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WAPOW Magazine The City Project L.A. State Historic Park Tour March 24 10 am

“Join us at WAPOW Issue 3 Launch: Roots to hear first-hand from Robert Garcia on how community activism created the Los Angeles State Historic Park.”

‘Robert García . . . organized a civil rights challenge under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial or ethnic discrimination in federally funded programs. He filed his complaint with HUD, which was providing loan guarantees to Majestic and helping pay for environmental cleanup. García argued that the fight for the Cornfield was part of the historic struggle for low-income people of color in Los Angeles to find livable communities with parks, playgrounds, schools, and recreation. Garcia cited  the eviction of Latinos from Chavez Ravine to build Dodger Stadium  and  the relocation of Chinese families to make way for Union Station as examples of communities of color dislocated in the name of larger development goals. The Cornfield was not only a matter of environmental importance, but a matter of social justice. . . .

García lauds the victory — “This kicked off the green justice movement in Los Angeles,” he says — but laments the speed (or lack thereof) in development. “It’s been 17 years and that’s a long time in a life of a child without access to a park.” García adds that Cornfield Park is not the park he fought for because of the gentrification that has happened since 2001. “Since then, the people who lived in the neighborhood can’t afford to live and work nearby.”’

The KCET article warrants further comment: García and Senator Tom Hayden helped persuade HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo to cut off federal funding for the warehouse proposal in a call the day before HUD acted on the civil rights complaint.

Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, Anahuak Youth Sports Association, and other people of color and low income people have been instrumental leaders in the park and green justice movement.

The green justice movement led to L.A. State Historic Park, Río de L.A. State Park, Baldwin Hills Park, L.A. River revitalization, and billions of dollars more in park, water, and resource ballot measures. Voters of color and low income voters are among the biggest supporters of such measures.

Learn more about the civil rights and environmental justice victory at L.A. State Historic Park.

WAPOW Magazine is a free, bilingual community quarterly magazine that focuses on news and culture in Los Angeles Chinatown.




Humming birds trained to breathe through oxygen masks!

Humming birds can beat their wings 80 times per second. Their hearts can beat more than 1,000 times per minute. They live on nectar and can pack 40% of their body weight in fat for migration.

“Q. You manage to get hummingbirds to voluntarily put their heads in oxygen masks while they hover and feed. How in the world do you do that?”

Read the story in the New York Times . . .

Ana’s Hummingbird The City Project / Robert García

Union Bank Healthy Living in the Parklands Baldwin Hills Park Site Tour and L.A. Round Table

Union Bank’s Sylvia Castillo and Ryan Bjorkquist tour Baldwin Hills Park and Civil Right Park with Tim Mok, City Project Fellow. Healthy Living in the Parklands is made possible in part by the generous support of the Union Bank Foundation.

Fred Mendez and Sylvia Castillo lead the L.A. Round Table with community grantees at Union Bank. Fred is Managing Director, Community/Environmental/Government Relations, in the Corporate Social Responsibility for the Americas (CSRA) Group at MUFG Union Bank, N.A. Sylvia is Director, Foundation and CSR Officer, CSRA. Ryan is LEED® Green Associate and V.P. Environmental Sustainability.

The Union Bank CSRA group works hard to:

  • Foster economic, social, and environmental sustainability
  • Promote financial prosperity, sociocultural equity, and diversity, and
  • Conserve natural resources to preserve and improve the environment.

You can impeach a president, but not the people who voted for this. For those who hope impeachment or Mueller are the solution . . .

It’s really hard to impeach a president. . . .

[I]mpeachment remains a political decision. Which means that unless we experience some kind of unprecedented sea change in the pathological tribalism that now defines our politics, impeachment is a dead letter. What makes [45] immune is that he is not a president within the context of a healthy republican government. He is a cult leader of a movement that has taken over a political party — and he specifically campaigned on a platform of one-man rule.

No, [45] is not about to initiate a coup, or suspend elections or become a dictator. . . . The dismemberment of a public discourse centered on objective truth is a key first step, fomented by unceasing dissemination of outright lies from the very top, metabolized by tribal social media, ever more extreme talk radio and what is essentially a state propaganda channel, Fox News. The neutering of the courts is the second step — and [45] is well on his way to (constitutionally) establishing a federal judiciary whose most important feature will be reliable assent to executive power. Congress itself has far less approval than [45]; its inability to do anything but further bankrupt the country, enrich the oligarchy and sabotage many Americans’ health care leaves an aching void filled by … a president who repeatedly insists that “I am the only one who matters.”

But the wreckage after only one year is extraordinary. The F.B.I. is now widely discredited; the C.I.A. is held in contempt; judges, according to the president, are driven by prejudice and partisanship (when they disagree with him); the media produce fake news; Congress is useless (including both Republicans and Democrats); alliances are essentially rip-offs; the State Department — along with the whole idea of a neutral Civil Service — is unnecessary. And the possibility of reasoned deliberation at the heart of democratic life has been obliterated by the white-hot racial and cultural hatreds that [45] was able to exploit to get elected and that he constantly fuels. . . .

The result is that an unimpeachable president is slowly constructing the kind of authoritarian state that America was actually founded to overthrow.

There is nothing in the Constitution’s formal operation that can prevent this. Impeachment certainly cannot. As long as one major political party endorses it, and a solid plurality of Americans support such an authoritarian slide, it is unstoppable. . . . You can impeach a president, but you can’t, alas, impeach the people. They voted for the kind of monarchy the American republic was designed, above all else, to resist; and they have gotten one.

Andrew Sullivan, New York Times Book Review.

“Justice” by Albert-Ernest Carrier Belleuse, Valparaíso Court House, Chile

National Academy of Medicine Videos Communities Driving Health Equity #PromoteHealthEquity

The National Academy of Medicine 5-minute video collection spotlights local organizations across the country, each addressing health challenges important to their community. By collaborating across sectors, identifying issues critical to their community, and drawing strength from the power of many, these communities are confronting health inequity.

Read the the committee report Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity – one of the 5 most downloaded reports of 370 released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2017. The report, comic book, and summaries are available at

Wham! Click on the Comic by Samuel Garcia based on the National Academies Report!

Treating and housing the mentally ill is harder than jailing them but might actually work L.A. Times Editorials Part 4

“Our homelessness crisis is a national disgrace,” according to the L.A. Times editorial board in a series of six editorials. There are at least 58,000 homeless people in the county, a number that has lurched upward in recent years amid a chronic lack of affordable housing.

Part 4:Treating and housing the mentally ill is harder than jailing them. But it might actually work“:

It’s important to remember that the mentally ill account for only about a third of the homeless, so even if they were all properly treated and housed, homelessness would remain a monumental problem in Los Angeles.

That said, people who should be in permanent supportive housing and clinical care are on the street in large part because a society that did so well at the easy and money-saving part of deinstitutionalization — releasing the patients, laying off the staffs, closing the hospital doors — failed to follow through with the difficult and expensive part. Few of the promised clinics were built. The funding was constantly delayed. It was finally supposed to come with the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980, signed into law by President Carter. But the following year, Congress and the new president, Ronald Reagan, repealed the act.

Homeless la river

Homeless on the L.A. River © Russell Orrell

Healthy Parks, Healthy Children KCET Barcelona UCLA The City Project

People with access to green space tend to be more physically active, enjoy better health, and suffer lower levels of obesity, diabetes, asthma, stress, mental illness, depression, anxiety, and other disorders. Exposure to green space during childhood could result in beneficial structural changes in the brain, according to a recent study. Children’s health should not depend on where they live, the color of their skin, or how much money their families make.

“This is the first study that evaluates the association between long-term exposure to greenspace and brain structure,” says Dr. Payam Dadvand, leading author of the study by the Barcelona Institute of Global Health. “Our findings suggest that exposure to greenspace early in life could result in beneficial structural changes in the brain.”

A previous study showed that children who attended schools with higher outdoor green space had a greater increase in working memory and a greater reduction in inattentiveness than children who attended schools with less greenness. Furthermore, greener areas often have lower levels of air pollution and noise and may enrich microbial inputs from the environment, all of which could translate into indirect benefits for brain development. The “biophilia hypothesis” suggests that green space provides children with opportunities for psychological restoration and exercises in discovery, creativity and risk taking, which, in turn, positively influence brain development.

“We’re not just trying to find association between greenery and cognitive function, but showing there’s a biological mechanism that could be leading to these kinds of changes in early childhood development,” said Dr. Michael Jerrett, co-author of the study and department chair and professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. . . .

“Low-income communities and communities of color lack access to parks and are disproportionately affected by health problems like diabetes and heart disease, but these disparities and inequities are not accidental,” said Robert Garcia, founding director and counsel of the City Project, who attributes the disparities to a legacy of discriminatory housing and land use practices in Los Angeles.

Click on the image to watch SoCal Connected’s ‘Park Poor’ featuring Anahuak Youth Sports Association and The City Project

Read the Barcelona study and the complete KCET article Long Term Exposure to Green Spaces Affects Children’s Cognitive Development

Green Organizations Are Dropping the Ball on Inclusion Dr. Dorceta Taylor Outside

As Dr. Robert Bullard and I have written, it’s also not enough to diversify mainstream environmental organizations and agencies. It’s necessary for mainstream environmental organizations, agencies, and foundations  to provide unrestricted operating support to community based organizations for whom racial and ethnic justice are part of their core culture.

“What are you asking on your surveys? Have you gone to Yellowstone? Have you seen a bear? Have you wrestled an elephant? You’re not asking about that jackrabbit that runs around the neighborhood. So that’s not nature as defined by the mainstream. Nature is this other thing that’s removed from our experiences.”

Of 2,057 environmental organizations analyzed in the latest study, Taylor and her team found that only 14.5 percent even report diversity-related data . . . .

Based on her decades of studying the sector, she speculates a few reasons why environmental organizations might not report. Maybe they object to doing so because they feel diversity has nothing to do with the environment, or they feel it’s no one’s business and they only share internally. Maybe they’re too embarrassed to release data that makes them look bad. Maybe they don’t remember to do it. . . .
[With] four advanced degrees from Yale, and four books later, Taylor is the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the University of Michigan’s School of Environment and Sustainability. In January, she released a startling report, “Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Reporting and Transparency.” It builds on her oft-cited research for Green 2.0, an independent advocacy campaign to increase diversity among environmental groups. The big takeaway: Environmental nonprofits only seem to be trying when someone is watching.
 Read the whole story by Glenn Nelson, Outside.

‘Creating Good Citizens’ Immigrants Use Parks, Schools, Soccer & Sports to Build Community Anahuak The City Project NRPA

We don’t fill only jobs no one else wants. We are professionals and workers, we hold and create coveted positions, we are just plain good people. We pay taxes. We vote.


Dreamers from Anahuak Youth Sports Association and The City Project have been coming together to use soccer as an organizing tool for healthy active living along the L.A. River and beyond since 2000. They’ve helped lead community agitation for Río de Los Angeles State Park, L.A. State Historic Park, Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies and River revitalization. They continue the fight against green displacement.

Not Just a Game

 (L to R): Raul Macias, Congressman Jimmy Gomez and The City Project’s Tim Mok

Raul Macías, a successful businessman and owner of a textile factory, knew neighborhood children had no place to play. He got a few of them together, paid for their uniforms, shoes, balls, coaches and fields, and formed a soccer team. The team soon grew from 20 players to thousands of students and their families and friends, who now make up the Anahuak league. The league is named in honor of an Aztec place of land and water.

Working with civil rights lawyers and organizers from The City Project, Anahuak began holding leadership training workshops at coaches’ meetings. Players, coaches, families and friends began speaking out, in English and Spanish, at public hearings and submitting written comments about various issues to government agencies. “Anahuak,” Macías says, “is not about creating good soccer players. Anahuak is about creating good citizens.” Today, when elected officials want to meet with their constituents, they attend Anahuak tournaments and coaches’ meetings. “People think I just snap my fingers and hundreds of people come out,” Macías points out. “No. This is our work: We do organizing to unite people.”

Our Stories

Paco Serrano has been assistant director of Anahuak for years. He received his first driver’s license in 2015 under a new state law providing licenses for undocumented residents. Gil Cedillo, who wrote the law when he served in the state assembly, now serves on the city council. Anahuak and their home park are in his community. The license freed Paco to drive without fear of being arrested for driving without a license, to buy his own car and to get insurance. Paco drives players whose families don’t have cars of their own to Anahuak tournaments.

Dayana Molina is a Dreamer. She was the first girl to join the Anahuak league when she turned 13, and played until graduating high school. She still volunteers her time 17 years later and worked as an organizer at The City Project when she became a Dreamer. Molina plans to finish college.

“Dreamer status has given me hope,” she shares. “It makes me think perhaps this country is finally taking steps forward toward comprehensive immigration reform. I would like a path to citizenship, and I would like the right to vote. I am hopeful my efforts to gain my degree will not be in vain. I hope the laws will change to make it possible for hard working immigrants to count and live the life we deserve.”

I am an immigrant. My father was deported twice. My mother’s brother came to the United States at 17 to join the Air Force. He became a citizen with his commanding officer’s support. He helped our family get here with green cards and served in the military for decades until retiring.

I arrived when I was four, graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School, became a civil rights attorney and served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. Today, my family includes graduates from and students at Boston College, Boston University, Colgate, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Northeastern, NYU, Princeton, Stanford (two generations), SUNY, and UC, with more on the way. My family includes a pediatrician, professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, small business owners, workers and just plain good people in communities across the nation.

We don’t fill only jobs no one else wants. We hold and create coveted positions. We pay taxes. We vote.

The Struggle Continues

Anahuak and The City Project organize “Day in the Park” events to help get people active through our new initiative called Healthy Living in the Parklands.

We organized the first-ever bilingual, multicultural, international “National Public Lands Day” with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) at Río de Los Angeles State Park in 2017.

Congressman Jimmy Gomez lives nearby and came to talk about college, jobs and park-poor, income-poor communities. State Park Ranger Luis Rincón recounted the community struggle to create the Park, and the Sonia Sotomayor school next door. National Park Service rangers in uniform brought “LA Ranger Troca,” the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area’s community engagement vehicle that brings parks to the people. A uniformed LAPD Officer presented awards to Anahuak players to show police are there to protect and to serve, not to deport them. OneJustice, a legal aid organization, helped Dreamers and immigrants understand their rights. The county health department provided materials on health, parks and schools. Take Action Comics, GreenLatinos, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Parks Conservation Association and Nature for All pitched in, too.

But, Los Angeles is erasing the history of our community struggle creating great urban parks. The city’s online “history” omits the community agitation and environmental justice litigation that resulted in river revitalization, Rio de Los Angeles State Park where Anahuak plays, and L.A. State Historic Park. The nonprofit the city set up to raise money does not comply with the same civil rights and environmental justice laws that resulted in its creation and river revitalization.

The people of Anahuak fight epic battles to improve their lives and face the risk they will no longer be able to afford to live or even work near these parks and schools. Raul Macías, Paco Serrano and I keep fighting, but it’s not up us. Younger generations, including immigrant children, like those growing up in Anahuak, will carry on the struggle for social equity, health and conservation.

Parks and recreation provides a space for immigrants to come together and build community, forming the tapestry that is the United States.

Photos NEEF Day in the Park 2017 at Rio de Los Angeles State Park. Alex Romero NEEF

This column is available online at NRPA’s Parks & Recreation Magazine Social Equity Column and in hard copy (March 2018). Download the PDF. (NRPA is the National Recreation and Parks Association.)

Don’t let weak-kneed politicians block housing for homeless people L.A. Times Editorials Part 3


“Our homelessness crisis is a national disgrace,” according to the L.A. Times editorial board in a series of six editorials. There are at least 58,000 homeless people in the county, a number that has lurched upward in recent years amid a chronic lack of affordable housing.

Part 3:Don’t let NIMBYs — or weak-kneed politicians — stand in the way of homeless housing“:

Until the mayor and the members of the City Council treat the building of these 10,000 units of housing with the kind of extraordinary urgency this crisis requires — the kind that the federal and state governments bestowed upon, for example, the rebuilding of the broken Santa Monica Freeway after the Northridge earthquake — they simply will not be built. And they must be built. Supportive housing in particular — which offers not just a place to live but also access to job counseling and mental health and substance abuse treatment, among other things — is the best long-term solution for the chronically homeless, whose cases are the most difficult to solve. A substantial number of these housing units must be located in every single council district. They cannot just be concentrated in poor areas or in neighborhoods with less political clout. Already, a new report shows that even more housing will be needed than was estimated at the time HHH was passed.

There will be opposition, vocal and angry. There already is. But ultimately, every council member must support a fair share of this housing in his or her district — and push back against those constituents who object by rote. We expect council members to lead rather than follow, to explain why this housing is necessary and to push as many reasonable projects as possible through the gantlet of City Council approvals. We expect Mayor Eric Garcetti to stand up publicly and fight for those projects as well. The mayor, who is said to be contemplating his next career steps, has an opportunity to repair the long-standing perception that he is unwilling to take on tough public battles. Surely he must be aware that his mayoralty will ultimately be judged on how he handles this crisis.

Photo Ballona Creek

Read the LA Times editorial series . . .