Alexandra Suh: a Changemaker Personified

By Crystal Shaw

 

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KIWA Executive Director, Alexandra Suh. (Photo by Pocho One)

 

 

Liberty Hill’s 2014 Wally Marks Changemaker Award honoree, Alexandra Suh, will be recognized on September 6 at our Change LA 2014 event—a casual afternoon mixer designed to let participants meet and mingle. So if you come, you’ll have a chance to meet Alexandra, and you’ll discover, as I did, that she’s a “Changemaker” personified: fearless, a believer in community, a person who stands at the forefront but realizes that it’s everyone around who will make real change come to fruition.

Alexandra is Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance’s Executive Director. After becoming ED in 2011, Alexandra got busy refocusing KIWA’s work, bringing it back to being a real nuts and bolts worker’s center for not just Korean workers, but for every immigrant worker fighting for the rights they deserve. This move makes KIWA part of L.A.’s exciting worker center movement, which is having real impact in improving conditions for low wage workers, an urgent need in L.A. where, according to a recent L.A. Times report, “Last year, average wages in Los Angeles County declined 1.9% — tying Jefferson, Ala., for 302nd place out of 334 large counties nationwide.” And the projection for the future: “More than a million jobs will be created in the region between 2010 and 2020, and nearly half will pay less than $14.35 an hour.”

 

You may have heard about Alexandra’s fearless leadership through the success that KIWA’s has had with the co-sponsorship of AB 2416, the Wage Theft Recovery Bill, which has recently passed the California Assembly with a vote set in the Senate this week. KIWA is also an anchor organization for the Los Angeles Wage Theft Ordinance which seeks to strengthen the city’s ability to crack down on wage theft. We talked with her to discuss the award, KIWA’s creative and stand-out rally techniques, and her broad vision for KIWA, one that stretches all the way to Korea.

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Field report from #Our Lives Matter, a youth rally for Justice for Michael Brown and Ezell Ford.

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By Tamika Butler, Director of Social Change Strategies

The Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition, a strategic partnership between Liberty Hill and The California Endowment, sponsored #Our Lives Matter, a youth-led “Teach In/Speak Out” rally for justice for Michael Brown and Ezell Ford. Here’s a report Tamika made to Liberty Hill Foundation staff shortly after the event. 

Hi all– I’m just getting home from an amazing rally and march through the streets of South LA. Brothers, Sons, Selves worked together to organize this event in a very short time window as a response to the recent killing of Ezell Ford in South LA, Mike Brown in Ferguson, and a number of other young people of color that were taken from us too soon.

It’s hard to put the day into words, but inspiring is a good start. Every group in the coalition had representatives there and this was a visual reminder of the way in which BSS uniquely brings youth to the forefront of every single thing we do AND brings together communities of young people who might not otherwise see the links between their struggles. The image of signs with Black fists raised high next to rainbow flags blowing in the wind was something of beauty and solidarity I won’t forget as it was especially meaningful to me as a queer black woman.

The young men were confident, passionate, and determined to make sure their community understood that their lives mattered. The young men repeatedly vowed that they would not become another dead youth in the street and would not be another youth of color on TV being portrayed negatively. Instead, they spoke of positivity and respecting their neighborhood, while courageously fighting for change.

It was amazing to see the young people lead chants and engage with community members who came out of stores, homes, and cars to ask what we were doing and often joining the march with us to show solidarity. The police were present for every part of the march, on motorcycle, in squad cars, on bikes, and with their helicopters. That did not deter our youth and there were no issues thanks to the volunteers who provided security from BSS member organizations.

When the young people were given a chance to “speak out” they shared stories of being undocuqueer, detained, and almost deported, of being passed from foster home to foster home and unable to get an education, and of being unable to walk in their own neighborhoods without facing police harassment.

It was fantastic to see youth from every organization speak about what BSS meant to them and how important BSS was to the action. The reality is, BSS is nothing without the young men and organizations who make the work possible and meaningful. Karen (Driscoll) and I are lucky and honored to work with them each and every day.

Thanks to everyone here for all of your support as this has been a crazy week of planning for the BSS team. To see pictures check out the BSS twitter (@BrosSonsSelves #OurLivesMatter and on Facebook. There’s also news coverage at the link below.

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/video/10499865-hundreds-in-la-protest-killings-of-black-men-police-violence-around-nation/

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Major LAUSD Announcement Highlights Work Done To End School To Prison Pipeline

By Crystal Shaw

Breaking news!  Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced today that its School Police would no longer issue citations or subject students to arrest for most on-campus fights, petty theft and other minor offenses, but instead refer students to counseling and other services. This policy is a major step toward shutting down the school to prison pipeline and is a major victory for community organizations including longtime Liberty Hill Foundation grantee Labor Community Strategy Center. As reported in the L.A. Times, the Strategy Center’s Community Rights Campaign has been a leader in this work.

 

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The long campaign to end discredited and punitive school discipline practices that increase the drop-out rate and push youth into the criminal justice system is not over, but with this decision, Los Angeles is again leading the way. This is a long-fought battle, but there have been young victors that we’ve met along the way, including Damien Valentine, a Strategy Center member of the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition, who took the LAUSD to task after suffering under discipline policies that were more harmful then helpful as pointed out in the “The School Climate Bill of Rights,” and Nabil Romero, another youth leader who worked with the LCSC to end some of LA school’s harshest truancy policies. The work of these youth leaders, community partners and countless others have lead to today’s important announcement.

For upcoming events and continued coverage on the work to end the school to prison pipeline be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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My Journey to Meeting the President

By Dylan Gary, 19, youth leader, Social Justice Learning Institute and member of Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition.

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Dylan Gary (third from the left), along with other members of the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition and Homeboy Industries, pose with President Barack Obama

Last Thursday, July 24th, I met the President of the United States, the man who holds the most powerful position in the world, Barack Obama! That experience was one of the most exciting and inspirational moments in my life and I feel very grateful and humbled to have been given the opportunity to do so. Before I can begin to detail my experience meeting the President, I think it is important to share the journey that led me to this opportunity.

In 2008, my mother lost her job because she was told that she didn’t  have the proper educational requirements to maintain the position she held for many years. Soon after, we also lost our home. We were devastated. Our future was uncertain. After months of searching and living with minimal resources, a small opportunity arose on the East Coast and my mother had no choice but to accept an offer that did not guarantee stability. My mother did not want to drag me through another period of challenges so she thought it was best for me to move from the white-picket fenced suburbs to the concrete surroundings of the inner-city, to live with my father.

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Testimony from Girls and Women at Two Empowering Events

Joy+Yanga+blog+photo_8207517b-02bb-4f27-9191-4920ceac4bec-prvBy Tamika Butler and Susan LaTempa

Updated August 19, 2014

Sisterhood Rising

Today at Liberty Hill, we’re having one of our staff “brown bag” briefings at lunchtime so that we can learn more about “Sisterhood Rising,”  a leadership retreat for high school students held earlier this summer. Liberty Hill played a coordination role and our grantee Khmer Girls in Action was part of the planning team, so we wanted to share this blog post by Joy Yanga, a KGA youth leader, that gives a sense of the experience.

The Sisterhood Rising Leadership Retreat was a five-day pilot program sponsored by The California Endowment (TCE) which brought together 45 young women from across 12 Building Healthy Communities sites from California The pilot initiative aimed at investing in young women’s leadership and strengthening their ability to advocate for gender, health and racial justice. Currently, young women and girls make up a majority of youth leaders in the Building Healthy Communities sites and they are actively advocating on a range of issues, including those forwarded by TCE’s Sons and Brothers campaigns such as those undertaken in Los Angeles through Liberty Hill’s partnership project with TCE, the Brothers, Sons, Selves coalition. Liberty Hill facilitated the planning process, convened the planning table, wove the program curriculum, supported mentors and overall logistics, and participated in evaluation.

Breaking the SilenceGirls forum

Last month, on July 29, members of Liberty Hill’s staff  joined more than 200 Los Angeles community members at Loyola Law School for Breaking the Silence: A Hearing on Girls of Color. The night was absolutely amazing, moving, and just so full of hard truths and hopeful inspirations.  Says Tamika Butler, “Like many in the crowd, I was moved to tears throughout the night and I cannot say enough about how truly informative the evening was.”

Liberty Hill’s community organizing partners Youth Justice Coalition, Community Asset Development Re-Defining Education (CADRE), Children’s Defense Fund California, Labor/Community Strategy Center and Community Coalition were responsible for coordinating the stories that were shared last night and providing important reminders of all the work still left to do.  As we continue to uplift the voices and struggles of young boys and men of color through our Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition, it’s important to remember that their sisters, daughters, and mothers are facing many of the same issues and are also leading powerful campaigns for justice and equality.

13_GRA_YJC_ (927)Liberty Hill Foundation supports leaders on the frontlines of change in low income and LGBTQ communities of color throughout L.A. To read more about the event at Loyola Law School, check out the Colorlines story “L.A. Girls and Women Demand to be Heard Amidst My Brother’s Keeper.” For more information about the ongoing discussion, read “Why I Support My Brother’s Keeper But Still Signed the Letter Criticizing It,” in The Root by Liberty Hill Board member, Ange-Marie Hancock.

Brothers, Sons, Selves is our strategic partnership with The California Endowment and a coalition of community organizing groups working toward a common agenda to improve the lives of young men.

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This Honoree is Focused on Impact!

 

Zoe solo By Susan LaTempa

When you mention family foundations, most people think of philanthropies that fund parks and libraries—not, perhaps, social change. But that’s the “old model we have for family giving” says Zoë Lloyd Foxley, one of Liberty Hill’s Change LA honorees. She is Chair of the board of the John M. Lloyd Foundation and Vice Chair of the board of the General Service Foundation, both of which are family foundations.

The new model? Well, it’s in the making, but it’s taking shape at a rapid pace at the Lloyd Foundation under Zoë’s leadership. And there are clear similarities between Zoë’s guiding of one of her family’s foundations and Sarah Pillsbury’s innovative approach as a founder of Liberty Hill. On September 6, when Zoë receives the Sarah Pillsbury NextGen award, there’s bound to be some electricity around these two social justice visionaries bridging the generations.

Zoë received her Master of Social Work degree from USC in 2010. One year later, just before her first child was born, she stepped into a new role as Chair of the board of the Lloyd Foundation, taking over from her father who’d been president for 17 years. In addition, the executive director of 11 years stepped down and moved to New York.

Those changes, she says, “catapulted our strategic transition” at the Lloyd Foundation. She and her fellow board members “brought on new members of the younger generation. We looked at where we are as a foundation and where our resources would be best utilized.” It’s 2014. They’re on the road to deep involvement in criminal justice reform, centered in L.A. County.

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ANNOUNCING THE UCLA COMMUNITY SCHOLARS NEW REPORT ON A GREENER LA

“Envisioning a Greener L.A.?”

 

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Turning Los Angeles’ toxic hotspot neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities has moved one step closer to reality with the recent release of the UCLA Luskin 2014 Community Scholars’ report, “Envisioning a Greener LA:  Environmental and Economic Sustainability for Boyle Heights, Pacoima and Wilmington”.

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UCLA Community Scholars 2014 Cohort

 

 

 

 

 

 

Los Angeles is on the brink of a huge, new opportunity to invest funds resulting from California’s unprecedented AB32 Global Warming Act to address climate change, improve public health and provide multiple co-benefits including community revitalization, resource conservation and job growth.

 

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Michele Prichard, Director of Liberty Hill’s Common Agenda program

This is one of the key findings of the UCLA Luskin 2014 Community Scholars, a class coordinated by Michele Prichard, Director of Liberty Hill’s Common Agenda program.  A joint program of the UCLA Labor Center and the UCLA School of Urban Planning, the Community Scholars met every Wednesday night from January through June 2014.  Participants organized into three neighborhood teams to propose solutions for the environmental justice challenges—namely pollution, poverty and a lack of community development—faced by the areas which are the focus of the Clean Up Green Up campaign.

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Resources for Ethical Employers and Empowered Workers

By Susan LaTempa

Aquilina Soriano-Versoza (l) of Pilipino Workers Center and Danielle Feris of Hand in Hand celebrate Domestic WOrkers Bill of Rights

Aquilina Soriano-Versoza (l) of Pilipino Workers Center and Danielle Feris of Hand in Hand celebrate Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you support social justice and workers rights? Want to take action? Here’s a chance for many families to help implement a law fought for by many Liberty Hill community partners that now applies to around 200,000 workers in California: the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. 

Until January of this year, maybe because of a  lingering “Upstairs, Downstairs” view of society, we as Californians excluded the people who care for our nearest and dearest family members from labor-law protections enjoyed by all other hourly California workers.   Although there hasn’t been much publicity, the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights means that  nannies, childcare workers, and personal attendants who work in the home have won overtime protection. It’s a modest win in some ways–time and a half when you work more than nine hours a day or more than 45 hours per workweek– but along with the minimum wage protection won in 2001, it brings these essential workers basic rights.

Want to do the right thing in your own home? Want to empower yourself to work out a fair arrangement with the employer whose home you work in? Want to share information with your extended family and friends? Join activist workers and employers who worked hard together for passage of the bill and educate yourself about best practices, difficult conversations and health and safety issues.

To start, whether you’re an employer or a caregiver, download and take a look at this sample work agreement created by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Oakland-based group Hand in Hand. It covers a wide range of topics to review in a simple fill-in-the-blanks format. Details about the law itself are on this fact sheet from bill sponsor Assemblymember Tom Ammiano.

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Liberty Hill Supporter and Artist Connie Rohman Shares ‘Must See’ Art Work

By Jonathan Skurnik 

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The history of human communication is littered with lost languages, but today, in the early 21st century not only are spoken languages disappearing, but also specialized invented forms of communication. The systems behind Morse code, shorthand and navigational flags are being forgotten, rendered obsolete by the rapid pace of technological innovation. They are also some of the disappearing modes of communication that Liberty Hill supporter and artist Connie Rohman explores in “Lost Languages,” her series of art quilts.

 

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One of her “Lost Language” pieces is a colorful three-by-six foot quilt made specifically for Liberty Hill.  In shapes representing the dots and dashes of Morse Code, it spells out “Change, 9064243Not Charity.” It was recently installed in the main room of Liberty Hill’s Wilshire Boulevard office. Across the aisle from the quilt, three magnificent cotton rope and thread urns sit on top of large file cabinets, their shapes alluding to archeology and their colors and textures bringing ancient and modern treasures to mind.

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DEADLINE AUGUST 1 TO APPLY TO NEW ENVIRONMENTAL FUND

 

Soccer fields situated adjacent to Baldwin Hills oil facility.

It’s a fast-moving issue, so Liberty Hill is moving fast. Los Angeles residents are learning of expanded plans for oil extraction in the city, and they’re asking– is oil drilling in the city safe? Are there hazards we’re being exposed to? Toxic emissions? Extreme techniques? Because they want answers to these questions, residents are organizing to protect health and safety in their communities, and they need resources.

In response, Liberty Hill is pleased to announce the creation of a new grantmaking program, the FUND FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND JUSTICE. 

We are accepting applications for this new fund now through August 1, 2014. Organizations interested in learning more about this fund are strongly encouraged to participate in our educational webinar, 12 – 1 pm on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. 

For more information, and links to application guidelines and webinar RSVP info, please go to the FEHS INFO PAGE.

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