Edward GrimesMedical Cannabis Patient Dear Editor:Throughout the nation, the move to legalize cannabis for medical reasons and recreational purposes is gaining momentum. More than a dozen States have already taken action to allow the use of cannabis to help alleviate the pain and suffering of the many thousands of individuals who are afflicted with various maladies. Here in New Jersey, there is a bi-partisan effort underway in Trenton to enact a similar law to help the residents of the Garden State. While this legislation is being sponsored by a Democrat, it also has the support of many Republicans. New Jersey needs Cannabis Patient Rights (CPR), and we need it now. It is time we legalize it, and provide for the insurance companies to pay for it.This will result in people being weened off unnecessary and higher priced pills and prescriptions, and away from dangerous street drugs, too. It is time for New Jersey to join the Cannabis Campaign in the name of the health and welfare of its citizens. Unfortunately, our local officials are doing nothing to promote this vital issue. They are standing back and letting people continue to suffer. They are refusing to help the many seriously ill persons in our community who would benefit enormously from the passage of this legislation. Fortunately, however, we do have one civic leader who is standing up for patient rights. Michael Alonso, who is running for the Assembly at the urging of Democrat Freeholder Bill O’Dea, is in the forefront of the statewide effort to help the sick and disabled by allowing them access to alternative treatments.Michael Alonso cares about people. He is committed to assisting those in need, and expanding the freedoms and rights of individuals in our society. Especially the disabled, unlike Asw. Angela McKnight, whose taxpayer funder office has a STEP and no access for wheelchairs, there’s even a video on YouTube of McKnight getting called out and embarrassed by Mike Alonso on this issue. Her office actually called the cops, cursed out and threatened the woman and her caregiver. Is that the representation we want in Trenton? It’s time for all of us in New Jersey who need and would benefit from legalized medical cannabis to stand up and speak out. Join Michael Alonso and other State leaders and support legislation for Cannabis Patient Rights. Its time New Jersey moved into the 21st Century.
“Psychology is my major, and dance is my minor,” Augustine said. “Dance is [Allen’s] major and neuroscience is going to be her minor … [so she was the] perfect person to be my vice president.” When she began reaching out to her friends to join Change the Stigma, Augustine realized that more people needed to be in a safe environment to comfortably discuss their mental health struggles. Alexis Augustine hopes to organize a collaborative arts production on campus this semester. (Sunny Dong/Daily Trojan) When Augustine came to USC in August, she was determined to find a group of creative and dedicated students with similar aspirations to establish a campus chapter of the nonprofit. Through her dance minor classes, Augustine met freshman Isabella Allen, a freshman majoring in dance. after discovering that they shared similar interests, Allen became CTS Vice President. “[Allen] and I are really interested in dance therapy,” Augustine said. “I want to highlight how art is therapeutic and how that can change stigma.” “Especially while we’re being educated in an institution [such as USC], it’s good to have discussions on things that are not brought up in regular lectures,” Allen said. “[We should be] open to growing in your awareness of things outside of your own life or personal life and learn[about] other people’s own experience.” “We make a production that highlights a [stigmatized topic],” Augustine said. “The performances are supposed to be thought-provoking.” Though the production is still in its planning stage and doesn’t have a performance date yet, Augustine is excited to welcome new members to the organization. Nearly 100 students expressed interest at Thursday’s involvement fair, according to Augustine. Since then, the nonprofit has grown into an organization that centers its efforts on arts initiatives dedicated to the broader topics of diversity, mental health, equality and representation. Augustine helped coordinate public productions at local theaters and creative spaces with fellow CTS members. Augustine hopes that through CTS, USC students will help change the climate surrounding mental health issues. As a result, Augustine, then a high school senior in New Orleans, founded Change the Stigma, a nonprofit initiative dedicated to fostering meaningful and inclusive discourse about mental health among young people. CTS was officially recognized as a USC student organization this semester, and Augustine already has a topic for the organization’s first production on campus. Augustine said that during a production in 2017, which showcased spoken word poetry, musical numbers and even a live jazz band, she found that audience members were moved by a performance illustrating the transgender experience. Founded in 2017, CTS originally began for students in Augustine’s community to work toward the destigmatization of mental health issues through open discussions. After her mother passed away during her freshman year of high school, Alexis Augustine found that therapy became an outlet for her to address her mental health. But when she told some of her family and friends that she had been seeking professional help, she was taken aback by the judgement that followed. CTS member Yahm Steinberg, a freshman majoring in theatre, said she hopes that CTS can bring students together to address issues such as discrimination through different art mediums. Augustine said that a shared passion for encouraging creativity and increasing awareness about mental health issues is what initially brought the two students together. Augustine and Allen spent last semester organizing a team of eight freshmen from various schools and backgrounds at USC to join the organization. The unique team comprises students majoring in accounting, public policy and environmental studies, among others. “I didn’t get the reactions from people that I wanted,” said Augustine, now a freshman majoring in psychology. “It was heartbreaking — and out of that, I started reaching out to people to see if [others] wanted to talk about [these issues].” “I do think there are a lot of harmful stigma and stereotypes in society that contribute to bigger problems, like microaggressions are ultimately something that build up and lead to things like racism, anti-semitism, sexism,” Steinberg said. “Art is a beautiful way to try and make a change … and as someone who considers themselves a social activist and artist, the combination of the two things are appealing to me.” “We’re going to have a lot of talented minds to bounce ideas off of,” Augustine said. “This is needed in a lot of people’s lives,” Augustine said. “Just discussion about the things we are not discussing … [and] especially with college-age students, [for us] it is a very vulnerable time so I think it could be beneficial to be open.” “The ones that I have put on at home have really changed a lot of people’s minds on certain things,” Augustine said. “My grandma went to my show and she’s very old school … [and] said that she has never thought about these types of things.”
She’ll be joined at the game against the Colorado Rockies by her son and daughter, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. (Her son bought an extra four tickets and the little ones will sit on their parents’ laps.) It was important the whole family be there to celebrate Nettie’s streak because, to her, Dodger games are about spending time with her family. “It’s absolutely marvelous,” she said, patting her heart and speaking softly. “It gives me great pleasure to be able to say four generations go to the game together.” Taking in the home opener became a family tradition, passed down to each generation at an earlier age than the one before. While Nettie didn’t attend her first Dodgers game until she was 41, her son Michael began at 17. His son, David, went to his first home opener at age 5. And David’s sons, Maddox, 4, and Briggs, 2, both were baptized with Dodger blue at about 6 months old. Amazingly, for the past half-century, nothing has threatened Nettie’s streak – no family tragedies, no important events. “It was like a rite of passage,” said Michael Berkson, 62, of Calabasas. “Everybody just made sure it was on the calendar.” That, however, has become more difficult. First, Nettie’s Westside apartment is a long way from Chavez Ravine for a woman who doesn’t drive in a city that doesn’t do public transportation well. Second, when Nettie’s blood turned blue, programs cost 20 cents and tickets $3.50 – and that was for the expensive seats. Today, her family’s field-level seats – Aisle 1, Row S – cost about $25,000 for four season-ticket packages. “I’m not sure how much longer I can keep getting them,” said Michael Berkson, who is the ticket controller. This year, to make the cost more reasonable, Berkson organized a consortium of Dodger fans who would share the four seats, similar to a timeshare. “There is no question about who gets the Opening Day tickets,” he said. The Berksons invoked seniority on that one. Born Dec. 31, 1915, in Chicago, Nettie Berkson is the youngest of 12 children and the only born outside of Poland. She grew up a Cubs fan, and on Fridays she would leave school early and catch the El train to Wrigley Field. When she and her husband, Marvin, moved to Los Angeles in 1946 and settled in the Fairfax District, Nettie went looking for her new home team. And for the next 11 years, she was a loyal Hollywood Stars fan. In 1957, the Dodgers confirmed they were coming to town from Brooklyn and the minor league Stars and Los Angeles Angels left. “When the Dodgers came out,” Nettie said, “that was it. I needed a baseball team.” What she got was also a social scene. The Berksons befriended the people they would see from April to October – the fellow fans, food vendors and ushers like Howard Levine. Levine began working at Dodger Stadium in 1971, when he was 17. Even after joining the faculty of Ulysses S. Grant High School in Valley Glen, he kept the usher job. He got to know the Berksons at the stadium and, eventually, he had Michael Berkson’s son as a student assistant for his varsity basketball team. “I see the whole family and … it gives me that at-home feeling, that familiar feeling,” said Levine, 52, of Sherman Oaks. “Being with the same people at the stadium every single day, it is what baseball is all about.” As the years passed by, Nettie’s fellow fans did, too. Her husband died 20 years ago, and for a time she found it painful to go to games. But that didn’t stop her. After 50 years, her children approach each home opener as if it might be her last. “But she looks forward to this game every year,” her daughter, Joyce Greenberg of Calabasas, said. “I think that is what keeps her going.” [email protected] (818) 713-3634160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Sitting a few rows behind home plate since Dodger Stadium was built in Chavez Ravine, Nettie Berkson, 91, has stared at the backside of many Dodger greats – Roseboro, Scioscia, Piazza, Lo Duca and, of course, Yeager. But a few years ago when Nettie bumped into former catcher Steve Yeager at UCLA, she had to rack her brain to place his face. “Steve,” she said, “I didn’t recognize you. If you bent down like you were catching, and I could see your tokus, then I would recognize you.” Today, Nettie plans to attend her 50th consecutive home opener since the Dodgers played the San Francisco Giants on April 18, 1958, in the club’s first game at the Los Angeles Coliseum.