06/02/2010 11:43 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

LAANE Event To Promote Community Giving, Social Participation

The late senator Ted Kennedy once said that LAANE "changed the lives of countless families in Southern California." He was talking about the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, an advocacy group aiming to improve Los Angeles' economy and promote good jobs, equal opportunity for Angelenos, and responsible stewardship of the environment.

LAANE scored a major victory in the last several years, ensuring a better living wage for those working in the service industry near Los Angeles International Airport. This year, they're taking on L.A. County's "food deserts," areas where Angelenos don't have access to high-quality, healthy food. Their goal is to make sure every neighborhood in the city has a responsible grocery store.

"Building movements for change really need people to step forward and have the courage to take leadership," LAANE Deputy Director Vivian Rothstein told me. "It's usually the people who are most affected, people on the local level, that can tell the story."

One of LAANE's most expansive ongoing projects is the organization of the Los Angeles community. Their goal is to show that most problems will not be solved on the state or federal level, but from community involvement in politics and projects.

This level of community leadership will be on display today at LAANE's Women For A New Los Angeles luncheon at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel. Honoring ACLU of Southern California Executive Director Ramona Ripston, and featuring playwright Jude Narita and actress Maria Bello, the event is aimed at inspiring future leaders and honoring the great number of women who have taken these challenges upon themselves.

"To become a leader, you have to overcome your fears, develop skills, speak out publicly," Rothstein said. "A lot of people have never gone to a city council meeting or spoken to someone from the media. We have leadership trainings because we really want people to become active participants. That's the only way we can change policies on a local level."

Become a member of LAANE (students get discounts), make a donation, or show your support for LAANE's projects through petitions and letter-writing campaigns.