by Josh Post
I recently teamed up with urban planner James Rojas and EchoPark.Patch.com to organize a community workshop to “Rethink Glendale Blvd.” The workshop followed a neighborhood clean-up I spearheaded with Echo Park Improvement Association in November to raise awareness for the need to beautify Glendale Blvd., a car-clogged corridor one block from my home in Echo Park.
When planning the workshop, I had reviewed Rojas’s techniques by searching online for articles and YouTube clips. The clips were great, but I had no idea just how special our workshop would be.
On January 14, 2012, between 40 and 50 people crowded into Echo Country Outpost on Glendale Blvd. (at the corner of Branden St.). The idea was for adults and children alike to join together using colorful blocks and recycled objects to create small-scale models of their visions toward a revitalized Glendale Blvd.
An overarching theme from the workshop was creating a more community-friendly zone. Participants built small models featuring bike paths, green space, sculpture parks and historic preservation. Other, more detailed ideas, included building a park-and-ride lot at the end of the 2 Freeway and using light rail or a trolley car on Glendale Blvd. from Silver Lake into downtown. Another idea was to make Glendale Blvd. one-way while utilizing a large portion of the existing road for bike lines and green space.
The ideas were extremely creative, yet practical. And, not to diminish the smart and able folks inside Los Angeles City Hall, but what we saw at the workshop likely could not have been replicated in a bureaucratic board room. The workshop produced real-life ideas from people who live and breathe Glendale Blvd. every day. And, in my opinion, the ideas were exceptional and innovative.
The workshop was an incredible example of the good that can come from giving community members a voice. This same premise was what motivated me recently to file papers to run for Los Angeles City Council in the 13th District. We have to reduce bureaucracy and utilize our city’s most valuable resource—our community members—when it comes to our city planning and functionality. This is going to be the focus of my campaign. And it applies to all areas in city governance, ranging from improving small business policy to finding more effective and efficient ways to clean and repair our streets and sidewalks.
As was evident at the Rethinking Glendale Blvd. workshop, we are all hungry for “a sense of community.” And, after hearing from the workshop attendees about self-sustained neighborhoods and walkable communities, I know it’s possible. The first step may be simply listening to our neighbors.