All posts by mariacavassuto

Advocating for Tenants’ Rights

Elsa P. Chagolla wears a flowered black mid-length dress, black cardigan and her hair pulled back. She sits inside a cozy office off of Alvarado Street in MacArthur Park.

Chagolla has held leadership positions at several organizations but her passion for education and the community steered her back to working directly with people. She has been Inquilinos Unidos’ executive director since January 23, 2015.

Chagolla comes from a working class neighborhood in Whittier. Her mother wanted her to attend better schools so they moved to Walnut while she was in middle school.

“My mom doesn’t speak English; she’s an immigrant from Mexico. And just, sort of, seeing the way sometimes people viewed her or her own experience with the types of jobs she had and the opportunities she had. Maybe I became interested in social issues because of that.”

Because of her experience she wanted to work with the immigrant community.

“Mostly, these are groups that are marginalized and don’t have a strong, unified voice.”

Her degree in sociology from University of California, Berkeley was not enough to steer her in the right direction. At first she thought about becoming a lawyer so she interned for one.

“He was like, ‘You’re too nice! Don’t become a lawyer.”

Instead, she decided to complement her education with a Master of Science in Public Policy from the University of Southern California, which would allow her to pursue systemic changes. After graduating, Chagolla worked at the federal level for the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. but missed working directly with the community – so she moved back to Los Angeles.

Before landing at Inquilinos Unidos, Chagolla did philanthropy work for Roll Global LLC. But she knew she wanted to try being executive director at a community based organization focused on Latino issues. The Inquilinos Unidos board of directors and Chagolla saw eye-to-eye – it was a match.

“There’s no one doing organizing or supporting residents in this area and I think that’s why we’re so unique. We get about 10 to 15 people who call or come in everyday and then at our clinic we get about 20 people a week.”

They have a varied approach, something Chagolla speaks about with a smile.

“A lot of it is word-of-mouth and the door-to-door does help, especially if we’re in this community … They’ve heard of us and I think that says a lot about the organization’s integrity.”

When she thinks back on her career, Chagolla recounts it with pride.

“I’ve always followed what I’m really passionate about … that has made me happy and it’s where my passion lies and I like to come to work.”

But that’s not the end of the line.

“I think we need more people who care about trying to improve living conditions and social justice issues. There’s always so much more that can be done.”

Her plan for this year is to help Inquilinos Unidos’ staff size grow and continue to empower low-income families.

Pedestrian Safety in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD IS ONE OF L-A’S MOST DANGEROUS AREAS FOR PEDESTRIANS. FROM 2002 TO 2013, 369 PEDESTRIANS WERE HIT BY A VEHICLE IN HOLLYWOOD WHILE ONLY 36 WERE HIT IN BEVERLY HILLS. WE SENT MARIA CAVASSUTO OUT TO SEE HOW SAFE PEDESTRIANS FEEL WALKING AROUND ONE OF L-A’S BUSIEST AREAS.

ALTHOUGH EVERYONE’S SAFETY LEVEL IS DIFFERENT, MOST AGREE THAT YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL WHILE WALKING IN HOLLYWOOD.

WE HEARD FROM VIRGIL PEREZ, XAVIER CHAMPAGNE, RYAN ZYNGER, BESS PIERSON, SID SHARDA AND ANGELA CAVANAUGH.

“Unless you’re 6 feet under, you keep going”

Ariba Alvi uses her hands to recount one of her early memories – smooshing her mother’s lipstick on her face back home in New Jersey. At 26 she’s traded that in for green eyeliner, oxblood nail polish, a nose stud and a leaf print jumpsuit from Topshop.

Alvi always thought of “beauty” as a form of self-expression. Up until college, when she got an internship at Fitness magazine, she never thought of beauty as something you could make into a job or career, much less combined with journalism.

Like many millennials, Alvi experienced job rejection but also the glimmer of opportunity promised to candidates hoping for a dream job. She entered a reality/game show, “The Job,” which never aired because of re-shooting. Candidates like Alvi were promised an editorial position at Glamour magazine, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Alvi made it to the final three but lost out in the lightning round – mistakingly citing Nancy Reagan as the first First Lady to be featured in Glamour. Right answer? Michelle Obama.

“I remember walking off stage and thinking, ‘What the hell did I just say?’”

The memory of this missed opportunity registers briefly but she washes it away with determination.

“Unless you’re 6 feet under, you keep going,” she says without flinching.

After several internships at well-known magazines, she landed a job as a “perma-lance” (permanent freelance) beauty assistant at SELF. Although she enjoyed her stint immensely, Alvi wanted opportunities to develop her skills in other areas – to make herself a one-man band. So she left SELF.

“Holy shit what have I done? I quit a job!”

But Alvi needed to be ahead of the game.

“I need to be ahead of what’s going to happen in this industry,” she said.

Early on, Alvi knew the digital world was going to be at the forefront of the beauty industry. Previously, she’s been extremely cautious about her digital presence, choosing to employ her first name only for handles. Partly, she values privacy. It also keeps some conservative family members from getting too nosy.

“I don’t think anyone has the right to judge the choices I make in terms of my wardrobe and the way that I look … I’m a feminist. I think women have the right to be who they want without being judged.”

Her ultimate goal is to create digital content for a company.

“Whatever comes next is going to be more amazing that what has happened. You just have to be patient.”

alviinfographic

“Unless you’re 6 feet under, you keep going” – Ariba Alvi

A mother’s makeup drawer can mean many different things for a young girl. It can be a space to get lost in for countless hours, experimenting with the idea of becoming an adult. It can also be a child’s first experience with makeup. For Ariba Alvi, one of her early memories is smooshing her mother’s lipstick on her face back in her native New Jersey. Alvi has always thought of “beauty” as a form of self-expression, even though she’s always considered herself low-maintenance. Up until college, when she got her first internship at Fitness Magazine, she never thought of “beauty” as something that you could make a job or career of, much less combine it with journalism.

Like many other millenials, Alvi experienced the trials of job rejection but also the glimmer of opportunities that promised candidates their dream job. This is when she encountered reality/game show, “The Job” (which never aired because of re-shooting). Candidates were promised an editorial position at Glamour Magazine, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Alvi made it to the final three but lost out in the lightning round – mistaking Nancy Reagan for the first First Lady to be featured on Glamour Magazine. Right answer? Michelle Obama. “I remember walking off stage and thinking, ‘What the hell did I just say?’” Even though she was devastated by this missed opportunity, she didn’t let this setback stop her progress. “Unless you’re 6 feet under, you keep going.”

After several successful internships at well-known magazines, she landed a job as a “perma-lance” (permanent freelance) beauty assistant at SELF. Although she enjoyed her stint immensely, Alvi wanted to seek opportunities to develop her skills in other areas that would make her a “one-man band”. Her immediate reaction to leaving SELF was, “Holy shit what have I done? I quit a job!” But Alvi also knew she needed to be ahead of the game. “I need to be ahead of what’s going to happen in this industry,” she said.

From early on, Alvi knew that the digital world was going to be at the forefront of this industry. She’s been extremely conscious and cautious about her digital presence, choosing to employ her first name only for her handles. This stems partly from the fact that she values her privacy and wanted to keep herself guarded. It also stems from keeping some of her more conservative family members from getting too nosy. “I don’t think anyone has the right to judge the choices that I make in terms of my wardrobe and the way that I look, which I think circles back to, partially, my love for beauty. And also partially, the fact that I’m a feminist. I think women have the right to be who they want without being judged.” As her journey continues, her ultimate goal is to create digital content for a brand. “Whatever comes next is going to be more amazing that what has happened. You just have to be patient.”

 

 

 

 

 

#AAgoestoLA

 

Ariba Alvi dreamed about Eggslut’s breakfast sandwiches for a full year and a half before she finally made it a reality on July 25, 2015.

Alvi, who traveled cross-country in her car to get to Los Angeles to attend USC, is a self-proclaimed Gilmore Girls fanatic, foodie and nail polish junkie. Her trip is documented on Facebook, using hasthag #AAgoestoLA to set the journey to her Master’s programs apart from her other travels.

Before this “Dirty Jersey” native arrived in the City of Angels, she was living and working in New York City. Alvi, who goes by only her first name on Facebook, is best known for her work as a beauty assistant at SELF Magazine. A Google search brings up many articles penned by Alvi while at the Condé Nast vehicle – ranging from tutorials to quick profiles on athletes.

Before her stint at SELF, she was a freelance beauty assistant at InStyle Magazine. In 2012 she was the Founder and Editor of “A Whisk and a Wand,” a beauty and food centered blog that was created after “yet another missed opportunity (or in this case a job rejection),” as she states under the “About” tab.

Her Facebook is devoted to beauty, food and travels.