By Alex Medina
Boyle Heights Beat
Pamela Agustin is a longtime reader of the Boyle Heights Beat who is interested in learning about the issues locals find most important to them.
“I believe in the idea that every person is his or her own world. Public dialogue where people share their experience, say what they want to see, what they think matters, is important,” said Agustin, who attended the Boyle Heights Beat’s recent #OneYearLater community conversation. “We need to get out of our own world and hear the other perspectives people have. That’s something that I’ve always appreciated about the events that the Boyle Heights Beat youth put together.”
Attendees at this year’s last Boyle Heights Beat community gathering had the opportunity to voice their experiences in the year since the November 16 election while learning about the stories Boyle Heights Beat youth reporters are currently working on. The meeting was held at the Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center and attendees were offered tamales, holiday ponche, and cafe de olla to enjoy during the gathering.
The meeting was led by youth reporters Xóchil Ramírez, a senior at Roosevelt High School, and Carmen González, a junior at Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School. Armando Magallanes, a 12th grade student at Bravo Medical Magnet High School, served as the event’s Spanish-language interpreter.
Ramírez talked about her upcoming story about residents’ concerns about the expansion of the USC Health Campus in Boyle Heights and the announced development of a biotech corridor on Valley Boulevard. She mentioned that for her story she had interviewed Agustín, a community organizer with the Eastside Leads Campaign whose goal is to include local voices in USC’s future development.
Other members of the Beat, including González and Magallanes, spoke about their articles –some of which will be featured in in the Boyle Height Beat’s upcoming December/January edition. González spoke about her story about homeless community college students while Magallanes touched upon some unique and unexpected ways libraries throughout Los Angeles are changing.
Some of the issues brought up by local residents were the changing political climate in Boyle Heights since the presidential election as well as the incidence of scam calls that prey on the most vulnerable members of society. Cynthia González, the neighborhood prosecutor for the Hollenbeck Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, addressed the issue of undocumented people being afraid to report crimes, due to fear of deportation. She and LAPD Officer Jesse Griego, assigned to Hollenbeck, reminded attendees that the department does not share information with immigration authorities.
Joe Díaz, the Technology Youth Center’s career coach and multimedia coordinator, helped set up the event and attended as well. The lifelong Boyle Heights resident –who was featured in the Beat’s October/November issue– said the event offered community members an opportunity to learn more about the work the local newspaper is doing.
“The community is grateful for what the Boyle Heights Beat does,” said Díaz. “I think there’s more stories to be told and there’s nobody better out there to tell them then the Boyle Heights youth themselves.”
Photo above: Armando Magallanes interprets for Boyle Heights Beat director Michelle Levander at community meeting at Technology Youth Center. All photos by Oscar Vargas.
Alex Medina is a senior at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School. He is an avid runner and writer who leads the Gay Straight Alliance at Bravo in order to provide a safe space for LGBTQ youth and their allies. He hopes to attend a University of California school after high school.
Oscar Vargas is a junior at Roosevelt High School. His interests include photography, music, and cars. Oscar is going to pursue photography and cinematography as a career.