FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2011
LA’s Neighborhood Councils Present the
Congress of Neighborhoods -
“Increasing Public Participation in Government!”
Neighborhood Council leaders from throughout the city have partnered with the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) in bringing the 2011 LA Congress of Neighborhoods to LA’s City Hall on Saturday, September 24, from 7:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Los Angeles has 95 certified neighborhood councils and the Congress of Neighborhoods is designed by council leaders so that there is something for everybody, from curious stakeholders to new board members to seasoned veterans of the civic engagement process to city hall insiders.
The event is free, it includes breakfast and lunch, and registration only takes a moment.
There are two morning sessions and one afternoon session, filled with 21 different programs designed by neighborhood council members to be practical, how-to types of sessions that offer a broad overview of the subject and resources that support local action.
Ten of the programs cover basic information that is important for new Board members. Eleven programs cover more advanced topics designed for experienced Board members and focused subjects that will be attractive to those with special interests and talents.
The afternoon “Action Session” is a literal “Congress of Neighborhoods,” an experimental return to the intent of the City Charter Article IX, Section 901(c) provision that neighborhood councils can come together, discuss issues, and take collective action at a Congress.
Currently, the press pontificates on the neighborhood council system, bloggers challenge neighborhood council outreach, the City Attorney opines on neighborhood council elections, the City Controller audits the neighborhood councils, and the City Council entertains motions that address training and funding, and everybody seems to have an opinion on the future of the neighborhood council system except for those most impacted, the neighborhood councils.
The 2011 LA Congress of Neighborhoods puts the future of the neighborhood council system in the hands of the community by creating an environment for education, for empowerment, and for engagement. Most of all, it creates an opportunity for neighborhood councils to work together as a citywide movement.
In 1999 the voters approved a new City Charter which declared “We the people of the City of Los Angeles, in order to establish a responsive, effective and accountable government through which all voices in our diverse society can be heard; to provide fair representation and distribution of government resources and a safe, harmonious environment based on principles of liberty and equality, do enact this Charter.”
The new City Charter’s Article IX provided for the creation of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and a citywide system of neighborhood councils in order to “promote more citizen participation in government and make government more responsive to local needs.”
It took the threat of secession and the will of the people, but this simple mandate has resulted in a current roster of 95 neighborhood councils, including Wilmington and Coastal San Pedro which are approaching their 10th birthdays on December 11, 2011.
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