What it means to be a "community activist"

Some discussion on Leftovers from City Hall about what it means to be a community activist in general, and about a certain local resident, in particular.

"community activist"

Yes, Zebra, it ends up just "mud slinging" from the disgruntled side, hardly imaginative....

"community activist"

I think you're missing the point of the post.  I'm asking what it means to be a "community activist."  I think the word has certain connotations about what an individual is doing, their level of commitment, their sacrifices, etc.

In my book, just posting to a blog or sending letters to an editor or eating free appetizers at Denny's doesn't qualify one as a "community activist."  Going to briefings from a professional lobbyist, asking the professional lobbyist to do things on your behalf, but having none of the responsiblity for actually raising the money for the post cards, or the lawn signs, or the airplane carrying a banner?  Having someone else pay for precinct walkers to deliver your campaign literature?  I don't think those things count, either.  Even attending city council meetings and standing on the street corner before the meeting with five of your friends?  That's not community activism.

Community activism would be if you could get hundreds (yes, hundreds) of your neighbors out to Rice Elementary School on a Saturday morning.  It's painting signs the week before the protest, and using a phone tree to reach your volunteers, and figuring the logistics of getting cold cut sandwiches to your several hundred fellow protesters.  It IS going door to door to talk to your neighbors, and having to count on fellow volunteers (not hired help) to get out there and meet the voters.

"community activist"

Actually Zebra,

Before and after the WalMart issues arose here in Rosemead and SSG, many residents were asking if the anti-Walmart group were "real community activists" as well.

To me, community activists/advocate involves those who have volunteered their time and money to our local schools whether with the PTA, watching the kids at recess (for free), being a crossing guard (for free, at least in my time); raising money for boy scouts and/or girl scouts; volunteering time at the Sheriff's Temple Station; sitting down and having dinner at the local Fire Station houses and buying their fire works, etc.

And, MANY volunteers could NOT remember seeing your faces at our local schools, police or fire stations or even representing former local, state or nat'l officials before.

Yes, SOC is/was a "single issue group", and yes, now that you have "put in your time" AGAINST one issue and FOR several local council people who eventually won their seats--the rest are saying now SHOW ME!

I was responding to the link you provided in which there are named and anonymous bloggers asking for Nunez to resign, and which seems to be spearheaded by one Stephen Ly and Rosemead Partners, which is allegedly sponsered by Walmart--and so?

Zebra, unless you personally know each and every person who blogs here, NEVER, NEVER assume you know what they have personally achieved in our community because before Walmart, there was allot of activitism going on and there will be coming after Walmart.

"community activist"

The "So?" was explicitly stated.  Obviously Wal-Mart doesn't care about fence heights or the presence of an ELAC satellite campus, etc.  So why are they still spending money in Rosemead?

That question's been asked here before, but you never seem to answer it.

"community activist"


In the first instance, I was being supportive regarding the mud slinging being blogged about in the link you provided called "City Hall Left Overs", and that it was regurgitated issues.

I tried to answer your "explicit" question, "What does it mean to be a community activist", and I think I answered it pretty well.

Now, you are focusing in on another subject outside the original topic of this blog. Why don't you start another topic?

Zebra, you are all over the page today--did you take you prescribed

P.S. Talk about "regurgitating", both your sides do it well...

"community activist"

Please, keep up with the cracks about the medication.  It gets funnier every time you regurgitate it.

I'll grant the first part of your response was on target. I don't entirely agree with your definition, but it is on point. To that, I would say that being a voluneer in a school or buying fireworks from a community group are good things, but that's not enough to qualify as a "community activist," either. "Community activist" implies more than just being involved in the community.

But then you wrote:

"I was responding to the link you provided in which there are named and anonymous bloggers asking for Nunez to resign, and which seems to be spearheaded by one Stephen Ly and Rosemead Partners, which is allegedly sponsered by Walmart--and so?"

And that's where you lost me. That's the "So?" I was addressing. What's in it for them? Clearly they don't have an interest in most of the other issues pushed by Rosemead Partners (I CAN see that it's in their interest to oppose additional retail developments in the city, because those would be competitors to them).

Because the big blue store is already open and no one in city hall is trying to shut them down, I have asked repeatedly why they keep spending so money backing Clark and Taylor and undermining the other three council members.

What it means to be a

For what it’s worth, a few years ago, I was being interviewed by a reporter (don’t recall if it was newspaper, tv, or radio), and the reporter asked if I would describe myself as a "community activist." I remember the question because I had a little trouble with the term back then, too. I felt the term implied a level of involvement and commitment that goes above and beyond simple civic engagement. Was I active in the community? Well, yes. But did I feel like a "community activist"? No, not really.

And, yet, if we’re going to apply the term to members of Rosemead Partners, well, then, heck, yes, I’m a community activist, too.

I also think that another aspect of being a "community activist," is empowering the unempowered. So I wonder if promoting the interests of a thirty-four year incumbent, a seventeen-year incumbent, and one of the world’s largest corporations isn’t, by definition, something other than being a "community" activist?

"community activist"

Zebra, are you are trying to equate residents, Steven Ly and Jean Hall, of Rosemead Partners, as paid for professional lobbyists for Walmart? Don't you think that's stretching it allot? They'd have to be entirely on Walmart's payroll, and if they were, I doubt they'd be living in Rosemead--please!

And Todd, you say "...also think that another aspect of being a "community activist," is empowering the unempowered" and that "promoting the interests of a thirty-four year incumbent...and one of the world’s largest corporations isn’t, by definition, something other than being a "community" activist?".

Well, NO, Todd. SOC would be the "grassroot's activists" and the Rosemead Partners' would be the "longterm resident activists" backing the incumbent council person(s)' agenda. Todd, having a large company or corp and big celebrity names backing a particular group or issue, does not necessarily negate that group as "activists".

For instance, what about the 14-acre garden in South L.A., the nation's largest urban farm, tended by some 350 very low income local families who grow fruit, flowers and vegetables to eat and sell, but are being evicted by the original single owner who wants to develop it into a large warehouse.

Just because these farmers are being backed by big named celebrities like Darryl Hannah and Willie Nelson and L.A. City Council, who have raised $16 million dollars and a pledge from the The Annenberg Foundation(wow!)in an unspecified sum, does that mean the farmers, celebrities and even the city council are not activists?

I don't think so.

Now, this takes nothing away from SOC and the odds you faced from a formidable foe, a corporate retailer, with deep pockets. You guys did a superb job from mostly first time activists (and from what I saw, some not so spry spring chickens--(my compliments to your stamina). But, don't forget, you guys had capital too. Incredible news media capital, elected politician capital, union money capital--and that is all OK, just own up to it.

"community activist"

I think your own post here shows a distinction between "community activist" and "activists."  Yes, Daryl Hannah can claim to be an "activist."  No, I don't think she's a "community activist," because she's not even from the community she claims to be "protecting."  She's not even helping to organize the community.  She just sort of showed up, and I'm sure the locals were excited by the news media attention her presence drew.  But she's no community activist.

The actual farmers *are* community activists.

That doesn't mean I'm sympathetic to their cause, though.  If they wanted to buy the land, great.  If the city of Los Angeles was willing to buy the land for an urban farm, that would also be great.  But, in America, you can't just take someone's land without compensation.  There's that whole Fifth Amendment thing that gets in the way.

clarification about the farm

What the owner did was offer to sell the farm, but he thought they wouldn't be able to raise the money. The "white knight" Annenberg came through with a promise to pay the price (and they'd be good for it) but the owner rescinded his offer to sell.

That was his right, but it was an extremely ungentlemanly thing to do.

Today, the land has been razed of all the farms. Construction on the warehouse hasn't started yet. Trash has accumulated on the land.

clarification about the farm

As I recall, the owner felt like he was being vilified.  And, let's face it:  He was.

Economists assume that people act rationally, based upon the goal of profit maximization.  But we all know that a lot of our purchases are driven by emotion and not logic.  How else can we explain all those SUVs on the road?

"community activist"

Steven Ly may not be registered as a lobbyist, but, yes, he has been paid by Wal-Mart (through Mike Lewis) for his services.  I'm pretty sure Jean Hall has accepted payments, too.  I don't know what other sources of income they may have.

What it means to be a


"Community organizers and activists work on the local level to create positive social change. They help communities come together to solve problems."

By this definition, neither SOC nor Rosemead Partners are community activists. Even supporting the Boy Scouts and Fire Department doesn't make one a community activist.

The farm organizers, and the celebrities, however, are. They helped the community come together, to make their farm issue into a big political hot potato. (The problem was that they wouldn't be able to retain the farm, which was a community benefit.)

SOC and RP can develop community organizing through their organizations. SOC has a better natural fit, because of it's proximity to a number of social problems that need to be addressed. If SOC organized a group to push for specific community benefits to alleviate poverty and address community issues, they could build a base.

RP is aligned with the status quo, and with Wal-Mart, and so their interest is primarily to organize only the people interested in maintaining these things. Their strategy is going to be chanelling community stuff through Wal-Mart.

What it means to be a

Well Night Reader, when you live in a working class to middle class city (with a sizable immigrant population), do you want to "up lift" that city to something higher with a better "quality of life" OR do you reach your hand "down" to the downtrodden and give them the scraps from a table you can barely put together yourself?

I will make this easier--Does SOC want Rosemead to be more like the City of Maywood--a sanctuary city for illegals with corrupt and sleezy politicians and police--OR a city like Whittier or South Pasadena, who enjoy a good quality of life and don't struggle like most to pay police and fire?

Night Reader, I know you have the "warm fuzzies" from your time at Berkley--BUT (and that's a big but) Rosemead doesn't have ANY of the capital Berkley has in terms of economic capital, people and political capital, social capital, and the list goes on.

In terms of good urban planning, the "model" cities would be Irvine and Valencia (just as a point of reference)


Berkeley also has a lot of poor people.

One thing that Rosemead could do, that would help attract more people with money, is something about the constant, visible presence of drunks at Garvey and San Gabriel. Get them into a place to dry out. Also, get the day laborers to be more orderly about their congregating.

A second thing they could do is try and convince people to use TRASH CANS on that corner, too.

Also, a third thing - if you're going to demolish homes, build something on the land. Don't just put up some "available for lease" banners. (They might as well put up, "all the poor people have been kicked out" on the banner, too.)

Or are these concepts too "radical" for poor old Rosemead?

Should we just wait for the free market to keep fixing it on its own time, because the big bad government is going to screw it up, and it would cost money to do anything at all except pay for the salaries of politicians and their bureaucrats, with Rosemead's allegedly super-low taxes?

Revolution--not so revoluntionary

Night Reader blogs: That Rosemead could attract more people with money if the city would:

... "do something about the constant, visible presence of drunks at Garvey and San Gabriel...also, get the day laborers to be more orderly about their congregating"

Response: These are all POLICE and CODE ENFORCEMENT policies already on the books, they just need "enforcing".

Night Reader: "...convince people to use TRASH CANS on that corner, too..."

Response: If the city has public waste recepticles, this is a Dept of PUBLIC WORKS issue.

Night Reader: "...if you're going to demolish homes, build something on the land. Don't just put up some "available for lease" banners..."

Response: Not all land is owned by the city. Regardless of eminent domain, (which is abhorrent to most sensible people), this is private property and NEED DEVELOPERS and BIG MONEY (kinda like Walmart) who believe in a project that is going to make them money, revolutionary huh?

Night Reader" "...pay for the salaries of politicians and their bureaucrats..."

Response: Elected officials only get a stipend for stuff like gas, which amounts to about $200-500 per month, if that! You have to really really LOVE your city and be a masochist, because IMHO it is mostly a thankless job.

Revolution--not so revoluntionary

1. Increased enforcement against loitering and intoxication would probably work, but, there'd be first amendment problems getting the day laborers to move. There are three communities there - drunks/homeless, day laborers, and others who show up to take advantage of the situation (people selling IDs). The strategy should be to separate the workers from the others, and then try to get the people with mental problems into some "healing" situation whatever it may be. The day laborer situation can be mitigated in different ways.

2. People need to be taught to use trash cans. Littering needs to be stigmatized in signs, ads, and other media. I've seen everything from paper, to chip bags, to starbucks cups in the bushes and in the gutter. That garbage goes into the sea, and contributes to the giant plastic sea in the Pacific. That poison is going to come right back at us.

3. *This* is a code enforcement problem.

What it means to be a

Can't agree with that, either.  I think many SOC members worked an awful lot of uncompensated hours to try to involve a community that has, for the most part, not participated in local politics.  Fundamental questions about housing and retail mix are definitely part of problem solving.

By the way, on another thread, you ask about the lack of apartment zoning?  The same folks who are behind Rosemead Partners did all they could to make sure there was no area of Rosemead zoned for apartment buildings.  They didn't want "those kinds" of people living in their city.