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'Sound Bath' At Bruce's Beach Draws a Diverse Crowd

May 15, 2021 09:36AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
A "sound bath" experience designed to serve as a healing event drew a diverse crowd of about 75 people to Bruce's Beach in Manhattan Beach on Friday night.

The event, sponsored by Culture Club South Bay, was led by Jennifer Franklin of Bloom Holistic Healing. A "sound bath" is a prolonged meditation where participants are surrounded by and immersed in sound waves from gongs, singing bowls, chimes, and rattles.

"Tonight I just sensed so much peace and love and connectivity," Allison Hales, founder of Culture Club South Bay, told DigMB after the event. "It tells me that we need more events like this to get to know new people - and have some fun again at Bruce's Beach."

Bruce's Beach a Source of Divisiveness in Manhattan Beach

The land at Bruce's Beach has come to signify deep divisions within the Manhattan Beach community. The controversy largely began last summer with a renewed movement to recognize and possibly compensate the Bruce family for the city's racially motivated dissolution of the once-thriving Bruce's Beach resort in the 1920s.

The Manhattan Beach City Council last year created a task force to investigate the history of Bruce's Beach. After they received the report of the task force, the city disbanded the group and then voted in early April for a "resolution of acknowledgement and condemnation" rather than an apology to the descendants of the Bruce family, as the task force had recommended.

Meanwhile, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors have proposed returning the two original parcels of beachfront property that the Bruce family once owned to the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce. (Those county-owned beachfront parcels are immediately west of Bruce's Beach Park and are currently the site of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard training headquarters.)

Legislation to allow for the return of those parcels of land to the Bruce family is currently awaiting action by the California Senate Appropriations Committee (following unanimous approval by its Natural Resources and Water Committee).

Across Manhattan Beach, the issue has created sharp divisions among those who think the land should be returned to the Bruce family; and those who think the Bruce family was fairly compensated during the eminent domain proceedings in the late 1920s, and that policymakers cannot and should not return the disputed property.

Acknowledging A Need for Healing

At the event, organizers acknowledged the struggle and divisiveness of the past year over Bruce's Beach.

"We've had some great success within a short period of time, but it's been a struggle," said Kavon Ward, a Manhattan Beach resident and founder of the Justice for Bruce's Beach group, at the sound bath event. "So tonight we're going to do some healing."

A crowd of several dozen people, of diverse ages and races, gathered on yoga mats on the terraced hill at Bruce's Beach park. Bloom led the group in breathing and stretching exercises, and then asked participants to lie down on their mats and relax.

Participants closed their eyes and remained silent while listening to the sound of gongs and distant waves in the background. Several healers walked through the crowd adding new sounds to the mix, such as small chimes and rainsticks. The sound event lasted just under an hour.

"I think today was much needed," said Ward after the event, adding that she felt  "a sense of peace and calm." 

Ward noted that the event gave Manhattan Beach residents had the chance to be exposed to what might be a new cultural experience for many, as well as a chance to possibly view Black people in a different light.

"It's essential that we continue to have events like this in Manhattan Beach," added Ward.

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