Advocacy, Cultural Preservation & Anti-Displacement Efforts
Self Help Graphics & Art resides in Apachiagna, currently known as the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, where the original peoples of this territory- the Tongva, Chumash, and Tataviam - were first displaced.
In the last decade in particular, we have seen Los Angeles transform rapidly due to development. This is not only altering the landscape of Boyle Heights (a former redlined neighborhood that experienced blight and disinvestment for decades before becoming one of the hottest real estate markets in the nation) and adjacent neighborhoods, but has resulted in gentrification and subsequently the displacement of individuals, families and small independent business owners from the community. In Boyle Heights our neighbors have rallied over issues such as affordable housing, anti-displacement, clean air and soil, investment of youth programs, immigrants rights and the abolishment of ICE-- all critical issues of our day. We understand the scope and impact of these intersecting issues and hear the struggles of our community loud and clear.
As a community-based arts organization, Self Help Graphics & Art has been at the intersection of arts practice and social justice since our inception, as well as a catalyst for cultural restoration, preservation and traditions through the arts. Our mission is dedicated to the production, interpretation and distribution of prints and other art media by Chicana/o and Latinx artists, and we foster uplifting the narrative of the issues of our community by providing access to space, tools, training and capital to support advocacy through artivism, policy change and practicum. Through projects such as the “Know Your Rights” campaign in collaboration with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and The California Endowment, the #InvestInYouth campaign through the Boyle Heights Building Healthy Communities (BHBHC) initiative, anti-displacement work through Eastside LEADS and advocacy previously through “Residents and Artists Investing in Community Development and Empowerment Strategies” (R.A.I.C.E.S.), we share a vision of informing, empowering and healing community in a way that has become part of the fabric of our work that stretches beyond the print studio. As a member of the BHBHC and Eastside LEADS, Self Help Graphics & Art stays dedicated to our mission and values while speaking up and staying accountable to the communities we serve.
We know our impact through this work is not rapid enough to stave off inequitable development and acknowledge that with our limited capacity, we must be strategic in focusing on policy-driven change for the long-term sustainability of our community. We welcome dialogue that is grounded in constructive reflection and critique in order to become a better organization and be a better resource to our neighbors. We will not however compromise our mission to continue to nurture creativity in our community and provide platforms for expression and for empowerment aligned with our values that encourage spirituality and creative heart, inclusion, social consciousness, innovation, integrity and accessibility. SHG believes wholeheartedly in the transformative power of the arts and will continue to use our influence in the arts as the vehicle to address social justice issues that most deeply affect our neighborhoods, from around the block to around the world.
BUILDING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES - BOYLE HEIGHTS
Building Healthy Communities is an initiative of The California Endowment to work on a local scale to create broad, statewide impact and assumes that where we live, our race, and income impact our health and well-being. Self Help Graphics has been part of the Boyle Heights BHC for many years and participates in the Health Happens in Neighborhoods arm of work to support and advocate for youth. As an arts partner, SHG has helped create and support artistic interventions, civic engagement programs and is heavily involved in anti-displacement efforts through the Eastside LEADS collaborative. For more information, please visit the Building Healthy Communities website here.
Binding Displacement was a youth-led action that took place on the corner of 1st and Boyle in direct response to Metro’s process allowing the developer of the site to do extremely limited outreach with its publics. The mixed use housing development was presented to the community as a final plan, without having consulted and done its due diligence with community members about what they may want to see or need from that property. Youth led a survey process through ribbons that asked students and passersby what they would want to see on the lot, who then wrote their answers on ribbons and tied them to the fence.
The action brought out representatives of Metro and the developer’s office, and they all engaged in the process, providing their own responses for the artistic installation. This action was part of a larger effort to affect Metro’s policy pertaining to the amount of time that developers must plan for community outreach and engagement. It also serves as an example of the creative ways that they can engage with the public and meet the people impacted by these developments.
Invest in youth Co.
Our approach to Youth Development in Los Angeles is a holistic and cultural approach that encompasses and provides the resources and pathways for youth to develop and engage in their academic, economic, emotional, creative, physical, mental and spiritual wellness. Youth development provides a platform for youth to shape the systems that impact them. #InvestInYouth
Many of LA’s young people are considered disconnected (68k+ of them!) – meaning they are neither enrolled in school nor working -- placing them in vulnerable positions facing displacement from the city, incarceration, and at risk of becoming homeless. The City has the resources to provide positive opportunities and help young people live up to their potential. However, the city’s spending on such efforts has been minimal - a mere $60.3 million in 2017-18. Conversely, in the same year, Los Angeles spent $131 million on police overtime. Investing in young people is a proven quality of life strategy that is prioritized in other cities across the country, but not in Los Angeles.
In addition to spending gaps, LA’s youth lack coordinated services. Los Angeles is one of the only major U.S. cities that is missing a dedicated department focused on serving the needs of young people. Los Angeles has an Animal Services Department but no Youth Development Department. Our youth deserve better.
The Invest in Youth Coalition is an equitable investment; - one where every community will receive a specific investments based on factors like poverty, education and the existing nonprofit services.
A single department at the city level would allow for Los Angeles to invest in its youth by:
· Focusing on a primary mission of youth development.
· Distributing funds in an equitable manner.
· Analyzing data from multiple sources.
· Coordinating with LA County, LAUSD, and organizations.
· Pursuing federal, state, and private funding opportunities.
The City of Los Angeles should recognize how critical young people are to its economy, culture, and civic discourse – both today and in the future. It’s time to Invest in Youth.
Learn about the YOUTH MAYOR race in 2017:
Youth Mayor Link
Youth Mayor BHC Link
City Council Motion (2018) Link
Councilmembers Jose Huizar, Monica Rodriguez, and Jose Buscaino introduced a City Council establishing a City Task Force that will develop a strategy and roadmap to get to the creation of a Youth Development Department.
City Council Motion (2017)
Councilman Jose Huizar introduced a City Council motion requesting a City Report focused on examining current youth investments made by city departments and how these programs are coordinated.
Approved by Council Committee – which exposed our campaign goal to other key councilmembers: Ryu, Englander, O’Farrell, Buscaino
Met with CAO’s office, providing criteria for what constitutes a YD to inform assessment and report finding
Eastside LEADS (Leadership for Equitable and Accountable Development Strategies) is a collaborative of partners within the Building Healthy Communities initiative that is focusing on ensuring all development in our neighborhood actively includes community voices at the planning stages and beyond. We want positive change that is driven by the community and protects the existing residents from displacement. For more information, please visit the Eastside LEADS website here.
know your rightS
In light of increased ICE raids at a local and national level and eventually the threat to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), SHG produced this Know Your Rights poster with then summer intern Katherine Chavez to share in English and Spanish immediate actions to take should an individual be approached by ICE. This poster has been distributed at numerous events in partnership with the Building Healthy Communities Boyle Heights collaborative, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and artists from SHG’s Barrio Mobile Art Studo. We encourage you to click on the link below to download, print and distribute this information in your communities.