Freeps in the News: Jim Bliesner, Barbara Zaragoza, Jeeni Criscenzo

bliesner plaque

By Anna Daniels

San Diego Free Press contributors are a diverse and talented group of individuals. It will be a busy weekend for three of them with the unveiling of Jim Bliesner‘s sculpture Cultural Fusion, Casa Familiar’s Abrazo Award for Barbara Zaragoza and An Evening of Provocative Poetry with Jeeni Criscenzo. These events follow upon last week’s screening of SDFP video- journalist Horacio Jones‘ short film “Wingin’ It” at the 48 Hour Film Project in San Diego.   [Read more…]

The Filipino-American Tour of the South Bay

Iglesia Ni Christo, Rios Ave.

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

Ethnic enclaves are generally defined by a cluster of stores and eateries that feature culinary delights from a specific country from abroad. Within that cluster of businesses, you’ll usually hear that foreign language being spoken. In addition, there will often be a religious organization (usually a church) in the vicinity where the members of that ethnicity go to worship, but also come together as a community to support one another.

So how do you like my definition?…It’s imperfect for sure, but I am fascinated by residents who identify with more than just one country and one “ethnic” label.   [Read more…]

The Rising Star of Chula Vista: Jason Paguio

Jason Paguio

By Barbara Zaragosa / South Bay Compass

The town of Chula Vista, California happens to be home to the World Champion Drum Major, Jason Paguio. He’s the only Filipino-American to have run for city council (at the age of 28), he’s a current policy advisor to councilmember Steve Miesen, and he operates two non-profit organizations as well as a small for-profit business.

Jason has so many pots bubbling that San Diego Business Journal gave him the 2014 Emerging Generation: 25 in their 20’s award.

I sat down and talked with Jason and you’ll soon see why I call him the rising star of Chula Vista.   [Read more…]

San Ysidro’s The Front Art Gallery Announces First Prize Winners

By Barbara Zaragoza

The judges made their final decisions on Monday, February 23rd for the 8th annual Dia De La Mujer hosted by The Front Art Gallery in San Ysidro. The theme was Cleansing: Spiritual-Emotional-Magical and thirty-five emerging and established artists competed for first place and two honorable mentions in each category. Three additional visiting artists participated, including the Mayor of Chula Vista’s mother.

Three judges spent an afternoon carefully considering the works:

  • Angelica Villagrana, President of the San Diego Museum of Art Artist’s Guild,
  • Mary Beebe, Director of the Stuart Collection of Outdoor Sculpture at UCSD, and
  • Kevin Linde, Livespan Learning Coordinator at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

  [Read more…]

Andrea Skorepa, The Queen of San Ysidro

The hard work of the Executive Director of Casa Familiar has helped San Ysidro residents for 35 years

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

Andrea Skorepa, Executive Director of the non-profit organization Casa Familiar, has been advocating for local San Ysidrans for the last thirty-five years. She manages a team of thirty-four employees who use holistic approaches to serve the predominantly hispanic community.

They’ve worked on constructing family housing for first time sale and they’ve developed low income housing for the elderly. They’ve focused on programs to get San Ysidrans civically engaged and they’ve developed ways for parents to increase their participation in school governance and their children’s education. In 2008, Casa Familiar even expanded into the arts by creating The Front.   [Read more…]

Barrio Bits: Barrio Logan Planning Group Begins, SD Workers Center to Open, Break Down Borders Run, La Bodega’s Anniversary y más!

By Brent E. Beltrán

This is the first in what I hope will be a bi-weekly column within my Desde la Logan column that will highlight the various happenings in the barrios of San Diego. I can’t cover everything but I can highlight those things that I feel deserve to be seen and read about. It’s a work in progress so bear with me.

Barrio Logan Planning Group Holds First Meeting
Barrio Logan finally has a planning group! And I’m on it!

On January 20 the Barrio Logan Planning Group held its first meeting ever at Woodbury University School of Architecture. The meeting was attended by more than 65 people plus the fifteen appointed planning group members that were able to make it. The large crowd was a good start and shows the interest that community members have in getting involved in Barrio Logan.

Maritime industry made it very clear that they were upset with David Alvarez not appointing anybody of their liking to the group. Well boohoo! Elections have consequences and the consequences for their B & C referendum is them not (yet) having a seat on the planning group. There’ll be plenty of opportunities in the future for them to worm their way onto the group. Until then they can give public comment.   [Read more…]

Boundary Monument #257

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

The boundary monuments between San Diego and Tijuana are approximately 1 mile apart. They number from 258 to 252. They are open and free for the Mexican citizens to admire, but  military landing mat hides the monuments from American citizens. Since 2008, a second wall approximately three-hundred feet away from the original military landing mat has further obscured the monuments.

Each boundary monument has its own tale. I’ve already written about 258 and 255, the most famous of all the boundary markers. In total there are 276 markers stretching from the Pacific Ocean to El Paso, Texas. Some are numbered A & B so that the original numbering from the Barlow-Blanco Commission of the 1890’s are retained. (There were originally 52. You can read all about that here.)   [Read more…]

Friendship Park and Boundary Monument 258

By Barbara Zaragoza / The South Bay Compass

Inside Border Field State Park you can find the center of the immigration issue. On the American side, each Saturday and Sunday Friendship Park is open to the public from 10am to 2pm.

A gated area heavily monitored by Border Patrol,Friendship Park has a binational garden and thick mesh beyond which you can see Boundary Monument #258 on the Mexican side.

This park is where activist groups come to protest the ever increasing construction of fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border.Border Angels often comes here to bring awareness to the number of immigrants who have died trying to cross to the United States. Protestant Minister John Fanestil provides bi-national religious services on Sundays. Dan Watman has created a binational garden and also hosts events such as binational poetry readings. You can also find out what’s happening at Friendship Park through caring volunteers who run the website   [Read more…]

What Does Día de los Muertos Mean to You?

A list of the many Day of the Dead events happening this weekend in San Diego

By Brent E. Beltrán

Every year Mexicans celebrate their dead by honoring and remembering passed loved ones or people they may have admired on los días de los muertos, the Days of the Dead. November 1 is for honoring the children that have moved on from this mortal plane. November 2 is for remembering the adults.

How one honors those that are no longer here varies. The meaning does as well. Though it always comes down to remembering.

I asked some people I know, what does Día de los Muertos mean to you? Here are their responses and then a listing of Día de los Muertos celebrations throughout San Diego.   [Read more…]

Cross Border Culture at The Front Art Gallery

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

When you live in the South Bay, the city of Tijuana appears on the horizon just about wherever you go. If you don’t cross the border daily, then most of your neighbors and friends do. South Bay residents know that Tijuana offers shopping, art, business opportunities, time with family and, of course, good food and wine.

So when a wonderful on-line newspaper like Voice of San Diego descends upon our border neighborhood of San Ysidro, bringing with them an audience of “northerners” to tell them about how they should visit Tijuana, we South Bay locals look at each other rather perplexed. Don’t they already know that?

On October 22nd Voice of San Diego’s culture report writer, Alex Zaragoza, hosted a “Meeting of the Minds” at The Front Art Gallery: a building along historic San Ysidro Boulevard designed by famed architect Louis Gill in 1929. The purpose of the meeting was to highlight the many delights of Tijuana. Karl Strauss offered beer, perhaps to make the experience less frightening to the audience members who presumably trekked all the way from places like North Park to visit the depths of the border region.   [Read more…]

A Trail for Humanity Comes to San Diego

Marchers take a stand against violence targeting migrant women and children

By Brent E. Beltrán

On July 22 a group of mothers and their children began a journey from Merced, California to the U.S./Mexico border. This Saturday at 7am they will be at Chicano Park in Barrio Logan for the final leg of their pilgrimage.

After a ceremony at Chicano Park participants in A Trail for Humanity will leave around 8am and walk to Kimball Park in National City. From there they will be transported by vehicle to the MAAC Charter School in Chula Vista where they will have lunch.

After lunch and a brief rest they will continue their journey on foot to Larsen Field in San Ysidro. They will arrive at the park sometime between 3pm and 4pm where a rally will take place with speakers on immigration rights, danza Azteca and entertainment.   [Read more…]

Internationally Renowned De la Torre Brothers Bring their Art to San Ysidro

“Whysidro” to be unveiled this coming Thursday at The Front

By Leticia Gomez Franco

The Front, a 1600 square foot art space located a mile north of the U.S./Mexico border crossing in San Diego, will be converted this week into a holographic dreamland. The gallery will be home to Whysidro, a solo exhibition of new lenticular works by internationally renowned artists, Jamex & Einar De la Torre.

The exhibition celebrates the culmination of the De la Torre brothers’ one year residency at Casa Familiar’s The Front as part of the San Diego Foundations Creative Catalyst Program. During their year in San Ysidro, the brothers set out to create an entire new body of work inspired by their connection with the U.S./Mexico border.   [Read more…]

San Ysidro Bi-National Multi-Modal Transit Center

By Beryl Forman

The City of San Diego’s 700 block of East San Ysidro Boulevard is likely the most integral property to activate the San Diego/Tijuana Bi-national Border Region, as high level economic dialogue between the U.S. and Mexico unfolds. This block is not only home to the world’s busiest pedestrian border crossing, but also San Diego’s most heavily traveled trolley station, by far.

With up to three hours delay at the border nearly every day, and 7 billion dollars a year lost in economic productivity due to border delays, a grand opportunity lies ahead for this strategically located property. In order to realize this potential, it is important to understand some of the current issues and proposed plans for this site.   [Read more…]

Sanctuary: 7th Annual Dia de la Mujer Juried Art Exhibition to Open

An all woman’s art exhibition, a film screening and a very womanly celebration

By Leticia Gomez Franco 

Casa Familiar’s THE FRONT will once again present their annual ode to women, this year called Sanctuary: 7th Annual Dia de la Mujer Art Exhibition. The group art exhibition features the work of 48 female artists from both sides of the border and will be on view from March 7  to April 24.

With over 50 art pieces on view, the exhibition is a wonderful collection of work, inspired by this years theme: Sanctuary. Artists were invited to explore the idea of sanctuary in its many manifestations as it relates to them as women and builders and creators of their own spaces. With this theme the exhibition curator honors the mission of Día de la Mujer. The art exhibition allows women artists to create real representations of themselves, to counter the powerful stream of visual stimulation spat out by the media, oversaturating our world, with foreign, unrealistic versions of women. Día de la Mujer fosters a safe space for women to be real women and to celebrate that realness, in all of its diverse beauty.   [Read more…]

Family, Friends and Activists Continue to Seek Justice for Those Killed by the Border Patrol

“Four years and we haven’t seen a single result.”

By D. Gutiérrez

Despite the rain, dozens of protestors assembled outside the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Saturday afternoon, March 1st. Representatives from multiple grassroots organizations, as well as professors, students, and concerned citizens gathered to voice their anger at the growing amount of deaths that have occurred at the hand of the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Family members of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas were also present to denounce the four years they have endured without any justice.

Anastasio Hernández Rojas was killed in 2010 while detained by Border Patrol and CBP agents. Videos surfaced some time later documenting the brutal death of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas. Multiple government agents crowded around the handcuffed Hernan-dez to inflict bodily harm as another agent electrocuted him with a taser gun.

Despite compelling video, four years have passed and still no one was been punished for the crime.   [Read more…]

Disturbing Images Show Border Agents Encouraging Children to Shoot at Migrant Effigy

Use-of-Force Policies Called to Question as the Agency’s Culture of Violence is Unabashedly Taught to Children
By Ricardo Favela / San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium

Different images shared by an anonymous source and found online depict Border Patrol staff showing children of various ages how to use paintball guns to shoot at a target wearing clothing with the border fence in the background.

Pedro Ríos, Chair of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, states, “The target is dressed to resemble a migrant and is located within 100 feet from Virginia Avenue where actual persons have been killed by Border Patrol gunfire.”

Mr. Ríos continues, “While encouraging children to use guns to shoot at a migrant effigy is unconscionable, it is also symbolic of the agency’s unabashed culture of violence which has grown from a lack of accountability, oversight and unprofessional standards that rebuke best practices in situations involving use-of-force.”   [Read more…]

Support Local Artists, Artisans and Small Businesses, Buy Independent for the Holidays

By Brent E. Beltrán

The holidays are upon us and the time for gift giving is here. Instead of shopping at the malls and giving your hard earned cash to a corporation why not purchase items from local artists and artisans?

Here is a short list of holiday art bazaars and small businesses that deserve to be patronized this holiday season.   [Read more…]

Commemorate Día de los Muertos throughout San Diego – Long Live the Dead!

Día de los Muertos Commemorated for Thousands of Years in the Americas

By Brent E. Beltrán

Los días de los muertos have been commemorated for thousands of years in the Americas. It started in what is now México and has spread throughout the United States and the world. Today these days are celebrated by people of many different colors and cultures.

November 1 is Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) when deceased children are honored and November 2 is known as Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) where we pay tribute to adults who have passed away. These dates correspond with the Christian holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day.   [Read more…]

What’s Cookin’ at San Ysidro’s The Front?

… A whole lot of artmaking in a one-of-a-kind visual arts space

By Linda Caballero Sotelo

If you haven’t made it out to the southernmost part of San Diego county, where the San Diego/Tijuana border meet, then you’ve been missing out on one of the most unique spaces and areas in San Diego: San Ysidro’s only space for art, culture, design and urbanism: THE FRONT.

Since its opening, THE FRONT has enabled the production of new social and cultural relations bringing together arts and social programming, affordable housing and urban research at the border, straddling San Diego and Tijuana.

THE FRONT is part of Casa Familiar’s Arts & Culture Division, under the able hands of its gallery Director, Leticia Gomez Franco, this space was conceived as a cultural think tank that would amplify the “neighborhood” of San Ysidro as a site of cultural production, while engaging local residents and claiming the border region as a unique artistic laboratory. The Salon is a second arts space in the area; housed in what was once a church, in fact, San Ysidro’s one hundred year old Catholic church. The structure was acquired by Casa Familiar and has been repurposed as a gallery and meeting space, serving as the second of Casa Familiar’s art galleries, and a part of an ambitious multi use development project entitled ‘Livingrooms at the Border’.   [Read more…]

Language Interpreters Are California’s Lifeline

Lack of Interpreters is a Life and Death Situation for Many

By Lorena Gonzalez

There are more than 50 languages spoken more comfortable and proficiently than English by the residents in the South Bay and Mid-City San Diego neighborhoods I represent. Throughout California, this challenge is shared by more than 6.5 million Californians, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Ordering food. Asking for directions. Attending school. Interviewing for a job. Filling prescriptions. Rescheduling appointments.

No situation involving a language barrier is as frightening, though, as one that risks the life of a loved one.   [Read more…]

San Ysidro: From Bi-National Lifestyle to Bi-National Border Region Center?

By Beryl Forman

Growing up in the 1970’s in Tijuana, Linda Caballero Sotelo explained that “our mind set was that we had the best of both worlds.” Almost everyone moved freely through the border to accomplish their daily activities. For groceries, people from Tijuana preferred to shop locally for their meat, produce, cheese, and tortillas, but would cross regularly for bread, canned items, ice cream, novelty goods, and to do large loads of laundry. She recalls a childhood activity of going to Bonita on Tuesday nights for $1 movies. This bi-national lifestyle is inherent to many who grew up close to the border.

While it is evident that this way of life is no longer as flexible, Linda believes that San Ysidro, adjacent to the Mexican border, has never greatly benefited from this cross border lifestyle. Linda consults and works for Casa Familiar, a neighborhood based community development, social service agency in San Ysidro. From the perspective of someone who grew up in Tijuana, Linda describes San Ysidro as a pass through area, a place to exchange money, run last minute errands, fill up the car with gasoline, but not a place to spend leisure or otherwise valuable time.   [Read more…]

The Starting Line – Grover Norquist, Pink Unicorns and A Ray of Hope

As (largely untrue) reports fly through the blogosphere and interwebs about reports of movement between the Congressional political blocs on various aspects of the impending ‘fiscal cliff’ crisis, the man at the center of it all, Grover Norquist is certainly having his moments in the spotlight.

Steve Inskeep of NPR gave Norquist air time this morning to prattle on about how it really isn’t true that Republicans are lining up to jump ship and break their pledges not to raise taxes. He likened talk of accepting tax increases in exchange for spending cuts by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to believing in a pink unicorn.   [Read more…]

Desde la Logan: Día de los Muertos, We Commemorate Our Dead

By Brent E. Beltrán

 Every year on November 1st and 2nd we remember our dead. Give them food and things they appreciated while they were alive. We build altars in our homes. We share stories. Remember loved ones, family and friends, heroes and historical figures. We go to gravesites and clean tombstones and markers. Leave cempasúchils (marigolds) and sugar skulls. Maybe a little tequila if they liked a drink in their day. For the children we leave toys and candy.

November 1 is Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) when deceased children are honored and November 2 is known as Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) where we pay tribute to adults who have passed away. These dates correspond with the Christian holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day. Though las días de los muertos were coopted by Christianity they are not Christian holidays or celebrations. Their history can be traced back thousands of years to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl.   [Read more…]

Killings by Border Patrol to Be Reviewed After Congress Reacts to Rojas Death at San Ysidro

Bob Filner Among 16 Congressional Members Urging Review of Deadly Force Use by Border Patrol Agents

Since 2010, at least 16 civilians have been killed by Border Patrol agents along the US-Mexico border. Many of those killed were involved in throwing rocks at agents during confrontations with border smugglers.

Yet, since September, there have been three persons killed by agents – including the young mother of 5 who was a US citizen right here in Chula Vista. The three also include 16-year-old suspected rock thrower from Nogales.

  [Read more…]