Wednesday, February 01, 2006

State of Hollywood Story #1: Maripat Donovan

The first person I'd like to spotlight is Maripat Donovan.

Maripat, an actress and writer, moved from her native Chicago to Los Angeles in 1999 with her acclaimed one-woman show, "Late Night Catechism". At first thinking she would live in the San Fernando Valley, she instead fell in love with a beaten-down craftsman on Harold Way, not far from the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

She restored the house on Harold Way. But that wasn't enough for Maripat. She may have come to Los Angeles in a one-woman show, but she soon found herself in a one-woman redevelopment agency. With investment, an enormous amount of elbow grease, and the application of skills that she never expected to use outside of set design, she went on to transform a small neighborhood—attacking trash, adding greenery, and uniting her neighbors in service to their community.

Maripat helped form the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council, where she joins other neighborhood heroes working every day to improve quality-of-life at a neighborhood level. Yard by yard, building by building, block by block, she and hundreds like her combat the problems that need combating, and help reclaim the community from the forces that undermine it.

Maripat's story means more one person's extraordinary accomplishment in one neighborhood. It shows us that the most daunting tasks can be accomplished when dedicated people pull together and decide to make that difference. The Maripat Donovans of the world challenge us to do more, and they assure us that we can.