"I am social justice!"
#socialchange #socialjustice #pyfc #picoyouthandfamilycenter #santamonica #notes #notesla #notesmagazine #notesmag #donate http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1871243793/notes-magazine?ref=recently_launched
"I am social justice!"
Our two #NoteTakers @frank_da_writer & @praxis89 sporting cool #NOTES tshirts last night at the #PicoYouthandFamilyCenterRemember to donate to our #Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1871243793/notes-magazine?ref=recently_launched
artwork at the Pico Youth & Family Center #artwork #mural #picoyouth #familycenter #community #santamonica #pyfc #notesmagazine #kickstarterparty #latepost #nofilter #socialchange
The windows were dark and the walls well insulated. Those passing by would never know the focus and fun behind these floor to ceiling glass panels. Until you opened the door of course.
Once you open the door, the Pico Youth and Family Center explodes. Instrumental hip-hop hits you first. Laughter and joy came next. You help but be startled into a smile.
The place is always clean, brightly lit from cool fluorescent bulbs hanging from the exposed beam ceiling. It looks like a skate park turned boardroom with concrete floors and a large rectangle meeting table in the center, a bank of nearly a dozen work-equipped computers and an all purpose printer.
A variety of reasons brings kids from all over the area, and some from far beyond, flow through the door throughout the day. The center hosts tutoring sessions with students from Santa Monica College M.E.Ch.A. members, open mic nights with Leila Steinberg, Tupac’s original manager, and gender specific group discussions. Staff take it beyond the limits of the center with field trips and encouraged events in the neighborhood.
Inside this brightly lit, vibrantly painted building there are high school and college students helping each other with homework, learning about life, and building what leaders have seen become life-long friendships.
Sam Scheller, a 20-year-old PYFC member has been coming for 2 years.
"I started coming in twelfth grade," he said. " They actually came to my graduation. My Facebook photo was of me at graduation with Selina, Alex and Angel (mentors and administrators of the PYFC)."
The space provides disadvantaged youth with services like working internet, printing, resumé help, job placement, case management and even a full recording studio where young musicians produce their own original music. Every year a group of these conscious youth, PYFC All Stars, put out an album filled with songs about true events and real emotion. You can hear and purchase it at pyfcallstars.bandcamp.com.
Scheller said he has met good friends here and comes to most all of their events.
"It helps kids stay out of trouble and keeps them away from gangs," Scheller said. "There’s a gang problem and youth violence in the area."
Instead of getting into trouble, kids come to a positive community space. They have a safe study and recreation space where they can come to share knowledge, get help, and just hang out in peace. Something that usually shuts down for them during school time. Conversations among the youth sounded like a university library:
"…it’s a group of educated people of color who address issues facing them, a kind of counter hegemonic experience. It’s pretty serious."
"Well it’s classism too, not just racism…"
"…people who are older don’t really experience it the same. They are empowered, and then disempowered as they get older. Students are more empowered than teachers to address issues because of their position."
They drifted from economics to world politics, social observations, and even religion.
"You know that one of Adam and Eve’s sons left and came back with villagers? Where’d they come from?"
"Hey Marcos, what do you want to do for your career?"
"I don’t know, I’m taking business right now. It’s just a good core class."
"Do you know what a GMO is? How do we get rid of them?"
"We had to start with the Latino narrative, only in America am I a Latino. Anywhere else I’d say I’m Mexican, I’m Indio, I’m Guatemalan…"
"…like a reeducation of these holidays. Kind of anticapitalist, like Halloween, it wasn’t about giving out candy. Or Christmas, how much do we talk about Jesus, a man the government killed for fighting for the poor."
Centers like these have become few and far between in the economic downturn. Many cities saw their economic and community development programs cut. Community centers and city sponsored programs saw their charitable funding dry up as a result.
Even the PYFC has seen it’s funding decrease and had to fight being cut by the city with community support. Through sustained effort and more than 20 years of building the movement, the center has evolved, and even grown.
The center officially opened in 2002 but has been growing as a grassroots movement in the community since a major shooting during the gang wars of the late 1980’s. During the war between gangs from Santa Monica and Culver City in the late 80’s, violence gripped the Pico neighborhood of Santa Monica. A fatal shooting of several local youth finally mobilized the community into action for peace.
"The people in these communities don’t have access to city council positions, positions of power, but people organized have power. Organized communities have power," said Alex Aldana, a lifelong resident of Pico and Outreach Specialist for the PYFC.
After the shooting the neighborhood organized a vigil for peace. On the night of the vigil, a group of community members presented a proposal to the city council to create a safe space for local youth. The council approved it.
"Organizations like this are important because they give us access to power, they give us agency," he said. "We need positive spaces. Socially conscious movements are dependent upon community organizations."
Aldana saw the entire movement develop while he was growing up. As soon as the center officially opened, while he was in high school, he joined as a youth mentor. He’s been with the center ever since.
"The movement was a response to violence, a response to death. The PYFC is the voice of the community, that is why this place is important."
The PYFC is born from the struggle to end youth violence and dedicated to peace, unity and social justice. That is exactly what drew Selina Barajas to the center.
Originally from Tuscon, Barajas was part of the now dismantled Chicano Studies program for Arizona high schools. She led a program of disadvantaged students in researching community centers and public safe spaces.
"There was nothing like that in Tuscon," Barajas said. "The PYFC is a place that everyone told me to talk to in my research."
While taking a trip with the students to visit the center, Barajas met Alex Aldana and other members of the PYFC and fell in love with the work. She continued her trips throughout the years and eventually moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA’s Urban Planning Master’s program.
"All the people I knew out here were from the PYFC," she said. "They were like my family."
After graduating, the center founder and director, Oscar de la Torre, offered her a job. Needless to say, she took it and became the Program Director, working directly with youth for the last three years.
"As a planner, this is the work that actually makes me happy. I am actually able to see the ripple effect of approaching organizing through a holistic approach," Barajas said.
The center works on building a strong community through youth as a foundation. It focuses on education, art, leadership, health, and life through a cultural lens she said.
"It’s deeper than surface level. You watch the youth grow up into adults, get jobs, start families…you see a lot of beautiful things here," she said. "I’m hoping our youth will be the mentors and leadership figures in the future, that they will instill these same values in others as people have with me."
#repost #notesmagazine #notesmag #notes #picoyouthcenter #santamonica #kickstarterparty #kickstarter #party
Don’t forget that tonight is our #KickstarterParty! Share in on issues we need to cover & learn how to make a donation right then and there! We need your help to make change happen! Plus, Panera Bread has donated food and refreshments for this event! Free food for a good cause? Sounds like a fun Friday! #notesmag #notesmagazine #notes #kickstarter #party #donate #now #itsacollective #countercultural #magazine #grassroots #panerabread #donations #freefood #santamonica #la #losangeles #thecityofangels #gmos #urbangardening #genderjustice #school #prisonpipeline #socialissues #socialmedia #hiphop
Join us in Santa Monica at the Pico Youth & Family Center for our fundraiser launch party!
We’ll fill you in on what we’ve been doing and how you can get involved!
Don’t forget to experience life.
Navy Yard shooter identified with death toll currently sitting at 13
After a manhunt that at one point involved up to three possible suspected shooters, authorities have identified the Washington Navy Yard shooter as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a former Navy electrician who was also a civilian government contractor.
A Navy officer has confirmed to the Times that Alexis had been discharged after multiple disciplinary infractions.
Alexis, who is among the 13 who have died so far, entered the massive headquarters of the Navy Sea Systems Command in southeastern D.C. and opened fire on employees, with a number of witnesses recounting this morning’s harrowing events.
"I think it was all on the fourth floor," Patricia Ward, one of the witnesses, told reporters.
Ward, a logistics management specialist, was in Building 197 when the shooting started. She said she was in the lobby using the ATM machine when she heard three shots. She said she started “panicking.” She said she didn’t know what was going on. Then she heard four more shots. A security guard with a gun drawn told them to run, she said. “I just ran. I thought of my family and I just ran.” Someone had pulled the fire alarm.
Photos: FBI, Susan Walsh / Associated Press, Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images
We have, it seems, a deal.
That’s all we have at this point, though, when it comes to getting rid of the chemical weapons that were used last month in what Ban Ki-moon, today, called “the most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them in Halabja in 1988.” Syria, it’s estimated, has some 1,000 metric tons of chemical munitions — including sarin, blister agents, and mustard gas — in its possession, some of them, it’s believed, stored in underground bunkers. Assuming that 1). Syria, under the notoriously mendacious Assad regime, actually follows through on its promises, and 2). U.N. inspectors can actually find the weapons Syria has stored in stockpiles hidden throughout the country … what then? What, actually, will be involved in destroying the weapons?
Read more. [Image: Reuters]