A group of elementary school students persuaded a state politician to adopt the cause of the endangered California red-legged frog. At their urging, assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez introduced a bill to establish this endangered frog as the official state amphibian. ”I’m particularly proud of our students, who through their voices are saying, ‘I want my world to be different.’” The story of Sea View Elementary’s campaign for the red-legged frog is on Coachella Unincorporated.
A restorative justice event called Circles brought together over 100 students, teachers and community leaders to learn about restorative justice, a philosophy focused on dialogue as an alternative to punitive discipline. Groups discussed the question of how communities can move beyond school discipline and police intervention to help even those inflicting violence, so that they learn from their mistakes? “Our community suffers when we don’t deal with the root causes.” A detailed story is on Boyle Heights Beat.
Late last year, Chevron began unveiling a series of billboard advertisements in Richmond. The ads convey a theme of city pride, featuring images of workers, landmarks, and local parks. Three youth from Richmond weighed in on the billboard campaign. “They are using slogans such as, ‘I protect the refinery and the Richmond community,’ which is a bit of a joke to me. How can someone claim to protect a community [that] they are poisoning with toxic fumes?” Their full comments are on Richmond Pulse.
The documentary “What Mama Didn’t Say: A Dialogue about African American Sexuality” explores taboo issues about abuse and sexuality within the Black community. Richmond youth attended a screening and offered their comments. “Teens will do what they want to do, so it doesn’t help to try to scare them, in my opinion. Just give them the info and let them make a conscious decision. These topics are so important for Black youth because we have the highest HIV rates in the country, our teen pregnancy rate is also high, and because in our communities these things are rarely discussed.” More youth responses are on Richmond Pulse.
Over 400 Long Beach students convened on the California State University campus, to talk about education issues faced as boys and men of color. Students from different Long Beach schools spoke about how they plan on graduating and succeeding, in a video on Voicewaves.
With election season gaining momentum, candidates in the race for the 21st Congressional District addressed questions from the public regarding where they stand on fracking regulations on public land. (Kern County sits atop the largest known shale oil deposit in the country.) Candidates emphasized industry growth and “energy independence.” Democratic challenger John Hernandez voiced the only staunch opposition. “[We] already have problems with water and fracking that is currently going on… The regulations are a good start but we have to make sure we can keep growing food for the future.”
Reflecting on Obama’s recent My Brother’s Keeper initiative, Darelle Brown shares his experience in a class called Men of Color, at the College of Alameda. There, he and his peers have a mentor and the chance to hone social and academic tools to be in control of their futures. “I was surrounded by people I could relate to, who also ran into trouble in the past, but have their minds set on bettering themselves. The class is designed to build a strong support system for each other.” Read more on Youth Radio.
The Building Healthy Communities Recreation team presented a measure to limit alcohol and tobacco consumption at local parks to the Kern County Board of Supervisors, after gathering support for over two years. It began when the team began to clean up neighborhood parks in 2012. “The group found numerous cigarette butts, alcohol bottle caps, and bottles littered throughout the park, including the children’s play areas. In addition we also noticed no children or families were at the park.” Chris Romo, who worked on the campaign to get the ordinances passed, wrote an editorial for South Kern Sol.
The Boyle Heights Bridge Runners meet weekly for a three-mile run through a neighborhood that has been identified as “park poor.” “It’s not just about running, it’s about building a community based on something healthy—something life-changing… You have to create your own spaces.” The story is on Boyle Heights Beat.