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Our Mission at the Silver Lake News is to connect the community much like a Community Newspaper. Our 'Who's Who in Silver Lake' column honors the many individuals who have made a difference through their unselfish service to the community. If you have a Special Person you'd like to honor by nominating them for our 'Who's Who in Silver Lake' column, be sure and give me a call! Michael J. Locke, Editor (323) 644-3338or Email me

Meet Eric Michael Garcetti, Renaissance Man & Public Servant.

Although like any other politician or public servant, Eric Garcetti has both fans and detractors; I happen to be one of his many admirers. I was first introduced to Eric during the time I served on the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council during its infancy (2003-2005) during which time Eric was an ever-present advocate and supporter of the council both in time and energy. He was born on February 4, 1971, the son of former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti and Sukey Roth. He graduated from Harvard-Westlake School, later attending Columbia Univesity where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and as a John Jay Scholar. At Columbia, he distinguished himself by serving on the Student Council and as President of the St. Anthony Hall Literary Society, founded the Columbia Urban Experience, and co-wrote and performed in three years of the Varsity Show, a student-written musical. He received a Masters of International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University after which he received a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University. Before his election to the Los Angeles City Council, he was a visiting instructor of International Affairs at the University of Southern California and assistant professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College, focusing on ethnic conflict and nationalism. He was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 2001 and reelected in 2005 and 2009 and served as President of the Council in 2006, succeeding Alex Padilla, and was re-elected as President at the beginning of the Council's subsequent terms in 2007 and 2009. During his terms of service, he supported expansion of the Los Angeles Police Department and the implementation of a Senior Lead Officer Program resulting in a 40% drop in the crime rate in the 13rh Council District. He also authored legislation for youth intervention and crime prevention programs, founded the "At The Park After Dark". He also sponsored legislation in support of preserving historic neighborhoods and landmarks, including Historic Filipinotown and the Hollywood Palladium. His volunteer program UNTAG (Uniting Neighborhoods to Abolish Graffiti) has dramatically reduced graffiti in his district and served as a model for other communities.

He set a positive example for his peers by being one of the first elected officials in Los Angeles to meet with stakeholders face-to-face by holding office hours each month and implemented a policy ensuring phone calls be returned within a single day, tracking the details on a computer system.

He was one of the first Los Angeles city officials to endorse Barack Obama, and became Southern California Chairman for his election campaign, serving as a super-delegate during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He is an accomplished jazz pianist and composer and a photographer. He lives with his wife Amy Elaine Wakefield, who he married in 2009. He is currently one of the candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles. The Silver Lake News wishes him well.

Meet Charles Christopher Renn, Jr. II: Community Connector, Small Business Owner, and Star Gazer

Charles Christopher Renn, Jr. II has always had his head in the clouds. After leaving his native Salinas, California to study astronomy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Renn returned West to explore the possibility of opening his own small business. In late 2009 that dream became a reality, when he and his sister, Lissa Renn, opened The Hive Los Angeles, a hair shop and art gallery at Micheltorena and Sunset. The shop reflects Charles' eclectic taste in art and culture, hosting regular art shows and cultural events. With a smile crowning his signature goatee, he expounds: "Art has always been important to me, so it was natural for me to include it in my vision of the ideal hair shop." In addition to The Hive's regular gallery shows, they may well be the only hair shop in the world to have their own poet laureate, Silver Lake local David Shook, whose poetry about the shop has appeared in important publications like The Oxford Poets Anthology.

Charles is chair of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Art & Culture Committee, but his commitment to Silver Lake arts and culture doesn't end there—not long after meeting fellow entrepreneur Jack Martinez, Charles signed on as Community Director of the Los Angeles Arts & Athletics Alliance, the nonprofit that hosts the Jubilee, Silver Lake's premiere music festival, now in its third year. This year's event takes place over Memorial Day Weekend, on Santa Monica Boulevard, and features dozens of touring and local bands, Comedy Central-level comedians, literature sponsored by PEN USA, local food trucks, craft vendors, local business showcases, and a free community block party. There's more to it, too. Charles has spearheaded the organization's community outreach, which has collaborated with several local nonprofits for the betterment of the community. "One of my favorite programs," Charles says,"was the PEN in the Classroom workshop that we sponsored at John Marshall High." That program culminated in the publication and public performance of the high school juniors' creative writing, which will also be showcased at the Jubilee on the PEN USA Literary Stage.

Charles is also an avid disc golfer. "I try to hit Elysian Park at least twice a week," he explained. "It keeps me in shape, and I love to feel a little wind blowing through my goatee." In addition to the abundance of local nature, Charles appreciates the neighborhood's close-knit community and many food options. "I like to eat $.99 pupusas on Monday and Fridays, $1 fish tacos on Tuesdays, and sip a couple margaritas on Wednesdays. Thursday's my day off!" he says. "There's no better way to meet new friends—except maybe at the Jubilee!"

Meet Mitch O’Farrell – Stepping up to serve!

Mitch’s life in Los Angeles and the 13th District goes back 30 years when he moved from Oklahoma where he was born and raised, to a crowded Hollywood apartment. It was a long held dream of his relocate here. After a career in acting on the stage and musical theatre, he settled in the Glassell Park area in 1992 with his life partner George Brauckman. Ironically enough, it was then that Mitch became very familiar with Silver Lake! He volunteered for a number of years for Project Angel Food, and delivered meals to home bound clients who were living with life threatening illnesses. Most of his clients were spread throughout the areas he would later work in as a Public Servant, beginning in 2002. That familiarity proved very useful.

Through the 1990's to 2002, he was a business operator; responsible for hiring, training, and managing staff, managing P & L's, inventory controls, and learned how to deal with the city and county bureaucracy. He learned what it is like to pay bills, make payroll, and turn a profit. Mitch learned what small businesses struggle with every day and knows they are the backbone of our economy in Los Angeles. Equally important for his future as a Public Servant, he learned what true customer service is; having empathy, and delivering everything to the best of ones ability in a caring, thoughtful, non-judgmental way.

By the time City Councilmember Eric Garcetti brought him aboard in 2002, he had been very active in his community of Glassell Park where he had volunteered for years, organizing community clean ups, shutting down a narcotics and gang house, helping to get the recreation center renovated, leading a city code enforcement program to clean up neglected and blighted properties, helping to found the Neighborhood Council, and serving as the President of the Glassell Park Improvement Association.

Working in the 13th District Council Office for nearly ten years was something he loved doing every day of every week! He was promoted 3 times: starting as a Field Deputy, then Deputy Director, District Director, then Senior Advisor. Mitch worked across the whole district, in every neighborhood. Here is some of what he worked on In Silver Lake: When funding for the Silver Lake Meadow was under threat because of a delay in completing the project, he stepped in and cleared the roadblock (literally, a large stand of cypress shrubs had to be removed but he had to first make sure no wildlife would be affected). The meadow was dedicated on time and is a signature attraction at the Lake where families gather and children frolic barefoot! Mitch set in motion the site selection for the Silver Lake Library. Working closely with community leaders he; put the plan in place and facilitated the working group for the Sunset Junction Streetscape improvements (construction beginning by early 2013), made sure the “Streets for People” project at Triangle Park was the first one in the city, commemorated the Mattachine steps where Pioneer Harry Hay lived and began the first LGBT organization in the United States, and facilitated the historic designation of the Black Cat Bar on Sunset Boulevard, site of the first LGBT protests in the United States.

The entire time he worked in the District, the city faced budget deficits; all ten years. Year after year, core services were chipped away at, including a reduction in sidewalk repair and replacement, street resurfacing, and tree trimming. Despite this, Mitch was able to get the department to focus on the worst of the worst crumbling streets in Silver Lake and across the District, getting them resurfaced, and replaced miles of the worst sidewalks.

Mitch has the relationships in the city, can pull the levers of government to make things happen, and connect constituents with the specialists they need, but says, “I will be able to do so much more as your Councilmember! I am focused, have a track record, the vision, and know the district.” He goes on to say, “Once elected, I will hire and train a staff that values public service as much as me, and will uphold the highest standards. I will challenge the status quo when it will make this city better but I also know how to negotiate with other leaders for the greater good. No one else will bring this level of experience or determination to bear on your behalf.”

Mitch adds, “This city faces some daunting challenges; a culture of complacency at our building and safety and planning counters. A constant budget deficit no one is addressing in a structural way, traffic and transit challenges that erode our quality of life and a general sense from residents and business owners that no one in the city cares; that responsibility is avoided, and decisions are made based on politics. My vision of the district is that we are part of a city that is firing on all cylinders; that we have our fiscal house in order, we fill our potholes and resurface our streets on time, that we keep our planning, zoning, and land use house in order, that we not only create beautiful parks and public amenities, but that we can maintain them, keep them staffed, and funded, and that we continue our progress on public safety. I believe it is our destiny to achieve greatness as a world-class city, as a society, and as a District. But that cannot happen without the right people at the helm, making tough decisions, but thinking creatively about new solutions. I am one of those people and I am ready to take on any challenge!”
More information about Mitch can be found here:

Meet Scott Crawford: The Quintessential Silver Lake Renaissance Man

The world of cinema originally drew Chicago native, Scott Crawford, to Los Angeles. An actor since the age of seven, young Scott performed all over the Chicago area as well as at the famed Lyric Opera House of Chicago and sang with the acclaimed folk music group, the Limelighters. After he obtained his Masters of Fine Art at Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, Scott moved to New York and .began his stage career in the Big Apple. He displayed his skill in a plethora of stage productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway. He did 14 major films including “Raging Bull”. At his agent’s suggestion, Scott left New York for Los Angeles in 1986 and took up residence in Silver Lake, the most ethnically diverse area of the city. After his move to Los Angeles, Scott continued to pursue his acting career and became the recipient of five prestigious Dramalogue awards. He also turned his eye to community service. He joined the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Governing Board for Region 1 and became an advisor to Make Music Los Angeles, the Silver Lake Jubilee and the Sunset Free Clinic. As a member and a writer of the bi-laws of the governing board for the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council, Scott founded "Theater Partners in Residence” with the City of LA Recreation and Parks Department. The program allowed 99-seat theatres to use park space for rehearsals and performances in exchange for teaching classes For his work in mentoring students who participated in the Cleveland Media Academy at Grover Cleveland High School in Los Angeles, the academy named their media award, "The Scottie'' in his honor. For seventeen years was Artistic Director of Dillon Street Players and 2 of their original works have been published..Scott’s love of architecture made him seek the presidency of the Friends of Hollyhock House from 2000 to 2006. During that period, Scott helped raise $17 million for Phase One of the restoration project. He was instrumental in having the historic home declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and America's Landmark. He served as Co-Chair of Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Conference in 2005 and also founded Archifest (A celebration of Los Angeles Architecture). Scott founded and helped write the bi-laws of the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation, served as Vice President for three years and also served as Vice President of Friends of Hollyhock House. Scott has volunteered for a variety of Los Angeles organizations including the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and founded the Shanti "Empty Bowls Project, rewarded his efforts in the fight against AIDS/HIV with several special honors. The Theatre of Hope for Abused Women also rewarded him with the Outreach Program Award. The Mayberry, King and Le Conte Schools all participate in Barnsdall Arts programs due to Scott's efforts. Presently, Scott has turned his eye to politics. Scott is currently running for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council representing District 13, a fitting culmination to his efforts to make Los Angeles an even better place to live.

Meet Stephen Box, Community Activist, Founder of Budget LA

Stephen Box grew up in Queensland, Australia where both parents were Nazarene ministers. The small community church that his father built was where Stephen learned to take the first steps on his mission to leave the world a better place than he found it. Eventually the family sailed to America on the SS Canberra. They lived in Idaho, Missouri and finally settled in Southern California.

Stephen moved to Hollywood in the 90’s where he met his wife Enci and where he began work in the entertainment industry. As a producer Mr. Box quickly earned the reputation of delivering on schedule and under budget, exceeding expectations and raising the standard. He began to learn the overly complicated ways of doing business with City Hall while shooting videos such as KORN’s “Got the Life” in the LA River or Tom Petty’s “Swingin’” at Johnnies on Wilshire Blvd.

In business Stephen developed common ground solutions that bring people together. Over and over again Stephen found efficiencies in production only to encounter continual resistance from City Hall.

Little by little he learned to navigate the mountain of red tape our city forces upon the film industry. He demonstrated a knack for building relationships and developing solutions when facing closed doors and bureaucratic obstacles. That learning process has never stopped.

Having seen the waste that the entertainment industry created, Stephen Box produced a film in 2009 that established a sustainability standard on set, demonstrating that we can both encourage growth in the industry while raising the environmental standard.

As a community leader, Stephen Box has been building coalitions with neighborhood councils and homeowners associations, leading people from all walks of life, from San Pedro to Sylmar and Palms to Eagle Rock.

Stephen is well known as an avid cyclist and transportation activist working to find untapped funding sources that get put directly back into local transportation projects. Stephen is particularly passionate about making our streets and sidewalks accessible for people using any number of transportation modes. Whether they walk, ride a bike, take the bus or drive a car, he is committed to ensuring that everybody, including our most vulnerable, are able to travel safely and free of fear.

Some may know Stephen Box as a budget activist, founder of Budget L.A., working to engage the public in the process of finding budget solutions. Last year Mr. Box attended every single budget hearing exceeding the record of many councilman, some of which failed to show up for even one.

As a planning advocate Stephen has been fighting development run amok. Stephen loves the history of our great city and has been fighting for years to keep developers from encroaching on our neighborhoods and communities.

You can find Stephen most days riding his bike to a neighborhood meeting or taking the metro to City Hall. He is grassroots activism by definition. His run for City Councilman is a natural extension of the work he is already doing. Find out more about him by googling Stephen Box or by visiting his website

Meet Michael Lehrer: Architect of the Human Spirit

It has been more than six months since I first met architect Michael Lehrer at his Silver Lake office on March 5, 2010. My scribbled notations on our interview barely readable, I found it difficult to be taking notes while enraptured with the conversation. Michael Lehrer is one of those larger-than-life individuals that leave you with the sense of being in the “presence of greatness”. Under normal circumstances, I can review my notes and have something intelligent to put down in words in an hour or two. In all my years of interviewing and writing this has only happened once before, while struggling to summarize the remarkable life of Julius Shulman. Now that I think about it, Shulman and Lehrer share a lot in common: Both came from east coast/ European Jewish immigrant roots; both grew up with a deep appreciation for nature, and both share a deep love for architecture and the dignity of the human spirit. Shulman welcomed me as an equal; Lehrer treated me the same.
The Lehrer Architects office (voted one of the world’s “coolest offices by Inc. Magazine); a once-dingy warehouse on Hyperion Avenue is a playful, all-white space with a single red stripe running the length of the floor. The harmony of sounds of children playing (from the next-door day care center), birds chirping (thanks to the open, floor-to-ceiling doors) and the occasional car whisking by on Hyperion are all mixed in with the creative atmosphere. Michael greets me with the kind of warmth that is immediately telling of the type of person he is, introducing me to his staff of about a dozen co-workers “collaborators” and giving me a tour. The office is a virtual public space, where the firm often hosts lectures, fundraisers and evening get-togethers for life-drawing sessions. In a prominent display case is an essay, written by Lehrer, entitled, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” from which I quote:
“For me, the dialogue between architecture and landscape began long before I had any idea that two such discrete disciplines even existed. Growing up next to Griffith Park, I carved forts out of the bushes on the canyon hillsides where I lived. The smell of the chaparral oil that stained my hands followed me as I ran down the hill to my mother’s daily call for “Dinnertime!” As a child, I was surrounded by great landscapes and spectacular architecture, as I came to appreciate years later. Neutra’s Lovell House was just over the ridge behind our house. Wright’s Ennis House lined a ridge one canyon over, and Schindler’s Schrage House, with a garden by Neutra, was atop a hill on the other side of our canyon. A great Soriano house was just up the street at the edge of Griffith Park, and Barnsdall Park was a mile away. Growing up, architecture, landscape, native flora, and joy were givens to my day-to-day existence. The inseparable connection of architecture to landscape was not something I thought about as a kid. It just was.
“I decided to be an architect when I was eight. I was in love with a girl whose father (S. Kenneth Jonson, the “J” in DMJM) was an architect. She brought plans of a high school he designed to share with our third-grade class. And that was it.
By the age of ten, I was entranced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s drawings and seduced by his line: how the line of the building would become the line of foliage, and then extend to become the line of the topography, and continue as the picture frame. This sublime integration was the font of my sensibility about architecture and landscape. Both were orchestrated, inseparably, by the construction lines that organized Wright’s plans and elevations. Beginning with drawing, Wright melded the two—architecture and landscape—into the apotheosis of space.
While I was an undergraduate at Berkeley, this sensibility incubated organically within me. Marc Treib and Ron Herman’s course on the Japanese landscape was informative. At Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, this integration would become a way of life.”
After graduation, Lehrer worked at Frank O. Gehry and Associates and other design firms before opening his own practice in Silver Lake in 1985. His designs demonstrate a reverence for light and space, grounded in the idea that beauty is the expression of human dignity; the spiritual essence of architecture. The firm has won over 60 national, state, and local design awards since 1996, including numerous honor awards from The American Institute of Architects, the Chicago Athenaeum, and the International Interior Design Association. The Water + Life Museum in Hemet, an internationally honored environmental showcase, was honored as the first LEED Platinum museum in the world. In 1999, he was elected President of the American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles, and has served as Vice Chairman of School Construction Bond Oversight Committee, responsible for upgrading 700 existing schools and the construction of new schools for the Los Angeles Unified School District. In 2004 he was elevated to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects.

Today Michael is President of Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles, on the Harvard Alumni Association representing the Graduate School of Design and on the Harvard Design Magazine Professional Advisory Board.
He is married to Mia Lehrer, Mia Lehrer + Associates Landscape Architecture. They have three children: Benjamin, Rebecca, and Raphael.

Meet Leonardo Chalupowicz, Eco-Architect and Community Organizer

Born in Buenos Aires Argentina, Leonardo received a master’s degree in architecture from the Univercidad Nacional de Buenos Aires in 1981. In 1982 Leonardo moved to Los Angeles, a year before the end of a military dictatorship that was ruling Argentina at the time. The regime was conducting a “dirty war” that resulted in the disappearance of approximately 50,000 citizens.

After working for an engineering firm in Burbank, followed by several “pay the bills” jobs, Leonardo opened his own practice doing small remodeling jobs as well as graphic design and art projects. In 1990, after obtaining the California Architect’s license, Leonardo started getting larger commissions and focused his practice on custom residential architecture.

Moving to Silver Lake in 1993, Leonard continued his architectural practice as well as focusing on art projects. More architectural commissions and art shows followed. He started focusing on sustainability on his projects as well as on his own residence, and that led to obtaining a LEED accreditation in 2008.

Since 2003, Leonardo and his partner Michael Saint-Onge have been volunteering for local organizations. While Michael serves as president of the “Friends of the Silver Lake Library”, Leonardo volunteers his time with the “Green Committee of the SL Chamber of commerce,” the local Library, as well as “Sustainable Silver Lake,” an organization dedicated to advance local sustainable issues.

Leonardo presently (2010) serves on the Governing Board of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. He has a strong commitment to the environment as well as interest in public transportation, bicycle advocacy and green communal spaces. On the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, he participates in the Urban Design & Preservation committee and also is part of a group of volunteers working to bring an organic fruit & vegetable community garden at Micheltorena Elementary School, the local Title 1 school, (80% enrollment is by kids of low income families). Construction of the garden began in November 2010 with the demolition of the garden’s asphalt surface.

“I'm interested in projects that encourage communal participation. When there is a need and a group of committed volunteers bringing their individual talents, neither money nor bureaucracy will stand in the way of achieving our goals”.

Interested in Leonardo’s work? Visit

Would you like to volunteer for the school garden? Send an email to

Meet Tomás O'Grady: Founder of Farm Feliz

Tomás grew on a farm in Galway, Ireland. He started life his adult life as a carpenter; going to school at night, he managed he managed to obtain the necessary grades to be accepted into Limerick University, where he studied industrial engineering. He worked his way through college, supporting himself as a musician.
After immigrating to the United States in 1990, he spent nine years in Hoboken, New Jersey where he and his wife Justine rehabilitated old brick and brownstone buildings.

Tom currently lives in Los Feliz with his wife and their four children. He designed and built (with his own hands) the family home; a green, (solar electricity, solar powered water heating, grey water, and rainwater retention) white (read: Gone with the Wind) house. In 2008, he founded Farm Feliz, bringing together like-minded volunteers dedicated to the principal that problems are best fixed locally and incrementally rather than through grand, “top down” schemes. O’Grady points to the words of Mother Teresa as his modus operandi, ‘If each of us would only sweep our own doorstep, the whole world would be clean.”

The group that Tomas founded, Farm Feliz is a grassroots, all-volunteer organization encouraging gardeners and residents to trade in their gas blowers for a rake and broom. In partnership with Green Trees LA, the group has planted over 300 trees in the Los Feliz area alone. An offshoot of the group, Farm King runs a small garden at Thomas Starr King Middle School where students participate in garden projects on a weekly basis. In December 2009, he organized the first East Side Eco-Tour, a free tour of ten forward-thinking green homes attended by almost 400 people. A second tour in 2010 was recently completed. He has also worked with the Big Sunday Organization and the Friends of Los Angeles River to eliminate bottled water at their annual clean up events. He introduced recycling to Franklin Elementary and TS King Middle, as well as the Silver Lake Recreation Center and, most recently, the Griffith Park Adult Community Center.

Tomas, working with Dr. Kristen Murphy of King Middle School and others, was recently successful in establishing a new magnet school for environmental studies, to open at King in the fall of 2011. O’Grady says, “This is a shoestring magnet. It is being formed at very little cost to the taxpayer.” Confident that the community would come through with the estimated $30,000 start-up costs, he borrowed on his home equity line and personally guaranteed the initial funding. He founded and is currently the President of Friends of King, an organization committed to improving the education and environment at this school. He is the former President of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Nursery School and the former treasurer of the Friends of Franklin.

Tomás O’Grady currently serves on the board of the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council, where he is the chair of the Green Committee. He received an outstanding community volunteer award from the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) in June 2010. Here is what some of his colleagues have to say about him:

“Tomas O'Grady has ignited more enthusiasm with the teachers, parents, and students at T.S. King Middle School than I have seen in my ten year history as a teacher in the community. His passion is contagious, and his commitment is unparalleled. I am glad he is on our team!” -David Egeler, Special Education Teacher, Thomas Starr King Middle School

“Two years ago, regarding Tomas O’Grady, I said that I had never met anyone so dedicated to public service. In light of his efforts since that time at our public schools and throughout our community, I still have not met anyone so dedicated to public service.” Steve Lopez, Columnist.

Look for Tomás in the neighborhood around Los Feliz and Silver Lake. If you spot a silver-haired Irishman with a faint brogue, chances are he’ll be helping out on a public education project or planting a tree.

Meet David Wheatley: Music Man with a Passion for Social Justice
Music has always played a prominent part in the life of David Wheatley. From an early age, musical tradition and power of the pipe organ captured the attention of the young musician-to-be, as many of Bach’s most important works were written for the organ. Growing up in the Anglican Church with its ceremonial liturgy, the pipe organ played a prominent role in the worship music. His passion for music assured his eventual success. David attended the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music. He also studied under the late Canadian composer and author Gordon Delamont.

After graduating from the University of North Texas, he attended the University of Southern California, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Composition. At USC, he started the prestigious Scoring for Motion Pictures Program, of which he also served as Director.

After living briefly in Redondo Beach and Encino, David realized he needed a home closer to USC, and found Silver Lake to be an independent-minded artist community closer to school. “I found Silver Lake to be the ideal place to put down roots”, David explains, “I first lived on Elevado Street near Sunset Blvd. I really liked the hills and the friendliness of the community, and I have been here ever since”. He currently lives with his wife in the Ivanhoe area. Their son attended Los Angeles Family School and Ivanhoe Elementary, and is now a freshman at USC.

“I’m a big fan of local Silver Lake establishments”, David says. Some of my favorite spots are Hard Times Pizza, the Coffee Table, Astro Family Restaurant and Rafik Unocal. I often debate whether to go to Trader Joe’s or Gelson’s on both, and I try to park in the appropriate lot, whenever possible. I have the same issue with Burrito King and Pinkberry.”

David’s passion for social justice has him involved in a myriad of interests. Presently, he is Chairperson of the Pasadena Tobacco Prevention Coalition. The group works to reduce access of tobacco products to minors. He has served on the board of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, and has chaired the organization’s Congregational Outreach Committee.

David has toured with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra throughout the United States, performed the Bach Mass in B Minor. He performed the Vivaldi “Gloria with conductor Josh Elson (First Christian Church of North Hollywood). He is presently composing “Star of Wonder”, with author and lyricist Deanne Davis, a new Christmas musical to be debuted in December 2009.

David may be heard in a series of concerts continuing at the First Christian Church of North Hollywood on June 7, 2009.

Meet Filmmakers Rob Williams & Rodney Johnson: Bringing the Silver Screen to Silver Lake
-by Michael Locke, Silver Lake Correspondent

Living in L.A. can sometimes feel like living in a giant movie set: with filming an every day occurrence on our sidewalks and in our neighborhoods, there is a certain knowing that we will be able to relive the moment later at the cinema or on television. Silver Lake residents and filmmakers Rob Williams and Rodney Johnson not only live in Silver Lake, they have concentrated their movie making at recognizable locations in the neighborhood they like to frequent. “There is something about Silver Lake that speaks to me in ways unlike anywhere else”, explains Johnson. “I didn’t start writing until I moved here. The overall relaxed atmosphere, the diversity, the amazing architecture and arts communities inspire me to create and breathe art”.

The pair co-founded Guest House Films in 2005, releasing three critically acclaimed films, Long Term Relationship, Back Soon and 3-Day Weekend. “Our films seek to portray real life situations; I feel that the community we live in helps to bring those relationships to life more accurately”, states Williams. “Unlike some of the more glossed-over areas of the city, Silver Lake has a charm that’s very real and bold.” Look for familiar places in their movies: the historic El Cid Flamenco Dinner Theater on Sunset Blvd., the Lyric Hyperion Theatre Café, Video Journeys video store on Hyperion to name a few, places the pair like to frequent and enjoy. They also prefer to cast local talent found within the area. The pair discovered Artie O’Daly at a local playhouse and cast him in their first two films.

The two recently wrapped production on Make the Yuletide Gay, a family Christmas comedy, scheduled for release during the 2009 holiday season. For more information, please visit

Meet Scott Hamilton Kennedy & Catherine Borek: Creating Cinema that Honors the Human Spirit
Meeting Catherine Borek at a party in 1998 was a signature moment for Filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy. “I was completely captivated”, he says. Borek, an English teacher at Compton’s Dominguez High School, and Kennedy share a love for theater and the moment changed the direction of the filmmaker’s career almost immediately. “Prior to meeting Catherine my focus was primarily on music videos, including several number one internationally-aired videos including Jimmy Cliff’s remake of “I Can See Clearly Now”. As a director, Scott also directed work for Showtime, CBS, AMC, Roger Corman and Mattel. “That all changed when I met Catherine”, the director confesses. Catherine had taken the formidable task of creating a drama department at Dominguez High, better known for its athletic teams than its academic achievement (the school ranks in the lowest possible test scores compared to other high schools), and hadn’t produced a school play in over 20 years. In 2002, in collaboration with Borek, Kennedy produced the critically acclaimed film “OT: Our Town” which was nominated for best documentary feature by the Independent Spirit Awards (2003).

Kennedy’s latest venture, “The Garden”, tells the heartbreaking story of a 14-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles that started as a “form of healing” after the 1992 riots related to the Rodney King verdict. Since then the South Central Farmers have created an urban oasis described as a “miracle” in one of the most blighted neighborhoods of the city. The film goes on to show how the hopes and aspirations of these urban farmers are quickly dashed by backroom dealing at (Los Angeles) City Hall, selling it off to a wealthy developer in a closed-door session. “The first time I stepped into the garden at 41st and Alameda, the city (of Los Angeles) seemed to vanish”, the filmmaker explained. “Surrounded by varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, the smell, the air was immediately different. And the people: warm, humble, and generous in spirit and with the bounty of their plots. But their was another characteristic to the farmers that is essential to their story: while most had never done anything political before, they found a way to get organized, ask questions, do research, and not give up without a fair assessment of what happened.”

The film had its world premiere at the prestigious Silverdocs Film Festival in Washington, D.C., taking home the prize for Best Documentary. It also screened in Denver in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention in August 2008. Scott is currently in post- production for a documentary series entitled “Fame High”, about the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, following five freshmen and five seniors through a school year as they try to become successful actors, singers, dancers and musicians.

In the meantime, please see the movie, “The Garden”! The film is a wake-up call that left me agitated, angry and better informed. The infringement on the well being and justice of the poorest and most vulnerable among us is very real in this film. For more information, please visit Scott Hamilton Kennedy and Catherine Borek live on Elevado Street in Silver Lake with their daughter, Tessa.

Meet Stephanie Vendig, President of the Griffith Park Adult Community Club (GPAC Club)

Editor’s Note: I became acquainted with Stephanie Vendig during my tenure on the board of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. Stephanie, along with her pal Bea Gold have been on the forefront of issues affecting Silver Lake’s senior communities, advocating and promoting the Silver Lake Seniors Club (since 2006, the Griffith Park Adult Community Club). As president of the club, I asked Stephanie to tell us her story, as a way of introducing our readers to this very special community servant, as well as “spreading the word” about the club.

“As the president of Griffith Park Adult Community Club, supporting the Griffith Park Adult Community Center (GPACC) and its activities for the 50+ population, I wondered how I got to this place of advocacy. Upon reflection, I believe it is no accident that I found this niche. All of my life experiences pointed me in a direction that had a theme of serving community,

My life started in Bakersfield in 1936, and I left at 18 years old to go away to college. However, both of my parents’ families were Los Angeles people beginning in 1923 around the Silver Lake and Hollywood areas. My grandparents were part of the mass immigration in the early 1900’s of East European Jews into New York and into Canada.

My father became an optometrist, but starting a practice during the depression was difficult in LA. He answered an ad to open a practice in the back of a jewelry store in Bakersfield. Thus, my parents moved there in 1935. They became very community-minded, joining organizations that helped the community. Therefore, my “consciousness- raising” about serving community began with them and their experiences.

My college education was varied, completing a BA from UC Berkeley in 1959. In addition to credentials to teach elementary school and the physically handicapped I got a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Cal State, Northridge. Married life started in 1959, and lasted 42 years. My husband, Fred, died in 2001 after an 8-year struggle with bone marrow failure. In 1966, we bought a house in Silver Lake, where we raised our two children—David and Joshua. I still live in the same house. David continues to live in Silver Lake raising his three children, and Joshua and his family of two young children live in Bishop.

I started teaching in San Francisco in 1961, and when I moved to Los Angeles I began teaching the physically handicapped in 1968. My teaching experience has always been with children who were “disadvantaged” or had special needs in a variety of ways, so I learned from those children about barriers and the capacity to overcome when the environment supported their efforts. I became involved with LAUSD Special Education as a consultant under the directorship of Bea Gold (previously honored in “Who’s Who in Silver Lake” and currently serving on the board of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council). Together, we developed programs serving young children with special needs and training special education teachers. From this experience I learned to help adults learn new skills and to create programs from inception through implementation.

In 1980, I left the school district for the nonprofit world and the world of adolescents. I joined the staff of the Youth and Family Center, a social service agency that provided services for pregnant and parenting teens. The focus was on case management, and I was hired to create an infant and toddler program for the children of teen-age parents and to provide parent education. I became part of the management team, and in 1996, I retired from the agency as Interim Executive Director. From this experience, I picked up skills of collaboration with a variety of public institutions and organizations in order to make sure that these adolescents could overcome obstacles, as they attempt to complete their education and become good parents.

I retired at age 60 to tend to the needs of my husband as he battled his illness. In 2000, I heard there was going to be a meeting at the Silver Lake Recreation Center to discuss with the Facility Director activities for seniors. Thirty-one of us showed up at the urging of Lia LoMedico who gathered signatures from her neighbors. We were told that we had to organize as a club in order to use the facility. I was hooked. My involvement at first followed the needs of my husband. I began a club newsletter that I still do today. My involvement grew as I began to define my life as a single person, after my husband’s death. Three years ago, I began writing a column addressing senior issues for the Los Feliz Ledger, starting a new career in my older years.

Today, I feel very privileged to be president of the club and part of an organization that truly represents grass roots community efforts. The club, now with over 670 members, is doing good things on behalf of older adults in our society. I may be the current leader now, but this club’s success is a result of many wonderful people working together for a common goal. I am pleased I have contributed to its success.”

The Griffith Park Adult Community Center is located at 3203 Riverside Drive in Los Feliz (next door to Friendship Auditorium). Center Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM. The center has a variety of activities including line dancing, creative writing, yoga, guitar, art, table games, and more. A library, a computer lab, and conference room are also available. Delicious, low cost lunches are provided everyday. The club meets monthly on the 3rd Wednesday of the month for lunch and a program including a gourmet potluck in June and December. With a membership ($10/year) you can take advantage of monthly day trips and receive a monthly newsletter. To learn more, please contact the center (323) 644-5579 or email Stephanie Vendig at

Meet Aaron Neubert, AIA: Exploring Architecture, Landscape & the Environment

Aaron Neubert is a brilliant young architect living in Silver Lake. Recognized with Merit Awards from the American Institute of Architects (Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley chapters), Aaron’s work explores the complex relationship between architecture, landscape and urban systems, stemming from the diverse experiences of his youth in the beaches and swamps of south Florida, and later, from the urban environments of New York City and Los Angeles.

Born in West Palm Beach, FL, Aaron received a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in 1997. He holds a Bachelor of Design Degree, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Florida where he studied art and architecture. In 1994, he traveled abroad and pursued studies at the Vicenza Institute of Architecture, Vicenza, Italy.

Prior to establishing his architectural practice in Los Angeles in 2000, Aaron served as lead designer and project architect for various New York City offices. He was extensively involved in the renovation and addition to the Asia Society Museum on Park Avenue, the Edison Schools’ Ed-Labs Project and numerous recognized residential projects in New York, Connecticut, Arizona and Virginia. Besides the AIA recognitions, Aaron is the recipient of the Van Alen Prize in Public Architecture. His independent and collaborative designs have been featured in numerous publications including Architecture, the Los Angeles Times, Dwell, Art in America, Architectural Design, Desert Living, Concept, Arhitext, the Art Newspaper, and the monographs Digital Architecture and All-American. He has served as a design instructor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, the Southern California Institute of Architecture, Otis School of Design, Woodbury University, and Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design.

Aaron lives in the N-HN House in Silver Lake, a home he designed for his family including his wife, Stacy, an attorney and their two children, Quinn and Penn. He is principal of aNX Architecture

Meet: Tom LaBonge, Los Angeles’ Goodwill Ambassador

Editor’s Note: I had the pleasure of meeting Tom LaBonge for the first time at a reception given at the home of J. Russell Brown in the Hollywood Hills in August 2003. The popular Los Angeles councilmember was speaking at Brown’s beautiful Andalusian home, a restored landmark designed by the eminent architect, Paul R. Williams. As LaBonge addressed a large audience of about 300 Hollywood personalities in the home’s elegant courtyard, I was impressed by the number he seemed to know on a first name basis, acknowledging the contributions that each made to the community. It was the influence of that evening, and the relationship that I developed with Russ Brown that sparked my personal involvement in community activism, running for (and being elected to) the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council in September 2003, founding the Silver Lake Beautification Committee in 2003, and serving as SLNC Vice Chair in 2004. Ultimately, that led to the establishment of my community website, “The Silver Lake News” and serving as Silver Lake Correspondent for the Los Feliz Ledger. That’s a personal testimony how a single event or meeting one person can ultimately change your life for the better. (I have borrowed liberally from the Councilmember’s website and other materials as well as my own personal impressions of the man to write this article).

The story of Tom LaBonge’s life might start off being entitled, “Local Boy Makes Good!” as Tom began life right here in the neighborhood, born at the old Queen of Angels Hospital overlooking the Hollywood Freeway (now the Dreamcenter) on October 6, 1953. He was seventh in a lineup of eight boys born to Mary Louise Learnihan LaBonge and Robert LaBonge. Tom attended local public schools beginning with Ivanhoe Elementary, and then moving on to Thomas Starr King Middle School and graduating from John Marshall High School in 1971, where he was a standout football player and captain of the team. He would later play for Los Angeles City College and Cal Poly Pomona.

His enthusiasm for his hometown was sparked as a teenager when he had the opportunity to serve on Mayor Tom Bradley’s Youth Council. He would later reflect that he “remembered how good it felt, helping someone out. I just new from the very beginning that this was going to be my life’s work-serving the people of Los Angeles any way I could.” After graduating from Cal State LA, he joined the staff of Councilwoman Peggy Stevenson, in 1976, and in 1978 joined Council President John Ferraro’s staff. With Ferraro as mentor, LaBonge learned the complexities of civil service, serving as Chief Field Deputy for 15 years, before being asked to join Mayor Richard Riordan as Special Assistant. After serving the mayor’s office for seven years, he was named Director of Community Relations for the L.A. Department of Water and Power. His record of service within the city council, the mayor’s office and the DWP were exemplary, as evidenced by the many projects he spearheaded and his commitment to “getting the job done.”

Tom was first elected to the Los Angeles City Council in October 2001, completing the term of John Ferraro, who passed away on April 17, 2001. He was reelected by an overwhelming majority in 2003, and ran unopposed in 2007. He is, without a doubt, one of the most popular political figures in Los Angeles. He has a special, ennobling gift of seeing every person as important. It is not unusual to see LaBonge assisting a street maintenance crew with shovel in hand, clearing a mudslide, or stopping by a Senior Citizen’s meeting to listen and act on a stakeholder’s concern. Even with a non-stop schedule, he seems to find the time to drop by a block party or a neighborhood get-together. Many of us feel lucky to know him personally.

His love for the big park in our backyard (Griffith Park) is another reason people are drawn to the man. His stewardship and enthusiasm is evidenced by the frequent community hikes and potlucks he leads into the park, and his response to the devastating fire of May 2007, in which over 800 acres of the historic park were burned. He is also very much involved in the Los Angeles River Master Plan and envisions the river as one of our greatest undeveloped recreational resources in a city starved for parkland. “My love for Los Angeles knows no limits and I strive each day to be the most responsible and responsive representative at City Hall helping to develop and execute initiatives that will maintain, enhance and beautify our unique communities- both for the 4th District as well as the city at large’, he said. (As quoted from his website).

Tom is married to Brigid Manning LaBonge. They live with their two children, Mary-Catherine and Charles in Silver Lake, only a few blocks away from his childhood home.

Recent Who's Who articles:

The Hisserich Family

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Jane Drew

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Fr. Michael Senyo

Julius Shulman

Dwain Wilson

Buzz Hayes

Mark Carlson

Vince Brook

Vaughn Davies

Michael Kearns

Dr. Kenneth Williams

Dion Neutra

Dominick Domingo

Dana Hollister

David Hyun

Marc Abrams

Mario Nugara

Thomas Barquee

Gedde Watanabe

Bea Gold
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