Westchester/Playa Hometown News January 2023 edition

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January 2023 Planting the seeds for Tomat ...page 14 Getting involved in your neighborhood in 2023...page 4 Westchester's most anticipated restaurant gets ready for summer opening

Happy New Year!

Page 2 • January 2023 Westchester •
HomeTown News
Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista

Getting involved in your neighborhood in 2023 4 Sunstone Yoga stays local to create community 8 5 Questions With... 10 Tomat honors the past while creating a delicious future 14 Neighborhood Council monthly update 20

HOMETOWN STAFF/CONTRIBUTORS

Stephanie Davis, Publisher

Jeff Blair, Contributing Writer Fay Craton, Contributing Writer

Shanee Edwards, Contributing Writer

About The HomeTown News (HTN)

The HomeTown News is a monthly community newspaper dedicated to providing information about the people, events and happenings of Westchester, Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey and Playa Vista. Look for the HomeTown News the first Thursday of the month at your home or at one of our drop-off locations, including: The Book Jewel, Westchester Family YMCA, Playa Pharmacy, Loyola Village Library, Playa Vista Library, Ralphs Sepulveda and Cantalini’s Salerno Beach.

Connect with the HTN: Mailing Address: 8939 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Ste. 110 #745 Westchester, CA 90045

• Email: westchesterhometown@yahoo.com

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The deadline for submissions is the 22nd of each month.

What your BID does

The Westchester Town Center BID creates a vibrant, clean, and safe business area, delivering services and improvements above and beyond the baseline services provided by the City of Los Angeles. From security ambassadors and twinkle lights during the holidays to sidewalk maintenance and more, the BID is working to make Westchester the best it can be.

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This Month Brings You A look inside your HTN
Front page: Natalie Dial and Harry Posner pose in front of their home with a selection of veggies from the local farmers’ market.
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Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner/Zsuzsi Photography for the Hometown News.
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Getting involved in your community in 2023

Is this your year to get involved in your neighborhood? If one of your goals for the next 12 months is to get more active in the community, there are plenty of rewarding and fun ways to make a positive impact on Westchester/Playa!

Whether you’re looking to get civically engaged, give back, volunteer or meet new friends, here are some ways to connect with your community in 2023!

Run for Neighborhood Council. Interested in making your voice heard and impacting important decisions that affect the area?

Consider running for a seat on the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa (NCWP). The NCWP is an advisory board to the L.A. City Council that meets the first Tuesday of the month to hear and vote on pressing issues for Westchester, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista. Board meetings discuss issues like development projects, airport construction, public safety and more. The NCWP also has 11 committees that meet regularly (or as needed) that the community is invited to participate in and attend.

The volunteer board is made up of 31 members that live, work, own property or are “community interest stakeholders” in NCWP’s boundaries. This election cycle, 15 seats will be on the ballot including: Residential Seats 1,3,5,7,9,11,13 and 15; At Large Seats 2 and 3; 90094 Business Seat, Income Real Property Seat; LAX Seat; Religious Seat and the Senior Citizens Seat. Those interested in running must submit a candidate application with the city by January 10 at empowerla.org. Voting will take place in person or

via vote-by-mail ballots. Election Day is March 26. More details on voting and requesting a ballot will be made available at empowerla.org.

While the NCWP monthly board meeting takes place on the first Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom, due to the holidays, the January meeting has a special date of Tuesday, January 10. Items on the agenda include the SoCalGas’ Playa del Rey facility and the upcoming election. For more information, please visit ncwpdr.org.

Join a local club or service organization.

With the amount of local clubs in the area, there’s no denying that Westchester/Playa is a community that likes to volunteer and give back. Joining a philanthropic or social club is a great way to meet people in the neighborhood who share common interests and are passionate about supporting their hometown.

Some clubs meet weekly, monthly or more sporadically depending on their missions, and most require some sort of financial commitment to help with operations or the group’s charitable giving.

Some of the area’s most active clubs include:

• Woman’s Club of Playa del Rey. This group meets monthly from September through June for a group luncheon and to update members on club happenings. The club, one of the longest running in the neighborhood, was founded in 1938 and is made up of local women who volunteer to promote “civic, cultural and education efforts in Playa del Rey, Silicon Beach and surrounding communities.” The group, which has its own headquarters

on Manchester, recently hosted their second annual Holiday Boutique to raise money for high school scholarships, and they also participate in the Fourth of July Parade. In between meetings, members meet for walking groups, chats over coffee, trips and other social outings.

Learn more about the club and membership at wcpdr.org.

• Westchester Elks Lodge. The Elks are known for their yearly car show and chili cook off, as well as supporting causes dear to their hearts like Veterans’ issues and education. Once a member, you can enjoy social functions at the Lodge on Manchester Ave. in Playa del Rey and participate in meetings. If you don’t know a local Elk, you can fill out a membership inquiry form at elks.org, but you will need a sponsor to join.

• Rotary Club of Westchester. Founded in 1950, the Rotary Club of Westchester excels in do-goodery in Westchester and beyond. The club meets weekly for lunch, and also has a Young Professionals group that meets in the evenings. On any given month, the club and its members are volunteering their time to support a variety of local groups and causes from beach clean ups and collection drives to organizing WAM and giving away scholarships. The group’s major projects include the annual Book Sale over Memorial Day weekend in Westchester and its bi-annual Makeover Project. This year, the club will embark on its most ambitious makeover yet at St. Margaret’s Center. Learn more about this project and how to volunteer on page 21 and at rotary-westchester.com.

• Westchester Mental Health Guild. For 61 years, the Westchester Mental

Health Guild has been raising money to support mental health services at Airport Marina Counseling Service, which is located on La Tijera Blvd.

For decades, the Guild had a small boutique in Westchester, but in recent years they have focused their fundraising to events like the Holiday Home Tour, virtual wine tastings and more. Last month, the group held its annual Holiday Lights Tour & Contest, which featured more than 25 homes.

January is a great month to join the Guild and learn about their volunteer opportunities, since they hold their annual membership meeting on Wednesday, January 25. Members and guests will be treated to a catered lunch by Cantalini’s and will hear from featured speaker, Mishele Vieira. Vieira, an organization expert, will give a talk about getting organized and cleaning out clutter.

Memberships for the Guild start at a donation of $35 per year.

For more info about the Guild, visit westchestermhg.org. To RSVP and get more info about the luncheon, please email info@westchestermhg.org.

• The Playa Venice Sunrise Rotary Club. This local service group is known for “having fun and getting it done.” The club meets weekly for breakfast at Whiskey Red’s in Marina del Rey, and there’s never a shortage of volunteer or social activities on their calendar. Some of the club’s major projects include its Holiday Adopt A Family program, a pancake breakfast at Fire Station #5, and the annual Santa Tour. This month, the club will distribute thousands of dollars to local educators at its Teacher Mini Grant Breakfast.

Learn more about the club at playavenice.org.

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From left to right: 1. The Clean UP Westchester crew pose for a photo after picking up trash along La Tijera Blvd. 2. Volunteers help carry the flag at the Fourth of July Parade. Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner. 3. Teams high five at the Westchester Team Challenge, which raises money for beautification efforts led by the Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association. Photo courtesy WTC. 4. Playa Venice Sunrise Rotarians serve food to community members at National Night Out in Playa Vista. 4. A guitarist rocks out at the Westchester Arts & Music Block Party. The event is also a fundraiser, and WAM 2022 raised $35,000 for the Westchester Family YMCA thanks to sponsors and proceeds from the beer and wine garden. Photo by Marianne Pellin.
Page 4 • January 2023 Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News
Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News January 2023 • Page 5 SUNDAY, JANUARY 29th // 10AM-12N OPEN HOUSE JR. K - 8TH GRADE We invite you to join us at our 9AM Familly Mass Get to know the St. Anastasia Catholic Parish and School Community. Visit our Jr. K--8th Grade classrooms. Talk to our beloved teachers and staff about our academics and curriculum. Don’t miss our Student Council guided tours and refreshments! 8631 Stanmoor Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90045 | 310-645-8816 | school.st-anastasia.org JOIN US JOIN US

Rock Roll & Run 5K/1K returns to LMU.

After a three-year hiatus, the Rock Roll & Run for Education is back at LMU on Saturday, March 4. The fundraiser is hosted by the LAX Coastal Education Foundation in partnership with Loyola Marymount University.

The event will feature a 5K fun run as well as a 1K kids’ fun run around the picturesque campus and is a chance for local K-12 schools to raise funds for their programs. When registering for the event, participants can select the local school they’d like to support, and the more runners that register, the more money each school will receive.

After the race, runners and community members are invited to stick around to enjoy a pancake breakfast hosted by the Playa Venice Sunrise Rotary Club, family-friendly activities sponsored by local businesses and organizations, vendor booths and live music.

Participating schools include: Katherine Johnson STEM Academy, WISH, WISH Academy, Playa Vista Elementary, Visitation, Paseo Elementary, Venice High School, Goethe, Wright STEAM Magnet, Kentwood Elementary, Westport Heights, Playa del Rey Elementary, Cowan Elementary, St. Anastasia and Westchester Lutheran.

Sign-ups for the Rock Roll & Run

open on January 13 at laxcef.org. Early bird rates will be available for a limited time and a “virtual runner” option is also available.

Interested in sponsoring or having a booth at the event? Please email info@ laxcoastaledfoundation.com.

Every two years, the club, which has served the Westchester community since 1950, selects a community hub that is in need of some TLC to remodel. Past makeover recipients have included the Westchester Senior Center, the Westchester Townhouse, Safe Place for Youth and the Emerson Avenue Community Garden.

For its 2023 project, the WRC has selected St. Margaret’s Center. Just a stone’s throw away from Westchester in the Inglewood/ Lennox area, the nonprofit has served low-income and homeless families since 1987. Currently, the center provides a comprehensive range of emergency and support services to approximately 10,000 people annually in the area around LAX. Some of the projects the club plans to undertake at St. Margaret’s are renovating the counseling center and staff office, upgrading the storage closet to be more user-friendly, updating classrooms and numerous beautification projects.

Westchester Rotary

Club

readies for Makeover Project.

The Westchester Rotary Club (WRC) is embarking on its most ambitious service project yet, and the organization is calling on the community for help.

The club has already pledged $40,000 for the project and is looking to raise another $60,000 in donations, as well as in-kind gifts of construction services, building materials and skilled labor work (plumbers, electricians, general contractors, etc.).

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TheHTN.com Business & Nonpro t News
It’s time to Rock Roll & Run! Registration opens this month for the Third Annual Rock Roll & Run at Loyola Marymount University. The event is a fundraiser for local schools and features a 5K, 1K, live music and family-friendly activities hosted by local businesses and nonprofits. 60th Annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. The Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade celebrated its 60th anniversary on December 10. Community members crowded Burton Chace Park to view the 50-plus boats that participated in the festivities and showed off their lights, decorations and creativity to highlight the 2022 theme, “Sparkle on the Water.” Entries were judged by local community members and business leaders, including Sean Moor, Nicole King, Jerry Jen, Joe Coleman, Janet Bubar Rich and Andrew Harris. In the end, they awarded the “Best Overall” distinction to “Senia Jade” and skipper Lynn Silverman. The event was presented by Cedars-Sinai with Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell and celebrities David Foster and Katharine McPhee serving as Grand Marshals.
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del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News
Photo by Venice Paparazzi Marina

(continued from previous page)

The Makeover Project would not be possible without the support of volunteers, and the Westchester Rotary will hold several “makeover weekends” where community members can sign up to help demo, paint, organize, decorate, build furniture, and more. The club is also interested in connecting with local contacts in the electrical and construction trades.

For more information, to donate or volunteer, please email 2023 Rotary Makeover Project Leader Tori Hettinger at tori@torihettingerdesign. com.

Local business leaders thank protective agencies.

The LAX Coastal Chamber will host its Fourth Annual Protectors’ Appreciation Week on January 30 through February 3. This yearly event is meant to thank and celebrate the men and women who protect our communities and help keep us safe.

As part of the week’s activities, local business leaders will provide meals or drop off baskets of food and other goodies to the LAPD Pacific Division, Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Department, L.A. County Lifeguards, LAFD, LAWA Airport Police and the Coast Guard, as well as to numerous healthcare workers across the LAX Coastal area.

The chamber is still looking for sponsors and in-kind donations to add

to the baskets. If you’d like to support this event or learn more, please email the chamber at info@laxcoastal.com.

Community members invited to join the Life Stories Writing Group.

Have an interesting life story? Want to share your history with family and friends?

Join the Life Stories Writing Group in the New Year! The group meets Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. starting January 11 at the Westchester Family YMCA and is looking for new members.

The group has been meeting since 1996 and has helped members share their legacies–whether they’re epic or more ordinary. The supportive group meets once a week for two hours, and provides writing tips and prompts to spark ideas for members.

Whether you’d like to write a whole book or just jot down vignettes of your life’s most memorable moments, the class can help you put your legacy down on paper. Those interested in joining are asked to make a $10 donation per year. The class is facilitated by Madeline Nella, a retired associate professor from Santa Monica College. For more info, email madelinenella@yahoo.com.

Have info to share about your business or nonprofit? Email us at westchesterhometown@yahoo.com for a chance to be featured.

Our mission is to reconnect the youth with lost art and bring home economics back into our lives to help better our future.

Scan to find out more info about our programs

Pastor, Larry Becker

Sunday Worship Service 10:00 a.m. (Indoors & Livestream)

School Open House

Sunday, January 22

11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Infants - 8th Grade

Communion Services

1st and 3rd Sunday of the month

Local business leaders will deliver baskets, meals and treats to local fire and police stations as part of Protectors’ Appreciation Week starting January 30.
Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News January 2023 • Page 7
Pictured: Jane St. John (right) delivers goodies to the firefighters at Playa Vista’s Station 67. Registration is now open for our Safe Sitter® Classes starting January 18! Students in grades 6-8 will learn life-saving skills such as how to rescue someone who’s choking and other helpful information. The lessons are filled with fun activities and role-playing exercises. Students even get to use CPR manikins to practice choking rescue and CPR!
7831 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Westchester, CA 90045 310.670.5422 • www.WLCS.org

Sunstone Yoga stays local to create community at just the right time

For Westchester residents Kim and Chris Ohno, their vision for a neighborhood yoga studio came into focus unexpectedly. But their thriving partnership has never been without opportunity or foresight. They simply needed to get the timing just right.

In 2013, Chris and Kim met in a yoga class at the now defunct Yoga Collective in Venice with renowned teacher Tamal Dodge. With mats parked next to each other, it was a tiny touch that brought about Kim and Chris’ union.

“At the end of every practice, the last pose is Savasana–a resting pose,” says Chris. “You lay out and you go into this almost dream-like state where you’re fully relaxed and glad the class is over. You just soak up that moment. Kim and I were practicing next to each other during the whole class and in Savasana, our hands touched. Generally, when that happens, you kind of move your hand away from that person. You’re like, ‘Oops, excuse me,’ and you move your hand. So I said, ‘Oh, sorry,’ and she

said, ‘Oh, you’re good.’ So I just left my hand there.”

That moment sparked a conversation after class where they set up a first date that included yoga (of course!) then a bite to eat at Cafe Gratitude. That’s when they learned their paths had actually crossed many years before.

“We discovered on our first date that we went to high school together but didn’t know each other,” says Chris.

Surprisingly, they both attended the same small, private high school in La Puente. He graduated a year before her, unaware they would eventually connect through their love of yoga decades later. Funny how the universe works.

The couple eventually married and both underwent yoga teacher training with their mentor Tamal Dodge. With a shared vision for opening their own studio in 2019, they set their sights on a spot slightly to the east, in the Hilltop neighborhood near Slauson and Fairfax Avenues. Then Covid hit.

“We were literally about to drop a lot of money to build out the studio

and then the shutdown happened. We kind of lost that dream,” says Chris.

Despite all their best intentions, the timing just wasn’t right.

During the pandemic, Kim remained active on the “Moms of Westchester and Playa del Rey” Facebook page, enjoying the powerful online kinship and loyalty members share. When someone posted that the space that used to be The Good Pizza, near little Vons on Emerson Ave., was available for rent, Kim became intrigued.

to have a lot of challenges, but this one fell into place, and it’s in our neighborhood, which is a huge plus. We just hadn’t thought about this area.”

But Chris needed some convincing.

“When Kim first showed me the space, I just didn’t get it. I couldn’t understand how we were going to get people from all over to come into our neighborhood to take a yoga class,” says Chris. “And she said, ‘No, it’s just going to be a small neighborhood studio. Our main customers will be the moms in the neighborhood.’ Then I had a lightbulb. ‘Oh! We’ll just provide a service to the neighborhood. That’s cool!’”

Pretty quickly, Chris saw the benefits to having a location that’s nestled between several small businesses that have been thriving for decades.

“I went to look at it, and we called the leasing agent and everything just kind of fell into place really easily,” says Kim. “The other places we looked at back in 2019 seemed

“There’s this really nice community of businesses right there that feel like we’re all here for each other. Because of Vons and all the schools, it’s a wonderful hub of activity for Westchester,” says Chris.

Kim and Chris Ohno demonstrate some of their favorite yoga poses at their studio located in the heart of Westchester’s Kentwood neighborhood.
(continued on page 26)
Page 8 • January 2023 Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News
Everything just kind of fell into place really easily by Zsuzsi Steiner
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Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News January 2023 • Page 9 Contact us if you need help!

5 QUESTIONS WITH... ROBIN ZACHA

Fred puza

There’s no slowing down Fred Puza when it comes to caring about community and rolling up his sleeves to make a difference.

For the last 17 years, Fred has enjoyed being part of the staff at Loyola Marymount University, working in a variety of departments and positions, before becoming the Director of Community Relations in 2019. Over the last four years in that role, Fred has been able to “utilize his gifts and skill set” to work closely with LMU’s neighbors and stakeholders across Westchester/Playa–whether it’s fielding phone calls about off–campus parties, answering questions about the university’s programs or handling maintenance issues.

As LMU’s neighborhood liaison, Fred has the opportunity to be part of numerous community groups, including the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa (NCWP), the Westchester Rotary and the LAX Coastal Chamber. He also leads the university’s Neighborhood Advisory Committee to share campus updates and hear from neighbors. Through these organizations, he is able to identify potential partnerships and work to solve problems when they arise.

One of his favorite parts of the job, however, is organizing events and welcoming the community onto campus to see all the exciting things going on at the university, from academic lectures and Shakespeare on the Bluff to art shows at the Laband Art Gallery and concerts.

Recently, thanks to Fred’s work on the NCWP’s Education Committee, the university played host to the inaugural School Showcase where families could meet with representatives from area K-12 schools.

Fred, who grew up in Irvine, had no aspirations to work in higher education. After graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in theater, he traveled across Europe before deciding to settle in the L.A. area. Trying his hand in different industries–restaurant, entertainment and nonprofit–a friend who worked at LMU suggested the university as a great place to work. With the chance to earn a master’s degree–a perk of being an employee–the Westchester campus seemed like a perfect spot to continue his career path.

Fred now calls Culver City home and has become equally engaged in that community. After being part of the city’s Homeless Committee and General Advisory Plan, he decided he wanted to get more involved with shaping the city’s future. In November, he was elected to the Culver City City Council and looks forward to tackling housing, mobility and sustainability issues.

“Civic engagement is really important,” says Fred. “My dad always said, ‘You can’t complain unless you actively participate.’”

We recently sat down with Fred and asked him to share his thoughts, so here is “5 Questions With...Fred!”

What are some goals for your organization in 2023?

Now that the campus is open to the public again, my plan is to bring back all of our community events. I also want to continue building and nurturing relationships with our neighbors. Westchester is fortunate to have a world-class institution in its backyard. I hope everyone gets a chance to come to campus to watch a performance, use our library, take a walk along the bluff, or attend a lecture.

What’s one local spot you couldn’t live without?

The bluff on the LMU campus. You can see the ocean, the mountains, downtown Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on life while enjoying the incredible view.

Westchester is a tight-knit community full of active and passionate neighbors. This community reminds me of the neighborhood where I was born in the suburbs of Chicago. There’s never a dull moment, and I always advise people to get connected in some way.

The best thing about volunteering with community groups is the opportunity to connect with people who care about the community. I’m grateful to have built friendships with some of the most inspiring and interesting people. I always want to be around people who want to make the world a better place than they found it.

It’s too difficult to just pick one organization, but LMU is proud to partner with the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce, Westchester Rotary Club, Airport Marina Counseling Service and the Westchester Family YMCA. There are so many more partners to name, but I’ll leave it here for now. We hope to continue building more relationships with local businesses and organizations.

Cool Fact

Cool Fact

1 2 3 5 4
What’s the most rewarding thing about volunteering with community groups?
Is there any business or organization you’d like to give a shout-out to?
What do you tell people that are new to the area about Westchester/Playa?
THIS COMMUNITY IS VERY ACTIVE AND FULL OF PASSIONATE PEOPLE. LIVING HERE, YOU GET THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS–THE SMALL TOWN FEEL IN A BIG METROPOLIS. “
Fred loves adopting senior dogs. His current pup is a Pit Bull and Labrador mix named Lady. Fred’s hobbies include watching horror movies, cycling and theater.
Page 10 • January 2023 Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News
Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner
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The partnership between art and history

The Westchester/Playa Historical Society (WPHS) is proud to celebrate the past, present and future partnership between the arts and the history of our flourishing community of neighborhoods. As we step into the New Year, let’s remind ourselves about the architecture and art that is right at our fingertips.

At the corner of Manchester and Sepulveda you see the statue, “Horse and Man,” sculpted by the highly acclaimed Millard Sheets, a native California artist who grew up near Los Angeles. In 1953, Sheets founded the Millard Sheets Designs Company. His love of horses can be directly traced back to his childhood years spent living at his grandfather’s horse ranch, and he often depicted the animals in his artwork. Sheets was commissioned by the United States Savings Bank in 1957 to sculpt the “Horse and Man” for their new bank in Westchester. Otis College of Art & Design also named its library after the artist.

Westchester’s most recognizable building (next to the Theme Building), Loyola Theatre opened on October 3, 1946, by Fox West Coast Theatres.

While the theatre has now been converted to a medical office building, you can still see the beautiful swan neck tower rising nearly 60 feet above what would have been the theatre’s marquee at the southeast corner of Manchester and Sepulveda. The theatre has been declared a cultural and historic monument since June 2, 1982 by the Los Angeles Cultural

Heritage Board.

Millirons, now Kohl’s, opened in March of 1949. The $3 million store embodied a host of unique design features created by Gruen Associates. Architectural historians consider it a prototype for the modern selfcontained department store. Gruen cited the economic advantages of a low sprawling building, with parking and

other retail on top of the building.

You can’t talk about local architectural landmarks without including the Theme Building at LAX. The iconic structure is considered an example of the “Space Age” design style and the 1950s mid-century modern design movement now known as “Googie.” The Theme Building’s exterior was designated as a historical cultural monument in 1993 by the city of Los Angeles, and most recently housed a restaurant, which closed in 2014. The image of a “flying saucer that has landed on its four legs” was designed by James Langenheim, and was subsequently brought to life by a team of architects and engineers headed by William Pereira, Charles Luckman, Welton Becket and Paul Williams. Other examples of the Googie style in Westchester include Pann’s Restaurant and Dinah’s.

The Westchester Municipal Building, located in Westchester Park near the Loyola Library, was built circa 1960, and was designed by architect James Homer Garrott. Garrott designed more than 200 buildings, churches and homes and has been described as “a pivotal Black avant garde modernist.”

(continued on page 18)

Page 12 • January 2023 Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News Join us for a tasting experience that’s uniquely Californian – and uniquely LMU. A FUNDRAISER TO SUPPORT THE ARTHUR P. CARROLL ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP Wine Tasting and Silent Auction: 2-5 p.m. To buy tickets and for more info, go to lmu.edu/wineclassic Next LMU Neighborhood Advisory Committee Meeting Feb. 22,2023 at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. Register for the meeting at https://community.lmu.edu/NACmeeting You can call into the meeting at 669.900.6833. Meeting ID: 874 5312 2046. Wine_Classic_Cover_2023_Hometown News _10x6.75-110722_V7.indd 1 12/7/22 1:41 PM
The Playa del Rey mural at the corner of Falmouth and Manchester Ave.
Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News January 2023 • Page 13

Tomat honors the past while creating a delicious future

Married couple Natalie Dial and Harry Posner are creating a new restaurant called Tomat that will soon take root in the Westchester Triangle, adjacent to local bibliophile hangout, The Book Jewel. Both the eatery and the bookstore have a familial connection that not only honors the past success of Westchester’s lauded Drollinger family, but also sees an exciting future.

Planting the seeds

Dr. Natalie Dial is the granddaughter of Howard B. Drollinger (aka Mr. Westchester), who founded Drollinger Properties along with his mother Ella back in the 1940s. Nearly all the commercial properties along the portion of the Sepulveda corridor just north of LAX, including the Westchester Village Center, The Parking Spot and the Paradise Building, are owned or were developed by Drollinger Properties. Drollinger’s daughter, Karen Dial, is now the President of Drollinger Properties, and the proud owner of The Book Jewel. Natalie Dial is Karen’s daughter and, with the help of her husband Dr. Harry Posner, Natalie is continuing her family’s mission of keeping Westchester a thriving, family-centric business community.

Natalie met Harry on a research trip in the West African country The Gambia, back in 2013. Though it was a mission to provide healthcare for underserved populations that brought the couple together, it was food that connected them in a more visceral way.

“Harry was a great cook back then,” says Natalie. “We loved going to the seafood market where he

would barter for delicious fish and tiger prawns. I was like, ‘I need to sit next to this guy at the dinner table! He definitely knows what he’s doing.’”

Harry and Natalie became great friends over the next couple of years, despite carrying on separate lives–he in the U.K. and she in California. It wasn’t until a meet-up in New York City on the last day of the year that their relationship blossomed.

“It was New Year’s,” says Harry. “We had to have a good night kiss and that was it.”

Natalie agrees, saying, “I think it was obvious there was a lot of love there waiting to be explored.”

For the rest of the trip, the budding sweethearts dined at the most compelling restaurants New York had to offer.

“We ate delicious food, which is our favorite thing to do,” says Harry.

“It’s a lifestyle, now,” says Natalie.

Unbeknownst to them at the time, that foodie lifestyle would permeate into their professional lives, too.

Digging in the dirt

Though born in the U.S., Harry grew up in London where he became a successful medical doctor. Natalie joined him in London in 2016 and started work on her DrPH degree.

In 2019, Harry took time off from the hospital to attend culinary school, but still had no intention of leaving the medical field. When they discovered a restaurant space had become available in Westchester, they decided to pursue the opportunity and make the move to Los Angeles.

“We then took the long way around to move to L.A. so that we could stop in Japan for a few months while Harry worked in a Michelin-starred restaurant in early 2020,” says Natalie.

Not long after they got to L.A., however, COVID struck.

As difficult as the pandemic was for everyone, it gave Harry and Natalie much-needed time to really investigate what kind of restaurant they wanted to create and explore how to incorporate their own identity into the venture.

“We went back, looked at our roots and how we got here. One of the big things for me was that I wanted to have our own little area to grow our own food. I grew up with parents doing that,” says Harry.

Creating their own urban garden in Westchester wouldn’t be easy, but they managed to find a space in a parking lot off Sepulveda, right behind Melody Bar & Grill. They dug up the concrete and nurtured the soil that had been dormant for years. With a lot of dedication and help, not to mention soil sampling, they created a productive vegetable garden where they can grow at least some food for the restaurant.

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“It’s important to us to know where your food is coming from,” says Harry, whom you’ll find most weeks at the local farmers’ markets scoping out the produce and chatting with vendors.

Natalie agrees, saying, “Just watching the transformation of what that parking lot used to look like and now–knowing there’s exposed soil and things growing in it, and it’s green–it’s amazing. Now we walk around in this area a lot and we’re thinking, ‘How do we pedestrianize this in a different way? How do we bring different community partners together to do that?’ So just creating the garden before even getting the restaurant off the ground has connected us to so many new people doing great things with the same mindset as us. That’s been really fulfilling, too.”

Tomato, tomahto

Harry and Natalie settled on calling their restaurant Tomat for a surprising reason. In an interesting coincidence, both Harry and Natalie had the nickname “Tomato” growing up.

“My grandfather used to call me ‘Big Tomato’ because I was very round and red with flushed cheeks when I was a kid,” says Natalie.

Harry says he was called ‘The Tomat’ when he got sunburned.

“I turned bright red,” he says with a laugh. “It felt like a term of endearment for us both,” says Natalie. “And it also felt right that it was my grandpa’s nickname for me in that all this goes back to my great-grandmother and my grandpa and their influence in this area, so it felt like the right name.”

What’s on the menu

Because they want the restaurant’s menu to be seasonal, Harry says tomatoes won’t be the star ingredient but will make an appearance for many months of the year.

“Hopefully, we’ll have some ferments of tomato and things like that will be used in the off-season. It won’t be a tomato-heavy menu, we just want to show that we’re growing stuff and there’s a seasonality to it. As long as the tomatoes are local and delicious, we’ll have them,” he says.

Tomat will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, with breakfast focused on great coffee paired with pastries. Lunch will be on the simpler side, with things that are easy to take away like salads and sandwiches. But dinner will be slightly higher end.

“We’ll really be focusing on produce, with meat and fish dishes, but we’re also working on delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes,” says

Natalie says they did a little research and chatted with people in the community to find out what they wanted in a local eatery before they finalized their plan for Tomat.

“Everyone was saying they were dying for a date-night spot, or place where they could go for a cocktail and get slightly more dressed up–a place that’s different than what Westchester has to offer right now. But we’ll never turn people away for wearing flip-flops,” she says.

Baby greens

Right now, Tomat is slated to open in the summer of 2023, but Natalie and Harry have one task they need to accomplish before then: becoming parents. Natalie is currently pregnant with a girl and if starting a family and a restaurant at the

“This baby is coming before the restaurant,” says Natalie. “It just happened that the timeline for nature was faster than for construction. It’s really fun to feel like we’re setting our roots down here and growing a family. You just start to think differently when you do that, for me at least, as a soon-to-be mom. I think it’s lucky that Harry and I are doing this together so there may be a crib upstairs at the restaurant at some point. There may just be days that look like where we’re creating a restaurant and taking care of a kid at the same time, I don’t know.”

Harry feels lucky to have grandparents and friends nearby.

“We have a really good support system,” says Harry. “There’s never a good time for any of this to be done so we thought, why not do all of it together? Why not make life for ourselves as hard as possible?”

Both he and Natalie have a big laugh before she chimes in with her usual positive outlook.

“At least we’ll have all the right blenders to puree that perfect baby food!” she says.

Feeding the future

As Natalie and Harry prepare to nurture and feed Westchester’s next generation, they know their success depends on the support of the local community–just as it did for the Drollingers and Dials before them. Natalie hopes to follow in her family’s footsteps.

“They really cared about the community,” she says. “I know my grandma used to love to walk across the street to the Korner Deli and eat lunch a couple of days a week and support their tenants. We want to do that too, and be symbiotic in the area. I hope everyone feels welcome and is proud that Tomat exists in their community.”

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News
Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner

Getting involved in your community (cont’d)

(continued from page 4)

Connect with local businesses.

If you’re a local business owner or manager who is interested in networking with fellow entrepreneurs, give the LAX Coastal Chamber a call to find out all the ways they support and promote their members.

The 600-plus member organization is celebrating 70 years this spring, and they continue to regularly add new networking opportunities and events to their robust calendar. Some of the chamber’s most popular programs include monthly in-person and virtual networking events, a State of LAX lunch with more than 400 people in attendance and numerous committees that meet about a wide variety of topics from Education to Public Policy.

This month, the chamber will hold a Government Affairs Breakfast featuring Councilmember Traci Park as the speaker, celebrate the opening of the Nook Breakfast Spot with a ribbon cutting and host Protectors’ Appreciation Week. In February, they’ll hold a small business certification program, which helps entrepreneurs apply for business opportunities with the state, city and county, as well as large corporations.

Learn more about what the chamber has to offer business leaders at laxcoastal.com.

Attend a community event.

Community groups and local businesses can work for months to put on quality events for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. When an event is successful and has a large turnout, more sponsors want to get involved, which creates the potential for even more events to be created!

Below is a list of some of our favorite can’t-miss community happenings by month to mark on your 2023 calendar (exact dates for events are TBD unless noted):

January:

• Kids’ March for Equality, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. on January 16

February:

• LMU Wine Classic, to raise money for scholarships on February 5 March:

• LAX Coastal Education Foundation’s Rock Roll & Run, 5K raising money for local schools on March 4

• Playa Venice Sunrise Rotary Club’s BingoFest, raising money for community projects

May:

• Teacher Eddy Awards, celebrating 40 years of supporting local teachers and education

• Westchester Rotary Annual Book Sale, raising money for community projects

• AMCS Spring into Wellness at LMU, fundraising for mental health July:

• Fourth of July Parade, parade down Loyola Blvd. in Westchester on July 4

• Shakespeare on the Bluff, performances of classic works held at LMU

August:

• Westchester Team Challenge, a day of friendly competition raising money for the Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association September:

• WAM, featuring live music, arts and a block party vibe on Saturday, September 23

• Westchester Elks Lodge Car Show & Chili Cook Off, classic cars and a chili competition at the Lodge in Playa del Rey October:

• Spooky story writing contest hosted by The Book Jewel December:

• Holiday Lights Tour & Contest presented by the Westchester Mental Health Guild, featuring local homes decorated for the holidays

• Women’s Club of Playa del Rey’s Holiday Boutique, a day of shopping local with dozens of small business vendors

• Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade, decorated boats cruise the marina

• Playa Venice Sunrise Rotary’s

Santa Tour, Santa and guests tour the community with help from LAPD, LAFD and community members

To get more information on these and other events as they become available, check out our Community Calendar at thehtn.com/events.

Sign up to volunteer.

A key part of any organization is the support of volunteers! If donating your time, talent or treasure is on your list of resolutions for 2023, here are some organizations that always appreciate help:

• The Friends of Ballona Wetlands hold monthly restoration and creek clean up days to help revitalize this important habitat and make sure native plants thrive. Check out their website at ballonafriends.org to view their upcoming volunteer opportunities, including a Ballona Creek Clean Up and Community Habitat Restoration Day on January 14 and 18.

• In March, Clean UP Westchester will celebrate two years of helping beautify the community through little acts of kindness. Every month, a group of dedicated volunteers of all ages put on their neon yellow T-shirts and head to a local intersection that needs some TLC and get to work making the area shine. Led by longtime Westchester resident Grant Francis who started Clean UP Westchester as a way to give back to his neighborhood, the group has collected hundreds of bags of garbage along Sepulveda, Manchester, La Tijera, Lincoln and beyond. The next clean up date is January 21.

Email granttfrancis@gmail.com to learn more about this grassroots group and for this month’s meet-up location.

• Seniors can often feel isolated and alone due to limited mobility, families with busy schedules and lack of transportation. Thankfully, there are organizations like Westside Pacific Villages (WPV) who are here to help. The organization was formed in 2009, and since then, WPV has worked hard to help seniors stay active, engaged and independent in their homes as long as possible by pairing them with

volunteers.

With a commitment as little as an hour a week, volunteers can help seniors with a variety of needs, including tech support, transportation to doctor’s appointments, errands, grocery shopping, simple handyman tasks, pet care or yard work. A big component of the program is also offering friendship to seniors, whose social circles inevitably begin to shrink as they get older. To learn more about volunteering at WPV, please visit thewpv.org or email info@ thewpv.org.

• Playa del Rey’s Grass Roots Neighbors (GRN) has built a passionate volunteer base ready to help feed those in need. GRN offers multiple ways to support their organization each month, whether you’re interested in donating packaged food to be assembled into bags for the families they serve; baking bread or other goodies or supporting the organization by becoming a monthly donor. Learn more at grassrootsneighbors.org.

• Over the years, the volunteers at the Emerson Avenue Community Garden (EACG) have transformed an empty plot of land on the campus of Wright STEAM Magnet into a thriving organic garden, green space and a community hub.

More than just a place to grow fruits and vegetables, the EACG always appreciates new members and those interested in playing in the dirt to keep the garden a Westchester gem. Considering volunteering for their monthly community work days where people can assist with tasks like weeding, mulching, organizing and more, while meeting other locals. Upcoming work days are scheduled for January 7 and February 4.

Learn more at eacgc.org or attend their Annual Membership Meeting on January 21 to get the scoop on how you can get involved.

What’s your favorite way to connect with your neighborhood? Share your tips with us at westchesterhometown@ yahoo.com.

Thanks, Westchester/Playa. I love being here to help in a community where people are making a difference every day. Thank you for all you do.

Tatiana Ruiz More, Agent 8705 Truxton Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90045 310-450-8833 tatiana@coveredwithmore.com State Farm, Bloomington, IL

Page 16 • January 2023 Westchester •
HomeTown News
Playa del Rey
Marina del Rey • Playa Vista
2007005

SPRING REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

Register today to join our community soccer league. For ages 4 to 18.

Registration closes February 19. Practices begin in mid February. Games begin March 4. Come out and Play!

Westchester •
HomeTown News
Playa del Rey
Marina del Rey
Playa Vista
JOIN THE FUN!

(continued from page 12)

The building, which houses the CD11 councilmember’s Westchester offices and a community room for meetings, still retains many hallmarks of mid-century modern design.

Moving on from three-dimensional historical pieces of art, more recently our area has been complemented with murals depicting important elements of the Westchester/Playa community. Artist and professor David Russell, who is also a board member of the WPHS, was the artist and facilitator behind many of these public art pieces, with help from Otis College of Art & Design students from the Creative Action Program, Drollinger Properties and local businesses. Some of the most recognizable murals include:

• “Welcome To Westchester,” a 10,000-square-foot diptych mural that was created in 2017 between Sepulveda and Sepulveda Westway at Westchester Parkway. Russell and Otis students worked together to develop a design representative of the local community and its history. The mural, which can be seen from the runway at LAX, features local birds, the El Segundo Blue Butterfly and local landmarks.

• “Noodle World” is a seven-part mural series that was created in 2018 as a collaborative piece of civic artwork. You will find the colorful murals, featuring cartoon noodles, planes with butterfly wings and a map with iconic

Westchester/Playa buildings, tucked away in a short alley on the east side of Sepulveda, between Manchester and La Tijera.

• “The Kids’ Lot” is actually the entrance to a new urban garden, located on the eastside of the southernmost end of the Sepulveda commercial district, behind Melody Bar & Grill. The garden was the idea of Tomat restaurant owners, Natalie Dial and Harry Posner, to inspire the community to embrace the “farm to table” food concept, which they will highlight in the eatery’s menu when it opens this summer. The garden’s exterior features numerous depictions of fruits and veggies created as part

of a collaborative design project for Russell’s Creative Action Class.

• Westport Heights Elementary School is the proud home to two murals, created within the past four years–one at the front entrance of the school and the other located within the interior of the campus. The project engaged fourth graders and represents the identity of their school, including the recent celebration of its 75th anniversary.

• Near the corner of Falmouth and Manchester, at the eastern edge of the popular Playa del Rey Shopping Center, you will find the “Playa del Rey” mural, designed and painted by Hunter Culberson and Russell in 2019. Next

time you’re getting a slice at The Good Pizza, shopping at Lily Love Boutique or picking up a prescription at Playa Pharmacy, make sure to check out the sign, which is meant to welcome the neighborhood, while celebrating and honoring marine and freshwater life. Other outstanding murals in the community include the “You are Beautiful” piece in the CVS/Ralphs Shopping Center by Aly Kourouma; a tribute to Maya Angelou by Russell and Culberson behind the Westchester Triangle; and the 105-foot-long mural at the LAWA police facility on Westchester Parkway by Francisco Letelier in collaboration with Marybeth Famal.

Where are your favorite pieces of art located?

Learn more about history at the WPHS Discovery Center. The center is open on Sundays during the Westchester Farmers’ Market and by appointment. We also offer small group tours and are available for special events. The Discovery Center is located at 6207 W. 87th St. in Westchester.

Cozette is an attorney and lifelong resident of Westchester. She is the President of the Westchester/Playa Historical Society. Together with a group of dedicated volunteers, the organization is working on creating new programming and events to celebrate the history of the area and engage the community in preserving it for future generations.

Page 18 • January 2023 Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News Next time you visit Westchester Park or the library, check out the mid-century design elements at the Westchester Municipal building.
art
(continued) HOME OF THE 2019 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA STATE CHAMPIONS! GIRLS SOFTBALL AGES 6-15 BOYS & GIRLS TEE BALL AGES 4-6 www.WDRLL.org
Westchester/Playa
and history
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NCWP Advocacy: The Way Neighborhood Councils Are Supposed to Work

2022 Year in Review

The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa (NCWP) planned to focus attention and funds to improve Westchester Park in 2022. In September, the board members were stunned to learn that our Council Member was working to extend the safe parking program in the parking lot next to the pool and to put 24-hour safe parking for RVs and other vehicle dwellings in the southern part of that lot next to the First Flight Child Care Center. Park users did not feel safe due to the existing safe parking program and there were other places that could be better used for safe parking.

NCWP made the issue known to the community, encouraging residents to speak up to the Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners. Partnering with other concerned residents, our voices were heard and the 24-hour safe parking program was dropped and the request for a permit for a continuation of the safe parking program next to the pool and ball fields was denied. This kind of discussion, outreach and advocacy for the community is what Neighborhood Councils were created for. We thank all of the community members who were active in these efforts, wrote emails, made phone calls, and supported the NCWP in this effort. But this is not the only issue NCWP has taken on this year.

The NCWP learned from a tweet by our Council Member that Extended Stay America at 6531 S. Sepulveda, just a few hundred feet from homes in North Kentwood, was slated to become a Homekey Housing Project and that the City Council had voted in favor of it. Prior to the allocation of HUD funds, NCWP voted and sent a letter asking for more

time for public comment, as the remaining 15-day time period for that had begun. The chief frustration around this project was that NCWP and the community were not invited to be part of the conversation about an important project in our own community. This followed the approval of the Super 8 at 9250 Airport became a Homekey. The Extended Stay is 133 suites and the Super 8 is 44 rooms.

“It is outrageous that the NCWP, community stakeholders and the public were made aware of the potential acquisition of two hotels within the NCWP footprint solely via a social media post from CD11 Councilmember Mike Bonin on around March 3, 2022,” the letter states. “As a result, no stakeholders had the opportunity for public input or comment as required by the Los Angeles City Charter: IX, Section 907.”

“It’s about time that we stand up and take back our community,” stated NCWP President Paula Gerez during Tuesday’s meeting. “No one is saying we don’t want to help the homeless. However, we want to have a seat at the table. We’ve given a lot of time volunteering to be a part of the conversation.”

The extension of the time period for public comment was granted and we invited the community to speak up and submit public comment. The first round of public comment was regarding environmental concerns. The NCWP President filed lengthy objections as public comment, as did dozens of residents of Westchester. The objections were denied. The NCWP President and many residents filed objections to the release of funding. Those objections were also denied. The NCWP President is now working with Councilwoman Traci Park’s office to

ensure the safety of the residents and the businesses near these two Homekeys. Another important NCWP advocacy opportunity was when proposed revisions to the community-approved LAX Northside Development caught the attention of the Planning and Land Use and Airport Relations Committees. They are working to re-engage community input around the proposal for Lulu’s Place which was to be implemented without community input.

NCWP committees also are active in digging into the issues and inviting community input. In particular, the Planning and Land Use Committee regularly meets to consider proposals, hear concerns, and make recommendations regarding:

• Oversized buildings proposed for a coastal zone

• LMU Master Plan

• The proposed replacement for Pep Boys at 6136 W. Manchester

• The project around Dinah’s

The Planning and Land Use Committee has spun off an Ad Hoc Committee on the Community Plan which now meets regularly to invite input into this process. NCWP was thrilled to support the installation of the Interceptor to collect ocean bound trash in Ballona Creek and to participate in the ribbon cutting. In addition to community advocacy, NCWP has funded grants for community projects including:

• Westchester Art and Music Block Party

• Emerson Community Garden Kids Classes

• Open Charter Magnet School Schools as Parks Project

We greeted stakeholders and invited them to participate in the Neighborhood Council at local events including:

• National Night Out, which works to bring law enforcement and residents together

• Westchester Art and Music Block Party

NCWP celebrated 2022 community improvements:

• LAX Mural

• K Line Opening

• STEM Preschool Opening

• Residential Insulation program

• Re-opening of Westchester ball fields after extensive renovation

NCWP is the place to be to make a difference in our community. As we head into 2023 we plan to continue to make our voices heard in City Hall and we invite you to the party:

• Attend a meeting, the first Tuesday at 6:30pm

• Join a committee

• Come to an event

• Run for a seat in our elections. Sign up by January 10.

We look forward to this New Year with hopes of continued community improvement!

Contact us to find out more: inquiries@ncwpdr.org

Page 20 • January 2023 Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL OF WESTCHESTER / PLAYA www.ncwpdr.org • inquiries@ncwpdr.org
Working together to improve our communities!
Next Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa Board Meeting: 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 10, 2023 via Zoom
“If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools.”
CWP~ Plato
Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News January 2023 • Page 21
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The SMART path to successful New Year’s resolutions

Opinion: New Year’s resolutions reportedly date back 4,000 years to the Babylonians. Babylonians would promise certain behaviors to the gods and hoped the gods would smile on them if they honored their promises. Around 46 BCE, Julius Caesar created a new calendar and declared January 1 the start of the New Year. Romans would also promise to be on their best behavior for the year ahead. These Babylonian and Roman origins are considered the beginning of New Year’s resolutions.

Fast forward to today and about 39 percent of adults set goals for the new year. Not surprisingly, exercising more, eating healthier and losing weight are the most popular resolutions. Seventy percent of resolutions relate to health in some way.

While millions may set resolutions, less than 10 percent achieve those resolutions. “Losing motivation” and “not having enough time” are the most common reasons people report not maintaining their resolutions. This month, I am offering some SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time deadline) tips to increase your chances of success in 2023.

1. Make it specific. Being clear about your goals can increase your chances of

success. Rather than simply “trying to exercise more” set a more specific goal like exercising three times per week for 30 minutes per session (or whatever your goal is). One study found specific, challenging goals improved outcomes 90 percent of the time.

2. Make it measurable. This step is closely related to making your goal specific. Moving toward measurable goals gives you clear feedback on how you are doing. Walking a mile within a certain number of minutes, doing a set number of push-ups or exercising four times per week are all examples of measurable fitness goals. Using objective guidelines can provide tangible proof of progress, which may inspire you to continue. If you see yourself improving, you might think to yourself, “Hey, I am really getting somewhere. This is working!”

3. Make it achievable. If I set a goal to make the NBA in 2023, that is a fantasy rather than a resolution. Resolutions are more powerful if you can actually achieve them. There may be certain situations where you are not quite sure if a goal is achievable. In those situations, you can set a conservative goal and also a more ambitious goal. Sometimes the conservative goal is more achievable, but the more ambitious goal might be more motivating. A conservative goal might be exercising twice per

week and a more ambitious goal might be exercising five times per week. Going from zero days per week to two per week is a great achievement and should be celebrated. If you can do that consistently, you might choose to shoot for the more ambitious goal.

4. Make it relevant. Most of us could realistically set goals in a dozen different areas of our lives. Health, financial and family relationships are some of the most obvious areas. For New Year’s resolutions, focus on the one or two that feel most important right now. “Finding your why” is one recommended strategy to help people find what is most relevant for them when thinking about the next 12 months. Do a little digging and ask yourself why you are choosing this resolution. If you can answer that question, you might get clear about why it is relevant to you now. This clear emotional connection can help you push through challenges to achieve your goals.

5. Set a time deadline. Setting a time deadline clarifies the goal in your mind. If you want to exercise twice per week for 30 minutes per session, add “by January 30.” A time deadline helps you avoid the “I’ll do it someday” cycle where goals are put off indefinitely. If you do not achieve your goal by your initial deadline, try again. When life gets in the way, sometimes you

might need to adjust and set a second deadline.

By setting SMART resolutions, you can experience progress and even find success. Finding an accountability partner can be another key to achieving your goals. This person might be a friend, exercise partner or fitness trainer. Be aware that most people who achieve their resolutions also experience setbacks along the way. Success always zigs and zags. It never follows an uninterrupted straight line. Do your best and keep trying!

Happy New Year!

Jeff Blair (MS, CSCS) celebrated twenty years as a Certified Personal Trainer in 2022. He founded the SoCalSport Personal Training Studio in Westchester in 2011. The studio has provided approximately 50,000 client training sessions since opening.

Page 22 • January 2023
TheHTN.com Random Notes/Opinion THANK YOU to our advertisers and community partners for supporting this publication! Robin Zacha, Zacha Homes Drollinger Properties Stephanie Younger Group | Compass Jane St. John | RE/MAX Neighborhood Council Westchester/Playa Loyola Marymount University Westchester Town Center BID Airport Marina Counseling Service St. Anastasia School Visitation School Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos, LLP Amy Nelson Frelinger Douglas Elliman Properties SoCalSport & Fitness Kris Zacuto | Compass Los Angeles World Airports Tatiana Ruiz More Covered by More UCLA Health Westchester Rotary Club Westchester Family YMCA The Book Jewel The Suarez Team Decron Properties LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce The Home EC Center

loved ones this year

Opinion: Ring the bells! A New Year is here! While many people are talking about how fast 2022 flew by, at the same time they are ready to let go of a year in which coping was tough. Despite the last year stretching many of us emotionally, there may be pieces of it that seem to cling to you, either making you happy, sad or angry. The same can be true of previous years. What do you think? Are you hanging on to parts of the past or are you ready for something new? I am imagining the transition from 2022 to 2023 to be like the mystical Phoenix, which will build a nest when it’s old and exhausted that will go up in flames. From its own ashes, a gorgeous new Phoenix emerges, singing melodious songs full of awe. From the soot, something fresh and vital is formed. In some versions of the Phoenix myth, it takes time before the rebirth of this beautiful bird.

What do you anticipate you will experience in this New Year? Do you have hopes and dreams for the year? Have you declared “resolutions” about how things will be different? Have you considered what you must let go of in order for one of your strengths or dreams to grow? Have you considered what steps you’d like to take this year to reach a life goal? Have you considered letting go of what you think you need to control? Have you wondered what it would be like to have a simple life in which you completely enjoy each moment of time as it occurs?

Whew! Yes, that’s a lot of questions, but they are important to reflect upon. Here is one more: What do you really want for yourself and your loved ones?

Resolutions made at the start of the year are often about how we appear, or other markers of success defined by a consumer-driven life. Often, goals are about wishing to lose weight to look better, about how money is spent or saved, organizing stuff we own, or about overcoming an addiction. There is nothing wrong with these resolutions. However, once the resolution is made it is often not kept. Collectively, people are starting to realize there is more, or at least something different, desired in life. The extreme focus on how we measure up based on standards defined by a marketplace, by the media, by addictions, or by toxic relationships is no longer satisfying.

The demands of everyday life are exhausting, so let’s take some inspiration from the story of the Phoenix. Let’s prepare to build a nest to release what is no longer working in our lives. Just like the Phoenix building its nest, we may need to symbolically pluck at the twigs of a life needing radical changes. Are these things bringing you contentment, happiness,

joy and meaningful and quality connection with others? Are you ready to let 2023 be a year of letting your life be transformed? Perhaps the best thing to anticipate this year is allowing yourself to be on a quest of nurturing yourself and the significant people you hold dear.

Nurturing does not mean being selfish, but it does mean taking care of yourself. It requires learning to let go of beliefs and thoughts which denigrate you. The worst bully you may experience is the negative voice inside yourself telling you that you aren’t good enough, so why bother trying? Nurturing includes compassion, not bullying. This includes many attributes, such as expanding your perspective to include multiple vantage points, selfforgiveness, gratitude, generosity of spirit, humor, acceptance, compassion for yourself and others, celebrating milestones, taking care of your health, getting exercise, eating mindfully, sleeping enough, having a regular pattern of connecting to a power greater than yourself and establishing and maintaining meaningful connection with others.

This journey or quest does not happen over a weekend, a month or a year. It is not just a resolution made at the start of each year. It is about slowly building healthy habits or daily routines. When you notice you have stepped away from the quest, it is about accepting the situation, having selfcompassion and returning to the path as soon as possible. It is a continual striving toward a wholeness in which contentment and joy are a way of life.

On the journey, you can visit the above different attributes one at a time and use each one as a stepping stone toward your next step or goal. Slowly, over a long period of time, your “quest” confidence will increase and you will hopefully discover more moments of joy and contentment. Along the way, you may use guides, coaches or therapists to help. You may also study the works of spiritual leaders from different disciplines. Like the Phoenix, you may discover you can evolve and renew.

My wish for you is to be on a journey to have quality relationships with yourself and with important people in your life and to experience good health and happiness. You are valuable and have contributions to make toward the overall wellbeing and prosperity of those around you. My wish is for you to have a joyous New Year.

Fay Craton, M.A. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (mfc40011), which is the psychology license specializing in relationships (with ourselves or with others). She has an office located in Westchester. If you have any questions, please contact Fay at (310) 645-6762.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News
yourself and your
WESTCHESTER FAMILY YMCA 8015 S Sepulveda Boulevard ymcaLA.org/wc | 310 670 4316 WINTER CROPS FOLLOW US FOR UPDATES! Happy New Year! We are excited to bring in the new year together with all good things health, wellness, and community. So much abundance at your local farmers’ market.
Nurture

Spotlight on Playa Vista

Started by Chef Derrick Fox (MasterChef on FOX) and his wife Kimberly, Epic Mega Cookie Co (E MC²) is the rebellious side of the cookie - the Punk Rock of the Cookie biz, if you will. They are creating a cookie that is baking its own path. A cookie you will remember, one that will inspire you. Every Cookie is a dozen cookies worth of dough baked into one cookie! They are all hand made with quality ingredients, packaged in a plant based fresh seal bag, and placed in a recyclable box made right here in the USA.

Make sure to visit Epic Mega Cookie Co on your next visit to Runway in Playa Vista! Website: www.epicmegacookie.com | Instagram: @epicmegacookieco @chefderrickfox

Kris Zacuto kris.zacuto@compass.com kriszacuto.com DRE 01972897

Page 24 • January 2023 Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. License Number
All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only and is compiled from sources deemed reliable but has not been verified. Changes in price, condition, sale or withdrawal may be made without notice. No statement is made as to accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footage are approximate.
01991628.
Meet Epic Mega Cookie Co, The Punk Rock Bakery with a brick and mortar location in Playa Vista!
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Sunstone Yoga (continued)

(continued from page 8)

With the mission to cater to local families, Sunstone Yoga opened in September and the response has been wonderful.

“When we opened, we wanted to do something special for the moms, knowing how big of a community they are. The first week we offered them free classes,” says Kim. “What we hadn’t expected–and were pleasantly surprised by–were the people who got to meet for the first time in person. They had seen each other online or commented on each other’s posts but had never met in person. We were creating a community and that was surprising and really rewarding!”

Coming out of the pandemic, it turns out that people are more than ready to return to group exercise classes, only in a different way.

“A lot of people are coming back into this physical fitness realm that they’ve lost because of Covid,” said Chris, who can relate. “A lot of people come into the room and say, ‘Gosh, I haven’t done anything in two years!’ And I say, ‘Join the club. Come in, get started, and it’s going to get better day by day.’”

Kim adds that it was also important to create a safe place for people who

are out of practice or simply just getting started.

“These days, people are looking for something less of a cardio workout and more mindful,” says Kim.

The lunchtime yoga classes all have a 15-minute sound bath at the end where the teacher plays the crystal bowls to help your mind shift from an active state to a more tranquil one.

“The vibrations help your body heal, and it’s very relaxing. People have really gravitated to those classes. You still get a workout, but it’s a gentler way of working out and dealing with all the stress and tension Covid brought,” says Kim.

So far, the people attending the classes couldn’t be more grateful to have a studio close by that was created just for the neighborhood, she says. Chris recalls a powerful moment he overheard between one mom talking to another after class.

“She said, ‘I haven’t had an hour to myself in so long!’ That was intense to hear someone say that and almost a relief to hear,” says Chris.

Clearly, Sunstone Yoga has found a place and a purpose in this community at just the right time.

Sunstone Yoga is located at 7929 Emerson Ave. in Westchester. Learn more at sunstoneyogastudio.com.

Page 26 • January 2023 Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News
“Flow
info@laxcoastaledfoundation.com ROCK ROLL & RUN Support our Schools at the Third Annual Rock Roll & Run For Education! Everyone's favorite 5K/1K fun run is back this year at Loyola Marymount University on Saturday, March 4 to raise money to strengthen our schools! 5K Fun Run | 1K Kids' Fun Run | Live Music Community Booths | Pancake Breakfast Family-Friendly Activities | Virtual Runners Sign-up starting January 13 at laxcoastaledfoundation.com Questions or interested in sponsoring? Please email info@laxcoastaledfoundation.com. Thank you to everyone who supported our Third Annual Art Show & Competition featuring artwork from K-12 students showcasing “My Favorite Animal”. Proceeds raised will support arts education at local schools. Congratulations to our student artists!
Chris and Kim Ohno pose in their studio, which currently offers classes like Vinyasa Flow, Stretch & Strength and & Steady.” Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner
Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News January 2023 • Page 27
stephanieyounger.com 1,000+ “Real estate, like life, is all about getting the details right.” PERFECT CLIENT REVIEWS 3957 OLMSTED AVENUE 4 BED | 2 BATH | 2,029 SQ FT 8315 MCCONNELL AVENUE 6 BED | 8 BATH | 5,670 SQ FT Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. License Number 01991628. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only and is compiled from sources deemed reliable but has not been verified. DRE 01365696
Stephanie Younger Cropped
Page 28 • January 2023 Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News HELP GROW YOUR BUSINESS IN 2023 Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm 9100 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Ste. 210, Los Angeles, CA 90045 310.645.5151 • • info@laxcoastal.com • laxcoastal.com ENG AGE W IT H US /LA XCOASTAL @ LA XCOASTAL #LA XCOASTAL Join us and our 600+ members for fun, energetic, and innovative events! Coming up... January 10 - Binge Networking January 19 - Lifestyle Group January 26 - Networking at Night January 30-February 3Protector’s Appreciation Week February - Small Business Certi cation Program March - Chamber Celebrates 70 Years! May - 40th Anniversary of Teacher Eddy Awards And so much more! View our full calendar at laxcoastal.com PROTECTOR’S APPRECIATION WEEK TEACHER EDDY AWARDS