Activism in Santa Ana

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Activism in Santa Ana Facilitator Luis

Go Around- Why are you interested in this space?

Interests: Land trust

Glad talking about LA activism

Supporting grassroots activism, point EFF supporters in the area

Interest in eco-villages, sharing-villages, bringing more community control, self directed lives

Interest in how Design action can help, learn what you are doing

Interest in the work and how you can support


Luis is representing El centro cultural de Mexico, Thrive Santa Ana, and a coalition called Equity for All

Equity for all is working on brining together the anti-displacement activist organizing groups in Southern California- cooperatives working on: saving and loans, urban farming, printing, to folks trying to form a media coop, an effort to do a monthly mercado for local vendors

Luis is part of El Centro Cultural de Mexico, a cultural center founded by older senoras that wanted to organize cultural events in Santa Ana.

Santa Ana is a community that is surrounded by anti-immigrant politics and suppression of rights of low income folks

The center is part of a broader network, partly they are getting into the nonprofit sector where they are trying to pull resources that are concentrated in nonprofit sector

There are also groups in their network and center that don't want to get involved in the nonprofit sector but the center incorporates everyone.

The cultural center just bought a building and need to develop their internet infrastructure:

  • that is effective, secure
  • runs their community radio
  • folks to use the internet

Looking for folks who can partner with them from physical hardware infrastructure to software infrastructure

Equity for All saving and loans, urban farming, printing, trying to form a media coop, an effort to do a monthly mercado for local vendors

They have been fighting development, defending themselves but also amplifying that they have solutions, counterproposal, trying to bring people together

Connecting communities in Mexico and other parts of Latin America to visualize a different model for economic development.

Food security aspects, housing aspects, community self defense, landscape.

How much of the displacement in Santa Ana is institutional displacement? Universities in respective neighborhoods buying out and displacing people.

What does displacement look like in your community?

Santa Ana:

Disneyland which is in Anehiem, lots of commercial development, many mobile home, poor neighborhoods. There has been some ability to counter that. Aneheim saw an uprising two years ago, people reacted to police violence against youth.

Community groups are organizing in different ways.

Defining what is the type of development that communities need and what is our capacity for making that happen....

Organizing for more housing, even affordable housing has contributed to displacement

Community land trust an important strategy- putting it in the hands of community groups to have direct participation

The pooling of resources, looking at strategies in terms of alternative economies and taking land off the market. Think tank for peer to peer sharing called P2P- doing a lot of work about sharing economies.

How do we keep the place by coming up with alternative economic solutions, alternative education...

In Richmond: Low income transitional housing, are priced out of Richmond, feel the crush of gentrification, some people see you as a gentrifier but you're feeling the affects.

On this borderline, don't want to contribute to this violent system,

Co-housing is not an affordable option, the solutions that folks are pointing to aren't realistic to a lot of people.

Experiences of folks new to the bay area. Chinese Progressive Association. Gentrification in China Town.

San Francisco's Single Resident Occupancies Units, young professionals are trying to get rooms in these housing units, are pushing out families.

Institutions buying more

In Boston:

One solution thought about is a land trust but don't have actual plots of land. Trying to acquire land. Other things pushing people out are Air B&B, people are evicted and the units are flipped.

Boston Natural Areas Network- woman who lead it, kept buying land, for environmental preservation bought by the Trustees

Policy makers are complicit-

Developers are ignoring the limits on development of SROs and the city is complicit.

In Boyle Heights- All comes down to the profit incentive

Section 8 Housing just opened up but millions applied

No comprehensive housing plan

An alternative strategy: a block by block approach, a lot of these problems are organizing challenges

What tends to happen is one family will sell their house which will be bought out and flipped and others in the community will see that the family sold and they sell too.

What is our complicity in these situations?

Green spaces are sometimes not inclusive of all folks. The South Central Park that was abandoned for a long time, more than 300 families began growing food, friends got arrested defending the farm- Mayor solution to offer more money to the developer, but ???

How can we work together to create a different vision for development? Immigrants from Oaxaca have a history of strong community structures of government. System of "cargos" where everyone has different assigned roles that are rotated.

When folks began migrating those networks expanded, and those structures still remain, there are still strong networks of folks traveling back or sending money to develop their hometowns. Something that stands out is that they are organized. We can learn from this and apply it to this situation?

Where do we go from here?:

Block by Block- Lets understand the social structures that are there. Identify, outline, and amplify the networks that are already there and harness that.

On a high level, how do we collaborate? Open lines of communication,

Term: Place-making, it denotes that someone is coming in so instead, "place keeping" take that strategy in the local level and blow it up across network, and keep cultivating the international network.

We need to connect but there are difficulties:

"How do you plug in when all of your neighbors are fleeing?"

We are taught that the government, law, politicians are supposed to protect us but they don't.

We need to focus on figuring out solutions at the micro level and scaling that up.

Ex: Wifi networks: can create a way to share bandwidth in your neighborhood? How can we also create safe healing spaces?

Let's keep an international development: Who controls the development of Puerto Rico? When companies come in and get the press coverage and provide solutions, when they get tired, what happens to the community? Do they leave the community disempowered?


We need to strengthen that for communities that are proposing solutions, a different economic system.

In terms of time: spending time in strengthening relationships, stay connected overtime, movement building

Design action collective: Data visualization, does the collective do projects around physical space? There have been collaborations, they support organizations that are doing that work.

Needs assessment, part of it is understanding the skill-sets that are in your collective. A doorway to getting to know people a lot better. From specialists to generalists- what are all the skills that you can contribute? People work with each other and strengthen that sense of community.

What are other different models besides buying the land outright?

How do we go from theory to practice?

How do we identify the common enemies, despite your different ideologies or perspectives on tactics? From general to specific and how do we move forward? Get to the root of the problem.

But also, lets identify a common future that we all want? This keeps us united.

An entry point into the community for folks who feel like gentrifiers and do not want to contribute to this evil system. Identify who has a strong investment in the community? Know this is a long-term process.

What is the language that is being used?

Gentrification not so much. the root is gentri, sounds a little too positive. Housing rights, resonates. Union de vecinos uses "desplacamiento" Banishment.

Luis is organizing a conference in Santa Ana at the end of April.

Some take aways: We need to work collectively to identify our common enemies and envision and identify common solutions.

And move from theory to practice, starting by staying connected, knowing each others skills and harnessing that and doing it over time.