Urban Regeneration and Young Warriors NE Valle Map

Family.

This project started in 2011 and is finally done! It’s a collaboration between Urban Regeneration and Young Warriors working on documenting the good, the bad, and the funky aspects of the NE San Fernando Valley. It’s an asset map, but also a piece of history. Many of the features in this map may have changed within the past 3 years, but that’s how it goes. Please feel free to share this map. Donations page coming soon so we can get hard copy prints!!

-Carlos

UR YW Final Map compressed

-excerpt from the map’s narrative:
“Just as we know this is not a complete description of the NE
Valley, we also know that what is listed here may not exist in a
year or two. It is up to us to write our own histories/herstories
through whatever means possible, leaving a lasting image on
the cultural landscape that reflects our realities.
Our realities, of course are not always what we want them
to be. Still, all the people involved in this project understand
the importance of telling a story, explaining how they
perceive the block, letting folks know where the resources
are, and the importance of knowing what we want our
neighborhoods to become.
Now it’s up to you to discover everything between the lines
on the map. Create another alternative, another reality.
Not quite LA, not quite the Valley, that’s the sentiment in
the North East Valle. LA will look over the mountains from
time to time and make one or two stops in North Hollywood,
then return home. “The Valley is not really LA.” The world
recognizes “the valley” as a white suburban playground
(which is partly true for the west side), but does not recognize
the many working class cultures that live here. The north
east does not reflect Hollywood’s portrayal of airheads or
modern cave men. “The north east is not really the valley.” By
the way, we have a third of LA’s population. There are families
here, there’s movement here, and gentrification will never
creep its ugly spineless soul this far (we hope).”

Coming up: Tia Chucha’s 3rd annual Winterlandia

Having few parks, alternative cultural spaces, and literacy resources in our communities, children’s bici rides, snowflake picado, bookmark making, author readings, and comida welcomed families last year at Tia Chucha’s Winterlandia. With the collaboration of Bikesan@s del valle, El Hormiguero, and Tia Chuchas, it was a hit. Children and parents decorated snowflakes cut like papel picado with glitter, colors, and ribbons. Kids rode bicis wearing deer antlers or red noses while Bikesan@s crew chalked the parking lot with lanes to ride. Local vendors sold foods and warmed up families with vegan pozole, guayaba hot atole, jewelry, or art. This year, it gets better.

Come as El Hormiguero continues with new and surprising “Arts & Crafts” activities for families and the little ones because art is expression and resistance. We won’t tell you what exactly since it is a surprise so you won’t want to miss it. Also, Bikesan@s will host the children’s bici ride again this year.Not to forget to mention there will be a marketplace, with local vendors exhibiting their own arts, delicious foods, or jewelry. Tia Chuchas will have an educational animal show (yes, animal chow!), a bilingual interactive storytelling with author Rene Colato Lainez (that’s right!). Tia Chucha’s bookstore will also launch Queer/LBGT and rare comics. Lastly, Tia Chuchas will also offer  book bundles at a discount and giveaways (free stuff!). Don’t miss it!

Let’s keep on supporting our local independent bookstore and cultural centers. winterlandia

¡Que vivan nuestros espacios comunitarios!

 Tia Chucha’s 3rd annual Winterlandia is happening on December 14, 2013 from 1pm-6pm at 13197 Gladstone Ave, Sylmar, CA 91342. https://www.facebook.com/events/161210740755801/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

~El Hormiguero

Hormigas y Jaranas: Tejiendo Resistencias

Pacas

She came one night, with jarana and leona at hand, to the hood of Pacoima, 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Pacoima, el valle, is a community of Mexican and Latinoamerican migrants. We received her at El Hormiguero, a house collective of six hormigas who daily transform their home in a community center to create a better and just world we want to live in.

A collective of approximately ten people, Mexican, and

Algunas hormigas y comunidad con Laura.

Algunas hormigas y comunidad con Laura.

Latinamerican migrant youth, adults, and families meet every Thursday to study and learn son jarocho with the intention to one day have and make fandangos in their hoods, with the guidance of Cesar Castro, jaróchelo of Los Angeles. On October 17, 2013 it was a very special because the honorable Laura Rebolloso accepted an invitation to visit.

Laura Rebollos

From Veracruz, Mexico, Laura tells her story as a woman, mother, and the atrocities of Mexico, with messages in her verses and music. Besides being a musician, artist, composer, have done concerts and didactic presentations, and workshops, Laura has a way to move people who first hear her. Inspiring the depths of their hearts.

The Message

Laura began with a talk on “culture shock” with transit and phone service here in the United Snakes. With everything fast paced and very complicated. Then, she shared that she loved to read. “I use to spend hours reading, “ she said , believing she was an addict to reading news and media. But from that she became aware that there is a global problem, not just Mexican, but a humanitarian crisis. “Today, what matters most is money and wars, more than a human life.” Laura spoke about a monster. Not just capitalist, but a monster that kills anything that lives. Lives, animals, trees, and land. It is a monster that wants to end our way of being, identity, communities, and natural resources. The talk continued for an hour. No one interrupted. And one thing is for sure, “they can never steal our souls,” Laura assured us.

Transnational Braids 

After sipping from her coffee mug, Laura asked, “ why do you all play the jarana?” Many folks were eye and mouth wide open in awe. We sat in moments of reflection. It is true, and very healthy that we ask the why we decided to learn about son jarocho, or study a musical instrument. Having thousands of musical genres to choose from and instruments, why the jarana? “For our families and to give our kids examples,” some fathers and mothers shared. “To create community,” some said. “To express ourselves musically and because music heals, “ others said. “To create alternatives teaching the youth and resist” a few shared. A father said, “it’s beautiful to see that you have our backs, Laura, that you come from Veracruz and visit these corners of the world.” This is how the braid of sonero fam grows. It is true. It is not just about “supporting the musician” but creating community, a relationship beyond music teacher and student. Share life, the struggle, and resist united creating transnational relationships.

Resist

After playing el son de la Guacamaya, a little bit of La Lloroncita, and learning to dance zapateado, Laura shared more with us. She told us that what was going to save humanity is to continue to create collective and nucleus cell like spaces like El Hormiguero, where people come together, back each other up, and ressist.

Last, she said, “ when you are iluminated with love, accept it.”

Music heals. And no one can rob your soul from you. We continue creating.

¡Que vivan las mujeres!

¡Que viva el son!

¡Que viva la Resistencia!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Pacas

Llego una noche, con jarana y leona, al barrio del valle de Pacoima, 20 millas norte de la cuidad de Los Angeles. Pacoima es una comunidad de migrantes de México y Latinoamérica. La recibimos en El Hormiguero, una casa y colectivo de seis hormigas que luchan en transformar su vivienda en un centro comunitario y crear el mundo justo que queremos vivir.

Un colectivo de aproximadamente diez personas, jóvenes, adultos, y familias mexicanas y latinoamericanas y migrantes se juntan cada jueves para estudiar y aprender el son jarocho con la intención de algún día importar talleres y fandangos en nuestros barrios, con la guía de Cesar Castro, el jarochelo en Los Angeles. El jueves 17 de octubre era un día muy especial de taller, porque Laura Rebolloso acepto nuestra invitación en venir.

Laura Rebolloso

De Veracruz, México, Laura cuenta su historia de mujer y mama, historia del país de México, y mensajes con su versada y música. Además de ser música, compositora, hacer conciertos y presentaciones didácticas, tallerista, marinera, Laura tiene una manera de conmover a la gente que la escucha por primera vez. Inspirando hasta el fondo de los corazones.

El Mensaje

Laura empezó con una platica del “shock de cultura” con el transito de los Angeles y el servicio telefónico de los Estados Jodidos. Si, todo es rápido y a veces complicado. Luego compartió que le encanta leer. “Me la pasaba horas leyendo” decía, creyéndose adicta a la lectura noticiera. Pero entre eso, se dio cuenta que hay un problema global, no solo de México, pero la crisis humanitaria. “Ahora lo que mas importa es el dinero y las guerras, mas que la vida de una persona.” Laura hablaba de un monstro. No solo capitalista, sino el monstro que arrebata todo lo que es vida. Un monstro que quiere acabar con nuestra forma de ser, identidad, pueblos, y recursos naturales. La platica siguió una hora. Nadie interrumpió. Pero una cosa si es cierta. “Nunca nos pueden robar nuestras almas,” aseguro Laura.

Los Tejidos Transnacionales

Después de bajar la taza de café, Laura pregunto, “Porque tocan la jarana?” Muchos compas se quedaron viendo, con las bocas abiertas. Momento de reflexión. Si, es verdad, y muy saludable que preguntemos el porque decidimos aprender sobre el son jarocho, o porque estudiar un instrumento musical. Habiendo miles de géneros musicales que escoger e instrumentos, porque la jarana? “Para nuestras familias y parar dar ejemplo a nuestros hijos” las madres y padres decían. “Para crear comunidad” algunos dijeron. “Para expresarnos y porque la música sana” otros decían. “Para crear alternativas enseñando a los niños y resistir” dijeron.  Un padre compartió que, “es lindo ver que nos respaldes, Laura, que vengas desde Veracruz hasta por estos rumbos”. Así los tejidos de la familia sonera crece. Es verdad, no solo se trata de “apoyar al músico” sino crear comunidad y una relación mas allá de maestro musical y estudiante.  Compartir la vida, las luchas y resistir unidos creando relaciones transnacionales.

 

Resiste

Después de tocar el son de la Guacamaya, un poco de la Lloroncita, y aprender a bailar, Laura compartió más. Nos dijo que lo que va salvar la humanidad era seguir creando colectivos y células nucleares de espacios como El hormiguero, donde la gente se junta, se apoya, y resiste.

Por ultimo, nos dijo, “cuando estas iluminado de amor, acéptalo.”

La música cura. Y nadie te puede robar tu alma. Seguimos creando.

¡Que vivan las mujeres!

¡Que viva el son!

¡Que viva la Resistencia!

Una Hormiga en China

by Carlos Hernandez  - Hormiga, estudiante, trabajador, chingon.

August 5, 2013

Working for two months in China is a big deal for me and my family. I’m the first to go anywhere that’s not Mexico and I’m going by myself.  I have received a lot of praise for being able to go and for kind of having my shit together in life.  Its a strange feeling but I’m slowly understanding to except it. Many people in my school will not understand what the big deal is, but coming from San Fernando High School and being a ponkero leads one to believe that you will drop out and “not be shit.” So I take my community, my family, my costumbres, and my aspirations with me.  Sometimes they are the only things keeping me sane in Chengdu. Its a nice feeling having people call you a chingon but it’s also made me realize that I am that much more accountable to my community. OK. So what if I’m a chingon? Big deal because I surround myself with chingone/as and I just so happened to go to China. So I guess what I’m trying to do is pull down these monsters of privilege (traveling, UCLA, Urban Planning, etc.) and hoping to break them down into ways that can benefit us. I hope that made any sense at all.  Pa’delante Hormiga.

Welcome to Chengdu: the land of milk and honey, the heart of the Sichuan province, the fourth largest city and the most important economic powerhouse in Western China.

The people

Immersing in a sea of 14 million people has been both challenging and entertaining as an Urban Planner. As a big city Chengdu really feels like a big town mainly because the residential areas offer just about all the daily needs within a 5 minute walk.  Of course the community organizer in me will always focus on quality of life and social interactions as much as physical city form. Chengdu seems like a place where locals enjoy life.  Great street food, plenty of massage parlors, multiple street nap areas, and some of the best fruit stands I have ever seen. The street corners are typically filled with senior folk playing cards or mahjong, drinking beer, eating food (hot pot of course) and small children running around.  I knew it was a safe city when I noticed that a lot of people walk around slowly with money in their hands.  All while listening to the soundtrack of cicadas and honking cars, buses, and scooters. Everywhere, all the time.

The weather

…because that’s what people talk about right? Well if I must pay my dues, the summer weather in Chengdu is hot, humid, overcast, and rains every morning at about 2am.  Though it sounds pretty terrible, it’s an interesting combination and a fresh change of pace from the San Fernando Valley’s dry heat. Pollution doesn’t seem like such a problem and the locals say it’s because the plains allow winds to sweep the air clean. I believe it!

The work

CDIPD – Chengdu Institute of Planning and Design.

First I have to give a shout out to my coworkers who have hosted me for the past month.  It’s very difficult working on planning projects in a language you don’t understand but the translations, maps, basketball games, and beat box sessions have made this a little less foreign for me.  I am currently working on two projects:

1. A strategic plan of rural Wenjiang. This suburban community of Chengdu has vast rural areas comprised of farmers and rivers. One of the goals set forth by Wenjiang’s planning administration is to develop eco-tourism areas that address the annual floods and watershed problems while finding a balance in displacing farmers.

2. The city of Mianyang (the second largest city in the Sichuan province) is a 2 hour drive to the north with a small downtown and plenty of open space.  Our institute was contracted to develop a master plan for a park that is currently inhabited by a slew of illegal commercial development.  Again, it rests on the institute to find a balance and see what type of policies and design solutions can create a riverfront park while allowing the local population to economically sustain themselves.

Both projects are within the Urban Design division of the Institute and working here has been some of the best experience in Urban Design thus far.

The streets

Preparing for a half marathon in Chengdu seemed like a good idea before arriving. I was wrong. Chengdu has been dealing with a growing traffic problem that is reminiscent of the city of angels. Bus only lanes and BRT lines on elevated highways have been the response but the automobile is by far the dominant force in the public realm.  Separate moped/bike ways are a major relief when I ride my bicycle in Chengdu but once in a while cars decide to join the narrow bike way. Like other big cities (mainly Mexico City) that have lax traffic regulations, lanes only serve as guidelines and the bigger your vehicle, the more respect you command. I have now traded in running for swimming and wish I would have packed my bike helmet.

Chengdu as a City

Downtown areas and main corridors are littered with highly profile fashion outlets (think prada, rolex, a Mc Laren dealership) but all of it vanishes once you turn the corner. Then you’re in my neighborhood with all the 6 kuai (1 USD) food and snacks you can eat.  Chengdu is also a radial city which is very fun for planning nerds like me.  Upon visiting the Planning Exhibition I learned about plans for Chengdu to have direct international connections for flights and the expansion of the subway system from 2 lines to 6 by 2030ish. Considered a garden city, Chengdu boasts the concept of integrating nature with the built environment.  Perhaps they do this by planting more trees?

Sightseeing in the city remains a mystery to me mainly because it’s a city for living and not much of a tourist attraction.  Jinli Street and Kuanzhai Xiangzi (wide and narrow alleys) are by far the most well-known tourist areas in the city.  Of course if you’re me, and Lucia and Chelsea, two other UCLA MURP’s, are visiting Chengdu you take them to the animal market.  It’s a combination of misery, cuteness, sadness, and foul smelling air, all within a 2 story building down the street from the Prada store. The market specializes in fish and turtles but there are many small puppies, cats, chinchillas, ferrets, and neon frogs.  Apparently the baby alligators are sold in the fish market and not as pets. Of course there’s Tianfu square which is a little more depressing than Pershing Square but has a giant saluting Chairman Mao in the background and a subway transfer station beneath. On a side note, I have not found anyone willing to express how they feel about Mao.  In summation Chengdu is a city for living and enjoying but definitely lacking in tourist attractions. That might be a good thing.

Shout out to the NE Valley, the MURPs, and Ciudad Nezahulcóyotl for preparing me for just about anything.  

Interested in Zapatismo? Want to learn about Autonomy?

…well now is your chance to take a class with the Zapatistas themselves….broadcasted via webcast all the way from Chiapas, Mexico. El Hormiguero is honored to be given the opportunity to host a weeklong crash course on Autonomy. The Zapatista communities have opened up their spaces once again to allow for thousands of people to listen, learn and begin to practice Autonomy in our communities. We are grateful to have the technology that allows us to interact with the rest of the world in ways that borders, legalities and socioeconomic status does not.

Please follow the instructions on the Registration form to ensure your participation in this amazing opportunity.

More information here.

Register for La Escuelita (webcast) NOW! Space is limited.

escuelita_zapatista_ezlnLa Escuelita via Webcast
August 2013

The Zapatista communities in Chiapas will celebrate their 10-year anniversary of the Juntas de Buen Gobierno. This celebration will be followed by a five-day class session that will be lectured by Zapatista community members. The content of this class session has to do with the approach of autonomy and how it has functioned in the Zapatista community, how it has succeeded, how it has failed, what could be improved, and what is missing.

La Escuelita is by invitation only. While over a thousand of the invited are going to Chiapas, a few hundred requested to take the course via webcast. The Zapatistas are asking for the names of all participants which means that you will only be able to participate by registering through this form. Space is limited and will be provided on first come, first serve basis. Register as soon as possible to secure your seat in the class.

Here in Los Angeles, there will be two locations set up where La Escuelita will be broadcasted: one in East LA at the Eastside Cafe and another in the San Fernando Valley at El Hormiguero. Please send your registration form to the pertaining location you will be attending.
El Hormiguero- elhormiguero@riseup.net
Eastside Cafe- evoluxion777@yahoo.com

The classes will be broad casted in the evening (time not yet confirmed) from August 12-16 and we ask that you commit to attending all 5 days. We take the word of the Zapatistas very serious and we ask that you do too by committing to this wholeheartedly.

Texts will accompany the course and we will be asking for donations to cover printing costs or you can print your own. We have not received the texts yet, so please prepare for an intense week of reading.

We may also organize an orientation a few days prior to La Escuelita.

*Please keep in mind that we are being periodically updated by the Zapatista Community  through their comunicados about how the Escuelita will look like via webcast and we may not have all the information at this moment, pero con ganas we move forward and trust that this will all come together in the end.

To Register please email the appropriate location with the following information:

Name: _______________________________________

Phone Number: ________________________________

Email: ________________________________________

Organization (if any): ____________________________

Why are you interested in participating in La Escuelita?

 

 

*For more information read the communiques at enlace zapatista. 

Knowledge of Self Podcast Number 1 is up, Take a Listen!

[mixcloud height="300" width="500"]http://www.mixcloud.com/KOS_Podcast/kos-podcast-1/[/mixcloud]

Check out the first KOS Podcast! Brought to you from Chicago, your hosts Bryant and Dario sit down and reflect a bit about why it was important to start up the podcast.

Tracks:
1. Common- The People
2. Ruby Ibarra- Nonconceptual
3. Gangstarr- Robin’ Hood Theory
4. Ana Tijoux- Shock
5. Black Star- K.O.S. (Determination) Instrumental

Shout outs:
-Radio Sombra (www.radiosombra.org/)
-Espacio 1839 (www.facebook.com/Espacio1839) [our apologies for mixing the numbers in the podcast]
-El Hormiguero (www.hormigueropacoima.org)
-Elusive Minds (www.elusiveminds.com/)
-Staycool Fanzine (http://staycoolfanzine.blogspot.com/)

 

Hip Hop Podcast coming soon!

Chicago Peace peace y’all! We hope this message finds you all well and in good spirits! Part of much of the movement below the anthill are the ongoing projects and the creation of new ones (which folx are always welcome to join or start their own), there is definitely much happening and upcoming at El Hormiguero! One of the new upcoming and developing projects is a hip hop project called Organik Intelex. It is in its initial stages but beginning to come into form with the of radio podcast’s K.O.S. [Knowledge of Self-Determination], a rasquache collaborative effort with one of the hormigas and Drop Beats, a compa from Chicago. We hope to expand the podcast beyond two folx or encourage people to create their own! We are all about each one teach one, do it yourself, and rasquachismo (especially when using media as a tool). The goal is build, share, learn through hip hop and radio podcast. If you are interested in the Organik Intelex Hip Hop Work at El Hormiguero, feel free to contact us at our facebook: www.facebook.com/HormigueroPacoima or email us at elhormiguero@riseup.net.

Keepin’ hip hop  and the elements alive…peace, love, unity, and having fun.

Bueno pues compas we leave y’all with this as a sneak peak:

 

 

the women on the wall: beautiful, sexist or both?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few weeks ago, a new mural debuted near Van Nuys Boulevard on Laurel Canyon, as many recently have in the past year along Pacoima’s “Mural Mile.” It’s another vision created by Levi Ponce with assistance from active community members and artists, such asManny VelazquezKristy Sandoval and Javier Martinez.

The mural was revealed just as Levi was becoming a local media darling, with coverage in the Daily News and on KCET.org, KPFK and, of course, i am san fernando. Soon after “Pacoima Neighborhood Mural” debuted, Good Day L.A. was touring the street art with Levi, and the prolific muralist was subsequently interviewed on CNN and MSN.

All good, right? Well, not exactly. “Pacoima Neighborhood Mural,” which depicts two Latinas in dresses lying amidst flowers against a backdrop of stained-glass windows, has stirred up controversy. Some have called the image sexually suggestive with regard to the dress, poses, facial expressions and reclined positions of the two female models (as if they’re in bed, some have argued). Additionally, others see the religious iconography as a reinforcement of values that suppress females.

Between the excitement of Levi’s technically beautiful work, the media spotlight on Pacoima and the mixed feelings toward the representation of women in the mural, things got messy. How messy? Let’s just say Facebook was involved.

I watched and listened as this played out among community members, acquaintances and personal friends. Part of me wanted to jump in with my own initial thoughts but, like many, my feelings were still murky and unclear. Anything I said would have been reactionary, and I’ve learned that time often gives me the space to make sense of gut reactions.

What was my gut reaction upon seeing the 70 feet by 20 feet depiction? Like most things that strike me as off, I found it hard to digest but I couldn’t pinpoint why. Perhaps seeing its grandiosity in person left a sense of awe I felt uncomfortable with. Yes, I was moved. The national flowers from various Latin-American countries were beautiful, the loteria pictograms clever, and sheer stature mesmerizing. But then there they were — women I had met and conversed with in real life right in front of me, yet I could not see them.

In my first and only encounter with Ana Hernandez, one of the models, I gathered that she had an interest in photography since we only spoke briefly before she was off to shoot. In my time with Melanie Moreno, the other model, I learned that she is a talented wardrobe stylist with a passion for online media. I’m glad I got a chance to see those dimensions because the average mural observer will not be afforded the opportunity. The mural subjects will likely be relegated to “Latina babes” status, just as the Daily Newsrecently called them.

Even though I wasn’t sure how to react, I knew I had concerns. First, there’s the notion of public art and its role in the community. Every artist has freedom to create and nearly every artist comes under fire at one point in his or her career, but do street artists carry more responsibility than others since their medium is intended for the public space, focused on accessibility and expected to interact with the community? And should a modern-day Latino or Latina muralist painting in a disadvantaged neighborhood take extra care in his or her decision-making, especially considering the art form’s deep historical ties to Mexico, which harkens back to an era when murals were rooted in social and political movement and served as a platform for underrepresented people?

I am not one to infringe on artistic freedom. After all, I’m a writer with a public-facing website who shares her sometimes less-than-popular opinion on a daily basis. The “About” section on iamsanfernando.com cheekily states, “I’m an independent blogger. You don’t like? Start your own blog.”

But, the difference is that my audience has a choice. They can choose not to read my words, never visit my website and, with a few resources, start their own blog and share their voice. The same cannot be said of a mural. You’re running into that sucker, whether you like it or not, and creating a mural is not a realistic possibility for the average citizen.

That being said, my answer is yes. A muralist should take extra care when considering his or her subject matter and think about how the piece will interact with the community at large. It’s one thing to facilitate access to art for residents who aren’t receiving it, but the more important thing is pushing through meaningful and compelling images that challenge the empty and false ones penetrating their daily lives.

There’s also another problem with the picture here, and it has to do with the representation of the two women on the wall. If a mural tells a story and challenges social constructions, what does “Pacoima Neighborhood Mural” have to say? How does it confront the all-too-common depiction of the sexualized female, particularly that of the Latina “vixen”?

There are people in certain camps that just don’t see the mural as “that bad” or overtly sexual. First, let’s state the obvious. There is a sexual connotation. If the characters from some of Levi’s other murals were subjected to such a pose, people would sense something was off. Would the Mona Lisa in “Pacoima’s Art Revolution” lose her strength if she was reclining with that same expression on her face and dress falling off her shoulder? How would Danny Trejo’s power be reduced if he wasn’t upright and looking down on you with that mean mug?

The idea that the mural is not “that bad” is a large part of the problem. Not that bad compared to what? Compared to what you’re used to seeing? Beer ads? Porno? The point of reference is off base; males have unjustly created the benchmark and ignorantly continue to look to it as a measuring tool.

The most surprising element about this whole ordeal is not the content of the mural itself. We women are accustomed to images that objectify, conversations that insult and actions that abuse. It’s not right, but also not shocking. No, the real letdown comes in the form of trust broken.

The suggestive nature of the mural struck a particular chord among community members because it was an “inside job.” This wasn’t the usual corporate entity looking to cash in on the Latin market by playing up that spicy/sizzling/feisty/hot Latina in a red dress (see: Sophia Vergara, Corona ads, any movie where the girlfriend is Latina, life). No, this was our brown, conscious brothers and some sisters who either call themselves feminists or, at the very least, are aware of a predominant culture that has marginalized them in some way.

When our community of Chicano activists and local artists — the very friends and neighbors who work side-by-side in a struggle that parallels that of females — offer this mural as their vision of Pacoima women and thereafter cannot look past the backlash, admit fault and offer understanding, it feels like an affront.

To me, this was the most upsetting element about the whole drama. I read or heard ignorant comment after ignorant comment and ran into defenders of the mural who were flabbergasted by the negative reaction. They chalked it up to the vocal opinions of “extreme feminists” and brushed it off. I didn’t know there were levels of extremity when it came to equal rights.

Some, mainly men, were ready to swiftly absolve the mural’s shortcomings because the door had now been opened for dialogue and real conversation was on its way. The problem is that the dialogue is not happening until something pops off, and females are automatically put in the position of defense. Real talk cannot stem from that. We’re supposed to be on the same team.

The content of the mural is troubling but what made me sick to my stomach was seeing how those in defense of the mural — a community of Latino artists, educators and activists — were unwilling to look at themselves, their perception of women and the resulting impact on young people walking home daily from Pacoima Middle School.

After all, if your struggle is somehow related to creating social change or presenting a new perspective through art, would it not have made sense to end the trail of disrespectful comments and begin with, “You know, I’m not sure I understand why this is so upsetting to women or why it has triggered such emotion, but I’d like to try to understand.”

Because if the conversation doesn’t begin in such an honest and open way — if the conversation doesn’t take place at all — then thewriting’s on the wall.

by April Aguirre as posted in Iamsanfernando.com

Taller con Mare Advertencia Lirika: Autonomia de la Mujer

mare advertencia lirika_elhormiguero_flyer copy

“Vivimos dentro de un sistema patriarcal que no nos permite desarrollarnos plenamente. Como mujeres, tenemos necesidades diferentes a los hombres y para hablar de autonomía debemos considerar tambien estas diferencias. Al pensar este taller lo que se busca dialogar entre nosotras, analizando nuestro contexto, nuestras necesidades; esto nos permitira generar propuestas para avanzar en el camino de la autonomia.”

Mare Advertencia Lirika es Rapera nacida en Oaxaca.
Mare utiliza su Rap como una herramienta para despertar las conciencias y fortalecer las redes dentro del movimiento social en Oaxaca y otros lugares. Buscando también erradicar la condición de desigualdad que existe hacia las mujeres dentro de la sociedad, lo que la ha llevado a trabajar con diversos grupos y organizaciones sociales del pais y del mundo.

Ha compartido escena con grupos reconocidos nacional e internacionalmente como Golden Ganga, La Tremenda Korte, Krudas Cubensi, Alika, Delinquent Habits, Cihuatll Ce, Guerrilla Queens, Guerrillerokulto, Lengualerta, además de tener la oportunidad de llevar su mensaje a otras partes del planeta.
Actualmente sigue trabajando en su proyecto de rap individual, en proyectos de apoyo a la comunidad, dando talleres de danza, rap y cultura hip hop, y colaborando en otros proyectos musicales como Revolution Sound System y Los Molcajete.
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Mare Advertencia Lirika is a Zapotec woman and rapper born in Oaxaca, Mexico. She is the founder of the rap group “Advertencia Lirika.”
Mare uses rap as a tool to raise awareness and to strengthen networks within the Oaxacan social movement as well as social movements elsewhere. Her work seeks to eradicate gender inequalities within society, an objective that has led her to work with diverse collectives and organizations nationally and internationally.

She has shared the stage with nationally and internationally recognized rap groups like Golden Ganga, La Tremenda Korte, Krudas Cubensi, Alika, Delinquent Habits, Cihuatll Ce, Guerrilla Queens, Guerrillerokulto, Lengualerta to name a few. In addition, she has had the opportunity to take her message to various parts of the planet.

She is currently still working on her solo rap project supporting community based initiatives by offering dance, rap, and hip hop culture workshops. In addition she continuously supports other musical projects including Revolution Sound System and the Oaxacan musical group Los Molcajete.

*We will be collecting donations in support of Mare
*Special Performance at the end!

Check out Mare’s music here/Para escuchar la musica de Mare, visiten su pagina de soundcloud!

https://soundcloud.com/mare-advertencia-lirika

Two Years of Building Community: El Hormiguero Anniversary

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
Arundhati Roy
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Hormiguero2yrEl Hormiguero was established on February 2011 in Pacoima, California in the Northeast San Fernando Valley with the vision of creating our home into a space that would be for the purpose of continuing to build a community. self-empowered, driven and determined to take care of ourselves and each other. El Hormiguero is a collective and reflective home that actively works towards building a safe, sustainable, and community oriented space that embodies the world we want to live in.
Join us in celebrating two years of building at El Hormiguero!

The anniversary will consist of a San Fernando Valley Movement Building Dialogue to share resources, visions and efforts that continue to create the North East Valley a better place for all. Followed by a community convivio with music and celebration.

***This is family and youth/children friendly even. We are looking for any help with child care during the dialogue session.
***This is a Drug & Alcohol Free night.

Schedule:
5pm- Gathering Time

6pm-9pm: Food & Dialogue. We are inviting groups, collectives, and orgs from the North East Valley to come and share about their efforts, what they do, what they want to do and how we can support each other.

9pm-1am: Community celebration!

El Hormiguero is a safe space: No Homophobia, No Racism, No Sexism, No Ableism, No Ageism, No Transphobia, No Xenophobia.