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Moms Making a Difference: Christine Kantner

This is a sponsored post

Christine Kantner’s life was already busy; she’s the co-owner of Cafe Stella and mom to twin 14-year-old boys. But when a nearby building was demolished – a surprise to her and many neighbors – she knew she had to take action. She served on her Silver Lake Neighborhood Council from 2014 to 2016 and currently volunteers on the Urban Design & Preservation Committee.

She is so invested in preserving her neighborhood that she created the nonprofit Silver Lake Heritage Trust, which works to protect the architectural, historical and cultural resources of the Silver Lake, Echo Park and Elysian Valley.

Christine is one of the many Los Angeles residents serving on their local Neighborhood Councils. The Councils are a way for residents in neighborhoods all over Los Angeles to have their voices heard.

From 7 to 30 individuals serve on each of the 99 Neighborhood Councils around Los Angeles and form the grassroots level of the Los Angeles City government. NC members are elected by their local communities, so they are elected officials, but serve as volunteers. Anyone who lives, works or owns property in an area can run to serve on a Neighborhood Council.

Neighborhood Council Elections are happening now through June. Find out who is running for a spot on the council in your neighborhood and find out when and where to vote at EmpowerLA.

We are working with Empower LA to get the word out about the Neighborhood Councils and how important they are to having a vibrant and thriving Los Angeles. This post is the second in a series where we highlight local moms who have served or are serving on their neighborhood councils. Click here to learn more about the Neighborhood Councils and to meet the other women in the series.

Christine Kantner is producer and co-owner of Cafe Stella. She served on the Silver Lake neighborhood council from 2014-2016 and on the Urban Design and Preservation Committee from 2014 to the present.

1) How did you first hear about the Neighborhood Council?

I first heard of the Neighborhood Council via Small Business owners on Sunset Junction.

2) What made you decide to run for neighborhood council? Was there an issue happening in your neighborhood that you wanted resolved?

I decided to run for Neighborhood Council after an overnight demolition that took the neighborhood by surprise. I wanted to try and make our voices heard collectively by representing the stakeholders in our community – renters, homeowners and small business owners.

Our neighborhood is still facing major issues such as Ellis Act Evictions – a rent control loophole, rising rents, demolitions, displacement and homelessness.

3) What is an average meeting like?

Meetings begin with open comments, often community leaders attend and give a brief speech, then on to voting on various issues that affect the community.

4) What has been most surprising to you about the experience?

The NC experience really opened my eyes to seeing and understanding different points of view. Everyone comes into the Neighborhood Council arena with a specific issue and opinion on that issue. The diversity really helps enlighten and enrich the experience. I have forged friendships and connections with people I have met through the Neighborhood Council that I would never had crossed paths with otherwise.

My experience on the Neighborhood Council inspired me to found a nonprofit, The Silver Lake Heritage Trust, to preserve and protect the architectural, historical and cultural resources of the Silver Lake, Echo Park and Elysian Valley. It’s proven that happiness spikes when you feel a sense of community and my experience with the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council has definitely delivered.

5) What is something that people might not understand about the Neighborhood Council?

The Various committees are where the real work is done. This is where calls to action – Motions – are forwarded to the Neighborhood Council Governing Board for discussion and action. I am still a member of the Urban Design and Preservation Committee even though I served 4 years ago.

6) How do balance raising kids with your work on the council?

I like that my sons see me involved in the community in this way. They have come to neighborhood clean ups with me and even braved a meeting or two.

7) What do your children think of mom being in the council? Do you talk to them about giving back to the community

I think it’s very important for children to see their mothers work and/or volunteer outside of the home. We must lead by example for the next generation.

8) Do you think Moms are uniquely qualified to help their neighborhoods? Why?

Diplomacy is a given when you become a mother and I believe it’s the best quality in a leader – from Neighborhood Council on up.

This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Empower LA. All opinions are my own.

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