10 Angelenos Who Make L.A. a Better Place
Danny Liao

10 Angelenos Who Make L.A. a Better Place

L.A. Weekly's annual People Issue celebrates Angelenos who, through adversity or with ingenuity or as a result of fate, get shit done.

Below is a sampling of 10 of the 49 people (and one dog) featured in the issue — those whose fields and contributions run from refugee aid to gang research, student activism to marijuana equality, bike lane expansion to space exploration.

10 Angelenos Who Make L.A. a Better Place
Danny Liao

If You Want to Know About L.A. Gangs, Don't Ask a Cop — Ask Alex Alonso

In Alex Alonso's view, law enforcement often dehumanizes gangsters, making it easier for society to embrace a lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach. "We have been manipulated and brainwashed to believe a narrative fed to us by law enforcement: Most gang members are diabolical," he says. "The opposite is the case." Keep reading ...

10 Angelenos Who Make L.A. a Better Place
Danny Liao

Lila Higgins Wants People to See L.A. the Way Bugs See L.A.

Higgins is an educator; her job is to teach people — usually younger people — about nature, the environment and diversity. But you could also call her a cheerleader for nature in Los Angeles. Keep reading ...

10 Angelenos Who Make L.A. a Better Place
Danny Liao

A 16-Year-Old Is Helping L.A. Teens Stand Up to Trump

Mateo comes from an activist family. Her older sister was president of MEChA, the Chicano student group at Venice High School, and Mateo founded a chapter of the group when she transferred to L.A. High. Keep reading ...

10 Angelenos Who Make L.A. a Better Place
Danny Liao

Tarafai Bayne Is Making L.A. a Better City for Cyclists

Born in Watts and raised in the Crenshaw district, Bayne has long been an avid cyclist. "Being on a bike gave [me] a really strong visceral connection to places," he says. "You really get to know a neighborhood from the bike more than you do from driving around in a car." Keep reading ...

10 Angelenos Who Make L.A. a Better Place
Danny Liao

A Marijuana Maven Aims to Make the Weed Industry Less White

As the website Fusion put it last year, cannabis culture has become "a white girl thing." Bonita "Bo" Money, however, is working hard to keep at least some of the proceeds from the nation's green rush flowing to minorities. Keep reading ...

10 Angelenos Who Make L.A. a Better Place
Danny Liao

JPL Scientist Wants to Answer the Question: Is There Life on Mars?

Jacqueline Lyra's home may be in Los Angeles County, but her work is on Mars. "One thing leads to another, and you're a Martian," she says. Keep reading ...

10 Angelenos Who Make L.A. a Better Place
Danny Liao

This USC Professor Gives Lectures on Karaoke

Karen Tongson's pop sensibilities have led her around the world: She's delivered dozens of lectures about karaoke, from Riverside to Germany. She's written a journal article on Downton Abbey and gave a talk in London about the legendary Studio K, the Knott's Berry Farm all-ages nightclub. Keep reading ...

10 Angelenos Who Make L.A. a Better Place
Danny Liao

One of L.A.'s First Mexican-American Attorneys Has Spent 46 Years Fighting for His People

As a law student, Miguel García volunteered at a police malpractice center. He detected a pattern among clients showing outward signs of having suffered police brutality. García discussed it with other like-minded young Chicano lawyers: How do we get ahold of the personnel records of the officers? Keep reading ...

10 Angelenos Who Make L.A. a Better Place
Danny Liao

A Single Good Deed Morphed Into a Movement That Aided Hundreds of Refugees

After Miry Whitehill helped find baby supplies for a family of Syrian refugees, she started calling around to refugee resettlement groups. She put together a list for another family the following month, then a third. Soon she had lists going for two families at a time. Then four. Within a matter of weeks, she was running on organization of her making, bringing aid — and kindness — to nearly 100 families. Keep reading ...

10 Angelenos Who Make L.A. a Better Place
Danny Liao

Kevin de Leon Went From College Dropout to California's Senate President

Eventually, de León went back to school, graduating from Pitzer College with a degree in political studies. He had no ambition to run for office until the California State Legislature passed a law banning undocumented immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses. Keep reading ...

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