3 Ecologies: A LosAngelesBeautiful Birthday

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Where did this LosAngelesBeautiful phrase come from?, you may ask.

It grew out of Bruce’s Buddies, my social experiment, which connected like-minded Angelenos together as a way to make our city more livable.

In the past 4 years, you have all shown me that Los Angeles, as both a physical environment and a state-of-mind, beautifully encapsulates all the qualities that, I believe, make this city amazing.

For me, there are 3 qualities, or ‘ecologies’, that form the basis for LosAngelesBeautiful: 1) History - an imperfect city to be proud of and improve on; 2) Environment - the natural & man-made surrounding conducive to habitation; and 3) Community - a resilient group of like-minded adventurers who fight for and celebrate a city which was said to be unlivable (HA!).

You are invited to join me in celebrating this city - and my 30th Birthday - with a 3-part, all-day, roaming social. All are welcomed, for all or part of the day; pick and choose! 

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Ballona Creek Bike Path _ Culver City

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Ballona Creek Bridge _ Marina del Rey

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Ice Cream Truck.

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Marvin Braude Bike Trail, aka The Strand.

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Bruce’s Beach _ Manhattan Beach.

Bruce’s Beach was a small beach resort that was owned by and operated for African Americans. It provided the African American community with opportunities unavailable at other beach areas because of segregation.  The “beach” is now a great tiered park with great views of the ocean.

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Bike Repair Shop.

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Douglas Green Line Metro Station _ El Segundo

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White Jesus _ W. Washington Blvd. / S. Grand Ave.

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Hooters _ Downtown LA

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2nd St. / 110 Highway

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Echo Park Lake

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The El Train @ El Cid _ Silver Lake

The El Train is an annual Cinco de Mayo event, stopping at bars along Sunset Blvd. whose name begins with ‘El’ - and a few that don’t, led by Alissa Walker & Co.

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El Chavo _ Silver Lake

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Sunset Blvd.

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The Black Cat _ Silver Lake

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Taco Truck _ Sunset Blvd / Descanso Dr.

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Thanks, Buddies!

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Ásgeir _ Lupin Intrigue
from King and Cross EP (2013)

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El Siete Mares _ Silver Lake

Happiness is biking to your local lunch shack for a Taco Tuesday Fish Taco and a Shrimp Burrito, AND separately running into three of your friends - all within .7 miles.

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Bellscanso Holiday Walkabout _ Silver Lake

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5 houses
2 streets
1.5 miles
= Extended Block Party!

It started innocently enough.  A talk about a simple sidewalk party quickly turned into a neighborly collaboration for a multi-block holiday party on Bellevue and Descanso in Silver Lake.  Dubbed as the Bellscanso Holiday Walkabout, this roving holiday festival celebrates what we love most about Los Angeles: warm winters, walkable neighborhoods, & abundant buddies.

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I hosted the first stop on the Walk About with a Sidewalk Pancake Cafe.

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Good buddy, John Isaac Watters, provided the sidewalk entertainment.

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Triple Chicken Foot playing in the living room next to The Yule Log.

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Mr. Poops taking in the holiday festivities.

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Snowglobe making with Carrier Pigeon.

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Santa photobooth!

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Ever since I’ve known Katie Brooks Bennett, she has extolled the ski lodge tradition of Shotskis.  So, upon entering her yard and seeing skis with shot glasses drilled into them, I knew exactly what she and roommate Nat had concocted.  Shotskis.  Shots in Skis.

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Thanks, Bellscanso neighbors! Bellscanso Holiday Walkabout success! Might there be a Bellscanso Summer Walkabout? We’ll have to see!  With hosts Marc, Alexis, Alissa, Keith, Dan, Katie, Karissa, Jessica, Nat, and me!

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Silver Lake 2020 _ VDL House, Silver Lake

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I’ve been honored to be on the board of the Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy for the past 2 years.  The SLRC is an all-volunteer, non-profit whose goal is to preserve the decommissioned reservoirs as open bodies of water, and transform the once vital infrastructure into an ecological, recreational, and beautiful haven for Angelenos.

To that end, the SLRC hosted a visioning meeting called Silver Lake 2020 with the heads of different city agencies and departments - which is a rare and big deal to get all of them in the same room.

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Representatives from the LADWP, LA River Revitalization Corp, Councilman LaBonge and O’Farrell, as well as Mia Lehrer’s landscape architecture firm convened at the famed Neutra VDL House for the symposium.

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I was able to sneak away upstairs during the magic hour to enjoy the beautiful sunset.

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Mia Lehrer presenting her vision of the future use of the reservoirs - complete with a beach!

imageMarty Adams, water operations manager of the LADWP, signing the rendering boards.  He approves - let’s build it!

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L.A. Bike Trains _ Route 001 _ Silver Lake

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Good buddy Travis has been one of my regular passengers on my Wednesday Route001 Bike Train from Silver Lake to Hollywood.  It helps that he also happens to be my coworker.

I met Travis while we were both at USC School of Architecture.  In fact, he was my TA.  Even after he graduated a few years ahead of me, we still kept in touch.  It was during this time that Travis took me on my first bike ride through Los Angeles - with the Midnight Ridazz.  Travis was already commuting by bicycle around town, but he opened my eyes to the potential of car-free living in Los Angeles.

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Now look at us, biking up Beachwood Canyon to work together most days, with a view of the Hollywood sign.  

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2013 Los Angeles County Bicycle & Pedestrian Count _ Sunset Junction, Silver Lake

I volunteered for the LACBC & LA Walks Bicycle & Pedestrian count.  They only conduct these eyes-on-the-ground surveys every 2 years, and the data they collect is SO interesting, from an urban planner’s standpoint.  For example: women cyclists are considered good indicators for bike-friendly cities, mainly attributed to women being more risk averse.  An increase in women cyclists means that, in general, more people are biking around town either because they feel safer, there’s a bigger economic draw, or just because it’s more fun.

I was stationed on Sunset Blvd. at the Sunset Junction in Silver Lake.  I chose the spot mainly because I pass it on my weekly Bike Train I conduct, and was curious to see how many cyclists are on my route, just at different times.  Also, I just wanted to be amazed at the spectacle of caffeinated hipsters.

My morning count of eastbound traffic: I counted 22 cyclists, 194 pedestrians, 7 brunettes, 3 pedestrians wearing sandals, 1 pedestrian holding coffee, 1 pedestrian wearing an unnecessary scarf, 3 pedestrians with pleasant smiles, 1 attractive smelling pedestrian, 2 pedestrians in business attire, 1 Travis Tarr, 1 Wesley High, and 2 scientologists. 

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My afternoon count of westbound traffic: I counted 62 cyclists, 222 pedestrians, 1 pedestrian wearing a tanktop, 9 pedestrians with facial hair, 1 of which was a fancy mustache, 1 pedestrian wearing a super-hero themed shirt (Batman!), 4 pedestrians wearing headphones, 1 pedestrian with luggage, 3 tourists, 2 pedestrians with unnecessarily large sunglasses, 1 Katie Brooks Bennett, and 20 pedestrians I think I could beat in an arm wrestling competition. 

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L.A. Bike Trains _ Route 004alt _ Silver Lake

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I rode over to Caffe Vita to meet up with conductors Kelli Bachmann and Kelly Majewski (you read that correctly) at the start of their route.  Kelly/i lead L.A. Bike Trains route 004alt, leading passengers from cozy Silver Lake / Los Feliz into Downtown LA.  It’s one of our most popular routes!

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Unlike most, the majority of this route has bike lanes.  The bike lanes are even painted green on Spring St. as you enter Downtown LA (not fully green anymore).  Looking at the network of cycling routes as a whole, Downtown LA is placed in a pretty optimal location.  Though there are only a few “safe” routes into the financial district, those routes tend to have some bike infrastructure, whether it’s a bike lane or a bike route.  It’s no wonder then that out of its 13 routes, the L.A. Bike Trains has 4 routes whose terminus is Downtown LA, and 1 route that passes through Downtown LA.

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Sunset Blvd. / Sanborn Ave.

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Sunset Blvd. / Lucile Ave.

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Sunset Blvd. / Laveta Terrace

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Sunset Blvd. / Figueroa St.

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Spring St. / 101 Freeway

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Spring St. / Temple St.

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Kelly’s Studio.

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Happy Birthday, Anthony _ Silver Lake, CA

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It wouldn’t be a birthday party in LA without a TACO STAND in the backyard.

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The one and only.

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It wouldn’t be a Filipino birthday party without a GRILLED PIG on the dining table.  Lechon.  Scissors & aunties not included.

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Silver Lake & Ivanhoe Reservoirs Tour _ Silver Lake

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As part of the their efforts to do more community outreach in advance of their planned bypass pipe project (which will drain Silver Lake Reservoir for a year and a half), the LADWP opened up the gates along the western edge of the reservoirs complex for joggers, community members, and city officials to take a self-guided walking tour behind the fence.  So, with bike in hand, I entered the seldom-occupied meadow beyond the fence and met the reservoir’s edge.

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Ivanhoe Reservoir with its black balls.

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The vast Eucalyptus grove that flourishes between the banks of the reservoir and West Silver Lake Drive (cut off from the public by the fence), is home to numerous heron nests and migratory birds.  But I’ve always strained to actually pin point where these nests were.  Until today.  The vast majority of the nests, high in the trees, are built close to the edge of the water, opposite the public walking path along West Silver Lake Drive.

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It’s very surreal to walk along the (very steep) inclined banks of the reservoir.  Though many of us have jogged or biked past the reservoirs tons of times, to actually occupy a space that is seen but not walked upon redefines the perceived value of the environment - at least for me.  I know now that we have to reclaim the water’s edge for the public.  To have such a natural asset right in the middle of our community, but not actually be able to access it, is a terrible tease.  Who’s with me?

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