common ground open mic series

common ground is organized by progressive Vietnamese American community members, artists, and activists committed to cultivating a positive and safe healing space for artistic growth and community empowerment. The common ground collective builds collaborations across communities and supports the work of social justice spaces.

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A little bit more about our Community Spotlight:

Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles is the nation’s largest Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) legal and civil rights organization and serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year. Founded in 1983 as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Advancing Justice - LA’s mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society. Through direct legal services, impact litigation, policy analysis and advocacy, leadership development and capacity building, Advancing Justice - LA seeks to serve the most vulnerable members of the AANHPI community while also building a strong AANHPI voice for civil rights and social justice. Since our founding, Advancing Justice - LA has served more than 250,000 individuals and organizations.

Twitter: @Adv_Justice


Who are The Black Noise?

We are a soul influenced indie rock band from long beach. We love the arts and try to improve the music scene where ever we go. We’ve played all over long beach, hollywood, LA, irvine etc. We intend to gradually build an international audience.

What do dreams mean to them?
What is a dream but the driving force for every ambition. The reason I can wake up and write another song despite there being no guarantee of another pay check. But the feeling one gets from making another believe in your passion to follow your dream is priceless. My dreams are dangerous because according to a realist, it defies the common mans logic. I once read from a wise poet,"hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams for when dreams go life is a barren field frozen with snow. - Langston hughes




As for what DJ 2-one would like to share about dreams:


by Mary Oliver

There is, all around us,

this country

of original fire.

You know what I mean.

The sky, after all, stops at nothing, so something

has to be holding

our bodies

in its rich and timeless stables or else

we would fly away.

Off Stellwagen

off the Cape,

the humpbacks rise. Carrying their tonnage

of barnacles and joy

they leap through the water, they nuzzle back under it

like children

at play.

They sing, too.

And not for any reason

you can’t imagine.

Three of them

rise to the surface near the bow of the boat,

then dive

deeply, their huge scarred flukes

tipped to the air.

We wait, not knowing

just where it will happen; suddenly

they smash through the surface, someone begins

shouting for joy and you realize

it is yourself as they surge

upward and you see for the first time

how huge they are, as they breach,

and dive, and breach again

through the shining blue flowers

of the split water and you see them

for some unbelievable

part of a moment against the sky–

like nothing you’ve ever imagined–

like the myth of the fifth morning galloping

out of darkness, pouring

heavenward, spinning; then

they crash back under those black silks

and we all fall back

together into that wet fire, you

know what I mean.

I know a captain who has seen them

playing with seaweed, swimming

through the green islands, tossing

the slippery branches into the air.

I know a whale that will come to the boat whenever

she can, and nudge it gently along the bow

with her long flipper.

I know several lives worth living.

Listen, whatever it is you try

to do with your life, nothing will ever dazzle you

like the dreams of your body,

its spirit

longing to fly while the dead-weight bones

toss their dark mane and hurry

back into the fields of glittering fire

where everything,

even the great whale,

throbs with song.

 Bio: thuan nguyen is the youngest of 11 children, with 22 nieces and nephews. Both of his parents did community work for most of their lives, which is the foundation for his commitment to youth and community work. He’s played different roles (as organizer, coordinator, facilitator, case worker, advocate, mentor, etc.) in various social justice efforts and organizations over the years, including youth organizing, education reform, affordable housing, immigrant and refugee rights, LGBTQ justice, and multi-racial coalition-building. He has coordinated an Asian and Pacific Islander network in Oregon, a youth organizing network in the Los Angeles region and throughout California, and is currently involved in building progressive/radical organizing work in the Vietnamese community. thuan is also a DJ and aspiring film-maker.



Joe Thomas, our spoken word feature for our dreams show, had this to say about our theme:


If you’re chasing your dreams, you’re not running fast enough. Run faster.


A dream is something that few remember. The lucky ones who recollect their dreams can incorporate a point of attack to execute their dreamt ambitions.

-Joe Thomas

Joe’s bio:

I write poems of fantasy to restore ones faith in humanity.
I’ve been writing for a number of years now. Over 11.


Alpha-Ready’s Bio:

I grew up all over OC. Still growing up and still roaming in OC. Birth name is Alfred but have gone by Freddy most of my life, hence Alpha-Ready. I’m involved in the local community raising culture and Love awareness. Peace :)

What Alpha-Ready thinks about “Dreams”:  

To me dreams are un manifested reality. One’s will power mixed with Love for their craft is what I believe to be the key factors in any dream

More info:


A little bit more about our spoken word artist, Kelley:

I am a 24 year old college student, currently attending Long Beach State. I am a 3rd year, majoring in Psychology, minoring in Marketing. I am Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Chinese, but identify with being Cambodian/Khmer. I am originally from Northern California. I write and perform spoken/word poetry in conjunction with working in the community as a way to share my story, teach others, empower others, and as a way to give back. It is also my small way of repaying my parents, who are Cambodian refugees, for all of their sacrifices and struggles. I mainly work with youth, middle school to high school students, and have facilitated a workshop for the past 4 years pertaining to the topic of Identity.

In response to what “dreams” means to Kelley:  

Dreams are what keep us alive. Without dreams, we have nothing to hope for, reach for, nothing to push us. Without dreams, it would not have been possible for my parents and my relatives to make it through the Khmer Rouge regime and get to the US alive. I wouldn’t have been born either if my parents didn’t dream about the potential of their first baby girl. I am privileged to have parents that suffered so much for their dreams and to have them teach me just exactly how important those dreams are to my life. They taught me how to dream and stay positive. It is what keeps me motivated and empowered on a daily basis.

Introducing our feature for Thursday, Zuleica Zepeda.

"Where do you find Love?"

in the spirit of the sacred ancestors.
the great-grandmothers teachings and wisdom.
my mother’s he-Art drum beat. 
in the moon-circle of sisterhood. 
the brown female earth. 
my art, an offering to heal the womyn nation.
love self first.

Zuleica is a local award-winning Xicana Indigenous artist and photographer, estudiante graphic designer, jaranera, poet, vegan cultura-nary and community organizer. Her artwork has been on exhibition throughout the Santa Ana, San Diego and L.A. area. She has received several awards including Show Favorite for “El Abuelo,” Silver Print (2010) at the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She is co-founder and core organizer of Seeds of Resistance, an autonomous, grassroots womyn of color art collective in Santa Ana. Her artwork and poetry have been published in the Mujeres de Maíz annual zine 2012- 2014. Her artwork has been featured in OC Weekly and the Santa Ana Register. She believes art is a form of resistance and healing by communicating the spirit of creativity through visual arts. Inspired by social movements and grassroots struggles, she continues to learn and grow as an artist, pushing for change by any medium necessary.

Twitter: @zuleicazepeda

Fourty4B, a feature for this Thursday, responds to our theme “Where is the love?”

We are #FOURTY4B and “Where is the Love” to us means finding the positive in others, situations, and in ourselves. Many times in life we will be faced with challenging issues, people, and criticisms and we believe that it is essential to be able to find the love in those moments, in relationships, and within ourselves—even when it is not always easy. “Where is the Love” is a reminder for us to always look for the good in our daily lives.

And a little bit about this talent group of folks…

We sing smooth, soulful, & feel-good a cappella. It all started in the living room of a little apartment, wanting to sing. Combining our different music backgrounds and styles, we formed an a cappella group named after our apartment number. We laugh, we dance, & we play because expression is our shared passion. We are #FOURTY4B.

You won’t want to miss this! (@FOURTY4B)

On the turntables this Thursday, DJ MAN aka Nam Tran!

He is originally from Toronto, Canada. Moved to the states about 14 years ago and his interests include music and food.

Asked, “Where do you find love?”

Love is where the heart feels home