandango-Obon will elevate awareness of Angelenos’ common histories within geographic proximity. For example, how many of us knew that Boyle Heights has had established Japanese and Jewish communities in the recent past? Mutual understanding can lower cultural barriers and help us “create a circle dance” that respects our uniqueness while building trust and stronger community relations. We see the potential for this project to change stereotypical perceptions that separate us. As our city and nation continues moving toward people of color being the majority, we want L.A. to stand out as a place where arts and culture are robust and accessible to all and are used in innovative ways to meet our challenges.See Idea Details remind me