Tropics is an organic juice bar that provides a healthy option in the Crenshaw neighborhood of southwest Los Angeles. We're using Tropics as a platform for young adults to learn lifelong skills that nourish self-esteem and independence. As a local organization, it creates valuable amenities and opportunities within a community. As a cultural institution, it has an impact and resonance throughout a wide reaching and diverse public.
Tropics is a:
- Juice Bar
- Resource & Educational Center
- Safe Zone
- Cultural Hub
We'd like you to join us in building the first iteration of Tropics: a three-month installation, starting June 4, 2017 at The Underground Museum. During this time, we'll be testing our idea, and learning best practices to open a permanent location in the Baldwin Hills area.
Tropics is born from a collaboration between long-standing friends. When Daniel Desure moved to the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles in 2009, he formed an immediate and intimate connection with a community native, Thomas James. Sharing a similar sense of fervent curiosity, the two bonded over skateboarding, music and, most notably, food. While exploring the neighborhood, Thomas pointed to the lack of healthy and affordable food. This lack highlighted another want within the community: the need for access to sources of empowerment. From this realization conversations between Thomas, his friends, and Daniel emerged ideas for small businesses that address these lacks. Integral to these conversations was the desire to teach practical skills that would foster confidence and independence. Through these conversations Tropics emerged.
Tropics is purposed to be boundless, it evolves alongside the needs and the desires of its community. It's not only a nexus for healthy and affordable food, but it contains the potential to incorporate all the ambitions its' founders discussed during it's inception. This concept, rich with potential, piqued another friend’s interest. Noah Davis, a prominent, Los Angeles-based artist, was excited by Tropics’ educational, local and interdisciplinary promise. Davis suggested his museum, The Underground Museum, founded in the nearby Arlington Heights Neighborhood, to serve as a temporary location for the first iteration of Tropics. This location gives the project a significant cultural context and organizational base that helps materialize the necessary concepts, skills and forms of the project.
Tropics is an experiment in need-based community empowerment focused on food security and sustainability. Our primary mission is to provide fresh, healthy juices at an affordable price. Just as juice and nutritious food make a healthy body, a peaceful and active community space make a healthy mind. Tropics is a co-op of positive and progressive young people located at The Underground Museum. Thoughtfully conceived and designed, it's a space that is inviting, flexible, and unfussy. Composed of custom-built shelters and seating, it creates a unique environment for conversation and contemplation. Chat with our attentive crew while you order from our menu of delicious, freshly-made juices— they’ll tell you about upcoming local events, fresh ingredients, or their favorite menu items. Tropics encourages community.
Commonwealth Projects is a design-focused creative studio located in the historic neighborhood Baldwin Village (known locally as The Jungles). Commonwealth Projects explores the possibilities of communication to create lasting works with cultural resonance. The Underground Museum is dedicated to exhibiting museum-quality art to diverse communities for free. The Underground Museum believes that art is an essential part of a vibrant, just, and healthy society. The Underground Museum serves low-to-moderate income neighborhoods and cultivates the hope that increasing access to art will inspire, educate, and transform lives. Through arts exhibitions, live events, film screenings, an outdoor garden for gathering, workshops and a bookstore, The Underground Museum gives Arlington Heights and the neighboring communities access to resources and tools necessary for developing critical thought and creative responses to the issues that plague them and most urban low-income neighborhoods. Commonwealth Projects and The Underground Museum are dedicated catalysts of Tropics.
The menu at Tropics will be created collectively by the staff and feature a small selection of made-to-order juices that change seasonally. Produce will be hand-selected for freshness by the Tropics team from local California Certified Farmers Markets.
Jesse Fleming, friend of Commonwealth Projects and The Underground Museum, will lead morning meditation sessions open to the pulbic. As an artist, filmmaker, meditation practitioner and instructor, Jesse Fleming is intent on lowering the perceived boundary between self and other. His teaching is irreverent and diversified - coming from an art education in New Genres, a longstanding practice in Vipassana as taught by Shinzen Young, Jesse is a certified mindfulness instructor from UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, and part of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Jesse merges these foundations into practical methods to achieve compassion for self and other - a sensory-based toolkit for enduring and enjoying life and techniques to anchor into our experience - creating an elasticity between transcendence and manifestation.
Tropics will host monthly art projects and provide mentorship and new experiences to the local, young adult community.
The Tropics team and the local community will design workshops based on their interest and volitions. Commonwealth Projects and the Underground Museum will help find the right instructors and materialize the ideas.
Current and Upcoming Programs:
- Drawing and Illustration
- Beat-making sessions and tutorials
- Zine Making
- Digital Design Basics
Tropics offers a collection of art and culture books at the Lending Library. The donated titles are managed by the Tropics staff and are available to check out by shop patrons.
Visiting artists, local entrepreneurs, professors and activists are invited to speak on a regular basis.
Tropics' initial installation opens on July 4, 2017 in the Purple Garden at the Underground Museum and runs for three months thereafter.
Three Month Operations Cost: $29,044
CWP Management / Preproduction
Sales / Prep / Clean-up
Equipment and Supplies Cost: $14,429
Champion Juicer G5-PG710
Compostable Cups / Lids / Straws / Misc
Installation and Building Materials Cost: $16,527
Tropics is dedicated to providing a living wage to all of its participants.
Risks and challenges
We understand that opening and operating a small business is inherently risky, especially one in the service industry. Luckily we've assembled a killer team to handle whatever challenges come our way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)