We had the good fortune of connecting with Hassan Galedary and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hassan, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I’m an active risk taker and have found that every chance I don’t take is an opportunity and new experience missed. This works in all aspects of my life. Risk and fear go hand in hand. You have to be willing to deal with the consequences of failure before you make a risky decision. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen. I want to jump into new experience with two feet whether I’m ready or not and see what happens later. Some would argue that it’s not logical or the most intelligent. My father is not a supporter of risky decision making. I’ll give two examples. In January 2020 I set out as a FTS volunteer to Northern Iraq (Kurdistan) on a humanitarian aid mission. By myself. Having never been to the Middle East or speak the language—to meet, in real life, a Kurdish guy I befriended on Instagram. At the time, ISIS controlled swaths of the levant. This guy could have been anyone. We corresponded via whatsapp for years and I told him I wanted to help the Kurds. Primarily youth in refugee camps. I was so angry about Turkish Government oppression and genocide—being committed in 2019—that I HAD TO DO SOMETHING. I didn’t know how anything was going to turn out. Funny, because just ten days after a mission complete and a return home, Northern Iraq was hit with missiles from Iran. Very close to the airport I was at. Risk. Now we have a line to Camp Kawrgosk in Northern Iraq. Shortly after my return COVID shut down the world. FTS was making gains with donations and volunteers and I threw it out there, on social media, that we would buy and deliver groceries for anyone struggling financially. I didn’t know if we could actually do it. People reached out to us. Families, young adults, all walks of life who were struggling due to loss of employment, shitty EDD service, and high risk people who couldn’t go out and risk getting the virus. It’s been a year, and we’re still buying groceries. I didn’t worry about running out of money, or being able to handle it logistically. When the time came, we got the money and drivers to run this program. Had I never took the risk or thought it wouldn’t work out—I’d never have these life changing experiences which molded me as a human being.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I speak for the working camp. There are a lot of mutual aid groups out there doing good work. I want to acknowledge and salute them. What sets FTS apart from others is the ability for us to evolve, expand and go into the darkest corners of the city to be of service. Feed The Streets. What does that mean? It’s a big question. The Streets are far and wide. We’ve provided essential needs to everyone, from the unhoused, to ex-convicts coming home, struggling drug addicts, Section 8 families, individuals suffering financial woes due to unemployment, Watts Community Core, the Lincoln Heights Boys and Girl Club, church based groups, Sex Workers on the street, and at risk youth in South Central. That alone sets us apart. FTS is bigger than us all, but together we are achieving the unimaginable. What started out as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and rolled cigarettes morphed into this machine. We want to help as many people as we can. That’s the goal. And it’s not always an unhoused person. For example. Elmer, one of our volunteers, an ex-convict, and former gang member who changed his life—has donated his time and energy. Time and time again. We were able to buy his daughter art supplies, his family groceries, and help purchase clothing items required for a new job in Alaska on a fishing vessel. Each volunteer, (about 40 consistent) has its own resources and connections. Each one is a skill and super brain. I refer to it as the AI. Collectively, the FTS AI. It’s beyond me. It problem solves on it’s own. Creates and organizes programs. It codes and creates algorithms that work for volunteers in the streets, it staffs and schedules. Continuously adapting and evolving continuously as the streets change and surprise us. I overcame a lot of challenges by allowing others to step up and participate. A lesson I’ve learned is that the city, the streets, is unpredictable. That this isn’t always hot food, smiles and cute pics for the gram. No. We are in a jungle. And if we continue to choose to put ourselves out there we have to be prepared for anything at any time. We want the world to know that anyone can Feed The Streets. Any street from housing projects to refugee camps. It’s a lifestyle we live. It’s part of our daily lives just as the struggle is for those we help.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hah. Love this. Well all of my best friends grew up in my neighborhood. So, if YOU were coming to visit me… I’d take you on a different LA tour. One that you wouldn’t get from, no offense, a transplant. I say that with love because even the natives wouldn’t take you on my tour. If we’re starting west, say LAX area. We’d move up, Northbound and slide through Venice, Santa Monica and the Palisades, making the average touristy pit stop. But then I’d keep going, Tuna Canyon, Topanga and perhaps Malibu. Matador Beach and Leo Carillo. On another day we’d start out in Echo Park just outside DTLA and I’d start my Los Angeles gang tour. Naming all the historic gangs in the area and flagging their territory. It’s a huge sub culture that I grew up in and still find it fascinating. And scary. You move into a neighborhood but don’t know the history. All of these gangs started out as self proclaimed neighborhood watch groups who had to protect the community from racist cops during the civil rights struggles. You can’t have LA without the history of it’s underworld. We’d take a South Central tour from the west part of Crenshaw, stopping at the iconic Slauson Swap meet, then moving to Earles Grille for some fire hot dogs. Then head East to Figueroa looping us back into DTLA. We’d then hit the real East Side, Boyle Heights, cross the first street bridge and end our evening with the sun dropping over the skyline. The sky will burn orange and pink as street racers burnout sending grey tire smoke into the sky. LAPD Helicopters will take off and land at the nearby chopper headquarters. The Union Station will shadow us, and graffiti writers will jump off the concrete and spray their names and crews on the walls. All this will happen as police drive by and do nothing. Helicopters fly over and keep moving through the clouds. And we’ll be really LA vibing with people from all different parts of the city who come to the first street bridge for casual street fun. Then the day before you leave, I’d bring you to 6054 Yucca street. Sunday evening at 6pm. And introduce you to Feed The Streets.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The Feed The Streets shoutouts are endless. We can chalk it up to a scroll. Feed The Streets only works with the help of others. We’re all volunteers who give our time, our energy, our spirit. It’s bigger than any one person or idea. It’s so powerful that sometimes we can’t even place words for what it’s become. I have to acknowledge our Street Teams. Hands down. Undeniable commitment. Hard work. Communication. And the ability to problem solve and remain cool under pressure. Because in the streets there are no rules, which many people seem to forget, and anything can happen at any time. Our Street Teams are willing to learn, evolve and go above and beyond to be the best neighbor to all. Teams in plural, because it’s several. We’ll start in order. I gotta shoutout, Esmé Edwards, hundred percent. Our Director of Operations and a street queen. She has stepped up and treated this like a full time job. Using her resources and collaborating with all of our volunteers. She’s not a lead from the back type of person. She’s in the trenches with the rest of us. There’s no task too great or too little for her. Next, I have to shout out Russian Danny. Official Street King. Russian Danny is the icon behind our weekly Hollywood, North Hollywood and Skid Row Outreach program. A different mutual aid group recruited him to help out in the Gower-Tucca-101 encampment on sundays, and Danny turned it into a full operation. For any number of reasons, but RD used to walk those streets. Born and Raised in Hollywood and not the hills. He continued to do outreach every Sunday on his own with his own crew of friends. And one day he started picking up supplies from our drive to take to Yucca. Eventually I found myself on Yucca with him. Then FTS absorbed the mission and due to a high volume of volunteers, resources—and people willing to sacrifice a couple hours on a weekend—we spread like wildfire We wouldn’t have our Sunday nights if Danny hadn’t started it all. Lets keep it moving. From Sunday a plethora of new operations were hatched. Three women who work on Yucca came together and formed The Sex Worker Task Force. Tara Abadi, Jimenkia Eborn, and Jessica Drake. Because why not. We’re already in the street. And SW’s deserve love and resources the same as anyone else less fortunate or struggling. It started off with Tara asking me if we could use a thousand condoms. I thought about it for a second and was like; Yes. There are still red light districts in parts of South LA that are extremely dangerous for SW’s working them late at night. Jim and Jessica come from qualified backgrounds and I brought the idea to them to see if they would be willing to step up to the task. Take the project, handle donations and street distribution. Tara, Jim and Jessica have been running that task force every Sunday after our unhoused outreach program. We can’t shout them out without shouting out Cakes for Mutual Aid. Specialty baker and FTS volunteer Leila, who baked, sold and donated over 2500 dollars, 1500 of which went to the task force. Rockstar. Moving on. I told you. A fucking scroll. FTS wouldn’t be what it is today without the safety of our volunteers and our hot food programs. Miles Skinner joined the team (October 2020). He was just looking for an opportunity to be of service and volunteer like the rest of us. He punched in at Yucca and never punched out. Miles comes from a business background, creative, marketing, branding and entertainment. He saw a way to tighten the ship and push us forward. His first order of business was getting about 1,200 hot meals donated to us for free from Fat Sals, Home State, and Uncle Paulies. Next, he created our legal paperwork to qualify volunteers for COVID-19 vaccination in LA as tier two health workers. And he’s been helping us with our graphics, social media and clothing. Let’s keep it moving, family. The FTS skate unit. Wow. Lead by Prem Dhanjal and Keith Wager. Feeding The Streets doesn’t just mean the unhoused community. LA’s huge. We love South Central. We love the hoods and the kids in them. They deserve our time and resources all the same. Prem took the initiative to scout skate parks in South Central, Inglewood etc. Talking to the kids and at times having to come in contact with gang elements, putting his own life on the line to help others. Keith Wager, owner of Pawn Shop skate company in West Covina (also a Yucca volunteer) backed the new operation. Cash donations, brand new clothing, skate shoes, skate boards and hardware were provided by pawnshop. Now the skate unit hosts professional demos at Harvard Park in Crenshaw once a month bringing out pro skaters and food! Last but not least, we can’t talk about the Skate unit without mentioning Amrit Sidhu. Amrit and Jessica reached out to the Nike SB skate team and were able to secure Sean Malto and Dashawn Jordan and Raven Tershy for the live skate demo. Amrit also lined up for us, monthly donations from MadHappy, clothing brand that’s a powerhouse in the street. There’s still so many volunteers that deserve a shoutout. They know who they are and are highly valued and appreciated.