2016 L.A. Streetsies: Vote for Advocate of the Year


Whose Streetsies??!? Our Streetsies!! Today we open the votes for individual advocate for 2016. The award is called the Deborah Murphy Award for Excellence in Advocacy, named for Deborah Murphy the founder and head of Los Angeles Walks.

Voting starts today and will close on Thursday, January 5, 2017 at noon. Reader voting accounts for one half of the scoring this year, with one quarter going to SBLA staff voting, and another quarter going to the SBLA steering committee vote. Last year we had a lot of apparent robo-votes coming in in large quantities from a few IP addresses, so we now have some safeguards to try to separate the real individual votes from imperial droid votes.

Make sure to also vote in the poll for Elected Official of the year, posted yesterday. Keep your browser peeled for four more categories coming this week: Civil Servant, Business, Media/Journalism, and Advocacy Group.

2016 Deborah Murphy Award for Excellence in Advocacy

  • Romel Pascual (46%, 681 Votes)
  • Luke Klipp (38%, 563 Votes)
  • The Untokening: Zahra Alabanza, Naomi Doerner, Adonia Lugo, Carolyn Sczczepanski, and Anthony Taylor (7%, 100 Votes)
  • Michael MacDonald (6%, 96 Votes)
  • Lewis MacAdams (3%, 42 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,482

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Two-thirds of the Untokening attendees were people of color. Photo: Argenis Apolinario
The Untokening formulated new visions for mobility, equity and justice. Photo: Argenis Apolinario

The Untokening organizers: Zahra Alabanza, Naomi Doerner, Adonia Lugo, Carolyn Sczczepanski, and Anthony Taylor – This past November, the organizers of The Untokening: A Convening for Just Streets and Communities brought together approximately 130 advocates from across the country – two-thirds of whom were advocates of color – to begin the process of formulating new visions for mobility advocacy. The effort was intended to reimagine what mobility advocacy would look like if equity and justice were the starting point of discussions. Too often, the organizers had found in their own work in mobility advocacy, equity and justice were relegated to the margins in planning and the advocates that tried to speak up on behalf of equity and justice tended to be tokenized, at best, and whitesplained, mansplained, and dismissed outright, at worst. Convinced there was another way forward, Zahra Alabanza, Naomi Doerner, Adonia Lugo, Carolyn Sczczepanski, and Anthony Taylor began thinking about what that way forward might look like. The product of months of conference calls amongst themselves and with advisory committee members from around the country, The Untokening was a unique unconference where advocates finally had the space to raise the questions they could not in other planning spaces and to outline what they might need to truly make streets safe and accessible for all.
(*Full disclosure, SBLA’s Sahra Sulaiman was also an Untokening organizer, but was brought in once the idea of putting together an event had been hatched. This nomination is intended to honor the originators.)

Luke Klipp. Photo via Facebook
Luke Klipp. Photo via Facebook

Luke Klipp – Luke Klipp has played numerous roles in efforts to make L.A. more livable. Perhaps most important is his role as the president of the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council, given that many Neighborhood Councils tend to come down on the side of 20th Century suburbanism. Klipp is the founder of Happy Urbanists, author of Luke Speaks, the producer of Jaydancing, and an important voice for the emerging multi-modal Los Angeles.

Lewis MacAdams surveying Army Corps of Engineers bulldozer damage to the L.A. River in Frogtown in the 1997. Photo by Blake Gumprecht via FoLAR
Lewis MacAdams surveying Army Corps of Engineers bulldozer damage to the L.A. River in Frogtown in the 1997. Photo by Blake Gumprecht via FoLAR

Lewis MacAdams – The L.A. River’s most steadfast and most visionary friend announced his retirement this year. In the 1980s, when few residents knew that L.A. actually had a river, Lewis MacAdams founded Friends of the Los Angeles River. Thousands of trees, clean-ups, bike paths, parks, lawsuits, and master plans later, the L.A. River is making a comeback, and has even bigger transformations on the way. MacAdams more than any other individual embodies the creativity, persistence and vision that is revitalizing the river for all Angelenos, including diverse communities along its banks, and frogs, fish, and fowl that depend on it.

Michael MacDonald biking to vote. Photo via Instagram
Michael MacDonald biking to vote. Photo via Instagram

Michael MacDonald – Architect Michael MacDonald is the bicycling force behind Bike the Vote L.A. which weighs in and mobilizes on propositions and candidates all over L.A. County. Bike the Vote is making sure that candidates take bicyclists seriously. MacDonald’s bike activism goes way beyond BTV, though. He is also one of the creators of Street Beats Great Streets re-envisioning of the intersection of Crenshaw and Florence. He is one of the key players in the Keep MyFig On Track working group that worked to ensure that the big MyFigueroa complete streets project is now on track to open in 2017. He also tips off Streetsblog and others to all kinds of minor and major car-centric transgressions he encounters cycling L.A. streets.

CicLAvia Executive Director Romel Pascual holds up the map from the first CicLAvia on October 10, 2010. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
CicLAvia Executive Director Romel Pascual holds up the map from the first CicLAvia. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Romel Pascual – After serving as Antonio Villaraigosa’s deputy mayor responsible for getting CicLAvia going, Romel Pascual now serves as the Executive Director of the CicLAvia non-profit organization. Pascual has maintained and expanded the already immensely popular CicLAvia tradition, and is extending it into new parts of the city and the region, including places like Glendale, Atwater Village, San Dimas, Culver City, San Pedro, and Wilmington. With Measure M funding secure, Pascual will be key in further CicLAvia expansion and institutionalization.

Honorable Mentions: The L.A. County Bicycle Coalition’s Hyeran Lee shepherded LACBC’s bike count and various advocacy efforts.  Jim Shanman leads Culver City Walk n Rollers work to get more kids bicycling and walking safely.

Past Winners: Tamika Butler, Mark Lopez, Jessica Meaney, Valerie Watson, Colin Bogart, Sunyoung Yang, Don Ward, Stephen Box


  • LAguttersnipe

    Michael MacDonald’s Wilshire bus lane video was my favorite thing this year, gets my vote!

  • Joe Commuter

    This should go to Michael, let me explain why:

    Lewis McAdams and Romel are well-known and paid advocates. There is nothing wrong with this but it does raise the bar in what we should expect from them. Further, they are at such a level of advocacy that they partner with the City rather than push the City in any direction. I could be gravely mistaken but McAdams seemed MIA during the Hyperion and Riverside Dr bridge fights, which will affect River activity and access. McAdams getting more recognition will do little to inspire other advocates. As for Romel? I don’t see CicLAvia doing anything other than CicLAvia…again nothing wrong with this but it would be great if they could help in advocating for infrastructure more visibly. CicLAvia has the potential to mobilize hundreds if not thousands of “non-advocates” yet isn’t capitalizing on this.

    I don’t have much to say about Untokening, they put together a conference. What has changed in the local or national scene as a result? They generated some buzz but didn’t really make waves. It also involved paid advocates. Again, nothing against getting paid to advocate for a more livable future, but it raises the expectations.

    Michael is just a regular person. He is not a paid advocate which makes his energy and organizing efforts all the more impressive. His work with Bike the Vote has helped steer discussion and made politicians fight to be the most bike friendly. He also did great work in mobilizing to keep MyFig on track. Luke has also done good work, but I think if asked to choose between the two, Michael has been a bit more out there, more bold in his advocacy, and highlighted the importance of politics in addressing urban issues. We need more advocates like Michael and Luke who attend meetings, are proactive, and put in hours on this outside of a regular day job.

  • Frank B

    I concur that it’s not an even playing field when you have nominees who do this as part of their paid employment, versus those who do it outside of their work time. I agree special consideration should go to those who are going above and beyond on their own time to make this a better, more livable city!

  • MC Rogue

    I’m sure Michael’s financially doing fine and able to personally support his philanthropic endeavors.

  • MC Rogue

    It’s not like he’s a poor man struggling deeply and yet still fighting for the city.

  • MC Rogue

    Frank, I’m sure Michael is doing a lot better financially than the average Angeleno. Most people who do good work in this city don’t have large budgets to support them, and yet they still fight from a place of struggle. Michael’s utilizing his privilege to do good work and we all appreciate that. But don’t make it sound like he’s the poor, unsung hero fighting for the city while not knowing where his next meal is coming from.

  • TerranceS

    Yeah – he just has a 50 hour a week job that he does before and around his important advocacy work. Commitment matters.

  • El Fartolo

    Whether Michael is doing well because of his job or not has NO BEARING on his advocacy work. Time is time. You get paid or you dont for things you do and you can do other things with your time when you are not getting paid. to sacrifice your free time for a cause is a huge gift to society especially in this city where all the city clowncil meetings are held during the day on work days. Michael deserves this!

  • Brandon Elliott

    And I’m sure he’s not the only one on this list who works so many long hours, and yet still is philanthropic or does things without considering what he could receive.


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