Just Say ‘Ice Cream’

My friend Viv invited me to an event a few months ago. I can’t remember exactly how she said it but this is how it sounded in my head:

Viv: Hey Pilar, you like ice cream. There’s an event for this organization at Coolhaus, blah blah blah blah blah.

I’m sure she said great things about the organization, Opportunity Fund, but you can’t say ice cream, then name my #1 favorite ice cream spot, and expect me to hear/listen for the rest. You will get my attention then I will lose focus.

Anywho, I attended the event, a friendraiser for Opportunity Fund, last September. I was hooked. Opportunity Fund provides microloans to build  a more inclusive financial system.  One of the businesses they loaned to was Coolhaus. They provided Coolhaus with a $50,000 loan to buy a food truck when they were getting started. Prior to the loan, Natasha and Freya, the owners, had an old mail truck that didn’t work. They had to tow the truck to Coachella. After Coachella, Coolhaus blew up and definitely needed a working truck.  Opportunity Fund helped them get that truck– the truck that I used to have to track on Twitter and follow around town! Their success lead to a brick and mortar ice cream shop on Washington Boulevard in Culver City.  And when they have the flavors Halo and Thai Iced Tea, it’s as if God/The Universe is saying, “Hey World! Life is good! I got chu!”

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Back to Opportunity Fund…

As if they organization could not get any awesomer, they had one of the best events I have ever attended. Their event, Taste of Microfinance, celebrated local entrepreneurs that they funded: Ricky’s Fish Tacos, Los Balcones Del Peru, Takuma’s Burger, World Empanadas, CJ’s Wings, Sugarbird Sweets, and Coolhaus.  The event was held at SmogShoppe. Super hip, super fun, ridiculously delicious. In addition to the chefs they supported, other businesses they supported were present, including Wurwand Grant Challenge Finalists: Pinky Rose Boutique, Cosmetica Latina, RCO Tires, World Empanadas, and ABL Denim.

Hearing first hand from the businesses their passion for their craft, the work required, and the difference the loan made in their life was nothing short of inspiring. I spoke with a guest who said that the owner of Pinky Rose was mentoring her.  There was so much giving back to the room, regardless of one’s situation in business, profession, or life.  Another guest I spoke with asked who the people were in the room- were they the politicians, nonprofits, businesses? I replied, “All of the above!” There were bankers, activists, nonprofit leaders, foundation leaders, entrepreneurs, folks who worked for elected officials, academics, etc. etc. Unlike a number of events I have attended where people were there because 1) they had to, 2) they had to because they were helping fill a table their company sponsored, and/or 3) they just go to events (kinda like FOMO, esp. in L.A.), everyone I spoke with were there because for the same purpose:

[To] come together to support the next generation of entrepreneurs in Los Angeles – ensuring everyone has access to the funds and advice they need to close the gap between a dream and an opportunity.

Most people stayed until the very end.  My friend and I ended up talking to one of their institutional supporters until the very, VERY end– the point when staff started boxing materials and the rental company was picking up the tables and chairs. But there were so many stories, so many inspirations.

I’m so glad Viv knew what to say to me.

To learn more, click HERE.

 

 

 

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Hanging Out With the Cool Kids

A video of my favorite group in Los Angeles.  I previously blogged about The Fringe @ Center Theatre Group on Culver City Patch.  Check out the video and the blog and you’ll understand why I am proud to be a part of this group: nice, smart, accomplished, inspiring, and ridiculously fun!

#ConvergeLA

As what usually happens when one is sick at home, in their pajamas, and having a pity party of one, I looked to Facebook for some entertainment and/or virtual company.  I noticed that a number of my friends (for the record: also ‘real life’ friends) were posting about art and Los Angeles and some gathering.  Some were posting on Facebook from Twitter and had #ConvergeLA.  Well, I just finished watching a series on Netflix, emotionally drained (darn you Walter White!), and couldn’t talk or go anywhere, so I decided to follow the stream on Twitter.

Arts For LA hosted the 2013 LA Convergence, “a biennial day of collaboration, conversation, and shared goal setting for those working to make Los Angeles a healthy, vibrant, and prosperous region through arts and culture.” Through tweets, retweets, and top tweets. I was able to get a bit of a snapshot as to what struck a chord with some of the attendees– at least those who were tweeting.  For example, the connection between art and STEM– STEAM— resonated with a lot of people, especially when one of the panelists mentioned that 86% of MIT students play music.

In addition to learning, I was able to participate by direct messaging people who were tweeting as well as responding and asking questions via retweets. Direct messaging was akin to passing notes, while retweeting and quoting tweets were like raising my hands. I even “networked” a bit. Someone who saw one of my retweets visited my Twitter profile, clicked the link to this website, learned that we had similar interests and community work, sent me a message, and now we are connected.  One of the presenters saw my tweet asking about the presentation material and tweeted back that she could send it to me.

Of course there were limitations to the live stream experience, e.g., I was only privy to the information and thoughts of those who were tweeting.  And social media should never replace human interaction.  But this experience was a reminder that social media serves a much bigger purpose than just letting your friends know what you had for breakfast, sharing vacation pictures for people to envy, memes, and learning what the fox said.

Social media is truly another tool in community engagement.

Notes: I have participated in live tweets and chats before.  Perhaps because I was focused and not multi-tasking (e-mailing, on the phone, etc.), this one *almost* felt like I was actually in the room.    

ConvergeLA tweets
ConvergeLA tweets