Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete?
This August, I returned to the space that motivated me for years as a young woman growing up in City Heights, and I was reminded that I am capable of transforming my community.
There were dozens of roses blooming in the Sisterhood Rising Retreat, growing and blossoming despite injustice in the air. I saw a young lady gain the courage to stand in front of her sisters and sing. I saw another young woman physically and morally support her team during the ropes course. I was in the same spot not too long ago.
This space was created for us to finally step out of the box that society puts us in, for these young women to acknowledge that they are not weeds because their skin color is a darker shade, and to learn not to be ashamed of the battle scars they all have from the constant struggle of oppression.Read more
Last October, Carol Kim was in a hit and run car accident. Instead of staying at the scene, she had a more important mission to accomplish: convincing the people of City Heights that their votes count.
“I am so convinced that your vote counts that I called someone to pick me up from my totaled car to come here,” said Kim.
Kim is the Vice President of Run Women Run, an organization that supports, recruits, and trains women candidates to run for public office. She was one of three panelists to stress the importance of voting at the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network City Heights Community Convening. The Convening, formerly known as the Grantee Retreat, focused on empowering residents and organizations to engage people in City Heights to register to vote.
“We deserve to be at the decision making table. We deserve to have our voices heard. We cannot be there if we are not showing up and casting our ballots,” said Kim. “We are not heard unless we vote. Civic engagement is great, but if your folks are not voting, it’s just noise. I hate to say it. As politicians it’s just noise unless you cast those ballots”
Mid-City Community Advocacy Network is proud and honored to have an old friend return home to experience her neighborhood through new eyes. Lesliee Renteria writes about this exciting season in her own words:
"As an undocumented woman of color in City Heights I was constantly reminded to live behind the shadows, to not speak up because it was not my right. I grew a fear to walk in the streets surrounded with poverty and violence. I feared that my voice will be shut down and I will be denied from opportunities like my home country did. However, my advocates were around the corner of my house.
I began my journey of change with the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network Youth Council. I felt a sense of belonging despite my residency status and ethnicity. I was told that I had a voice and it mattered. Being surrounded by young leaders became my safe place. The skatepark campaignb was my first step into the world of organizing and advocacy. I was introduced to the power of the people and the power of community through a collective effort. It took lobbying our elected officials, rallying in our community, speaking with Private and Public foundations and about 4 years to obtain land and funding to construct a community skatepark for young skaters to receive their safe place. Mid-City CAN allowed me to realize that I can be my own advocate.Read more
Earlier this year, the San Diego Unified school board applauded Mid-City CAN for its efforts to bring local and organic produce to local schools. Mid-City CAN has successfully pushed for schools to offer food that meets the various needs of students, such as those who desire halal foods.
In addition, Mid-City CAN has successfully advocated for free bus passes for students, and it’s hoping to expand the program county-wide.
As for Pruitt, the lessons she’s learned from working with the organization will guide her philanthropic and advocacy work going forward. “My experience working with Mid-City CAN has opened my eyes to the immense challenges faced by members of underserved populations and the institutional barriers that make it extremely difficult to overcome these challenges,” she says. “This has both opened my heart and changed my perspective on local government priorities.”
"Back in 2009 folks came together and they said there has to be something different because so many kids in City Heights are getting caught up in the system and want to heal; it's time to heal," said Diana Ross, Executive Director at Mid-City CAN.
The crowd went wild: hooting and hollering its way up the isles and out of the school board auditorium, leaving the room nearly empty so the meeting could continue while the celebration went full blast out in the lobby. Smiles and hugs were interrupted with songs and chants, the elation of a milestone reached after years of hard work.
“This is a huge step for inclusion, equality, and overall fairness,” said Amina Mohammed, Food Justice Momentum Team Member.