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Commentary: Be the Change You Want to See in HLP

Whining doesn’t help. Laws against culture don’t work. Nor do cameras on the streets. If there is a bit of Highland Park culture you don’t like, then you have to replace it with something of value.

I love Highland Park.

I was raised in East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights, but I've lived the last 20 years in Highland Park, and few years before that in .

Yes, I did a few years in the Hollywood Hills, West LA  and the seedy part of Hollywood. I've done a bit of traveling, but most of my life, and where I am most comfortable, is in a mixed neighborhood.

On my street every major “race” is represented. There are people here born on the East Coast, the Northwest, all of the Americas, Europe and Asia.

I love Highland Park.

Just on my street there are "Industry” people, computer people, artists, retired folks, gangs, pushers, preachers, working and not working people.

I love Highland Park.

There are elderly folks, babies, women in sensible shoes, men who decorate, stoners, dog lovers, hobbyists and I think a cat lady.

I love Highland Park.

We have turn of the century homes, nice bungalows, apartments and some cars doubling as homes.

I love Highland Park.

We might say “hi” to each other, and not visit as much as we could, but when the paramedics show, or cars meet in an accident, or an earthquake, or a power outage, we check in with each other.

I love Highland Park.

The food, the food. Representative of many cultures, many cuisines. , , and all the many mom and pop places bring us goodies from all over the world within a short walk away. And I haven’t even been to all our eateries.

I love Highland Park.

And in the Arroyo we have so much history. We have so many philosophies, religions--I think more than anywhere else in the city.

I love Highland Park.

We’ve had stuff stolen from our yard, and people trying the door at night. We’ve had our car stolen three times, car windows broken twice. Once, someone broke the car window, sat in the other side, had dinner--El Pollo Loco and a six pack--reclined the seat and slept the night.

I love Highland Park.

We had two fools drive around making like a carrousel in the intersection, shooting away at each other. There was a young man killed and his friend wounded just across the street from us. I’ve washed trails of blood from our sidewalk. We’ve seen the police chase, and then arrest, guys on our front lawn. Drugs being sold and used in cars in front of our place.

I love Highland Park.

There are two houses that love loud and late parties, and more than a few around here who love and don’t need an excuse to have fireworks.

I love Highland Park.

We’ve had homeless guys reach for and make comments to our daughters, and we’ve seen our local homeless lady giving herself a sponge bath.

I love Highland Park.

This is a city! Is it alive! This is a living organism!  I wouldn’t live in any other kind of place. 

Do I actually want all of these features of our community? 

The right-winger in me tells me that the value of individuality comes first. The liberal in me tells me to understand. The religious part of me tells me to be tolerant. The old fart in me tells me it is none of my business.

If there is a subculture within the subculture that is Highland Park that we don’t like, then we have to personally do something about it.

Whining doesn’t help. Laws against culture don’t work. 

Don’t be a fuddy-duddy. Don’t be a Jobbernowl. Don’t be a mooncalf. Hiding at home watching reality TV like a frightened bunny won’t change a thing.

Make your culture known, whatever that culture is.

A modest example:

If you don’t like our--I heard someone call it dinky the other day--then exercise the American Capitalistic principle of supply and demand and support your favorite vendors. The more of us who buy more stuff there, the bigger and better the market will be.

And the more it will replace the cultures you don’t want.

Going out to eat?  Try the amazing variety of food at the eateries nearest you.

Attend the meetings. Actually, attend any meeting. Play tennis at the park. Use the municipal pool. Check a book out at the library.

Visit the Audubon Center, or the Los Angeles River Center. Hike our hills at Debs Park. Hike the steps of Mount Washington. Or . Or Elysian Park.

  Go be entertained. One of the schools putting on a play or concert? Go be charmed.

Have a block party, or at least invite your neighbors to a barbeque.

Become more cosmopolitan and .  Walk to our local mom and pop markets. Buy not only what you know, buy things new to you. Sample the foods and products of many cultures.

Walk to the , explore the neighborhood. Find new favorite places and ways to get there. 

Take to the streets! If there is a bit of Highland Park culture you don’t like, then you have to replace it with something of value.

David O'Roscoe July 29, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Yes, Mr.D! Doing works better than talking.
Margarito Martinez July 29, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Thanks David, your reply was convincing and I'm not easy to get through to, being set in my ways pretty much. I think I get where you're coming from now.
Ricardo July 29, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Mr. O'Roscoe, Bet you did not expect to generate so many negative responses on here in your effort to give living in HP a new spin. I am embarrassed by the many negative and hateful people who have written one nasty comment after another. This only confirms for me how unhappy people are in this political climate in which we live. Your idea of being positive and caring and open sure was not welcomed by a lot of HP residents. I will not give up and I am right there in your team. Thank you for writing your article.
Ricardo July 30, 2012 at 03:47 PM
HPLA wow how brazen! You go where nobody dares go, not so blatantly, anyway. "Race is a factor." Yes it is a factor and why did this happen to begin with. Who started the racial divide in this country between the darker races? At least you put it out there and let people know who you are.

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