Human Trafficking Meeting, December 6, 10:00 am

The Los Angeles area Leagues of Women Voters has been investigating the human trafficking going on right under our noses and we need to share what we have learned.  Human trafficking has become a serious problem everywhere, but also here in our own neighborhoods.  The gangs have become involved and find it much more lucrative than the drug dealing.

The Los Angeles Police Department is one of the many organizations very much involved in trying to educate the community and help solve the problem, especially with the young people who get caught up in various types of trafficking.  We hope to bring in the whole community to learn what is going on, how to identify trafficking in our stores, in our shops, in our neighborhood. Their comprehensive presentation will be very enlightening and perhaps surprising.  Please join us to see what is going on and what is being done about it…..even what you can do to help.

Jean Thomson

League of Women Voters of Los Angeles

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The Midnight Mission To Participate In The “Homelessness & Mental Illness” Summit In Van Nuys This December

MidnightMissionVAN NUYS, CA — The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council is pleased to announce the involvement of The Midnight Mission in the “Homelessness & Mental Illness” Summit next month. The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council is hosting this Special Council Meeting on Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 at 6:30 pm to address homelessness in the San Fernando Valley and throughout Los Angeles.

“The Midnight Mission offers a path to self-sufficiency to men, women and children who have lost everything. Our emergency services, 12-step recovery program, job training, education and work programs offer a compassionate bridge to productive lives. We remove obstacles to self-sufficiency and provide the accountability and structure that people who are experiencing homelessness need to rejoin their communities. Our conviction and commitment to their success define us,” said Georgia Berkovich, Director of Public Affairs for The Midnight Mission.

The Midnight Mission is the oldest continuously operating human service organizations in the Los Angeles region. Centered in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles, The Midnight runs one of the most efficient direct service operations in the country. With only four executive managers throughout its 100 year history, The Midnight has been a consistent beacon of light for those with no where else to turn.

“It is a great honor and privilege to work alongside all of the high profile speakers we have scheduled for the summit this December.  Each one brings an interesting and unique perspective to addressing homelessness in the San Fernando Valley.  This is a major issue in Van Nuys, as well as throughout the Valley and Southern California.  This summit is a perfect opportunity to come together with community leaders in our area, and really tackle this terrible problem head-on,” said George Christopher Thomas, President of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council.

A list of confirmed speakers include but are not limited to: Don LeStrange, Van Nuys LAPD Volunteer and Community Police Advisory Board (CPAB) Homeless Committee Chair.  Representatives from the Office of Councilwoman Nury Martinez (CD6).  Anthony Gonzales from the Village Family Center in North Hollywood.  Ryan Bell from Community Outreach for PATH in Los Angeles.  Representatives from the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission.  Representatives from the National Coalition For The Homeless.  Representatives from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.  Representatives from the Weingart Center Association.  Representatives from the Homeless Health Care Los Angeles.  Representatives from the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.  And representatives from the Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger & Homelessness.

The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council meets at 6262 Van Nuys Boulevard and the Summit will take place in the Council Chambers starting at 6:30 pm. If your Neighborhood Council or organization would like to co-host this summit with the VNNC, please email Council President George Thomas at george.thomas@vnnc.org. For more information please visit www.vnnc.org.  The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council is the largest Neighborhood Council in the San Fernando Valley, and the second largest of all 95 Neighborhood Council’s in Los Angeles. (http://www.midnightmission.org/)

All media and the general public are invited to attend.  Please email any questions or comments to george.thomas@vnnc.org.

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How Los Angeles Neighborhoods Got Their Names

losangelesmap - IMAGE CREDIT WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The divide between the different neighborhoods of Los Angeles can feel like one between cities, and in some cases—like West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Culver City—it literally is. But residents of L.A. really do place stock in the neighborhood they live in, whether it be on the Westside or Eastside, downtown or nestled in the hills.

L.A. is a big place—the Los Angeles TimesMapping L.A. project has 272 neighborhoods in the city. Outlining the origin of all their names would be a project worthy of a large research university. In order to make this both manageable and comprehensible, I stuck to the neighborhoods and cities within a few areas of the Times’ map: the Westside, South L.A., Central L.A., Southeast, Eastside, and Northeast L.A. This leaves out the many valleys and mountains and bays that make Los Angeles County so sprawling, but it also hits most of the places you’d think of as
L.A. proper. I also didn’t explain all of the many variations on Beverly, Hollywood, and some others, as well as many hyphenates and neighborhoods named after streets.

Apologies in advance to all those excluded. You’re still great. (Continue reading at mental_floss)

Grab Your Skates — It’s Ice Skating Season in LA!

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Southern California isn’t known for snowy winters, but with a little Hollywood magic, we can still enjoy winter activities here in LA. Treat yourself to some icy fun at one of the ice skating rinks around the city. These family-friendly rinks offer more than just skates—from wintry food and drinks to ice tubing and meeting Santa, there’s something for everyone.

Downtown on Ice: LA doesn’t typically seem like much of a winter wonderland, until, that is, you create an ice skating rink right in the midst of Downtown skyscrapers and LA icons. Come glide and pretend there’s snow on the ground at Pershing Square’s outdoor holiday skating rink—one of the biggest in the city. Throughout the season, the square will play host to a plethora of free events, including a Snoopy skating showcase, a singles skate and a polar bear event, to name a few.

LA Kings Holiday Ice at Nokia Plaza LA Live: Skate around the dazzling Christmas tree that stands in the middle of this outdoor rink, and take in an LED holiday light show on the huge screens around the plaza. For the perfect date-night, book the Supper and Skating deal, which includes a prix-fixe dinner at a handful of LA Live restaurants, skate rentals and skating admission for only $30 per person.

ICE at Santa Monica: Located just minutes from the Pacific Ocean, ICE in downtown Santa Monica (1324 5th St at Arizona) is a full-service 8,000-square-foot outdoor rink. Watch broomball games, take up skating lessons (there are even LA Kings hockey clinics for kids), or host a party at the rink and get your own private cabana. For $15, rent skates and strut your stuff on the ice alongside children and adults. No need to pack snacks, there’s a concession stand on site, serving hot cocoa and kid-friendly bites. For the little ones, visit the Tot Spot, an enclosed rink for 6 and under. The rink is open from early November through Martin Luther King Day. Check the website for operating hours at other times.

Irvine Spectrum Center’s Holidays on Ice: If you’re in the OC and dreaming of a white Christmas, Holiday on Ice at the Irvine Spectrum Center is your answer. Located in Giant Wheel Court by Nordstrom and Macy’s, this tented rink offers the perfect time out from shopping. When renting skates, be sure to request a free helmet—recommended for adults and children alike. Following each 75min skating session, the rink is closed for resurfacing, so you’ll never have to skate on slush. Head to the adjacent ferris wheel during the 15 minutes the rink is closed for nonstop fun. Check the website for the full schedule and details.

Woodland Hills Ice: Recreational skating, professional skating exhibitions, group classes, private lessons and even birthday parties are all on offer at this outdoor rink—the only one of its kind in the SFV. Glide on more than 7,000 square feet of ice, located at the Westfield Promenade in Woodland Hills (6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd). Check the website for special events, including a grand opening party on Nov 15.

Downtown Disney Winter Village: Disneyland’s holiday celebrations spread outside the gates of the happiest place on earth with an ice skating rink around Downtown Disney’s Christmas tree. Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink and its surrounding shopping chalets pay homage to the new animated movie of the same name; expect plenty of icy, Norwegian flair and a little bit of hat hair—helmets are required to skate.

Chill at the Queen Mary: Cozy up—and make sure to bring your jacket—to the Queen Mary for Chill. It’s the time of year when the iconic ship is transformed into a Winter Wonderland, with an ice kingdom featuring frozen sculptures, a castle, an ice queen, a towering 100-foot ice slide for tubing and a 6,500-square-foot outdoor ice skating rink in front of the ship. It’s all housed in 9-degree temperatures to keep from melting. Slip on some skates and glide across the rink, made with real ice and decked out in string lights. Check the website for more details—there’s even a holiday village with visits from Santa Claus, gingerbread-house decorating, a Candy Lane maze and more.

The Rink in Downtown Burbank: Quench those clichés about the heat in the Valley with a 90 minute session in Downtown Burbank. Winter sports aren’t exactly a pastime in LA, so little ones—and those of us who look helpless on the ice—can rent Bobby the Seal, an adorable, plastic skating aid. The rink (Third St and Orange Grove Ave) is introducing themed nights this year, including Ugly Sweater Mondays, ’80s Night Wednesdays and Thursday Night Fever (8-10pm), as well as performances by the Los Angeles Ice Theater (Sat in Dec, 5:45pm).

Holiday Season Lighting Ceremony at El Pueblo

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The 2014 Holiday Season Lighting Ceremony at El Pueblo de Los Angeles is an annual free event in the historic heart of Los Angeles that features entertainment, refreshments, kids’ moon bounce and train rides, face painting, photos with Santa, and other family-friendly activities. Mariachi Loco del Valle and Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea will be performing.

Date: Friday, December 5, 2014
Time: 5:30pm – 9:00pm
Location: El Pueblo Monument – Placita Olvera
125 Paseo de la Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90012 [map]

El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument is near the site of the early Los Angeles pueblo or town where forty-four settlers of Native American, African and European heritage journeyed more than one-thousand miles across the desert from present-day northern Mexico and established a farming community in September 1781. Since that time, Los Angeles has been under the flags of Spain, Mexico and the United States and has grown into one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas.

Today, as a department of the City of Los Angeles, El Pueblo is a living museum that continues to fulfill its unique role as the historic and symbolic heart of the city, reflecting the Native American, African American, Spanish, Anglo, Mexican, Chinese, Italian and French cultures that contributed to its early history. Of the monument’s twenty-seven historic buildings, eleven are open to the public as businesses or have been restored as museums.

Go Metro and save 10% on all purchases made in the Avila Adobe Visitors Center! Show a valid TAP card, Metro, or LA County employee ID to receive the discount.

For more information, call (213) 628-1274 or (213) 485-8372, or visit elpueblo.lacity.org.

9th Annual Great Los Angeles Walk Heads to the Valley for the First Time, Today!

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Hundreds of Angelenos will hit the sidewalks this November 22 for The Great Los Angeles Walk 2014 – the annual event that dispels the myth that “nobody walks in L.A.”

This year, for the ninth edition, the Great Los Angeles Walk is doing something different: We’re bringing the walk to the San Fernando Valley for the first time!

That means this year, participants will hike east down Ventura Boulevard. (Normally the Great Los Angeles Walk heads west, from downtown Los Angeles to the ocean.) It is, after all, a street made famous through countless songs (Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’”) and also considered the Valley’s main drag.

Participants will meet at Warner Center Park (also known as Warner Ranch Park – 5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd.) at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22, and proceed to walk approximately 17.1 miles (at a casual, all-day pace) to North Hollywood.

Walkers will pass through Woodland Hills, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Studio City and Universal City on their way to the end point: The Art Institute of California building in North Hollywood (5250 Lankershim). Along the way, they’ll see a wide range of architecture (Casa de Cadillac, Fleetwood Center, Mel’s, Valley Beth Shalom) and Valley sites – as well as CBS Studio Center, Universal Studios, Los Encinos State Historic Park and the historic Campo de Cahuenga monument site.

The Great Los Angeles Walk will conclude with an after party in North Hollywood at a location to be announced later.

This year’s Walk will also be the most transit-friendly yet, as both the start and end points are near the Metro Orange Line, making easy access for anyone who parks at either end.

L.A. journalist and blogger Michael Schneider launched the Great Los Angeles Walk in 2006 as a way to celebrate his tenth year in Los Angeles. Inspired by the book “Wilshire Boulevard: Grand Concourse of Los Angeles,” by Kevin Roderick (with research by J. Eric Lynxwiler), he decided to walk the street’s entire length.

In 2007, for an encore, he chose another downtown-to-the-ocean route: Pico Boulevard. The 2008 Walk took on Santa Monica Blvd. In 2009, the event kicked off in the historic West Adams district and walked to Venice Beach via Adams and Washington. In 2010, for its fifth edition, the Great Los Angeles Walk reprised its original Wilshire journey. In 2011, more than 250 Walk participants marched to the ocean via Hollywood Boulevard. In 2012, the Walk traveled across Melrose Avenue, and in 2013, Sunset Boulevard.

The Great Los Angeles Walk grew from dozens of participants to hundreds, and continues to expand each year as more Angelenos join in to explore their city on foot.

As always, the Walk is completely free. It is up to the participants to decide how much or how little of the walk they want to do. The Great Los Angeles Walk has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. Weekly, KABC-Channel 7, LAist.com and KNBC.com. In 2012, the LA Weekly recognized The Great Los Angeles Walk in its “Best of L.A.” issue.

Gear Up for South LA CicLAvia with Leimert Park Art Walk and Walking Tour

LeimertParkArtWalk

In anticipation of their December South LA event, CicLAvia is teaming up with the Leimert Park Art Walk and KAOS Network to offer CicLAvia fans the chance to preview the historic Leimert Park area and to enjoy a day of community fun on Sunday, November 30.

The Leimert Park Art Walk will take place from 3pm-7pm at Leimert Park (located at 4395 Leimert Blvd.) and the surrounding neighborhood. CicLAvia will have a table at 43rd Place and Leimert Boulevard in front of KAOS Network.

CicLAvia fans are welcome to explore the culture, art, music and vibrant community of the Leimert Park area by visiting local open galleries and performance venues. Filmmaker Ben Caldwell, owner of KAOS Network, will lead two free walking tours of the area open exclusively to CicLAvia fans. Click your preferred time to RSVP for one of the two tours: 4:00pm and 5:30pm.

Visit the CicLAvia Explores site to learn more about the event, view a schedule of the day’s events, and RSVP for the walking tours.

The Leimert Park Art Walk regularly takes place every last Sunday of the month along the streets of 43rd Place and Degnan Blvd from 2pm – 8pm. This free event features an array of entertainment and activities for children and adults alike.

Giving Back on Thanksgiving — and Year Round

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When holiday season comes around, most of us look for opportunities to express our gratitude for what we have and give back by helping the less fortunate. There are certainly many opportunities to do so — for example, check out the list of open events we have included below.

However, it’s important to remember that many organizations (such as the Los Angeles Mission, who works to improve the lives of the homeless on Skid Row, and whose Thanksgiving event is currently full) are overwhelmed with volunteers and donations around the holidays, but lack this kind of support during the rest of the year. Organizations that provide meals, clothing, legal aid, and other resources to the underprivileged function year-round — and could always use an extra hand! Take a moment to remember these organizations not just at the holidays, but anytime you have some spare canned goods, clothing, or time to donate.

Of course, it’s understandable that many people have more time to volunteer around the holidays, and there are still plenty of organizations that can accept your time and donations. Here are a few ideas:

  • On Wednesday, November 26, Big Sunday will be filling bags with Thanksgiving food for 1500 hungry and grateful families from more than 2 dozen nonprofit agencies, and they’re looking for volunteers to help out. The event takes place at their offices, located at 6111 Melrose Ave, from 9am until noon. All volunteers are invited to stay and take part in a communal breakfast, as a way of helping the community while building community, too. All ages are welcome, as well as groups – but everyone has to bring something to fill the bags. For the full wish list, and to RSVP, please contact rob@bigsunday.org. If you would like to be a sponsor for this event, contact adam@bigsunday.org.
  • The Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles’s SOVA Community Food and Resource Program responds to hunger in our community by providing individuals and families with the resources they need to regain self-sufficiency and independence, including free groceries, case management, counseling, and other supportive services, such as legal counseling and job search assistance. You can contribute to their Virtual Food Drive, which will allow SOVA to leverage its buying power to secure the maximum nutritious food available, or volunteer as a Pantry Packing Room Volunteer to help package meals and stock shelves with food donations for their clients.
  • Food on Foot is dedicated to providing the poor and homeless of Los Angeles with nutritious meals, clothing, and assistance in the transition to employment and life off the streets. You can still sign up as a volunteer for their Thanksgiving Day event, as well as events in early December.
  • One Incredible Family, Inc. will be holding their 21st annual Homeless Feeding & Banner Cretion event on Saturday, November 29 from 6:30am – 7:30pm at the Westchester Masonic Center, 7726 West Manchester Avenue, Playa Del Rey. Volunteers will assist in preparation of meals, assembly and packing, and delivering and serving of over 1,600 meals at shelters throughout the day. You can also donate food and supplies to help with the event. Register here.

For more events and organizations in and around Los Angeles, take a look at Big Sunday’s list of events and organizations in and around Los Angeles where you can volunteer your time or donate food, clothing, or other items to people in need, both during the holidays and other times throughout the year.

Explore NELA with the 22nd Annual Arroyo Arts Collective Discovery Tour

ArroyoArtsTour

Explore the vibrant community of Northeast LA, in a neighborhood where hip urbanity nestles side by side with the wilderness of the arroyo and surrounding canyons. Featuring a diverse range of fine art and craft by both emerging and established artists, the Arroyo Arts Collective Discovery Tour is one of the oldest and most interesting art tours in Los Angeles.

The tour is self-guided, featuring more than 100 artists in homes and studios in Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Mount Washington, and neighboring areas.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014
Time: 9:30am – 5:00pm
Starting Location: Lummis Home
200 E. Ave. 43, Highland Park, 90031 [map]
Cost: Tickets are $10 in advance; $15 on the day of the tour

You can purchase advance tickets online at www.arroyoartscollective.org or in person at Galco’s Old World Grocery, located at 5702 York Blvd., Highland Park, 90042.

Attendees will have the opportunity to discover, appreciate, and purchase amazing art, while touring an eclectic mix of studios, homes and historic buildings, including the newly re-opened Southwest Museum, a beloved monument to our past, and now a focus of opportunity for our future. The Arroyo Arts Collective is proud to partner with the Autry Museum in making this location available for the first time as part of the Tour.

Offerings include remarkable paintings in every genre, charming ceramics, dazzling wearable art, intricate metal works, hand-hewn musical instruments, finely crafted drawings and prints, sophisticated tapestries, and one-of-a-kind jewelry.

This self-guided auto tour focuses on Highland Park, Mount Washington, Eagle Rock, Montecito Heights, and Glassell Park. Shuttle buses will also be available with stops at select locations.

Northeast Los Angeles—or NELA, as the locals call it—is a magnet neighborhood for artistic talent. With a steady influx of new galleries, restaurants and boutiques, NELA attracts creative energy across many cultures. In fact, NELA has a rich artistic history that dates back to the late 19th century when poets, writers, and artists would gather to socialize at El Alisal, Charles Lummis’ home on Avenue 43. Around the same time and just a few miles north, landscape painter William Lee Judson established the College of Fine Arts of the University of Southern California.

Don’t miss the opportunity to discover—or rediscover—this unique neighborhood and the artists who call it home!

Shop Small Business Saturday for Your Holiday Gifts!

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Skip the Black Friday crowds and support your local businesses on Small Business Saturday, November 29! In addition to promoting neighborhood establishments, you can also enjoy a leisurely shopping day in your own community and interact with neighbors and friends by participating in one of the exciting events going on around LA this year.

In Eagle Rock, the 4th Annual We Heart Eagle Rock Block Party, taking place from 11:00am – 6:00pm, will feature festivities and promotions at participating businesses on Eagle Rock and Colorado Boulevards. Look out for orange & white balloons outside participating businesses, or check out the map on their Facebook page.

Mar Vista will be hosting its own Pop-Up Mar Vista event from 1:00pm – 4:00pm on Venice Boulevard between Beethoven Street and Inglewood Blvd. Over 35 businesses along Venice Blvd will be participating, welcoming customers shopping for holiday gifts, enjoying art galleries, getting some pampering done, or just enjoying a stroll or bike ride. Each store will stamp the map every time someone comes in to shop or browse – and for every stamp on their map, customers will earn a raffle ticket for some terrific prizes donated by local merchants. If you ride a bike to any of the stores, you’ll earn an extra stamp on your map, which will earn you an extra raffle ticket, too!

Small businesses play a huge role in the U.S. economy and make up over 90% of firms, producing almost half of U.S. non-farm GDP and employing almost half of private sector workers. Additionally, 63% of the net new jobs created in the last two decades have come from small firms. They are also leaders in innovation and trade.

Small Business Saturday reminds you to patronize your local small businesses when shopping for holiday gifts, and year-round.