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Making Community Happen Since 1985

Our History: By the Decades

Doug Wallace
Doug Wallace has been volunteering for the PLP for over 20 years and continues to support and strengthen the project.
Inmate Letters
Hundreds of letters from inmates nationwide come into the Prison Library Project each week.
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The 80s: A nationwide literacy program starts small and thinks big.

The Claremont Forum was founded by executive director, Rick Moore, to sponsor the Prison Library Project (PLP). Inspired by prison advocates such as Bo Lozoff and Ram Dass, the PLP celebrated the world of books and  shared books encouraging mindfulness, meditation, and multi-denominational resources to encourage self-reflection and personal growth to incarcerated men and women nationwide.

We're all doing time. The highest compliment in prison is "He knows how to do his own time." How few of us do.

Bo Lozoff

The 90s: Creating a place for farmers, artists, and the community to connect.

The Claremont Forum developed the weekly Farmers & Artisans Market in 1996. This event continues every weekend and is an important and much loved community project that creates community and connection while improving access to fresh, locally grown food.

What started with a few tables of produce loaded off the backs of pickup trucks has evolved into a thriving destination market in Los Angeles County. Longtime manager, Oscar DeLeon, has maintained a commitment to a producer-only marketplace, meaning our farmers and ranchers grow what they sell. Our market features everything from locally sourced crafts, potted seedlings for the home gardener, prepared foods from local bakeries, gourmet cheese, small-batch honey and artisan soaps. 

Our artisans market is supervised by local artist, Kathy Spear, who has invited hundreds of talented artists over the years to create one of the area’s best destinations to discover locally produced arts and crafts.

Original Farmers & Artisans Market
Our market began on 2nd Avenue and grew until relocating to Harvard Ave. in 2018.
Harvard Ave. Market Expansion
Photo of our weekly market on Harvard Avenue. Shoppers stroll under a beautiful canopy of trees near Claremont City Hall
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Original Bookstore 2008
Once known as the Theroux Bookstore, the PLP and bookstore were in a small space in the Packing House.
Bigger Bookshop
Several years later, the book shop relocated to its present location.
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The 2000s: Expansion and Opportunity

By 2008, the Claremont Forum moved to the Claremont Packing House, a newly renovated citrus packing house built in 1922. There was more room for volunteers, classes, and art events. An infusion of new volunteers helped support the PLP, bookstore, gallery, and weekly farmers market. Our improved visibility helped us connect better with the community and grow our community projects.

Our volunteer base expanded to include local churches, schools, universities and professionals – allowing the organization to build local programs.

The 2010s: Community Leadership & Service

During the last decade, the PLP expanded to serve more inmates than ever. Hundreds of prisons nationwide have allowed the PLP to mail books to their institutions, reaching the hearts and minds of inmates.

Art exhibitions continue monthly; the Forum joined the Claremont Art Walk on the first Saturday of each month. During this time, numerous community groups met at the Forum for writers workshops, language lessons, independent film screenings, and more.

Volunteers continue to be at the heart of the Claremont Forum, donating thousands of hours to the PLP each year.

Art Gallery
The Claremont Forum has hosted hundreds of art exhibitions over the years. Anne Seltzer curated the Postmarked Mail Art Show in 2010.
Magic at the Claremont Forum
Magician Greg Van Holsbeck holds the audience captive with magic in 2017.
John York
Musician John York has performed at the Claremont Forum for many years. His benefit concert for the PLP is a community favorite,
A Well Read Holiday
Holiday decorations cheer volunteers and customers in 2014.
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Art Gallery
The Claremont Forum has hosted hundreds of art exhibitions over the years. Anne Seltzer curated the Postmarked Mail Art Show in 2010.
Magic at the Claremont Forum
Magician Greg Van Holsbeck holds the audience captive with magic in 2017.
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The 2010s: Community Leadership & Service

Our organization is committed to continuing our outreach into the community. New nonprofit partnerships, an expanded Board of Directors, passionate volunteers, and our dedicated supporters will help ensure that the organization meets the needs of the community and faces the challenges ahead. The recent pandemic has been a struggle for nonprofit organizations across the country. We plan to emerge into the post Covid-19 world stronger than ever and with a renewed commitment to the work that we do.