Community members celebrate the 2013 Communitas at the Church in Ocean Park. This year, the Oct. 11 awards will honor Katharine King, Blase and Theresa Bonpane and Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño. / Courtesy of The Church in Ocean Park


The community of Santa Monica is honoring three individuals September 17, at The Church in Ocean Park.

This will be the 18th Annual Communitas award dinner, gathering to recognize Susan Love-Loughmiller who seeks for the greater good of Santa Monica, Robert Temple who trains local youth and adults in fitness and martial arts, and Ron Finley the ‘Gangsta Gardener’ founder of the The Ron Finley Project.

All three will be honored for their hard work, passion and dedication to the community.

The Church in Ocean Park is a multi-faith community, also involving activist working to create a positive change in the world and themselves. The church believes an artistic expression is a part of social justice movements.

The Rev. McKeithen, United Methodist pastor for the church, said 10 volunteers joined the committee and selected the honorees. She said, “The Church honors three individuals, one who is connected with the church, one who is involved within the Santa Monica community and the lastly one person who has contributed to the Los Angeles area along with the Santa Monica area.”

Susan Love Loughmiller is involved with the Church and has worked for seven non-profits following an award-winning career as a journalist. While working full time and raising daughter, she has carefully chosen projects that make a positive difference for individuals and the community.

Loughmiller has long been a recycler and was the Director of reDiscover, a Westside clearinghouse for recycled materials used in schools for art and environmental education. She is a longtime dedicated organizer for the Community Corporation of Santa Monica and is currently the President of the Board of Trustees for the Church in Ocean Park.

She has also been heavily involved in neighborhood activism including work with disadvantaged children in West Adams. Right now she is working in the CEO’s office of the Jewish Federation that provides services to families all over Los Angeles and in Israel.

She said, “I has been blessed and I work to use my gifts to make a positive difference. I care deeply about the community of Santa Monica and work for its betterment.” She is a compassionate community member, working for a positive change.

Robert Temple, other wise known as Master Temple was born in South Central Los Angeles, and has made his way to Santa Monica and touched many people’s lives. He was introduced to martial arts at the age of 12 and fell in love with the martial arts community; it became a religion, a passion and a purpose, encouraging practitioners to look beyond themselves so that they can come to a better place in their training.

He became a prominent member of the Black Karate Federation (“BKF”), a grassroots organization dedicated to uniting and empowering Black martial artists at a time when discrimination was prevalent within the greater martial arts community and competitive martial arts were selective.

Temple’s list of achievements as a competitor on international levels is extraordinary, but today he is more recognized for his continuous effort in changing young people’s lives.

Around 20 years ago, he noticed that the local youth organization, the Police Activities League (“PAL”), had a boxing program but no martial arts component, he saw an opportunity to create the same environment in which he himself had thrived as a young man.  He began offering free martial arts training to all PAL members.

Within a year, he was offered a full time post working with young people as the chief instructor for PAL for the City of Santa Monica, a position he holds to this day, personally teaching generations of students of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

He considers working with children a great responsibility and an enormous honor. He says he realized early on in his training, that his teachers not only wanted the best out of him but also the best for him, and that, as is the way in any family, everybody is important and has a critical part to play

Temple said, “My achievements are not mine alone; many people contributed to the man you see today.” He credits his partnership with his incredible wife Cheri and becoming more mature in his walk with Christ as two of his greatest assets.

Ron Finley creator and founder of The Ron Finley project envisions a world where gardening is ‘gangsta’, where communities come together to live a healthy and well sustained lifestyle.

In 2010, Ron Finley planted a garden on the 150-foot-long curbside strip outside his house in South Central Los Angeles. The produce was free for the taking, and it brought a lot of attention even from the city of LA. Finley received a citation for growing plants exceeding height limits as well as for failing a $400 permit purchase and since then he has not slowed down, creating organizations to spread the word of gardening in the Los Angeles region.

Finley along with other friends established LA Green Grounds, a grassroots initiative that seeks to help communities to set up productive gardens. LA Green Grounds is using gardening to help rebuild communities in some of LA’s most deprived areas.

Finley said, “I am happy to be an inspiration to some and that my message is traveling world wide. To be honored by community within Santa Monica is a big deal, Santa Monica is a city known to be progressive when it comes to the environment and truly being conscious of our actions. It is a pleasure to attend this event.”

For those attending, Mila Cuda will be the MC of this year’s Communitas, performing a spoken word throughout the ceremony. Along with the reception there will be dinner and entertainment. Tickets cost $75 per person, and $25 for low income. All proceeds go to the Social Justice Programs of the church as well as the maintenance of Santa Monica’s historic buildings.

More information contact:

(310) 399-1631

By Marina Andalon