Friday, March 30, 2012

César Estrada Chávez presente

There are several events taking place throughout the area remembering the life and work of César E. Chávez. Children, like a good editor, remind us that simplicity and clarity can be closely related.

Peace to you all as we walk and march together.
First Place, k-2, Mia Bella Rodriguez, K, McKinley Credit PUSD

Monday, March 26, 2012

It Started with the Heart

Somehow the tenth anniversary of the celebration of life of César E. Chávez here in Pasadena slipped by quietly.

In 2001 a group of us involved with the newly formed Pasadena Latino Forum got together and decided that it was time to recognize this man of peace and social justice. Our first year ably led by Robert Monzon and Inez Yslas, working side by side with Michael Trujillo, Yuny Parada and myself. I'm sure that there were other people who were involved, but these were the folks I most immediately remember and who were listed in meetings I attended.

While our celebration was brief, it was nonetheless meaningful. Our ceremony took place in the Pasadena City Hall Rotunda, reporter and Pasadena resident Henry Alfaro was our Emcee. It was at that first event that we started the Starts with the Heart Award. Like many of the quotes from Chavez, the idea was simple, true and share with a simple eloquence. "Those who are willing to sacrifice and be of service have very little difficulty with people... They help them; they work with them...That's what love is about. It starts with the heart and radiates out".

By 2006, the event had grown to be a week long. El Centro began to hold a separate event. In that same year Madison Principal, Sandra Macis came up with the idea of a districtwide César E. Chávez Art and Essay contest. It has grown over the years. The initial entries were primarily from Madison, the judges were usually less than 6 in number.

Last week we had over 200 entries and 16 judges. Our students in middle and high school worked with another of Cesar's phrases, "We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community and this nation".

They were asked to "...identify a cultural custom that has been preserved in your family and explain how it strengthens your family and the community".

To quote one of our judges, Brian Biery of the Flintridge Center, "I was amazed and impressed with the cultural diversity of the students who participated in this contest. Certainly we know that our community is made up of a variety of cultural groups, but in their essay these outstanding young people reflected Chavez' vision by describing with love and detail the cultural context from where they come. And so I have learned that the PUSD is far more diverse than I had previously imagined".

You can hear a couple of their writings when they read from their essays at the PUSD board meeting tomorrow night, Tuesday March 27th, sometime shortly after 6:30 p.m. on KLRN.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Los Tres Louies - only a season late

The last few months have been spent on topics and work that are fairly wonky. Most meetings don't produce interesting photos.

Here are a few pictures from our last event at the Crawford Family Forum on
January 5th, 2012.
Thanks to La Morenita for their donation of three, yes three, Rosca de Reyes. They were large enough that we were able to feed the full house AND to raffle off one of the roscas.
As hoped the The Three Louies provided insights and wisdom sharing how they had gone from where they were growing up to the successes they've achieved so far. It was a bit like a chamber concert - each carried a story that was uniquely their own and yet deeply a part of the Chicano experience. They each shared a bit of their writing. The bits of insights and words played off each other in a night that was inspiring. Louie Perez and his Chihuahua friend produced the most unexpected note of the evening. You know someone who has been a part of the group that brought back La Bamba would have to share it. A chihuahua playing maracas and "singing" La Bamba was one the lighter notes of the evening. Hearing Louie talk about giving Michael Jackson a "flat tire", stepping on the back of someone's shoe, was a personal highlight.

Being the who they are they continued to share their stories and keep the audience enthralled - even the Chihuahua paid attention.
La Morenita bakery and restaurant: 1157 Cypress Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 222-7953.