Posted on June 14, 2016
Viva SGV Asian American Bike Tour Recap
This past Sunday, APIOPA and The Wilderness Society hosted the Asian American Bike Tour during the Viva SGV Open Streets Event in El Monte and South El Monte. The goal of the tour was to initiate a dialogue by shedding light on the rich political, social, and environmental history of Asian Americans in the two cities as well as share the proposed National Recreation Area along the river corridors of the San Gabriel Valley.
After the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center‘s Kishin Daiko‘s powerful performance at Arceo Park, we kicked off the tour at El Monte High School by its iconic lion statue. The city of El Monte was first established in the 1850’s and our tour guides, Dat Tran and Myca Tran, described its early settlers, lush landscape, and anti-Asian sentiment. On the way to our next stop we passed B Nutritious, a locally owned business serving healthy entrees, providing meal prep services and offering a free cookie with every Yelp check-in! We stopped at the Civic Center to admire the “Lady Liberty” statue donated by Taiwanese American immigrant Jiiang T. Wang, examined a photo of an old Japanese vegetable stand Dat uncovered from the El Monte Historical Society, and learned of the event that caused a chain of violence between two Asian American gangs across Southern California. We cruised through the many Korean owned businesses along Valley Mall, a charming street adjacent to the historic downtown area, and stopped at Veteran Park where we discovered the activist history of farmers of color at the Hicks Camp. Duyen Tran from The Wilderness Society informed us on the proposed urban National Recreation Area and the effort to bring more pocket parks, walking paths, signage, educational programs, and other community-driven projects to local residents. Shortly after, we hopped on the Rio Hondo River Bike Trail, we took a small detour at the Metro Bus Station where we stood in awe at Phung Huynh’s beautiful tribute to El Monte’s multiculturalism, “In the Meadow”, and dialogued around the new surrounding development’s impact on the community while sharing more about APIOPA’s work. Our last stop along the Rio Hondo River was Lashbrook Park where we delved into the Emerald Necklace Forest to Ocean Expanded Vision Plan, the amazing work of Amigos de los Rios, fun facts about the establishment of South El Monte in the 1950’s, and the city’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Proclamation. Following a quick stop by Bodger and Santa Anita to acknowledge the Thai garment slavery case that made international headlines in 1995, we heard insightful personal stories of immigrant struggles and triumphs amidst a diverse landscape. The entire bike tour wrapped up at Viet Huong Restaurant where co-owner Augustine Tran shared his family story, the positive influences of growing up in a predominately Spanish speaking community at the time, and how his father paved the way for the acceptance of Asian cultural foods through educating the LA County Public Health Department.
We look forward to exploring more Asian American history throughout the San Gabriel Valley via engaging bike tours in the future. In the meantime, please be sure to look out for our video clips of the ride or check out #AsianAmericanBikeTour on Instagram and photos on APIOPA’s Facebook page!
Route Stops and Topics
- El Monte High School – Early History of El Monte & Asian American Discrimination
- B Nutritious – Local Business with Healthy Alternatives
- Civic Center – Lady Liberty & History of Gang Violence
- Valley Mall – History of Downtown El Monte
- Rio Hondo River Bike Path – Hicks Camp, Berry Strike & Proposed Urban National Recreation Area
- Metro Bus Station – Phung Huynh’s Mural, Bike Hub & New Development
- Lashbrook Park – Emerald Necklace & South El Monte Facts
- Santa Anita & Garvey – Thai Garment Workers Case
- Viet Huong – Personal Stories & Early Pioneers of Permitting Cultural Foods in Los Angeles