Our June Newsletter!

Mid City West Community Council

—  June 2018 Newsletter  —

• Election of Officers and Street Infrastructure Report
• Community Garden Input Sought
• MCW Celebrates 15 Years With Movie Night At The Park
• Bicycle Class Level 2 This Saturday
• Mid City West Neighborhood Council Profiles

Mid City West Tuesday Agenda
Election of Officers and Street Infrastructure Report

The Mid City West Neighborhood Council Board will be electing officers for the 2018-19 year – a chairperson, first vice chair, second vice chair, treasurer and secretary – at its meeting Tuesday night.

The board will also hear a report on the state of street related infrastructure programs; consider possible action regarding the renewal of the Melrose Business Improvement District; and funding for on-line voting systems for neighborhood council elections

Planning and Land Use items on the agenda include renewal and expansion of licenses to serve alcoholic beverages for the Farmers Daughter on Fairfax Avenue and India’s Tandoori on Wilshire Boulevard.

The Board’s 6:30 pm meeting will take place at the National Council of Jewish Women, 543 No. Fairfax Avenue.

Community Garden Input Sought

Plans to create a community garden at Poinsettia Park will be considered at two upcoming meetings at the park.  The first meeting will be Thursday, June 14, from 7:30 to 8:30 pm; the second meeting Saturday, June 16 from 10 to 11 am.

Mid City West Celebrates 15 Years with 
Movie Night At The Park


Hundreds of people enjoyed a warm summer evening on the great lawn at the La Brea Tar Pits park with a movie and snacks provided by the Mid City West Community Council in the honor of the council’s 15th anniversary.

Attendees at the Sunday evening event were treated to a screening of Moana, a Walt Disney Animation Studios film, as well as Mid City West goodies – cookies, donuts, cake, popcorn and water – and blankets to borrow courtesy of The Grove.  Most people had brought picnic dinners to enjoy with the film.

The event was developed by the Mid City West Education & Social Services Committee.  The committee is head by co-chairs Emily Kantrim and Keith Kirkwood, and includes Dina Brown, Laura Petry, and stakeholder member Lauren Nichols.

It was held in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Keuhl, Los Angeles City Councilmen David Ryu and Paul Koretz, League of Women Voters, FilmLA, Inc. and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.




Bicycle Class Level 2 This Saturday

The latest installment of the Bicycle Safety Class (Level 2), hosted by our very own Transportation, Parking & Streetscape Committee, is being held this Saturday June 16th at 9am.
Check the Facebook event page for more details, and to RSVP!




Mid City West Community Council Profiles

In an effort to provide more information about the members of our Board this issue of our newslettercontinues a series of profiles.  It is hoped that through these brief profiles other board members and the community members we represent will get to know us better.

This month you’ll be introduced to Christine Johnson and Don Whitehead.

Christine Johnson – Toying With The Neighborhood

“I ran for neighborhood council because of my love for Wilshire Boulevard and the history of the Miracle Mile community,” said Christine Johnson.  “I see greater mid city west as a rapidly changing, diverse, and potentially pivotal area.”

She moved to LA in 2005 from the east coast, and although her home is now in Koreatown, she is in the neighborhood every day of the week with her business, Miracle Mile Toy Hall.

“I opened the toy store not just because of a love of toys, but for the love of real, brick and mortar business and its important connection to the evolution of a city, “ Christine said.  “There is no greater joy than having a business that puts a smile on faces young and old. Even before I opened the doors to the store, people would walk by, peer into the windows and walk away happy.”

She recalled some of her greatest moments in her store – all relating to people.   She was able to introduce two new moms who live a couple blocks away and have never met, greeting a teacher who ran into someone she knew in the store, and telling a customer about a new cafe opening up down the street their spouse is going to love.

“This is exactly why real retail is so important in a community,” she said.  “We create connections that can only happen in real life, and those connections help us grow stronger as a city.”

Chrisitine had worked in both documentary film and for several speaker’s agencies before becoming a mom to three, and really craved interaction with people and actual products you could touch.

“I felt that offering real products- offline, not online- in a real community setting was something we were losing as a society, and the impact on a big city like Los Angeles couldn’t be good.”

Looking around at Miracle Mile, she saw a number of the same types of businesses, so a toy store seemed like a unique and welcome addition. Add to that the growing number of families staying in and relocating to the area, and the coming of the Purple Line.

“For five years we served our customers in a small shop on the north side of Wilshire Boulevard. Now, with a new owner, we’ve moved to the south side of Wilshire to the space formerly occupied by Whimsic Alley,” she said.

The new space includes a room for puppet shows, birthday parties, and even fencing classes. “All to serve our neighborhood,” Christine enthused.

“I love getting the inside scoop on what businesses are moving in and what new buildings are coming up. Although we’ve lost more than a few amazing local retailers and restaurants, the people I’ve met opening new businesses are truly amazing. They’re here for the long haul if we show them support, and share a love of mid city west.”

“Same goes for all of the new friends we have moving into the much-needed new housing going up all over the area,” she said.  “It’s my absolute pleasure to connect with all of these groups and to serve them all with my work with mid city west. It’s so important to respect the different backgrounds of our residents- long-time homeowners, renters, newcomers, business owners, and yes our homeless neighbors too- we are all stakeholders in the future of this area.”

Christine grew up in Baltimore Maryland, attended public schools, and got involved with the now legendary Kurt Schmoke’s mayoral campaign. She followed the lead of her parents who were active in volunteering in local government.

When Christine was in middle school the family moved to the small Massachusetts town of Lunenburg, and “where I could be found holding up election signs or volunteering as a page at open forum Town Hall meetings.”

Her dad was a part of the town’s nascent recycling program. As a middle schooler at the time “I was very much in favor, theoretically, of all things ‘save the earth’. My dad taught me about the practical side of that- the costs and practicalities of a recycling program in a small town didn’t always add up to what peoples ideals,” he recalled. “It’s really invaluable for kids to be exposed to the concept of government and how it connects to our everyday lives.”

“I love the work Mid City West does to make sure we are a part of the lives of everyone in the area,” said Christine, noting programs like the Parking Day, Movie Night, school backpack donations, and “even our sustainability projects that give everyone, but especially kids, a tangible connection to the neighborhood council and in turn how our city works.”

Christine said that she has really learned a lot about both big city and small town politics. “Turns out the blend of the two is the perfect reflection of how things work in LA’s neighborhood councils, especially mid city west,”

Christine has three kids and is expecting her fourth in August with her partner, Joey Apodaca, who is the Senior Field Representative for Congressman Ted W. Lieu. She has a BA in English from Wellesley College.

“During college, I studied abroad in Warsaw Poland just after the fall of communism, and I also worked for a summer there for a public relations firm that dealt with business privatization challenges,” she said. “What a great lens through which to see capitalism in its most nascent form!”

Don Whitehead – Touring for Himself & Others

Don grew up in the area and attended schools just beyond the boundaries of Mid City West – Wilshire Crest Elementary School, John Burroughs Junior High and Los Angeles High School.  His second home was the Westside Jewish Community Center where he participated in sports leagues, played basketball, swam and had his first jobs, working in the print shop and parking lot.

He graduated from Occidental College with a double major in Political Science and Media.  Along the way he had worked in a US Senate campaign and in the senator’s Los Angeles office.

Before graduating from college he had been an intern reporter at the Los Angeles Times although he had no prior journalism experience.  “My first published article was in column one – top/left of the front page.  Someone told me, ‘It’s only downhill from here.’”

These experiences led to many years working as a newspaper reporter, in political campaigns, for elected officials, and with an issue and image communications firm.

This broad communications background eventually led him to work for two traditional ad agencies and in a client-side marketing position, acquiring an MBA along the way in the Executive MBA Program at UCLA.

“I spent my final several working years doing advertising and marketing work for business-to-business clients,” he said.  “Working from home I had the time and flexibility to be more involved with my two sons as an school volunteer, coaching sports teams, and usually being home when they arrived.”

Those two sons are now grown and married, one last June and the other a few days ago.

Don is looking forward to them joining in an upcoming vacation to the south of Scotland and north of England.  Among other things, they and other relatives and friends will spend a week living in a 1750s manor house that was once home to famed writer James Boswell.

Staying in historic dwellings is his passion and something he and his wife, Katherine have done numerous times.  “These are house rentals, not hotels, and these very special places are your home. The best become part of you forever,” he said enthusiastically.  “I’ve lived in Hampton Court Palace, Rudyard Kipling’s Vermont home, a Gothic Temple on the grounds of one of England’s finest gardens and other incredible places.”

He also has written occasional travel stories on these and other vacations – having appeared in newspapers across the county and perhaps “the seat back in front of you.”

Although Don had been away from politics and government for many years, his interest remained.  About a decade ago he volunteered in a City Council campaign and got exposed to the neighborhood council system.  Shortly thereafter he ran for Mid City West…and lost.  “I was appointed some months later and have been elected a couple of times since then,” he said.

“I really enjoy the consideration of issues and trying to find the ‘best’ answer,” he said. “Too often people don’t realize that most things are varying shades of grey without a clear right or wrong answer. I have a lot of respect for the other Mid City West members who, like me, are also looking for that ‘best’ answer.”

Don has focused his Mid City West efforts on what he knows best, communications, working on the new logo, upcoming brochure revision and the monthly electronic newsletter including biographies on most of the members.

“The biographies have been a great way to get to know about other members of Mid City West and I hope others have enjoyed them,” Don said.

Don and Katherine McDaniel, an Intellectual Property attorney, married for approaching 40 years, have lived in their Miracle Mile home since 1980.

His other volunteer work is as a docent at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.  “I enjoy them both, although in very different ways.”

At LACMA Don aims to ensure the elementary school students he tours have a good time and want to return to the museum.  “For many of the kids it is their first exposure to an art museum, and you want it to be a positive experience.”  At the Holocaust museum he hopes his audience members, generally high school students, leave the museum better educated and thoughtful about what they have heard and seen. “It’s an important place, a wonderfully done museum, and history that should be remembered.”

“I love history,” Don said.  “It drives much of what I read, my museum work, and what we do on vacation.”


For our archive of past newsletters, click here!