A better worldBottom Highlights, Scene Out Thursday, August 14th, 2014
Social Chaos: Scene Out
Summer in the Park
Sue Palmer and Her Motel Swing Orchestra played at Trolley Barn Park Aug. 1. Organized by University Heights Community Development Corporation (UHCDC), it was a free and fun event for the whole family. This year’s concert series was held from July 4 to Aug. 1 and included Rhythm and the Method, The Swamp Critters, The Peripherals, Caliber and Sue Palmer.
Parking, as usual, in University Heights (UH) was difficult but we managed to find a spot and settled in for some boogie woogie and swing. In retrospect, we should have walked from our house, which is nearby. The park was packed with visitors, residents and businesses. All were relaxing and enjoying some community-building time. It was a lovely night to enjoy music in the park with friends.
The UHCDC, along with the University Heights Community Association, work to preserve the integrity and history of University Heights and its adjacent neighborhoods. The organization fosters business retention and involvement in the area. For more information on projects, programs and activities that benefit the residents and businesses of UH, please visit uhcdc.org
Habitat for Humanity – Ana
I’ve been out of the country volunteering for Habitat for Humanity El Salvador. Housing, both in urban and rural areas are very much needed in El Salvador especially after the recent disasters. According to data provided by the Vice Ministry of Housing, the country’s current qualitative and quantitative deficit totals 630,000 houses, or 51 percent of the total population. One monthly minimum wage in El Salvador is US$144, so a family earning two minimum wages would have a monthly household income of US$288. The cost of one Habitat house is approximately $4,200.
Habitat for Humanity El Salvador concentrates its efforts on providing support to those families in need of adequate housing without discrimination. The organization built its first 29 houses in 1992 in Santa Ana. The national organization’s work is performed through a central national office and six branches in Santa Ana, Sonsonate, San Salvador, San Vicente, Usulután and La Paz.
I was volunteering in the town of San Vicente. Along with the families and masons, my team and I built a safe home for the families in need. They’re earthquake-resistant houses that are made of concrete blocks and structural steel reinforcement. This is important because two volcanic chains run down El Salvador’s center. The team was supervised by technical advisors and construction experts and provided the volunteers with construction goals every day. At the end we had finished the house halfway. The family had lived in a little shack that could easily be destroyed during natural disasters. Now they have a two bedroom house that they can feel safe in. It’s as big as a 1 bedroom here in San Diego. It was an emotional experience as the families, masons and other volunteers were so happy to be there that during the closing ceremony we all got teary eyed.
The program provides families an affordable mortgage that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get from a bank. Interest rates can be as high as 20 percent. In addition to proving that they can pay the monthly mortgage fee, families must also agree to help build their own house. In my particular location the single mom had two sons and all put in time to supervise, get to know us and help build their home with pride. The goal is to provide an environment where we are working as a community, as equals. It’s an amazing program that offers opportunities to help families in the United States and abroad.
AAPI Digital Leadership Weekend – Kim
Twenty emerging organizers from all over the country traveled to Washington, D.C. Aug. 8-10, for the first national AAPI Digital Leadership Weekend (AAPIDLW), a three-day digital advocacy training specifically for the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander community. I was one of the 20.
AAPIDLW was organized by The Brain Trust and its partner New Organizing Institute. We were trained by an amazing team which included Lena Tom (senior analytics coordinator from AFL-CIO), Larry Huynh (partner and co-founder of Trilogy Interactive), Sabrina Hersi Issa (CEO of Be Bold Media), Victor Diaz Zapanta (UX designer at 18F) and Arun Chaudhary (filmmaker) as well as the four founders of The Brain Trust, Deepa Kunapuli, Olivia Chow, Vincent Paolo Villano and Rohan Grover.
We learned about building strategic social media and email campaigns, understanding the basics of testing and analytics, and incorporating powerful stories from the community into advocacy. The three day training curriculum was jam-packed with learning tools on how to organize for power, the “story of self”, messaging, video storytelling, email writing for advocacy, social media, data comprehension, building digital campaigns, data-driven campaign strategy, branding for advocacy and design fundamentals. In addition, I also learned three life-changing lessons; which are how to dougie, dance the cupid shuffle and play “Human ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’”. It was an unforgettable experience that I will value throughout my professional career. Having a space where people of color can thrive and build a network of support is something I’ve dreamed about for years. Seeing it come true is heartwarming and overwhelming.
The Brain Trust is a digital consulting firm that believes human relationships, when connected by technology, multiply your advocacy efforts and help you win. They believe that if AAPI communities want to make significant change and advance the community’s agenda, the community needs a seat at the table. For more information, please visit www.tbtdigital.com
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