We are all about the community here at The Burg. Although, yes, we are building an app, an online space for our physical communities, there are certainly spaces that our phones or the internet can’t replace. Below is our totally objective and 100% unbiased list of the most underrated community hubs in LA. People tend to underestimate just how vital public spots and community design are to our everyday well-being. These are some of the places that do it right. PS: if you want to be the person that propel's the "community's platform" in your neighborhood sign up below.
1. House Roots Coffee
House Roots Coffee is as community as it gets. Starting as a small pop-up shop in Santa Clarita a couple years ago, eventually they built “The Lab,” a great coffee bar in the back of a church in Northridge. The community loved their product and shortly afterwards they started a Kickstarter and the community was there to support them. They just passed their 1 year anniversary at their current spot in Granada Hills and business is boomin.’ Their staff consistently goes out of their way to truly converse, and as a result customers don’t feel like customers but like members of a community. House Roots uses their platform for a larger purpose. Whether it is for outreach for a sick member of the community or donating some purchases for Hurricane victims, they provide a picturesque example of how a new coffee shop can come into a community, embrace it, and amplify it.
TEAPOP is one of the best community spots in North Hollywood, hands down. They have a beautiful and sunny backyard where people chit-chat and work during the day. In the evenings, TEAPOP hosts events, live music, board games, and movie nights, and once there was even a wedding. On the weekends they have small flea markets for local artisans to display their crafts. It’s a great atmosphere that features locals sharing stories and catching up. TEAPOP is a friendly and relaxed environment with great iced coffee and most importantly, a charming, welcoming staff. PS: they just opened a new store in the Arts District!
3. Los Angeles Public Library
Libraries are sweet, but LAPL is particularly awesome. In terms of free, community-oriented service, nobody outdoes our public libraries. LAPL offers classes, workshops, and a ton of resources for people of all ages. Many of them, including the Downtown and the Westside branches, are great spots to read or work, and importantly, spots for the community to congregate. There is plenty to take advantage of and few people seem to be aware of this under-appreciated public good. I think people sometimes forget just how useful public libraries are. We have this antiquated idea of what a library is when in actuality they are much more than rows of bookcases. There are countless hidden and amazing benefits of getting a library card and checking out your local LAPL, but here’s one (The Burg Team’s personal favorite): For audiobook lovers out there, check out overdrive — an e-book and audiobook service that lets you download LAPL content right to your phone. Information is aplenty in this age and there’s no reason why learning has to exist only in the classroom. We can all become Renaissance folks. Take advantage of your resources, people!
4. Movie Screenings
We live in the land of the big screen, and here in LA we’re right in the heart of the storm. We are fortunate that Hollywood considers the Greater LA Area home for market research. If you look in the right places, you’ll find a countless stream of free movie screenings to attend with die-hard movie buffs. Few things are as “LA” as attending an early screening and often at these events the Director or an Actor will be there to answer questions about their work. If you're new to the area and looking to meet some people, joining a community of "movie insiders" is easy and exciting.
5. Da Poetry Lounge
Few things can bring people together as well as spoken word. Regardless of color or creed or politics, the rhythm and seamlessness of spoken word has been a mainstay in communities since the dawn of time. Da Poetry Lounge aka DPL is the Mecca of spoken word in Los Angeles, and the longest standing spoken word lounge in the country. Hosted by Shihan, DPL is in a league of it’s own and a fantastic spawning ground for young poets and artists to start their careers including the likes of Aman Batra, Alyesha Wise and Yesika Salgado. Every Tuesday night at 9 PM head on over to DPL (get there a little early, the lounge is known for lines that go down the block). Bring at least 10 bucks (5 on open mics, 10 on poetry slams) and directly support the community. The DPL community is alive and well and a hotbed for some talented, rising artists.