A Boyle Heights entrepreneur and activist who has been active in a campaign to legalize street vending in Los Angeles is featured in a new TV documentary premiering Tuesday.

“City Rising: The Informal Economy,” the latest installment of the acclaimed documentary series from KCET and Link TV, examines how workers that labor off the books, are organizing to find pathways for legalization and protection. It follows four California workers facing discrimination but fighting for change, including Boyle Heights food vendor Caridad Vázquez.

Also featured are Long Beach truck driver Daniel Aneseko Uaina, Oakland community organizer Saabir Lockett and Coachella farmworkers Juana and Santos Barajas. All four, according to a release, “are working across California trying to navigate through bureaucracy and policy in order to protect their livelihoods.”

The episode of “City Rising” premieres on Tues., Dec. 4 at 9 p.m. on KCET in Southern California. The documentary will also air nationally on independent satellite network Link TV on Sun., Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The documentary will also be released digitally following their broadcasts on kcet.org/cityrising and linktv.org/cityrising.

Supporting the new documentary will be a series of online articles and social media videos providing in-depth, critical analysis on the issues surrounding those impacted by the informal and “gig” economy. Online video profiles of the four informal entrepreneurs will also be showcased at kcet.org.

The documentary was done in partnership with The California Endowment and a co-production with Sylvia Francis films.

Included in the documentary are labor experts that include SDSU’s professor of geography Pascale Joassart, UC Berkeley labor economist Sylvia Allegretto, UC Hastings law professor Veena Dubal, The California Endowment’s Senior VP for Healthy Communities Dr. Anthony Iton, Cal Poly Pomona assistant professor of Urban & Region Planning Alvaro Huerta, University of Illinois at Chicago professor of Urban Planning and Policy Nik Theodore and more.

Vázquez, who prepares Mexican food items in her home kitchen and sells them at a spot on Breed Street in Boyle Heights, is  a leader in the campaign to legalize street vending in Los Angeles. The campaign scored a victory last month when the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to create a permit system that will allow vendors to sell their wares on city sidewalks.

Coincidentally, a premiere screening of “City Rising: The Informal Economy” took place following a reception at the California Endowment headquarters in downtown Los Angeles on Nov. 28 –the same date the City Council voted on the street vendors’ measure.

An early installment of “City Rising” that aired in 2017 focused on gentrification in six California communities, including Boyle Heights.

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Boyle Heights Beat

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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