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Community Discussion of MB History Saturday

The public is invited to the free "Reflect on the Past, Give Meaning to the Future: A Community Discussion Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Manhattan Beach."

Individuals are welcome to come and go throughout the free Saturday symposium, "Reflect on the Past, Give Meaning to the Future: A Community Discussion Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Manhattan Beach."

The event will be held in the Joslyn Community Center, 1601 North Valley Drive, from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and offers attendees the opportunity to learn about the city's physical environment, its beach culture and why it developed into a residential community. Its educational heritage will also be explored, said Jan Dennis, noted Manhattan Beach historian and a former MB mayor.

Dennis is scheduled to deliver the keynote at 9:35 a.m. after a multimedia presentation called "Bridging the Generations," created by the Leadership Manhattan Beach class of 2005, at 9:10 a.m.

A panel discussion, moderated by another former MB mayor who is now deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, Steve Napolitano, features Robert Brigham, Russ Lesser, Beverly Rohrer and Arthur Verge. Rohrer has traveled from Hawaii for the symposium and Brigham has traveled from central California.

Brigham, who taught history and coached multiple sports for 38 years at Mira Costa High School beginning in 1952, moved to the city in 1939 when he was 12. His thesis for a masters degree at USC was an important resource in the re-naming of a park, Bruce's Beach, on Highland Avenue in 2007 to reflect the area's 1920s past when an African American family operated an inn. 

Verge, who is a history professor at El Camino College with roots dating back to California’s Mission period, has also worked as a Los Angeles County Lifeguard since 1974. 

Rohrer has a 56-year history as an educator in the Beach Cities, including Manhattan Beach, where she began her teaching career at Mira Costa High School sometime after graduating MCHS in 1955. 

Lesser, who lives 100 feet from the Manhattan Beach house his grandparents purchased in 1917, is a 1958 graduate of Mira Costa High School who has been the president of Body Glove International since 1990. He served eight years on the MB City Council, including two terms as mayor. Given his penchant for running (he has run more than 50,000 miles), he established the annual Manhattan Beach 10K Race, which is put on by volunteers and reinvests its profits in the community.  

Lesser's company, Body Glove, is providing a free lunch of pizza from Fresh Brothers at 12 noon.

At 1 p.m., the symposium will begin its "Give Meaning to the Future" program. At 1:20 p.m., members of the MB Mayor's Youth Council, their program director Nancy Hersman and historian Judson Grenier will join in "break-out" discussion groups to talk about what the future of MB could look like.

Grenier, who moved with his family to Manhattan Beach in 1956 to begin his teaching career at El Camino College, has an extensive background in history, having been the first chair of the history department at Cal State Dominguez Hills. 

After a 2:15 p.m. break, the symposium will re-convene and report what their discussions of the future consisted of. Closing remarks will begin at 3:30 p.m.

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