Kamila K. De La Fuente
Put on your dancing shoes and head over to downtown Pomona’s Second Street any fourth Sunday of the month to Walk The Beat as it livens up with free live music events in a variety of venues, within arm’s reach.
The Pomona-based African American Advisory Alliance and the group Music Changing Lives, which is based in Redlands, collaborate every month on the Walk The Beat event, featuring live music performances.
The lingering aroma of food complimented by the live music playing in the plaza, kids running around, and the countless vendors trying to make a pretty penny on their craft.
The idea for this began in June 2020 with an initial discussion about the racial division and needless violence plaguing our nation. This kickstarted the formation of the African American Advisory Alliance setting their focus towards efforts of reconciliation and fair play in their community.
“We built this organization two years ago out of nothing,” Chará Nicole Swodeck, founding president, said. “Now a completely run volunteer entity.”
Swodeck said the African American Advisory Alliance is all about bringing the community together through contributing to a shared safe space.
“We’re essentially building a business simultaneously from the ground up, and are currently working on a larger extension of Walk The Beat for next month, which is something to look forward to,” Swodeck said.
One remarkable component that makes Walk the Beat possible is the level of community involvement and engagement that it takes to make it happen.
“We share this block with other organizations, such as the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, who we work together with to not overpower one another, to create a balance where we help each other out,” Swodeck said.
In whatever direction visitors are drawn to, they are presented with a new live music experience to soak in. Whether the main event band in the center of the plaza, or the independent guitar player on the sidewalk captivating you with a melody to loosen your purse strings a bit.
“Walk the Beat is essentially primarily music in different venues with pop-ups and art galleries that build community,” Swodeck said.
On West Second Street, an interesting conversation unfolded with vendor Lori Perrea of Khaos Crafts, set up in front of non-profit bookstore Cafe Con Libros Press, who had unique insight from a vendor’s perspective.
“I like Walk the Beat because they bring out live music,” Perrea said. “I love when other vendors come out to participate. It makes everyone unify together as a collective.”
Khaos Crafts is an amigurumi style brand that currently focuses on Mexican cultural icon Frida Kahlo, pop culture, and more. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting stuffed yarn creatures.
“The value of community over competition creates a safe space for vendors and attendees alike,” Perrea said.
Cafe Con Libros Press kept their doors open throughout the night and welcomed people into their bookstore.
Pati DeRobles, Cafe Con Libros Press owner and co-founder, and University of La Verne alumna class of ‘92 said that Walk the Beat gives people a chance to go out into the community and in turn boosts small businesses and vendors.
“It creates a familial atmosphere and forum for communities and activities to take root,” DeRobles said.
Denis Thorp, resident of Pomona, has been photographing the event every month for the last four years and has seen Walk the Beat evolve over time.
“Before it became Walk the Beat, it was formerly known as Metro Night Out,” Thorp said.
The next Walk the Beat is on Sep. 24 from 6 to 9 p.m. in downtown Pomona.
Kamila K. De La Fuente can be reached at email@example.com.