January 29, 2009

DTV Training: Mn MEP in the news

Yesterday, Mn MEP conducted a DTV educational training at the Waite House with low income Latino families. Together with our partner organization, Main Street Project, we were able to get over 25 applications for the coupon program to help in the purchase of converter boxes. Below is a link to a story produced by KARE 11 on the training and the potential impact of the DTV transition if Congress doesn't push back the date.

For video click here

January 17, 2009

DTV Transition Date pushed back to June 12th

MediaPost.com is reporting that the Democrats and Republicans in Congress have agreed to push back the DTV Transition date to June 12th.

The DTV educational outreach being conducted by the Minnesotano Media Empowerment Project and our partner organization Main Street Project & the People Escaping Poverty Project will continue. Stay tuned for upcoming trainings and updates.

December 3, 2008

Event: 12/17/08 Talk to the Media

Talk to the Media: Bringing Media to the Neighborhood
Wednesday December 17th 2008
Location: Northeaster News
Address: 1620 Central Avenue #101 Minneapolis, MN 55413

Please join us on December 17th for “Talk to the Media?, an educational forum for neighborhood groups in the Twin Cities. Meet local journalists from both mainstream and local press as they discuss the
world of media from their perspective.

Learn about basic strategies for getting media coverage for your issues or events. How do you write a good Letter to the Editor? When do you send out a press release? What are some other ways to get media coverage?

Lastly, is your neighborhood ready for the Digital Television (DTV) Transition? Find out more about DTV, learn to hook up an actual converter box, and walk away with multilingual materials to help you prepare your neighborhood.

For questions or comments please contact Jay Clark at the Mn Center for Neighborhood Organizing.

This event is sponsored by:
Main Street Project
Mn Media Empowerment Project
Mn Center for Neighborhood Organizing
Media Action Grassroots Network

Download Flier Here

October 7, 2008

Steven Renderos: Ticket Out of the Barrio-From Chavez Ravine to Dodger Stadium Part I


It used to be a small tight-knit community nestled inside a large Metropolis. The dirt roads, small houses, children playing in the streets and small gardens resembled a rural pueblo more than a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles. The community was known as Chavez Ravine, named after Julian Chavez, one of the first Los Angeles county supervisors in the 1800s. The over 300 acre community was split up into three neighborhoods: Palo Verde; Bishop, and La Loma. It was home to generations of Mexican Americans, many driven to this community because housing discrimination made it difficult to find a place to live anywhere else in the city. They were self-sufficient by growing their own food, building their own schools and churches.

By the late 1940s the city of Los Angeles were eyeing Chavez Ravine for potential redevelopment opportunities. The small single family homes, the dirt roads and community gardens were seen as an “eyesore? by people outside of Chavez Ravine, but for those living within; it provided them with property, education, and a place to call home. In 1949, The Los Angeles County Housing Authority received money from the Federal Housing Authority to implement a new redevelopment plan in Chavez Ravine. The initial plan, known as “Elysian Park Heights?, would build over two dozen 13 story buildings, over 160 townhomes, in addition to more playgrounds and new schools. Using the power of imminent domain, the Housing Authority forced most of the families to sell their property over to the government in order to clear out the land and prepare for construction. By 1952 most of the Chavez Ravine property owners had left with little or no compensation, and the remaining residents were labeled as “squatters? placing them at a disadvantage to receive any money at all in exchange for their land.

An architectural drawing of the original plans "Elysian Park Heights"

The main proponent behind the redevelopment plan was Frank Wilkinson, the assistant director of the L.A. County Housing Authority at the time. Supporters of the public project saw an opportunity for the city government to provide for “improved? housing conditions for poor residents of Los Angeles.

However, Cold War politics and in particular the “Red Scare? era of the 1950s placed the Elysian Park Heights project in jeopardy. Politicians within the city of Los Angeles began labeling the public project as a socialist plot. Corporations saw Chavez Ravine as a business opportunity for new for-profit development. A campaign of propaganda supported by local corporate interests and conservative politicians ensued, and by the time Norris Poulson was elected mayor of Los Angeles in 1953, the public project was doomed.

The City of Los Angeles managed to buy the 300 acres back from the Federal Housing Authority at a fraction of the cost with the stipulation that they’d use the land for some public purpose. That purpose came in the form of a new stadium for a professional baseball team. The Brooklyn Dodgers were looking to relocate after failing to get approval for a new stadium. The city laid Chavez Ravine out on a platter for them to take and the Dodgers took advantage.

While many of the residents of Chavez Ravine left quietly and with some compensation, others did not and instead refused to leave the land, sparking a decade long struggle known as the Battle of Chavez Ravine. Aurora Vargas along was among the last few to be forcibly removed by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in May of 1959. Her father, Manuel Arechiga would hold out a little bit longer, living in a tent next to the ruins of his former home. Eventually, he too would be forcibly removed by LAPD.

Photo of homes being demolished in Chavez Ravine

Chavez Ravine comes to represent a one-way ticket out of the barrio. Some residents left willingly with some hope that eventually they’d be able to move back into the public housing. Unfortunately, this story of the forced removal of Chicanos is not an isolated incident; today the same can be seen happening to the historical Segundo Barrio neighborhood in El Paso, Texas. Across the country, low-income marginalized communities are always victims of corporate and political interests. I’ve seen first-hand what it’s like for people to be forced from their homes to make way for “redevelopment?.

As a community organizer, I once worked in a neighborhood that was being closed down to build some luxury condominiums. We fought using every conceivable law on our side to slow down the process in an effort to keep the neighborhood from closing. We filed lawsuits, conducted rallies, pressured city officials, and contacted the media. In the end, the ultimate authority was money, and we had come up short. One of my last round of door knockings in that neighborhood came shortly after getting word that we had lost our battle. I remember knocking on the door of a Mexican family’s home. The wife answered the door and I then delivered the news that she would be forced to move. She said, “I’m not surprised we lost, the rich always win and the poor always lose, here in Bloomington and in Mexico, it’s all the same.? The neighborhood officially closed in April of 2006, to this day the land sits vacant.

Although I’m a Dodgers fan, knowing the real history of Chavez Ravine makes you think about the vicious cycle of racism that was rampant then and still very prevalent today.

Photo by Don Norwood

October 1, 2008

Interview: What's this about Community Organizing?

A Truth To Tell hosted by Andy Driscoll
Wednesday September 24th 2008
KFAI Radio-www.kfai.org

Topic: Community Organizing
Guests: Russ Adams, Executive Director for the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability; Pamela Twiss, Organizing Director for Take Action Minnesota;Malik Holt, Community Organizer for the Harrison Neighborhood Organization; Tom O'Connel, Professor of Political Science at Metro State University; and Steven Renderos, Project Coordinator of the Minnesotano Media Empowerment Project

Listen to the broadcast:
A Truth To Tell, September 24th 2008

September 30, 2008

Digital Television Transition 101

On February 17, 2009 you may wake up to a blank screen. No morning news, mid-day talk shows, or primetime shows will be displayed on your television. Beyond the inconvenience of not being able to watch the new episode of Ugly Betty or the next sports game, having no access to television can be a potential crisis for individuals who depend on television to inform them of the world around them.

Here are a few answers to some of the questions you may have regarding DTV.

Why is a conversion happening?
All television stations since the beginning of its creation have been broadcasting using Analog signal. The federal government has mandated that as of February 17, 2009 all stations have to switch and broadcast using a Digital signal. The practical purpose behind this is that the government wants to free up our broadcast airwaves for other uses (i.e. wireless technology and public services such as the police dept., fire dept., etc.)

What options do I have in order to be prepared?
It essentially comes down to three options:

1. Keep your TV and purchase a converter box.
2. Get a TV with an internal digital tuner. Meaning the TV already comes equipped to process the signal to your television.
3. Purchase Satellite TV or Digital Cable.

The latter two options incur a financial burden on the individual. DirectTV and Comcast Cable can be an added expense that people may not be able to afford.

For option 1, here is what you need to do.

Apply for a $40 coupon provided by the Federal Government.
The federal government has made $40 coupons available to the general public, up to 2 per household, that can be used towards the purchase of a converter box. On average converter boxes cost around $60, meaning you would have to pay the remaining balance.

To apply for a coupon, visit: https://www.dtv2009.gov/

Other Resources:
Twin Cities Public Television-TPT has a great website with more answers to specific questions regarding the DTV conversion as well as instructional videos to help you connect your converter box. These videos are available in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali. The information on their website is also available in eight other languages.
Visit TPT at: www.tpt.org/dtv

September 4, 2008

Steven Renderos: Support Our Community Organizers

The job and responsibility of a community organizer is to build leadership and build power. It's no surprise that wherever there's poverty and communities of disenfranchised individuals you'll find a community organizer nearby trying to change that. Last night I heard Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin mock the profession of community organizing by saying that being a mayor of a small town was "sort of like" community organizing only with more responsibilities. Public officials do in fact have more responsibilities because they have more power.

Organizers view power through two lenses, the world as it is and the world as it should be. We understand that power in the world that we're living in today is believed to be in the hands of few people. In the world that we want to live in, power is relational and therefore if you have power and I have power, then together we have more power.

Continue reading "Steven Renderos: Support Our Community Organizers" »

June 18, 2008


June 16th, 2008

For immediate release

Dave Moore, Voces de la Frontera (Wisconsin), 414-218-7115
Brian Payne, Workers' Interfaith Network (Minnesota), 612-859-5750

Ashley Furniture's prosecution by the National Labor Relations Board Tuesday June 17th is no routine matter. It marks the latest chapter in a conflict over Social Security 'No Match' letters which typifies the fear and confusion sparked by proposed rules from the Bush Administration that are affecting employers and employees alike.

The NLRB complaint against the country's largest furniture retailer alleges that Ashley interfered with the rights of workers at its Arcadia, Wisconsin plant, instructing them that they could not speak to each other about procedures the company implemented on "No Match" letters and work authorizations. [No Match briefing]


June 5, 2008

Steven Renderos: Are we really surprised?

A couple of days ago, a young girl in Maplewood ran frantically to a neighbor's door and proclaimed that someone was trying to abduct her. Police responded and immediately tried to get a description of the suspect. The young girl described him as a male "hispanic" driving a red minivan, with a "shadowy figure" in the backseat.

Police went out searching, allocating all the resources and their disposal to ensure public safety. But some of the details of this young girl's story weren't adding up. Investigators decided to conduct an interview with the victim and were able to find out that the whole abduction was fabricated. There was no male "hispanic" driving a red minivan or a "shadowy figure" in the backseat.

In extreme moments such as the abduction of a young child, there would seem to be no reason to question their credibility. But this case, as isolated, or as unique as it may be, leaves us asking some tough questions. (To read Pioneer Press Article on this story click here)

Continue reading "Steven Renderos: Are we really surprised?" »

June 4, 2008

Steven Renderos: Oh Lord, I'm Stuck in Lodi Again!


One of the first albums I ever listened to from beginning to end was "Green River" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. This was my uncle's favorite band even though he didn't speak any English and most of the music that he listened to didn't sound anything like CCR. They became and to this day, still are, one of my favorite bands. Their raw sound mixed with lyrics of pain and sadness made it the perfect band for people with less than perfect lives.

One song I particularly listened to all the time was "Lodi". The song begins with:
Just about a year ago, I set out on the road,
Seekin' my fame and fortune, lookin' for a pot of gold.
Things got bad, and things got worse, I guess you will know the tune.
Oh ! Lord, Stuck in Lodi again.

Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez was also stuck in Lodi. She was a 17 year old farmworker making $8/hour while picking grapes in the California heat. During her third day on the job she collapsed of heat exhaustion and eventually died two days later. She was a Mexican undocumented immigrant, but she didn't have to die. There are laws in California which address the working conditions of farmworkers who are subjected to strenuous environments which put their lives at risk. Theoretically, employers are supposed to supply their workers with a quart of water during every shift as well as a shaded area for them to cool off and take 5 minute rests as needed.

I say theoretically because for Maria Isabel, things got back and then things got worse. She died, and it was discovered later that she was two-months pregnant at the time.

Continue reading "Steven Renderos: Oh Lord, I'm Stuck in Lodi Again!" »

June 2, 2008

News Article: (TC Daily Planet) Espejos, Reflecting the Latino Community

Espejos: Reflecting the Latino community

Top left to right: Marion Gomez, Poetry Artist Intern; Cecilia Pino Godoy, Painting Mentor; Teresa Ortiz, Poetry Mentor; Marianela Molina Rodas, Poetry Mentee. Bottom: Misael Ivan Lopez, Painting and Grafitti Mentee; Roberto Rivera, Painting Artist (Photo courtesy of Intermedia Arts)

By Mary Turck , TC Daily Planet
June 01, 2008

Teresa Ortiz is a poet, spoken word artist, community organizer, ESL teacher—and a mentor for writers through the Espejos program for the past two years. Espejos, a mentoring program for emerging Latino artists, will present this year’s artistic work June 5 at 7 p.m.

Espejos 2008
Gallery viewing starts: May 22
Opening Night Reception and Performance: 6-9 PM
Thursday, June 5, 2008.
Doors open at 6:00 PM, Performance from 7-9 PM
Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis 55408
Free admission

Teresa Ortiz talked to the Daily Planet about Espejos, and this is what she had to say.

Continue reading "News Article: (TC Daily Planet) Espejos, Reflecting the Latino Community" »

May 30, 2008

News Article: Wisconsin / Test scores show little change over 3 years

State superintendent encouraged by results
By Scott Bauer
Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 05/29/2008 10:08:53 PM CDT

Wisconsin school children scored about the same on statewide tests in reading and math this year.
Results slated for release today showed that reading scores for elementary, middle and high school students all remained unchanged this year over last year. Math scores increased one point in the elementary grades, dropped one point in middle grades and dropped two points in 10th grade.

However, when looking at the three-year trend, math scores were up for elementary and middle school students and down in 10th grade. Reading scores were constant over the three years.
About 434,000 Wisconsin students in grades 3-8 and 10 took the statewide Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations. Results of the test are used to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind law and will be the basis of determining whether schools are progressing as required.

State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster was encouraged by the results, saying there are some positive trends but that the focus must remain on closing achievement gaps.

While the gap between minority students and whites narrowed in many groups over the past three years, it still remains significant.

Continue reading "News Article: Wisconsin / Test scores show little change over 3 years" »

May 29, 2008

Press Release: Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-5) & Congresswoman Hilda Solis (CA-32) to host Hispanic Community Health Care Forum in Minneapolis

Ellison to host Hispanic Community Health Care Forum

With Special Guest

Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis (D-CA)

Chair, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Health and Environment

Member, Subcommittee on Health – Energy and Commerce Committee

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) will host a Hispanic Community Health Care Forum with Special Guest, Congresswoman Hilda Solis on Monday, June 2, 2008 from 6-8 P.M. at the Allina Commons, Midtown Exchange (Minnesota Room)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are now more than 47 Million Americans without health insurance – up 2 Million from last year – with children making up more than a quarter of the increase.

Minnesotans are known as some of the healthiest Americans, yet even here 8.5% of our population lives without a health care safety net – that’s almost 440,000 – and the numbers are increasing. That’s 440,000 too many!

Continue reading "Press Release: Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-5) & Congresswoman Hilda Solis (CA-32) to host Hispanic Community Health Care Forum in Minneapolis" »

Eden Torres: Politics of Friendship

The way that political candidates have suddenly become the Hispanic voter’s best friend while also decrying the lack of controls over undocumented immigration reminds me of the irony and earnestness contained in the US Good Neighbor Policy of 1933-1945. While politicians embarked on a public relations campaign to promote an official government policy of friendliness and partnership with our neighbors in Latin America, anti-immigrant hostility toward Mexicans was at a fever pitch in large cities around the nation. It became especially violent in Los Angeles during the WWII and culminated in what would become known in the popular press as the “Zoot Suit Riots.? Many scholars, however, have come to characterize these incidents as the wholesale beating of Mexican American youth by white military personnel coupled with the spectacular denial of equal protection and due process under the justice system. But the fact that these two things–an official policy of friendship and violent anti-immigrant hostility–existed simultaneously in our history is important to note. Surely there are lessons to be gleaned from looking at such patterns.

Continue reading "Eden Torres: Politics of Friendship" »

May 28, 2008

News Article: (LA Times) New generation of L.A.-area Latino leaders aren't as friendly toward 'amigo stores'

Cities like Baldwin Park are turning away from ethnic-oriented retail projects in favor of mainstream businesses. Starbucks is welcome.
By Hector Becerra
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 28, 2008


It was as if the developers were talking about tacos, and the Latino politicians were talking about apple pie.

Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano and other city officials listened as the developers said they had studied the demographics of the city and could bring in a retailer known for offering credit to undocumented immigrants and a shopping center with a "Latino feel."

To Lozano, it was another case of developers typecasting his suburb, which is about 15 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. He didn't want to see more of what he calls "amigo stores."

The meeting ended like a bad date, with handshakes and excessive courtesy. But afterward, Lozano made it clear he was not happy.

Continue reading "News Article: (LA Times) New generation of L.A.-area Latino leaders aren't as friendly toward 'amigo stores'" »