Family Continues To Uplift in Luis Ek’s Name with Cochinita Pibil Sale this Saturday, the 24th, and Sunday, the 25th

The Ek family is hosting a special weekend food sale from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM this Saturday, the 24th, and Sunday, the 25th, in the Virgil Village area to raise funds for memorial services honoring Luis Ek, 31, who unexpectedly passed away last Tuesday, April 13th, leaving behind two daughters.

The featured dish for the fundraiser, Cochinita Pibil, is a classic slow-roasted and marinated pork dish from the state of Yucatán, Mexico. Orders placed will be for pick-up only. To get your plate and support this effort by Luis’s family, please call (213) 793-5671.

J.T.

Please save the Date: Samanta Helou-Hernandez & J.T. Return Thursday, April 29th for Grand Park’s L.A. Voices Festival

That’s right, Los Angeles!

Samanta and I’s activity for the special, digital gathering by Grand Park L.A. is a two-part informational livestream on how to “Make a Neighborhood” in response to gentrification in historically ethnic and working-class Los Angeles communities.

Part one will touch on how Samanta and I first came together and conceptualized a discussion series for our community based on three themes: historic redlining, current gentrification, and present and future housing affordability issues in the Virgil Village and East Hollywood areas.

Part two will discuss the evolution of our event from a discussion panel into a public art project, an educational pamphlet campaign, archival research and blog storytelling, and finally, round-table discussions with various community members affected by our series’ three major themes. Samanta and I will also discuss how to ensure language justice and accessibility throughout the process of “Making Our Neighborhood(s),” and more.

This event is free for the public. Simply save the date and time: April 29, 2021 at 6 PM at olav.grandparkla.org, which is also where you can learn more about the festival’s awesome digital lineup during the rest of this April 2021.

J.T.

EPISODE 54 – WENDY GOMEZ, PRINCETON SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

In our 54th episode, we welcome Wendy Gomez, originally of the Silver Lake and East Hollywood area, to the pod! Wendy completed her undergrad studies at Dickinson College through the Posse Foundation, and is now studying domestic policy at none other than Princeton university. We talk about Wendy’s coming up through Los Angeles via schools in the Pacific Palisades, her work in Washington D.C. during the Obama years, her thoughts on the recent violent evictions of unhoused residents in Echo Park, and more. A can’t miss session, especially for those born and raised in the Los.

J.T.

Please Uplift the Name of Luis Ek, whose daughters, now miss their Papa

This Tuesday, April 13th, in the early morning hours, Luis Ek, pictured above this column at the top right with his two daughters, died of unknown causes just a block away from his home while attending to an errand. He was only 31 years old.

Luis Ek (Licho to friends), second from the left, with his clan since childhood in 2007.

As was customary for youth growing up along Virgil avenue in the early 2000s, Luis attended Lockwood Elementary, King Middle school, and John Marshall High school.

Also true to the fashion for many young Latinx kids in our community, Luis came to love heavy metal music at an early age in his life, and was as true to the form, replete with the rockero style of black hoodies, jeans, and skateboards, as he was loyal to his many friends, primos, and more who knew him.

One of Luis’s life-long friends and neighbors, Rene Martinez, noted of Luis, whose nickname was Licho:

“Happy, always smiling, ready to crack jokes. And always willing to help no matter what. Always had your back.”

In his early twenties, Luis became a father of two girls. After a separation from their mom, Luis faithfully attended to his daughters as their single parent. His daughters will now miss their papa, who could often be seen walking with the girls along Virgil avenue on their way to school, or just out for a stroll along Hoover street and the accompanying thoroughfares.

Constantly on his feet, one could also run into Luis picking up some pupusas after work at local California Grill, or laughing with one of the compradres over a drink after work. He was rarely ever truly alone; constantly on his way to someone, or for someone, in good spirits.

In 2018, for our community’s first-ever Back 2 School Party, Luis attended the show with his daughters, reliably smiling on. Our main photographer for the event, Samanta Helou-Hernandez, captured this photo of the trio.

Luis Ek (Licho), with his two daughters at the first-ever Back 2 School Party in East Hollywood; August 25, 2018. Photo courtesy of Samanta Helou-Hernandez at This Side of Hoover.

Luis is now survived by his two daughters, his mama and papa, siblings, tios, tias, primos, and many friends locally in Los Angeles and out as far as Yucatan, Mexico.

His prima, Genesis Ek, has set up this FUNDRAISER for a proper ceremony with respect to his untimely passing.

J.T.

Letter to Congressman Schiff: In Support of Little Tokyo Service Center’s Santa Monica & Vermont Apartments for East Hollywood

Dear Honorable Congressman Schiff,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to you today to express my support for the Little Tokyo Service Center’s (LTSC) transformative housing project in partnership with L.A. Metro at the Vermont/Santa Monica intersection in East Hollywood.

This past March, along with members of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and a coalition of storytellers, scholars, and other community members, I discussed historic redlining practices affecting East Hollywood in the critical years before the onset of WWII. You may or may not know that East Hollywood, along with a number of other neighborhoods in the Central L.A. area, was historically redlined by federal and municipal government officials who saw Black and immigrant families as “blight” and “too risky” or unworthy of investment.

As offensive as redlining was for racist language that discouraged private banks from lending to working-class families in East Hollywood, what was more consequential was redlining’s discouragement of building development to break ground for needed housing in the community.

This is still relevant today. The World War II era, for its myriad of unique particularities, continues bearing key connections to the current housing crisis in Los Angeles. In 1939, the national economy was still emerging from a decade of the Great Depression. Therefore, when the U.S. officially joined the conflict, while California’s ports and aerospace industries began employing masses of new workers, labor shortages threatened to stifle the state’s service and agriculture economies, which could have almost certainly cost the U.S. the war effort.

In bouts of heroism and bravery alike, waves of Black families from the historic U.S. south came to the rescue, especially for the Golden State’s service economies. Simultaneously, Latinx workers from the global south, particularly from Mexico, came to California as the first “Braceros” for the state’s agricultural industry.

Yet while these workers were sure to be hired in Los Angeles, what was entirely uncertain was their housing. After decades of racial covenants, deed restrictions, campaigns against housing for non-whites by an L.A. chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and their collaborators, and homogeneously white city councils, courtrooms, and police, Los Angeles left Black, Latinx and APPI communities with housing conditions that would only worsen with time.

Twenty years after the end of WWII, these conditions erupted in Watts. A generation later, less than twenty years after the world recession of 1973 – 1975, these conditions erupted again in South Central Los Angeles.

And today, even as research shows Black and Latinx people make up to 70% of the unhoused population in Los Angeles, and virtually the same rate of the incarcerated population in the L.A. County Jail and across California prisons, during the “war” against COVID, Black, Latinx and AAPI workers have unflinchingly and resiliently supported L.A.’s service, agricultural and transportation economies, including in East Hollywood. This is why LTSC’s project at Vermont/Santa Monica is as timely as it is appropriate. It is breaking the ground for families needed as early as the years before WWII.

I write in support of Little Tokyo Service Center’s Santa Monica & Vermont Apartments because they will provide 187 units of overdue affordable housing for people of color in the community, as well as permanent supportive housing that communities of color in East Hollywood have missed as the homelessness crisis, which is undoubtedly a humanitarian crisis, has only grown by leaps and bounds.

You are likely aware, Congressman Schiff, that in L.A. City Council’s 13th district, where East Hollywood is based, nearly 4,000 people are unhoused, and also that job losses due to the pandemic threaten to unhouse waves of more families of color in our community.

Therefore, while federal and municipal officials have still yet to officially account for discrimination in housing in East Hollywood due to redlining and related policies, LTSC’s extremely low-income housing is what beginning to “turn the page” looks like.

Congressman Schiff, the current moment for our state and nation calls for both bravery and urgency from our leadership, most of all in regards to historic issues of racial and economic justice in the U.S.

As you can recall, Lyndon B. Johnson was the first in Washington D.C. to officially declare “war” on poverty, but could only see the work unfinished as subsequent, “reactionary,” and corporate-bound leadership jeopardized the effort to bridge the wealth gap in our country. The moment now calls for that unfinished work to be resumed with utmost haste, and so we await your affirmation of this through your urgent support for LTSC’s housing work in East Hollywood.

Sincerely, and in community, always

J.T.

CirculatinG

While young, we stood tall against each other
Without knowing we were mountains.

Now grown, we stand alone, though
Betraying surfaces like fountains.

Mounting finite time and space,
Then turning into earth again,

The way knowledge turns to wisdom,
Only to become unknown again.

J.T.

This poem is dedicated to every brother, friend and neighbor gone too soon from our communities.

EPISODE 53 – LUCINE POTURYAN, LITTLE ARMENIA, EAST HOLLYWOOD

In our 53rd episode, Lucine Poturyan, born and raised in East Hollywood and now an official District Representative of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, joins us for a galvanizing conversation. Lucine speaks with us about her time as a student at Wesleyan University in Boston, why she decided to run for a seat on the Council this past March ’21, goals she’s set for her tenure with the EHNC, and how her Armenian heritage informs all of her work as a scholar and activist for working-class communities in Los Angeles today.

J.T.