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Community Activists Rally To Save El Sereno's Eastside Cafe

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It's hard to find a corner of the Eastside that hasn't been touched by gentrification, from the Gallery Wars of Boyle Heights to brand-new Vogue darlingHighland Park. The latest victim of L.A.'s relentless upward climb is the Eastside Cafe, an El Sereno institution that's doubled as a neighborhood organizing space for over 13 years.

The Zapatista-inspired Eastside Cafe offers everything from writer's groups to healing circles to driver's-ed and ESL classes out of its space, sustaining itself entirely on volunteer community donations. When community activists learned last week that a commercial real estate developer was in escrow on the Huntington Drive building that houses the Eastside Cafe, they mobilized to fight the buyer and won a 10-day interruption of the sale; now, the Eastside Cafe has just a week to raise the $180,000 needed to buy back the building. The cafe's GoFundMe page has already garnered over $16,000 in donations, but it will take sustained to raise the rest of the funds by May 13.

"The El Sereno community built the Eastside Cafe, we should be able to own it," Eastside Cafe co-founder Angela Flores told LAist Monday, praising the value of "autonomous spaces" like the Eastside Cafe, La Conxa in Boyle Heights and Solidarity House of the South in preserving the diversity of Los Angeles. "Gentrification isn't giving us the chance to invest in our own communities," Flores noted, adding, "If El Sereno loses the Eastside Cafe, we lose value as a community."

El Sereno's Eastside Cafe has until Sunday, May 13 to raise the money it needs to stay open for business; visit the cafe's GoFundMe page to donate and spread the word.

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Related: An El Sereno Home Sold for Nearly $1 Million: What's in Store for This Eastside Neighborhood?