Tzu Chi Resiliency Center

The idea of the “third space” was coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in 1989, to describe places outside of home and work where people can relax, socialize, and provide peer to peer support. In the U.S., third spaces have commonly included shopping malls, salons, and places of worship, but it is no secret that the rate at which people frequent these third spaces are declining. Unlike the culture of third spaces in Europe and Asia, which include weeknights spent sitting and chatting in city plazas, local pubs, or cafes that open late, socialization in the U.S is limited to family and select friends, and usually reserved for weekends. The suburban sprawl that defines much of life within the U.S has led to a loneliness epidemic, a lack of community, and lack of resilience. 

GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles (GRID GLA) has been working with local organizations to set up resiliency centers throughout the Los Angeles area. The effects of social isolation and lack of community in the US are exacerbated by climate change, which is already being felt in the communities that GRID serves. Extreme heat records continue to be broken year after year. Wildfires are more severe and electrical grid blackouts and power shut offs grow in frequency. This leaves many community members -- especially those most vulnerable, such as seniors and those with medical needs -- at serious risk. GRID combines solar PV and battery energy storage systems to provide communities power even when the grid goes down. These resiliency centers become community resources, and at risk community members gain access to consistent power during emergency events.

The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is an international humanitarian organization whose mission is to relieve the suffering of those in need. Their Los Angeles regional service center, the Tzu Chi Wilmington Health Center, serves as a rare “third space” for those within the local community, offering disaster relief, medical care, education, and other forms of daily assistance. In addition to providing these forms of support, their community clinic is also a safe space for local community members to gather and share burdens. It is crucial that in the event of a disaster, spaces like Tzu Chi Wilmington Health Center can provide local communities with a place to turn for shelter, electricity, and emotional support. 

"The Tzu Chi Resiliency Center was our second project in the Wilmington area and we were thrilled to partner with the team to create another safe space for community members vulnerable to extreme heat, lack of air conditioning in their homes and to potential black-outs in their neighborhoods" said Stella Ursua, Director of Community Engagement and Partnerships. "GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles is committed to supporting our partners across Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura counties with this vital, life-saving effort."

In late 2023, GRID GLA proudly completed the installation of a solar and battery storage system on the Tzu Chi Wilmington Health Center. In addition to bringing clean energy to the community clinic, the accompanying battery storage system will be able to provide backup power to this critical community space so that in the event of an outage, the center will be able to continue to extend aid to its communities and serve as a community safe haven. 

GRID GLA commemorated the completion of the solar plus battery system together with Tzu Chi Foundation at their Wilmington Center Lunar New Year celebration. Tzu Chi and GRID staff gathered to share food, good energy, stories from the install, and hopes for a more resilient future for the Tzu Chi community. Staff enjoyed the beautiful dances and elaborate traditional clothing and were able to witness firsthand how this “third space” is a crucial part of the local community.

Tzu Chi Resiliency Center
Dr. Peter Fu Min Chen, Executive Vice President of Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, leads a ceremony at the Tzu Chi Wilmington Health Center to ring in the Lunar New Year and celebrate freshly installed solar and battery storage by nonprofit GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles.
Tzu Chi Resiliency Center
The festivities included performances and speakers. 
Tzu Chi Resiliency Center
Attendees included Councilmember Tim McOsker, representing the Fifteenth Council District, 
which includes the communities of Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, San Pedro, Watts, and Wilmington.




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