Saturday, April 21, 2007

Congress of Neighborhoods

So this is what it's like to be certified...

Today, just 40 hours after being certified, the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council returned to DONE's bi-annual Congress of Neighborhoods event, this time at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Elson Trinidad, Israel Stepanian and Lucy Varpetian represented the EHNC at the event.

The Congress of Neighborhoods is organized by DONE as an informational conference for and about neighborhood councils, which features training and topical discussion sessions as well as a chance to network with elected officials, city departments, community groups and other neighborhood councils.

Thas been attending the Congress since its first installment in Fall 2001 but decided to stop attending after the Spring 2004 event to concentrate on completing its certification -- little did we know it would take three more years to do just that!

We were greeted by friends and supporters such as our former DONE project coordinator Christine Jerian (now with SCAG), Central Hollywood NC's Debbie Wehbe, Hollywood United NC's Erik Sanjurjo, Rampart Village NC's Tara Brown, as well as BONC Commissioners Linda Lucks, Tsilah Burman and Michele Siqueiros (they all just love us now...).

But perhaps our coolest moment was when our councilman, Council President Eric Garcetti, gave us props in front of the 1,000 attendees (Play YouTube clip above).

Friday, April 20, 2007

This is East Hollywood

"We decided to show a brief, 7-minute short film, highlighting the uniqueness and diversity of our community, which shows more depth than a PowerPoint or slideshow can allow. And besides, this is Hollywood, baby - you gotta be in pictures!"

Here it is - our "secret weapon" on Certification Night.

EHNC - Certified At Last!

The East Hollywood Neighborhood Council became the 89th certified neighborhood council in the City of Los Angeles on Thursday, April 19 at a packed Faculty & Staff Center on the L.A. City College campus. The Board of Neighborhood Commissioners voted unanimously 4-0 to certify the EHNC, after a public hearing marked with enthusiasm, emotion and some Hollywood style -- the premiere of the short film, "This is East Hollywood," which made a very strong impression on the commissioners. About a dozen residents, businessowners and representatives of local elected officials, nonprofit groups, churches and neighboring neighborhood councils, spoke up in not only their enthusiastic support for the EHNC's certification, but shared their honest and unique experiences in or with the community. The certification vote, met with loud cheers and applause, was the culmination of five long years of hard work by the EHNC.

More than five years ago I embarked on a journey: to form the EHNC, which was originally supposed to be a separate-but-related entity to the East Hollywood Community Association, which I started in 1996. But I discovered that the people involved in the EHNC were more involved, diverse, proactive and energetic and knew we were onto something special here.

Why did it take so damn long? Many reason -- a high transient renter population, a large immigrant population, many of whom have a long-standing fear or mistrust of anything related to government and also long periods of having a shortage of core formation committee members to get the work done - especially getting those petition signatures. But even after overcoming all of that, and not having a set deadline, I decided to take my time and learn from other NC's mistakes (and successes as well), to immerse myself in the knowledge of the NC system though events like the Congress of Neighborhoods or the Citywide Alliance of Nieighborhood Councils. East Hollywood was a special community - arguably the most diverse in the City - and the people involved were a special group as well -- most of us are under age 40, or not that much beyond it, and a diverse bunch as well. So when our Certification Hearing came, I wanted to us do it right.

And I guess we did.