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Día de los Muertos Smithsonian Anacostia Museum Gateways / Portales

Día de los Muertos / A Celebration of Life!

Gateways / Portales This exhibition explores the experiences of Latino migrants and immigrants. Smithsonian Anacostia Museum, Washington, D.C.

Dramatic Copter Rescue Escondido Waterfall Malibu #LACOFD

L.A. County firefighters evacuated an injured hiker via helicopter from Escondido Canyon Waterfall in Malibu Saturday afternoon. The hiker reportedly was climbing the dry waterfall, fell some distance, and landed on his back, injuring it. Firefighters hiked in two miles with a body board. The helicopter flew in to the secluded, hard to reach spot and reportedly had to leave to refuel before returning to pluck the hiker strapped to the board and his friend from an open spot on the canyon trail. They flew off to safety. A dramatic moment in our peaceful hike serves as reminder of the risks of being in nature.

Copter Rescue


National Public Lands Day 2017 Anahuak Youth Sports Association, NEEF & The City Project Best Practice!

NPS’s Lily Nia, Melissa Potts, and LA Ranger Troca engage Anahuak players

Anahuak Youth Sports Association, The City Project, and NEEF with diverse allies celebrated National Public Lands Day at Río de Los Angeles State Park on September 30, 2017, with soccer games, art and education workshops, speakers, lunch, and a park clean up. Congressman Jimmy Gomez talked about opportunities for people in park-poor communities, going to college, and getting good jobs. California State Parks Ranger Luis Rincón recounted the community struggle to create Río de Los Angeles State Park and Sonia Sotomayor Middle and High Schools. He spoke about health benefits of parks and recreation. He emphasized his responsibility as a ranger to connect diverse communities to parks. LAPD Officer Reyes, presenting awards to Anahuak players, reinforced the point that police officers in uniform are there to protect and to serve the people.

Congressman Jimmy Gomez, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, and California State Park Ranger Luis Rincón

The National Park Service brought LA Ranger Troca, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area’s community engagement vehicle. OneJustice, the legal services organization, provided information about Dreamers and immigration rights. The L.A. County Health Department provided educational materials on parks, recreation, and health in Spanish and English. Organizers shared the Take Action comic book, Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity, by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Anahuak president Raul Macías, The City Project’s Tim Mok, and LAPD Officer Reyes with community leaders of tomorrow!

Ciudad de México (CDMX) sponsored the soccer tournament for the day. Using soccer as an organizing tool draws hundreds of families to the park. This provides organizing opportunities for educating and empowering people to decide the kind of community where they want to live and raise children.

This event is the first multicultural, bilingual, and international National Public Lands Day event ever, and a best practice for day in the park events around the nation!

Thank you to National Public Lands Day 2017 partners, including NEEF (National Environmental Education Foundation), Anahuak, The City Project, NPCA, National Parks Service, California State Parks, GreenLatinos, OneJustice, CDMX, San Gabriel Mountains Forever / Nature for All!, L.A. County Department of Public Health, and LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens)

Visit The City Project photo gallery for National Public Lands Day 2017

Photos by Alex Romero, courtesy of NEEF

Revitalizing the Lower L.A. River: Voices from Maywood – Overcoming Barriers to Community Participation

People in Maywood and other Gateway Cities on the banks of the L.A. River from Vernon to the ocean are marginalized in river revitalization plans. Many Maywood residents interviewed for my Master’s Thesis didn’t even know the L.A. River is being revitalized, or that public working group meetings were taking place! These communities are disproportionately of color and low income. Decision makers need to listen to the people.

A common barrier to participation is lack of time for working-class families. A middle-aged resident laments: “Unfortunately, a lot of our community are low-income people. They have two jobs, or they work late. They don’t have time to go to these meetings. Their thing is to come home and feed their kids, and go to sleep.”


A woman in her mid-20’s explained:

It’s always time. Maybe education. I think of like my mom who works. And at the end of the day you just wanna go home and sleep. You may not be able to go to a city council meeting. That’s just always hard. This is a working-class community. So many other things take precedence over going to a city council meeting.

Edgar, an active community member says it’s not enough to show up at river working group meetings held by the county.

[T] he local working groups . . . supposedly . . . were gonna invite me to meetings. I’m interested, I’m a part of the community. You are engaging the community. Invite me to the meetings, I wanna be involved, and then they don’t get back to me.

Edgar asked to be a part of more focused committees, which meet and plan before the larger working group meetings. There was no follow-up and he was not included.

Some residents also discussed that political corruption in Maywoood has discouraged them from participating. A long-time community member expressed:

Back in 2005 and 2006 I used to participate a lot. But after all these corruptions, everybody that was trying to reform things, became corrupt. I started participating in the community, and you turn around and do that? That pushes me away as a young individual, as someone that’s trying to believe in my Latino community. So all this fighting that’s going on right now, I don’t want to partake in it.

One alternative to overcome access barriers is “day in the park” events to take planning to the people, instead of requiring working class people to attend formal government meetings. Using soccer as an organizing tool can draw hundreds of families to the park. This provides organizing opportunities for education and engagement for people to decide the kind of community where they want to live and raise children.

I will continue this series of blog posts on Revitalizing the Lower L.A. River: Voices from Maywood.

This work is based on my Master’s Thesis, An Alternative Paradigm to Revitalization of the Lower Los Angeles River: A Maywood Story (Master’s Thesis, M.S. Regenerative Studies, Cal Poly Pomona, College of Environmental Design 2017).

Please feel free to email me at tmok [ @ ] if you have any comments or questions.

See Whitewashing the L.A. River? Displacement and Equitable Greening.

Photo: The Lower L.A. River along Maywood

US President Ordered Overthrow of Democratically Elected President in Chile Museum of Memory and Human Rights

“To see on a piece of paper, for example, the president of the United States ordering the C.I.A. to preemptively overthrow a democratically elected president in Chile is stunning.”

“Secrets of State: The Declassified History of the Chilean Dictatorship” . . .  offers visitors an immersive experience of Washington’s intervention in Chile and its 17-year relationship with the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. . . .

“These documents have helped us rewrite Chile’s contemporary history,” said Francisco Estévez, director of the [Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile]. “This exhibit is a victory in the fight against negationism, the efforts to deny and relativize what happened during our dictatorship.”

The Memory and Human Rights Museum opened in 2010 . . . offers a chronological reconstruction of the 17-year Pinochet government through artifacts, recordings, letters, videos, photographs, artwork and other material. About 150,000 people visit the museum annually . . . .

Read the story in the New York Times Documenting U.S. Role in Democracy’s Fall and Dictator’s Rise in Chile


Museum of Memory and Human Rights / Museo de Memoria y Derechos Humanos

Remembering Prof. Miguel Méndez Stanford Lawyer Magazine

By Robert García ’74, JD ‘78

Civil rights, health equity, and conservation attorneys and advocates were gathered at the GreenLatinos National Summit in Asilomar State Park when I received the word Miguel Méndez had died peacefully in his sleep at home with his family. Miguel, BA ’65, JD ’68 George Washington University, was a civil rights leader and emeritus law professor at Stanford and UC Davis. I left the meeting hall and walked down to the beach on the sand along Monterey Bay. Alone under the stars I reflected on what Miguel had done for students, lawyers, and the community for generations.

Miguel was an influential legal scholar who targeted his work for practicing attorneys and litigators. He wrote three evidence books and many law review articles. He represented unpopular people in unpopular causes as an attorney with the Monterey County Public Defender’s Office, California Rural Legal Assistance, and MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund). He was the first tenured Latino law professor at Stanford or any major law school in the nation. He was inducted into the American Law Institute with other leading scholars, judges, and lawyers. He was a profoundly spiritual man, active in his church. You would not learn this from Miguel, who did not talk much about himself.

Students and colleagues remember Miguel’s impact on them as a teacher and human being. Miguel was special because he made us feel special.

Miguel started teaching at Stanford in 1977. I did not have Miguel for a class because, as a third year student, I had already studied the subjects he taught: evidence, criminal law, and clinical courses. Miguel nevertheless remained my closest personal tie to Stanford for four decades. He kept a framed photo in his office of Latino students in the Class of 1978, the first that graduated after he joined the faculty. When he saw my smile when I visited a few years later, he gave me a copy, which I treasure.

Latino law students in Miguel’s first year at Stanford Law School. L-R Joe Acosta, Robert García, James Castro, Carlos Castro, Ellen Maldonado, Luis Gutierrez, Tina Fernandez from the SLS Class of 1978.

(Maria) Dante Brown and Michael R. Leslie, both JD’85 and married, remember: “Miguel, among the many wonderful professors at Stanford, was our safe haven as young first-year law students. He was equal parts criminal law wizard, evidence expert supreme, font of all practical legal wisdom, terror of the moot court, and gentle jokester who never let us take ourselves too seriously.” His year-long clinical course in evidence was “real battlefield training for the litigators we hoped to be. In truth,” they say, “Miguel was our lifelong mentor. We relied upon his cool head, sharp judgment, and advice as we made career decisions over the years.”

Not only did he attend their wedding, Miguel introduced them to Cruz Reynoso, his friend and former California Supreme Court Justice, who officiated at the ceremony. The couple agree, “Miguel was well aware of the historical importance of being Stanford Law School’s first Latino professor, and of his role as mentor to us Latino students. We miss him terribly.”

According to MALDEF’s Tom Saenz, “Miguel was an iconic inspiration to law students across many generations, including mine. He was also an ongoing supporter and frequent advisor of MALDEF, where he was employed early in his extraordinary career. His constant and deep support has been a great comfort throughout my time as MALDEF president.”

John Huerta met Miguel around 1970, when Miguel worked for MALDEF and John for CRLA. They both practiced criminal defense and public interest law. “Now,” says Huerta,” one must realize that we were the only Mexican Americans graduating from our respective law schools in 1968 (Miguel from George Washington and I from Berkeley), and there were only a handful of Latino, Latina, or female lawyers graduating from other law schools throughout the country.” Over the years, they kept in touch. “Miguel was a loving person,” says Huerta, “who cared deeply about improving the living and working conditions of low-income people in this country, especially the Spanish-speaking and rural poor. He didn’t know how to say ‘no’ when someone called upon him for help.”

Gerald Torres, Stanford BA’74, graduated from Yale Law School and teaches environmental and Native American law at Cornell Law School. Miguel worked with and was one of the leading Latino members of the law profession. “Miguel came from litigation and had the strategic sense that all good litigators have,” says Torres. “Miguel made pups like me feel welcomed into the academy, even as he was also quick to highlight the pressures and indignities often associated with being one of the first to desegregate important institutions.”

Like others, Torres treasures Miguel’s sense of humor, which could be wicked even though he was warm. He and Miguel and their wives, Frances Nash and Victoria Diaz, spent an idyllic semester at Vermont Law School while Miguel, Gerald, and Victoria, Stanford JD ’75, taught there. “He and Victoria were like Burns and Allen. Each gave as good as they got, sometimes causing Miguel to exclaim: ‘Don’t be like people say you are!’” According to Torres, Miguel was famous for his thrift: “One Christmas,” says Torres, “a group of Latino law professors conspired to collect all of the little soap bars from hotels we visited over the year and give them in a big box as a present for Miguel. We thought it was a great joke, but as always, the joke was on us. I think Miguel used all that soap over the next year.”

Miguel encouraged Tony Arnold, Stanford JD’90, to think about law school teaching and launched his academic career by inviting him to return as a teaching fellow in 1995. Arnold wrote the following to Miguel in 2015: “Because of your mentoring, I ended up in university teaching. I wanted to thank you for the profound influence you had. I was very unsure of my vocational direction when I was in law school. Being a modest-income Kansas boy from a public education background and the first in my family to go to college (and the only one to go to law school, even now), I felt lost. Your belief in me and your words of encouragement to consider academia made a huge difference.” Miguel’s impact had a ripple effect on Arnold’s students and clients. “I wouldn’t be doing any of what I have done most of my career – teaching, mentoring, public service, social justice – if it weren’t for Miguel,” says Arnold. Miguel is at the center of our bonds as a Stanford family, Arnold adds. “I’m overwhelmed with emotion – from sorrow that he’s not with us here on this earth anymore, to immense gratitude for his mentorship and impact on me, to reverence for all the good that he did.”

Prof. Lisa Ikemoto, who came to know Miguel when he retired from Stanford and joined UC Davis in 2009, says, “How lucky I was, and how lucky we all were at King Hall. Miguel brought his fully realized humanity to Davis.” She recalls “meals with Miguel and Cruz Reynoso recounting their paths through the civil rights movement from the 1950s to the present, without a trace of ego, bravado, or bitterness.”

When Miguel became sick in 2013, he wrote to a group of friends and kept us posted about his progress. While I appreciated hearing from him, I wondered why he shared his experience. I learned why when I was diagnosed in 2015. I immediately wrote to Miguel, scared and sad. He called me early the next day. He said, “Robert, how are you? Never mind, you don’t need to say anything. I know how you are. I’ve been through the physical and emotional roller coaster.” Miguel talked me through. I am healthy and happy to be here. Miguel wrote to us not about himself. He wrote to teach, to make the path easier for those who came after him. Victoria told me at the celebration of Miguel’s life, “Robert, Miguel kept a list of people he prayed for every day. You were on that list.” — Thank you, Miguel. I wish you were here now.

Miguel with his daughters and former students at his SLS retirement party in Los Angeles.

In 2015, Dante Brown, Michael Leslie, Rob Vogel, and Lou Lupin, all JD ’85, started the Miguel Méndez Scholarship Fund in recognition of Miguel’s contributions to public service and education. When they asked how Miguel would like scholarships allocated, he asked only that recipients be from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Miguel is survived by his two daughters, Arabela and Gabriela, and his friend and former wife, Victoria Díaz. The Méndez family asks that donations be made to Stanford Law School’s Miguel Méndez Scholarship Fund.

A version of this remembrance appears in print in Stanford Lawyer Magazine (Fall 2017).

Robert García, a civil rights and human rights advocate, is founding director and counsel of The City Project, a non-profit in Los Angeles, CA

A version of this remembrance appears in print in Stanford Lawyer Magazine (Fall 2017)

Prof. Miguel Méndez


Creating Diversity & Inclusion in Monuments: A Dialogue with Robert García Santa Fe Art Institute

Creating Diversity & Inclusion in Monuments: A Dialogue with Robert Garcia, Founding Director of The City Project | 7-830PM | October 12 | At SFAI

How do monuments reflect society and our collective narratives? Robert Garcia, civil rights attorney and Founding Director of The City Project, will address how civil rights and community based strategies can promote equal access to public resources including cultural monuments, parks, and schools.

Join us to explore the many questions surrounding the complex narratives that are told through monuments. Currently, old monuments commemorating the confederacy and imperialism are being challenged, and new monuments are being created that embrace our multi-cultural histories. Robert will discuss strategies of coalition building and challenges of translating research, policy, and law into real change in people’s lives; strategic media campaigns; and advocacy in and out of court.


“I am an immigrant. I was born in Guatemala and came to the United States with my mother, sister, and other members of my family when I was four years old… Today my family includes a lawyer, a medical doctor, and an MBA.” Robert is a Civil Rights Attorney (Stanford Law School), the Founding Director-Counsel of The City Project / Proyecto del Pueblo, and Community Faculty at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. He has led workshops and presentations for organizing and leadership development with numerous grassroots organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies. Read more about the City Project & Robert’s work here.


At the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI), we are artists, innovative thinkers and engaged citizens. We cultivate creative leadership and invest in community, culture, and place to re-imagine a more equitable world.




Dolores Huerta Civil Rights Hero Rebel Activist Feminist Mother Movie

Dolores Huerta Santa Fe Center for Contemporary Arts

Dolores The Movie

Dolores Huerta Foundation

Humboldt River Ed P. Reyes Greenway Clean Water & Parks Justice

The Humboldt River Ed P. Reyes Greenway is a multibenefit park and clean water justice project to enhance Los Angeles River water quality by removing pollutants (oil, bacteria, trash) from dry-weather urban runoff, while providing natural habitat and much-needed community recreational opportunities along the urban watershed in Lincoln Heights. The project involves daylighting an existing storm drain system, constructing a stormwater greenway with a “stream” ecosystem through a corridor on Humboldt Street, and creating a pedestrian path connecting Avenue 18 and Avenue 19.
The Greenway is part of the Clean Water Justice settlement to eliminate sewer spills and odors in the Baldwin Hills, South Central Los Angeles, Highland Park and Glassell Park areas, and improve water quality, the sewer system, and environmental justice city wide. The settlement has also provided funding for the South Central Los Angeles Wetlands Park, North Atwater Park, and Garvanza Park Stormwater BMP Project as part of the greening the Los Angeles River for all.
Photo courtesy KCET

Go to Parks & Schools, Have Fun, Be Healthy, Learn about People, Places, & Values, Get a Job, Protect Earth & People! Rio de L.A. Sept 30 #NPLD

National Public Lands Event in Los Angeles
Saturday 09/30 at Río de Los Angeles State Park at 9:30 AM PT
Contact: Felipe Benítez, felipe [ @ ], 202-215-9664

Multicultural and Bilingual Program for Young Soccer Players to Care for Public Lands

Los Angeles, CA. – On September 30, youth soccer players and their families from Northeast Los Angeles will give back to the park they spend so much time enjoying, when The City Project joins Anahuak Youth Sports Association and others to host a National Public Lands Day celebration in Río de Los Angeles State Park. For the second year running, The City Project and Anahuak are teaming up to invite youth, families, friends and other volunteers to join in the simple joys of playing in the park, engaging in educational workshops and other fun and healthy activities and volunteering to clean up the 40-acre park that brings so much joy and good health to the people who live in these communities.

Coordinated each year by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), National Public Lands Day brings together volunteers from coast to coast to improve and restore the lands and facilities that people across America use and enjoy every day. Each year, NPLD volunteers provide tens of millions of dollars’ worth of services in one day that would otherwise take limited park staff months to accomplish. Last year, more than 200,000 people participated in events at more than 2,500 sites in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C.

“National Public Lands Day gives young people an opportunity to take ownership of caring for the park they use for soccer and other recreation,” says Tim Mok of The City Project, explaining that the day closely aligns to the group’s goal of promoting equal access to parks and greenspaces for communities of color and low income communities. “It’s a great way to engage the local community in healthy play while caring for the land.”

WHAT: National Public Lands Event: Young Soccer Players to Care for Public Lands

WHO: Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) (confirmed) The City Project and Anahuak Youth Sports Association in partnership with National Environmental Education Foundation, National Park Service, National Parks Conservation Association, California Parks, LULAC, GreenLatinos, OneJustice, San Gabriel Mountains Forever, County of Los Angeles Public Health.

WHERE: Río de Los Angeles State Park. Los Angeles, CA.
WHEN:  September 30, 2017 @ 9:30 AM PT