The Other Kind Of Hollywood Dreams: Garcetti’s LAND Visioning Workshop In Hollywood

The thing with having friends and contacts in your City Council office means that it’s going to be difficult to ignore an event from them. Such as the case on Saturday, where it was hard for me to avoid attending L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti’s District 13 Hollywood LAND (Los Angeles Neighborhood Dreams Initiative) visioning workshop at Selma Avenue Elementary School.

I joined an estimated 100 other community leaders, activists and interested stakeholders on a sunny Winter morning to share our visions of Hollywood in the foreseeable future. LAND, a 13th District project which Garcetti hopes would be a model for other council districts to replicate, involves input from community members, actively sustaining their participation through a volunteer steering committee and providing a blueprint by which the council office would steer towards in the remaining two years of Garcetti’s term.

The actual process was rather straightforward, and not unlike many community input-driven workshops I’ve attended: We were broken up into eight groups, each with a facilitator who would note our input and write it down on large Post-In sheets.

I was assigned to Group #6, facilitated by CD13 Senior Advisor Mitch O’Farrell, and I was joined by such folks as Selma Ave. Elementary School principal Dr. Michelle Windmueller, Blessed Sacrament Church pastor Fr. Michael Mandala and Hollywood History Museum director Donelle Dadigan, among others.  Mitch asked each of us to list three of Hollywood’s best assets on Post-It Notes, which he put up on the board. We named examples from The Walk of Fame to Runyon Canyon to the Metro Red Line to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market.

Eventually they were grouped into common themes and we named various needs for the Hollywood community – everything from more park/recreation space to jobs to affordable housing, to increased collaboration between the nonprofit, business and government sectors. I personally mentioned the need for large entertainment and media companies such as Paramount, CNN and the various studios (i,e. Hollywood The Industry) to invest in Hollywood The Community, as I’ve long seen a tremendous disconnect between the two. Dr, Windmueller, the school principal talked about the role of schools and other educational institutions, and I added my suggestion that Hollywood The Industry should actively engage and eventually train the children of Hollywood The Community to become their workforce of tomorrow. It was a creative brainstorming discussion, and everyone seemed to be on the same general page in our group – although I heard other groups got a little contentious. And perhaps it was due to our own amicability that we got to wrap up our business well ahead of schedule.

At the end of the session, everyone re-gathered and Garcetti got each group’s facilitators to name off the five priority areas of each group. The councilman and former college professor listed down and synthesized the various topics envisioned from the groups:
As mentioned, the process is expected to continue with a volunteer steering committee made up of attendees who filled out a commitment form, and will meet over the next few months. In addition, the council office plans about seven more meetings in different communities around the district, including Echo Park, Silver Lake, Historic Filipinotown and others. These workshops are expected to unfold through Marh-April, and the Hollywood event was planned as a testbed for future workshops. So look out for one in your neighborhood!

A district-wide LAND summit is planned for Saturday, May 7 (location TBD) where community leaders and activists from all over Council District 13 will convene.

Garcetti also plans to take the process into the social media realm through Facebook, Twitter (He recommends the #HollywoodForward hashtag) and blogs.

Though I saw a lot of familiar faces at the workshop, I also met some new ones there as well. Ultimately, with about 100 in attendance, it suddenly dawned on me that Hollywood really was a pretty well-organized and engaged community after all. Either I had taken it for granted, or we have truly grown as a community.Although I signed on for the Hollywood steering committee, I also plan on attending other community workshops, especially the East Hollywood one and the one planned for Historic Filipinotown, so I might actively get involved in those instead.

Overall, people’s visions were optimistic; Those of us who have lived or worked in Hollywood The Community for over 25 years have seen a definite improvement, so we know things can happen. But we also want to take things to the next level. We have dreams. Big dreams. After all, it is Hollywood.

Some of the estimated 100 people who showed up for the Hollywood LAND visioning workshop.

CD13 Field Deputy Ryan Carpio facilitates one of the other groups.

A list of some of CD13's accomplishments and "coming attractions" in Hollywood.

Community members mix, mingle and network. This is Hollywood, after all.

La vision de Hollywood - en Español.

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