So Iím poking around Councilman Garcettiís website thinking that since I discovered that there are about sixteen community and government groups that have some interest in Echo Park Lake that Iíll never make a dent and that the destiny of my controversial post last month is only to serve as evidence of my disenfranchisement and tendency not to follow through when I find this. And everything changes.
I get my ass out of the house and make my way down to a meeting of the Echo Park Improvement Association where I discover that the people putting the ìgentî back in gentrification arenít gents at all. Theyíre predominantly sweet, elderly women whoíve lived in Echo Park since before most of us were born. Okay, there were a few gents sprinkled in for good measure, but by ìpredominantly sweetî I do mean ìpredominantlyî, cuz a couple of these little old ladies are firebrands who wonít take no sass from nobody. These folks can sympathize with the feeling some of you have that your neighborhood is being stolen away. They felt the same way, only when they felt it, the thieves were gang-bangers and drug dealers. But they stayed the course and redoubled their efforts and itís thanks to them that Echo Park Lake gets new benches, new paintjobs, and 18 new trees (forthcoming). Itís thanks to them that graffiti gets painted out, lots get cleared, and dangerous intersections get stop signs.
The meeting was a pleasure in spite of (and sometimes because of) its small-town Waiting for Guffman feel. Whenís the last time you got that feeling in the vast metropolis of Los Angeles? From Deputy District Director Mitch OíFarrellís conscientious monthly report (and promise to fix the incessantly flashing crosswalk lights on Glendale Blvd below the Sunset overpass) to LAFD’s Captain Biggs heartfelt request for help to improve the exterior of the Elysian Park Fire Department Training Center, the presentations were both informative and inspiring. They even had coffee and cookies if you had some change to chip in. I canít wait to go back. I had such a good time, next month I just might show up at the Echo Park Park Advisory Board meeting and Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council. If I really get my gumption up, I may even be part of something magical.