The purpose of the workshop, which was the first in a series of 15 currently being conducted in each of Los Angeles' city council districts, is to gauge the community's feedback regarding the current quality of facilities and programs at its system of 390 recreational sites around Los Angeles, as well as any issues regarding expansion of the park system. You just know the Militant, as well as two of his community-activist operatives, were there to make their voices heard regarding the last part.
The gathering had an attendance of at most 50 and the attendees were predominantly white and at least 50. Years old, that is (So either way, the typical reader of this blog, or any blog, for that matter, was most likely not represented there - though the one cool thing about attending meetings with a bunch of old-timers there is that the Militant's identity is in no danger of being revealed). A classic moment also happened when one of the presenters asked - in English - if anyone needed any Spanish translation. Heh heh. He did use the words "Español" and "necesita" eventually, but even by then it was fairly evident that no one there was in need of translation headsets. Later on the consultants did admit they didn't do enough outreach (the Militant only heard about this second-hand) and to their credit, it's awfully hard to get people to any sort of community meeting between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
The meeting was formatted just like nearly all community workshops the Militant has attended: A droll, monotone introduction by a city official you've never heard of, the introduction of the consulting team, the introduction of an elected city official many people have heard of (in this case, a dude the Militant has not only heard of, but even biked with - Mr. "Los Anga-les" himself, Tom LaBonge), followed by a set of PowerPoint slides (to this meeting's credit, they were kept to a necessary minimum) and finally the "Look at your nametags, there's a colored dot on it, it's time to split up into groups!" section.
So we were split up into three groups (pictured above) where we were asked about our impressions of the City's Recreation and Parks system, which parks we use, issues regarding accessibility, the possibility and need for expansion and short-term and long-term goals and priorities.
Profiles In Taxpayer Spending: This dude was just doing his job at the parks workshop, but for a community meeting attended by some 50 people where they only used one microphone to hear just a couple people speak for half of the meeting, did they really need an audio tech with enough equipment to run sound for a Rolling Stones concert?
At the Militant's group, there was much talk about Griffith Park. In fact, most of the conversation dealt with the park, though strangely enough hardly anything was mentioned regarding last May's char-broiling. The park itself encompasses more than a quarter of the City's 15,600 acres of parkland and is located right in the 4th council district where this meeting was intended.
One of the other people in the group, a Silver_Lake resident, actually said he lived in a park-rich area, being in close proximity to the Silver Lake rec center, Griffith Park, Elysian Park, Echo Park and Bellevue Rec Center, as each of those places were a quick drive for him. But one lady, an accent-intact NY transplant (though one who has probably lived in Los Angeles much longer than the Militant has been alive) who reminisced about going to Central Park as a girl, did call for the need for more parks within walking distance of families, as well as better access by transit.
The Militant agreed with her, told the group he lives in a park-deficient hood and even was the first to declare "More parks in park-poor areas!" as the City's #1 short-term priority for the Rec and Parks system. He even talked about the proposed Hollywood Freeway Central Park (which he raved about here back in his first-person days).
Even after the workshop concluded, the Militant had a conversation about methods to attain more park space, including land-swapping, especially with Caltrans, and partnerships with the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, which helped to build one of the new parks that has been featured in this here blog.
So you want more parks in Los Angeles? One Militant and his operatives can only do so much. Get your voices heard! Go to some of these workshops and demand that more parks and open space be a priority for the department and the City's budget. The workshops continue until February of next year. And if you can't make it, THE MILITANT WILL KILL YOU!
Okay, just kidding. But you can still participate by downloading this Petey Yeff file, completing it and faxing or postaling it in.
Either way, help make the decisions before others make them for you.