Across Los Angeles, for the past few years, community activists, inspired by the idea of the Social Center/Infoshop from Europe, or the Cafe Cultural in Mexico, have started non-governmental community centers. In LA, they're primarily by and for the people living in predominantly Chicano neighborhoods, but there are projects that exist within different contexts, with different social goals. Some, like Koo's and Workmen's Circle, have been around for years in one form or other, while others, like the Eastside Cafe, have been in formation for years, but only opened recently. Many come from a hybrid culture of punk and grassroots politics, like Flor Y Canto, Centro Cultural de Mexico, and Casa del Pueblo.
These centers don't exist in an historical vacuum. An early effort at an infoshop was formed in Highland Park as the (de)center. Also, there's a long tradition of radical bookstores like Sisterhood and Pathfinder, as well as Eso Won and Midnight Special. Also, there are the religious centers like the Islamic Centers, Jewish Shuls, and Christian Science Reading Rooms, which all function as community centers. They are also paralleled by community-oriented performance spaces, like Kulak's Woodshed, the Un-Urban Cafe, the old Iguanaland, Beyond Baroque, the World Stage, and Koo's.
This article is an attempt to map some of the progressive community centers around Los Angeles. Please post photos of your favorite community spaces as comments. You can upload one image per comment.