Mother's Day in LA's Flower District by Rudy Espinoza

Per usual, LA’s Flower District is bustling on Mother’s Day. I went out to people watch and snap some photos of the throngs of people in search of flowers for their Moms. The streets are full of color, and the sidewalks are alive with all kinds of flower vendors showcasing various flowers and unique arrangements. I love this city.

Thai New Year Songkran Festival by Rudy Espinoza

Here are some photos from the 14th Thai New Year Songkran Festival. I went to go support some of the small businesses who received support from LURN’s micro-loan program and I stayed longer enjoying the beauty of the Thai community. People came from all over Southern California (and the Southwest) to participate. Every time I immerse myself in the diversity of Los Angeles I fall in love with the city again and again.

Albany, Georgia by Rudy Espinoza

Faces from my trip to Albany, Georgia last week.

I joined a cohort a practitioners who are building a field of practice around “equitable food oriented development.” Each person was leading important initiatives to develop food hubs, employee owned grocery stores, community owned farms and more. (I was there to share our street vendor-inspired micro-loan fund and other projects). We all saw food as a portal to address other issues in our community, joblessness, access to capital, and disconnection from the land.

Our disconnection from the land (or its theft from communities of color) was further magnified because our meetings were hosted at place now called Resora, once the largest slave owning plantation in Georgia. It was now owned by New Communities, a Black led nonprofit that provided land and resources to low-income Black farmers. Ms. Sherrod, the founder of the organization, shared her stories of discrimination and racism in the South and the numerous Black farmers who’s land was stolen through schemes and violence (including by the USDA...see the Pigford v. Glickman case). Her personal journey began when her Father was killed by a white farmer and was never prosecuted. She shared that her life has been about fighting back, but also creating. For her and the farmers she worked with, access and ownership of land was integral to self determination.

Today is Earth day. A reminder that we need to take care of our planet, more so now because it is dying. I’m also thinking about how we can better honor the folks who are trying to be stewards of the land but are up against tremendous challenges to even stay on their land or in their neighborhoods. They already have answers to how to best care for Earth, so it can care for us.

New York w/ Street Vendor Project by Rudy Espinoza

Faces and scenes from my 24 hour trip to New York City on April 10th to meet with the Street Vendor Project, a division of the Urban Justice Center. Carla De Paz from East LA Community Corporation and I went to New York along with vendor leaders Faustino and Mayra to share lessons from the The Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign and lend support for a big hearing the Street Vendor Project has tomorrow to remove caps on vending permits in NYC. LA Councilman Price also came to support and encourage leaders. Because of these arbitrary caps, a black market exists in NYC where vendors without a permit have to pay thousands of dollars for a permit to vend on the sidewalk. We shared our experiences, heard about the challenges in New York, visited with some vendors on the street, and also spoke with NY Councilmembers and staff about why vending is important for local economies. It was good to build solidarity with other cities. While different in many ways, our cities are also very similar. They need bold leadership that is willing to stand up for the working class and are open to learning by doing.

Stockton by Rudy Espinoza

I had the privilege of visiting Stockton to work with community development practitioners in support of the City’s equity goals. The City has such a great potential to be a beacon for equity and prosperity for its working class constituents; especially since it’s situated in the Silicon Valley. Photos taking with a Fuji X100F, edited on Lightroom using Fuji’s Pro Neg Hi preset.