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Streetsies 2014: Livable Streets Friendly Businesses

streetsie_2014

This year, we’re going to spread out the Streetsie voting over a couple of weeks, with some voting going live ealier, today, and and some next week. Voting will close on Friday, January 2, 2015, at noon. Reader voting accounts for one-half of the scoring this year, with one-quarter going to staff voting, and another one-quarter going to a board vote.

For each category, we came up with around ten first nominees with the list being pared down to the last five “finalists” with input from the staff and board. You can vote in our "elected leader of the year" and "civil servant of the year" polls too.

This business category is pretty new, which is why there are some very different nominees. We decided "no bike shops" to keep the category from becoming an argument over who has the best neighborhood bike shop, although some of us felt we could name this award after the Flying Pigeon in Northeast L.A. Without further adieu...

Bike Center - The biggest bike parking center in America means a lot more to the community than "a place to park a bike." Bike Center hosts classes, seminars, and is a hub for bicycling meet-ups in Santa Monica. Bike Center sponsors local advocacy groups (disclaimer: including Santa Monica Next) and even manages to turn a hefty profit. In 2013, Next produced a video about Bike Center (above).

Photo: ##http://www.laweekly.com/squidink/2014/04/22/pine-and-crane-brings-taiwanese-cuisine-to-silver-lake##Daniela Garlaza##
Photo: ##http://www.laweekly.com/squidink/2014/04/22/pine-and-crane-brings-taiwanese-cuisine-to-silver-lake##Daniela Garlaza##
Photo: ##http://www.laweekly.com/squidink/2014/04/22/pine-and-crane-brings-taiwanese-cuisine-to-silver-lake##Daniela Garlaza##

Pine and Crane - Pine and Crane is a Taiwanese restaurant on the Sunset Triangle Plaza. It takes advantage of its surroundings with outdoor seating and a healthy menu featuring vegetables grown by the owners. Pine and Crane sponsors the bike repair station in the Plaza.

Image via ##http://designedbycolleen.com/post/66412196165/timeline-installation-for-southern-california##Designed by Colleen##
Image via ##http://designedbycolleen.com/post/66412196165/timeline-installation-for-southern-california##Designed by Colleen##
Image via ##http://designedbycolleen.com/post/66412196165/timeline-installation-for-southern-california##Designed by Colleen##

Designed by Colleen - You may not know it, but you've seen graphics by Colleen Corcoran and Designed by Colleen...probably many times. In addition to a thriving graphics business, Design by Colleen has volunteered her talents to Los Angeles Walks, CicLAvia, and other livable streets organizations.

Ben Caldwell, founder of the KAOS Network, discusses the "Leimert Phone Company". (photo: sahra sulaiman)
Ben Caldwell, founder of the KAOS Network, opens the pitch session by describing the origins of the project. (photo: sahra sulaiman)

KAOS Network - The KAOS Network, founded by artist, filmmaker, educator, historian, and innovator Ben Caldwell, is not technically a business -- it's an artspace -- but it is one of the anchors in the transition to a more vibrant pedestrian community that Leimert Park Village is currently experiencing. Caldwell is the force behind the Leimert Park Art Walk, is one of the original stakeholders behind Leimert Park Village's 20/20 Vision Initiative, co-led the tactical media courses (with USC's Francois Bar) that resulted in the launch of the Leimert Park Phone Company, has been deeply involved in the People St. plaza project, hosted CicLAvia Explores and arranged entertainment for the hub at December's South L.A. CicLAvia, and has a bike repair station outside his door.

The Boyle Heights Bridgerunners -- founded by David Gomez of Espacio 1839 -- celebrate one year of Wednesday nights running the bridges between Boyle Heights and DTLA. Photo: Boyle Heights Bridgerunners
The Boyle Heights Bridge Runners -- founded by David Gomez of Espacio 1839 -- celebrate one year of Wednesday nights running the bridges between Boyle Heights and DTLA. Photo: Boyle Heights Bridgerunners
The Boyle Heights Bridgerunners -- founded by David Gomez of Espacio 1839 -- celebrate one year of Wednesday nights running the bridges between Boyle Heights and DTLA. Photo: Boyle Heights Bridgerunners

Espacio 1839 - Two doors down from Mariachi plaza sits Espacio 1839 — home to Radio Sombra and a conscientiously curated gallery space/bookstore/music store/clothing shop steeped in the culture and history of the East Side and the struggles of the oppressed. Collective members Marco Amador, David Gómez, Elisa García, and Nico Aviña founded the space two years ago to provide a creative outlet for the community’s needs, aspirations, and desire for social justice. The expertise each member brings – Aviña as an artist, García as a former bookstore owner, Amador as a media maker and community organizer, and Gómez as a DJ — and their shared commitment to both investing in those on the margins and giving them a voice makes the space (and the streets/plaza their efforts often spill over into) feel urgent and alive. They recently celebrated the year anniversary of Boyle Heights Bridge Runners, a running group that has grown from 7 runners to as many as 80 (above) who run the bridges every Wednesday evening. The Bridge Runners help people from the community (women, especially) feel more comfortable jogging on their own in Boyle Heights and said of their first anniversary run that their growth was "Proof that the people of Boyle Heights are yearning for more public space. From the Mariachis, the runners, the skateboarders, the break dancers, the bike riders, the Cumbia dancers who co-exist with each other on a daily basis at the Mariachi Plaza. We all want to be outside, enjoying life."

Honorable Mention: Primera Taza Cafe (for organizing Boyle Heights' first 5k run), The HUB in Downtown Los Angeles (for hosting events including the reception to welcome Seleta Reynolds), and Meléndrez (for their work on MyFigueroa and other great projects).

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