I wear many hats, and one of them is tour guide. Or rather, neighborhood docent.
I’ve been involved with the nonprofit organization LA Commons for the past 5 or so years. They do wonderful events and programs connecting people in Los Angeles through art, food, music and culture. One of their programs is the Trekking LA tours, which highlight the Los Angeles that is usually overlooked by the tourism industry. As an East Hollywood native resident and community activist, and board member of Thai Community Development Center, I got to know them back in ’07 when they did Trekking LA tours of Thai Town and Little Armenia. In 2008, Food Network chef Jet Tila and I led a tour of Thai Town for LA Commons. I also assisted LA Commons during their utility box mural art project on Hollywood Boulevard, when they got a couple of muralists to coordinate workshops with local youth to paint community mini-murals on AT&T utility boxes on the street. I was asked to give a history lesson on East Hollywood to them. More recently, I gave a tour of East Hollywood for LA Commons’ Found LA day, in October 2011.
I was born and raised in “Hollywood,” but when I grew up, I noticed that my part of Hollywood wasn’t the same as the rest of Hollywood: No movie theatres, no souvenir shops, no stars embedded in the sidewalk, no tourists. That’s what led me to identify and re-define my community as East Hollywood — though deficient in the perceived glitz and glamor of “Holllywood,” it contains a rich cultural diversity that you won’t find anywhere else. This is tourism – cultural tourism.
This Saturday at 1 p.m., I’ll be leading a tour of East Hollywood called, “The Other Hollywood Boulevard,” which will trek the thoroughfare from Western to Vermont, and I’ll explain the cultural and historical sights along the way, especially with regard to Thai Town, Little Armenia, Barnsdall Park and “Healthcare Square,” (where three major hospitals are located). Tickets are just $10, and you also get to eat on the tour as well! You can order tickets online here.
I’ll also be giving three other tours of East Hollywood in July, August and September.
LA Commons also does tours of other wonderful Los Angeles neighborhoods like Boyle Heights, San Pedro, Highland Park, Mac Arthur Park, Westwood’s Little Tehran and the Byzantine Latino Quarter. Each of them are given by neighborhood docents who are equally as knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their own neighborhoods. For more information on the tours, visit the LA Commons website.