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Thursday, Jul. 24, 2008 at 6:55 PM
My first visit to the Bus Riders Union meeting on
7/20/08 and boy, am I am impressed ! Enthusiastic courteous bilingual activists
Thinking naively that I was attending the actual meeting of the other bus passengers who formed to save the buses and keep the fares reasonable, I went to a Bus Riders Union meeting today.
But surprise and delight and admiration quickly burst in this room, at the beloved old Immanuel Presbyterian Church on Berendo & Wilshire. [they offer so many community groups access to meeting spaces and even bigger events which are held in their magnificent elegant sanctuary, they too deserve our appreciation and donations...the church is acting as a community reservoir, instead of a missionary for a religion here ]
Tho I tried to insist I wanted to enter in the regular large meeting room, I was sheparded [felt like a dog] into the introductory meeting instead, firmly, politely and with my arrogant attitude noted.
Of course, I was in the Right Place. With about 30 other "new potential members" seated in a big circle, we were informed and activated by two well-informed and enthusiastic sharing women : Lisa Adler and Elena Astilleros, both long time members of the main organization that umbrellas the Bus Riders Union = the Labor/ Community Strategy Center.Alternating in translating from english to spanish or back, both women gave us the briefest history of how this union was formed and what their aims are.
A role-play was also performed, including mostly new attendees, to show how the money MTA has is used: "70% goes to the rails and only 30% to the buses" - buses which traverse the very large city of Los Angeles in areas where the rail does not. Emphasis of money going towards more buses, having lower fares, more 'service hours' so buses run longer hours and in areas not yet accommodated by the MTA system, and other fair-justice issues were mentioned - like 'racism' and more.
They apparently slide easily in any other social-political issues that may also affect those who ride buses and riders can also become active in more than just the cash or pass bus fares.The people present in this room and in the fuller full-meeting held next door were very representative of the variety in Los Angeles, without the common lighter-toned beauties and handsome brutes that are even predominately shown on all spanish television &movies...the model types that are Not Representative of the populations to whom they present and offer their view.
So many hues, shades, sizes, forms, types, et al were present that this appeared to be a more 'democratic representation' than what is seen in some [not all] other issues activist organizations [include in this groups like the Progressive Democrats, or PETA or MECHA or so many other ethno-centric activist-power-wanting groups, etc.]
Apparently, as I heard, MTA was sued and lost, and in 1997 had to reinstate the bus pass that they intended to eliminate, thus making fares more affordable, and have buses that were less polluting, reduce overcrowding, and improved other areas of bus riding, instead treating it's customers like 'sardines'.
The suit was won by the Labor/ Community Strategy Center et.al [which included in the suit also the NAACP as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates. It seems MTA's 10 year commitment has been extended to date, tho I dont know those details yet.Obviously.....there are 'little people' who count .......even when they can do more than ride buses - to work, to shop, to go home, to go anywhere in LA city.
This is a relief to find out, as the ordinary news media likes to tell us about maybe one 'local hero', often a dog or cat, who has done something unusual, but learning of a whole group representing 'all of us' who ride the buses [even more now, for good reasons - -stalled to death traffic, extortionable gasoline prices, autos that cant be repaired by ordinary human auto mechanics any more, etc. ] Their next suggested meetings, which you too can attend or inquire further about if you care to are:
Thurs July 24 9am at MTA Board Meeting
Tues July 29 5:30 pm at Bus Riders Union office
Sat Aug 2 9:00 am at " " " "
Tues Aug 12 5:30 pm at " " " "
and especially the next BRU monthly meeting on Sat Aug 16 10:00 am at Immanuel Presbyterian Church [where I met them today, in basement] Their dues are low, sliding between to for a whole year, voting rights are for members I presume.
Even for those who do not ride the MTA buses, but want to do something helpful for all LA citizens or want to see how a well-run and effective meeting is held by what appeared to be mostly women-facilitators today, YOU TOO CAN GO... to learn, to join in, to gain some of their skills, and to insure that LA city buses & services are not reduced or ignored.
Today they voted & agreed to object to money being put in a the rail system when the same amount of cash could be put into soooooooo many more buses in areas where there are none or few now. Join in.
Their phone # 213 387 2880 located at /Wilshire & Western Aves, LA.
and I am not even a member !...... yet.
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