HAPPY 15TH BIRTHDAY LA NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCILS--I remember the first time I ever heard of my Neighborhood Council. A friend of mine wanted to run for a seat and needed an alternate … basically a Robin to his Batman. I knew nothing about what a neighborhood council was and assumed it was probably a place where people talk about things and write letters and spin their wheels a lot. Something I certainly did not have the time for. I only agreed to run with him since he promised my “Robin” duties would be minimal ... after all, things are the way they are and as the saying goes … you can’t fight City Hall. (Photo above: Seated: Left to right: Mary Kusnic, Shannon Burns, Aaron Rosenfield, Sarah Shaw, Terri Tippit, Lisa Morocco, Colleen Mason Heller
Standing (second row): Rick Mendoza, Francesca Beale-Rosano, Barbara Broide, Brendan Kotler, Steve Spector, Jae Wu, Wendy Dox (alt.) Sean McMillian. (Not in photo: Eric Shabsis and Lisa Tabor))
That was 11 years ago. I could not have been more wrong.
I have proudly served now on the Westside Neighborhood Council since 2007. What I like most about this group is that we have a “whole community” view. NCs not only represent residents, but businesses, schools, non profits libraries and religious centers. We also support our local police and fire. At our meetings we hear about new developments, safety issues, upcoming school and non-profit events and of course a review of the latest City ordinances and policies. It really is a great way for regular folks to get a pulse on what is happening in their own neighborhoods and to voice their concerns to our council.
The most rewarding part of this group is to take the funding we receive from the City and apply it to where we think it is needed most in our community. While Council District 5 thoughtfully represents us, we can get into the nooks and crannies of our neighborhood and really address local needs.
Our funding requests run from books for the library to art supplies to the schools to tree planting on Pico Boulevard to a now annual community event called Pick Pico which showcases the businesses, non profits and schools in our neighborhood. This event is totally free to the public and last year we had over 6K folks come and Pick Pico with us. This small town fair is most welcome in this big city and it not only informs our stakeholders about our neighborhood, it brings us together as a community.
Since the presidential election in November, I feel a shift in people’s attitudes towards community involvement. Now more than ever, people are moved to engage, participate and contribute to our neighborhoods. People want to stay positive and want to find focus. The NC system is a perfect answer to this desire.
My grandmother always said, “The best gift you can ever give is your time”. I encourage everyone to seek out what moves them…what they believe in…and find the time to create real change wherever they call home in this great City of LA. There are 96 NCs waiting with open arms.
(Lisa Morocco is Westside Neighborhood Council Outreach Chair and Co-Chair of Pick Pico.)