President’s Message – September

Saludos Highland Park! Greetings!

As I connect with you all, I extend hope and faith that you, your family and neighborhoods are well and content.  Each month I bring you the news as to what HHPNC is involved in and the issues that we, the HHPNC board members, are advocating for on your behalf and that of Los Angeles overall.  I want to take a moment to ponder the importance and meaning of participatory democracy through the civic participation in neighborhood councils, which became part of Los Angeles democratic political structure in the year 2000.  I would like to interlace the purpose of neighborhood councils in relation to the work that HHPNC conducts on behalf of Highland Park stakeholders.  According to the Los Angeles City Charter’s Article IX, neighborhood councils are: “To promote more citizen participation in government and make government more responsive to local needs.”   The city’s vision for the Neighborhood Council system was for it to be a mechanism by which to (re)connect Angelenos to its government.

In addition, the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE), the office that oversees the management of neighborhood councils (NCs) and ascertains that all laws and regulations are carried through by NCs, offers supplementary insight into the meaning of NCs, A Neighborhood Council is an officially recognized advisory body that is part of the Los Angeles Citywide System of Neighborhood Councils. Neighborhood Councils are City Entities that are advocates: the eyes, ears, and voice for the communities and stakeholders they represent. It is the responsibility of the NC Board to listen to its stakeholders and then advocate and represent the community’s wants and/or needs.”  I bolded the words “advisory, advocates, listen and represent” because these words describe what we do as a neighborhood council apart from participating in City Hall meetings to deliver information to our stakeholders and making sure public services are delivered.  The neighborhood council board members are the direct connection of Angelenos to city hall.  NCs bring forth the empowerment of the people through a voice that emanates from listening and representing our neighbors and other related stakeholders, such as local business owners and schools, to name a few.

The vision and goals of HHPNC are to advocate for its stakeholders of Highland Park by remaining abreast to City Council motions and initiatives that affect the neighborhoods of Highland Park.   HHPNC’s board meetings are filled with discussions that concern Highland Park communities and we attempt to be as representative as possible at the grassroots level.  This past board meeting, the community had an opportunity to learn about One Degree, which is a technology-driven nonprofit organization that helps low-income families access the resources they need to achieve social and economic mobility, and ultimately, improve their lives​, as presented by Cecilia Mejia, a Highland Park native.  Visit their website for more information:  https://www.1degree.org/. In addition, we heard updates concerning Our People Our Port, a Port Workers Coalition, of which HHPNC is a member.  Also, a presentation from Los Angeles for a New Economy (LAANE) discussed Measure W, a ballot measure for this fall for public funding that will address water quality and water supply in Los Angeles.  You can visit LAANE’s website to learn more about Our People Our Port and Measure W at https://laane.org/.

We as a board want to contribute to events and organizations that leave a lasting socially beneficial imprint in the communities that compose Highland Park and our neighboring communities, because what affects one affects all.  This month, HHPNC approved Neighborhood Purpose Grant (NPG) applications for organizations and events that bring richness and depth to our communities and stakeholders.  We approved NPG applications from: EnrichLA, which is Park Ranger Program assisting Yorkdale Elementary School’s gardening program; the Arroyo Arts Collective for a remembrance exhibition at the Southwest Museum in collaboration with the Autry Museum of the Southwest, Avenue 50 Studio and Rock Rose Gallery; the North Figueroa Association for the space rental and production materials needed for the film festival held by the Highland Park Independent Film Festival (HPIFF); Justice for my Sister to support an 8-week intensive summer program Nuevas Novelas filmmaking bootcamp for young women and non-binary youth in Boyle Heights, which directly benefits the community of Highland Park as the young filmmakers cultivate their skills on a professional caliber; and the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock to help support the 19th Annual Eagle Rock Music Festival to be held Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

I want to inform you that HHPNC has postponed the review of NPG applications until February 2019 in order to have time to adjust our budget to reflect the needs for funding for our standing committees’ workshops events and annual community events.

HHPNC and its standing committees have worked arduously to make sure that the activities and information imparted to and for the communities of Highland Park reflect and connect with the issues that our stakeholders confront on a daily basis, such as housing, homelessness, safety, inequality, sanitation and sustainability issues.  The committee of Culture and Inequality is working on a 7-workshop community learning series to provide information on several topics, such as financial literary and immigration.  This committee is also advocating for modernized pool facilities that are open year-round at Highland Park and Yosemite pools.  The Sustainability committee is working on an event to provide the community with environmental topics and issues that affect our neighborhoods.  In addition, the Sustainability Committee submitted a Community Impact Statement (CIS) for council file number: 03-1459-S3 to support the initiative of to strengthen the City’s Protected Tree Ordinance.

The focus of all HHPNC’s standing committees, from Outreach, Beautification to the Local Business and Economy, are focused on supporting local nonprofits, businesses, schools and events that enrich and safeguard the lives of our stakeholders. Working with Council Districts, non-profits and other NCs or NC alliances on community clean ups, workshops and events makes all the difference for our neighborhoods and beloved city.

With that said, HHPNC is happy to assist and participate in the LA River Workshops, which are open and free to the public, organized by the Alliance of River Communities (ARC) for October 13th​ from 9:30 am-2:30 pm to be held at the Van De Kamp Bakery building in Atwater Village. The workshop topics include: ​River, Flood Control Channel and Environment; Gentrification and the River; and Pros and Cons for Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District. ​Please mark your calendars as these workshops are going to be a very informative.  The event flyer will circulate via HHPNC’s social media outlets and website as soon as it’s available.

Supporting culturally artistic community events is a priority of HHPNC because it advances social connection and solidarity around the arts.  HHPNC is pleased to be a part of Council District 1’s Jazz Festival on September 29th and 30​th​ at the Sycamore Grove Park from 11:00 am-9:00 pm.  This jazzy event brings out the dancing energy to our hearts and gives us permission to dance until we can no longer feel our feet.  HHPNC is collaborating with the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council to bring the children fun arts and crafts activities to welcome the fall season and some yummy snacks.  Also, mark your calendars for the HHPNC collaboration with the arts collective Chicanx Unknown on two photo exhibitions with the first exhibit to be held December 2018 and the second in May of 2019.  Stay tuned for the flyer for more information.

HHPNC also joins various neighborhood councils in the Northeast Los Angeles area in submitting a letter to LAUSD Board of Education and Superintendent regarding the dissatisfaction and injustice emanating from the lack of representation for the families and children in LAUSD’s District 5.  Here is an excerpt from the drafted letter that will be submitted once the letter is approved by the neighborhood councils of Eagle Rock, which is spearheading this effort and drafted the letter, Echo Park, Silverlake, Atwater Village, Glassell Park and Cypress Park: “As representatives of the students and families of District 5 within LA City borders, we demand that the Board appoint an appropriate person with ties to District 5 to the open Board seat as soon as possible. We understand that the ideological differences between the members of the School Board make this difficult, but we ask that an independent voice be found, preferably one who agrees not to run as an incumbent in the upcoming Special Election and is necessary to continue to support the families in District 5 for the coming year.”

Also, the LAUSD teachers have voted to prepare for a possible strike if LAUSD and UTLA (United Teachers of Los Angeles) do not come to an agreement by the end of September.  All throughout the city, parents, students, community leaders, community members and inter-faith clergy members have met to organize how to best support the teachers and the families that will be affected by a possible strike.  The Give Kids a Chance Northeast Los Angeles Community Forum to discuss the teacher strike in detail will be held on September 26 at 5:00 pm at the Centro del Pueblo location on 1157 Lemoyne Street, 90026.  HHPNC has signed on to the Give Kids a Chance Platform and supports public school teachers.  The teachers’ demands go far beyond pay increase as their demands focus on other educational factors that improve public education overall, such as investment in community schools, increased educational funding, less standardized testing, smaller classrooms and improved school safety, to name a few.  The importance of a quality, equitable, honest and representative public education system is undoubtedly significant particularly when participatory democratic systems require a literate, critical thinking, and skilled citizenry.

All in all, HHPNC endeavors to accomplish the purpose of NCs and to bring voice and unity as best as possible to the stakeholders of Highland Park.  Civic participation in a democracy through local city government structures requires capacity building, social capital, time, patience, and motivation. Civic participation, or lack thereof, is triggered in part by individualized and social goals and motivations.  Neighborhood councils are the street level citizen based knowledge cores to assist with public problems.  I urge you to seriously consider becoming part of HHPNC or your neighboring neighborhood council in the upcoming elections taking place in April 2019.  HHPNC will provide you with further information as to how you can also participate in this great participatory democracy in which we must all work hard to uphold and preserve.

In Unity,

Rocio Rivas, PhD., President

Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council (HHPNC)

 

 

Sincerely,

Rocio Rivas, President
Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council (HHPNC)