Archive | March, 2011

<!–:en–>A Greenhouse is Born in Humboldt Park: Paseo Boricua Advances its Steps Towards Healthy Living and Community Sustainability <!–:–>

Posted on 30 March 2011 by alejandro

Amidst the smell of freshly made sofrito, a historical moment was made, a green ribbon was cut, and the door leading to the rooftop greenhouse at Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School (PACHS) was opened. An idea spawned eight (8)  years ago from the minds of the leadership of the Juan Antonio
Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC) and reignited by students of the high school five years ago, was finally made a reality on the evening of Thursday, March 3, where over 150 people gathered to share this special victory for the Humboldt Park community.

The evening included PACHS student-led presentations on topics ranging from health issues resulting from a diet insufficient of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as diabetes and obesity, to the ways students are engaged with urban agriculture through classroom curriculum at PACHS.

As part of the ribbon cutting ceremony a group of community leaders addressed the crowd including PACHS Principal Matthew Rodríguez, Executive Director of the PRCC José E. López, Youth Connection Charter Schools Board President Linda Hanah, Alderman Roberto Maldonado, State Representative Cynthia Soto and New Life Pastor Wilfredo De Jesús.

Carlos De Jesús, Director of the Urban Agriculture Program at PACHS, was another one of the speakers that evening. Earlier in the week De Jesus reflected on an earlier memory of the greenhouse journey.

“The idea of building a rooftop greenhouse at the high school was created five years ago, while I was teaching Science class. Humboldt Park was labeled as a food desert and my students began to think of some ways we can make our community healthier,” said De Jesús. “Then we realized that by building our own greenhouse, we could provide residents access to fresh foods.”

Many residents are unaware that the Humboldt Park community is labeled as a “food desert,” or an area that has little to no access to fresh foods needed to maintain a healthy diet. “This area was not always a food desert,” De Jesus noted. “When a majority of the population was white, there were local supermarkets, such as Jewels and Dominick’s, giving the community easy access to fresh foods. As the ethnicity of the population began to switch to more Latinos and Blacks those supermarkets moved out of the area,” said De Jesús.

The community has suffered from this lack of access to healthy foods. Humboldt Park has one of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the country. There are a number of solutions in progress that will help improve this crisis. For the past year The 72 Block Humboldt Park Diabetes Initiative has been edúcating residents about diabetes and how to live healthy life-styles. Another community program that is working to improve health issues in Humboldt Park is Muévete, which provides free physical activities such as yoga, bike-riding and Zumba.

The PACHS rooftop greenhouse is the first greenhouse in the community. With the support of local politicians such as Alderman Maldonado and State Representative Cynthia Soto, the scope of community sustainability in Humboldt Park will expand with the construction of 20 more rooftop greenhouses in the near future. In addition PACHS has been granted access to four-tenths of an acre (approximately 18,000 square feet) of land in Humboldt Park, next to the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, where plants that begin their development in the greenhouse will be transferred. Planting on this piece of land will begin April 25, said Carlos de Jesús.

The greenhouse opening at PACHS was part of a larger celebration of the anniversary of Juan Antonio Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center. A reception held Thursday afternoon at Batey Urbano featured presentations on different programs of the PRCC including La Voz de Paseo Boricua, Vida/Sida, Batey Urbano, CO-OP Humboldt Park, Barrio Arts, Culture and Communications Academy (BACCA) and Humboldt Park No Se Vende.

Alexander Hernández and Marisol Rodríguez


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<!–:en–>Puerto Rican Diaspora Politics <!–:–>

Posted on 30 March 2011 by alejandro

“When they want to set boundaries they do so strategically. Fortuño just signed a bill providing funds to the Puerto Rican film industry to attract more Hollywood films. They are investing millions and, who do they bring to sign this law? Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. They lay claim to the Diaspora when Obama named Sonia Sotomayor. The Diaspora works for some things and not others, “explains Dr. Aparicio. She adds that recognizing the legitimacy of the subject in the Diaspora is still very difficult in the case of Puerto Ricans. However, she emphasized, that the voices of the Diaspora must be legitimate because the Diaspora is involved in political struggles and conflicts of ideology.

In the wake of recent  comments by the Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi, questioning the Puerto Rican identity of Congressman Luis Gutiérrez and his credibility  to denounce anti-democratic events in Puerto Rico, La Voz del Paseo Boricua interviewed Dr. Frances Aparicio, director of the Latino Studies Program at Northwestern University, and Dr. Maura Toro Morn, a professor in the Latino Studies  Department at the State University of Illinois. Both academics agreed that the Puerto Rican identity is shared by eight million people, four million in Puerto Rico and four million out of Puerto Rico, but with close family, social and cultural ties on the island, plus a historical thread that binds them. The points raised by the Congress and the Resident Commissioner have promoted interesting debates on migration and transmigration. For Dr. Toro, Pierluisi has as much right, say and desire to set out his political ideas as does Gutiérrez. “To silence groups because they live in the Diaspora does not strengthen political dialogue, moreover, it separates, makes a dividing line. It seems a rather limited perspective when we really are all in the same political situation. “

For her part, Dr. Aparicio believes that Gutiérrez is the only person who would be willing to condemn the administration. “It’s not about who is allowed to. If the government is abusing its power it must be condemned. The current administration is an accomplice and agent of this violence. Pierluisi will not denounce the violence because it goes against his interests,” she explained.

Professor Toro argued that Puerto Rican society is very diverse and a politician can not claim to represent the voice of the Puerto Rican people, both on the island and in the Diaspora, and therefore, a leader can not be sufficiently comprehensive.

“A political leader who wants to be the only voice of the people of Puerto Rico is very narrow minded because the voice of the Puerto Rican people can not distilled into a single political voice. It seems a bit arrogant to want to silence a voice of the Puerto Rican community in the U.S. who has worked for the Puerto Rican people, both here and there. Any person who represents Puerto Rico has to understand the dynamics of the community in the Diaspora.

“ The nation has a geographical and political boundary established in Puerto Rico. Upon Puerto Ricans leaving, the nation as an ideology goes with them. Puerto Ricans in the U.S. (going on now for  a third generation) have never ceased to be Puerto Ricans. The nation can not be framed in the Island. The nation lives in the Diaspora.

Among the allegations that Gutiérrez made on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives last February 16th and March 2nd , appear the unethical and politicized determinations of the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, José A. Fusté, imposing a gag order in a lawsuit against the Bar Association of Puerto Rico, which led to the imprisonment of the President of the Association, Osvaldo Toledo, due to his attempts to keep the members of the association informed. Gutiérrez also denounced the complicity of the New Progressive Party (PNP) administration in the violation the civil and human rights by the police of Puerto Rico against students and demonstrators at recent protests on the island. The violation of these rights have been characterized by the use of excessive force, including kicking, pepper spray, rubber bullets, sexual harassment by police officers, use of the Tactical Operations Division against unarmed demonstrators, violations of freedom of expression and association, among others.

Vanesa Baerga


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<!–:en–>Cause It Might Fade Away: Four Proposals about Retrieval and Closure<!–:–>

Posted on 30 March 2011 by alejandro

(Editor’s Note: The Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (IPRAC) opened Cause it might fade away on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 in celebration of International Women’s Day. The opening reception included an introduction from the exhibit’s curator, Brenda Torres, and poetry from Danette Sokacich, Johanny Vázquez Paz and Lourdes Matute.)

“Through the process of drawing these generic spaces, I am trying to recreate a very specific one. I am trying to rebuild my “home.” I make reference to the vibrant colors of the Caribbean tropic and the architectural details of houses I have lived in. I remake what I remember.”—Nora M. Nieves

It is not a coincidence that the artists convoked for this exhibition were all women, but also women artists born and raised in Puerto Rico that made the urban landscape of the cities of Chicago and New York their transitional residence. Inevitably, during that process they retrieved and reconstructed reminiscences of somewhat and someplace familiar, but some other times unrecognizable, called home.

The exhibition Cause it might fade away: four proposals about retrieval and closure at the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (IPRAC) captures four artists Nora Maite Nieves, Kristine Serviá, Marisol Plard Narváez, Migdalia Barens Vera and curator Brenda Torres Figueroa in an inevitable conversation about how personal memories, the passage of time and the idea of “home” are collected, addressed and can be reestablished as a universal human condition.

Each visual statement proposed for this exchange is embedded with subtle symbolism, very distinctive to each artist. Through mapping and haunting timelines without beginning or an end; through an assemblage of reconstructed grounds that allow us to recognize all the steps we made; through a contained shadow outlining an unfamiliar sight; though the last remembrance that assumes the shape of an abandoned garment that longs, transits and remains untouched.

The exhibition Cause it might fade away: four proposals about retrieval and closure is part of the commemoration of International Women’s Day at IPRAC and will be open to the public until the end of March 2011.

Brenda Torres


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&lt;!–:es–&gt;Boricuas en Chicago se solidarizan con la Universidad de Puerto Rico&lt;!–:–&gt;

Posted on 30 March 2011 by alejandro

Residentes de la ciudad de Chicago junto a egresados del sistema de la Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR) coincidieron en la actividad realizada en el Paseo Boricua el pasado 11 de marzo por el día mundial de solidaridad con la UPR. La misma consistió de un foro educativo sobre la situación universitaria actual y su contexto en el Puerto Rico de hoy. El propósito del foro fue educar a la comunidad sobre el contexto del Puerto Rico actual, las razones para realizar la huelga y las alternativas que han planteado los estudiantes a través del Comité de Representación Estudiantil (CRE).

Los panelistas fueron: el sociólogo, educador y catedrático de UNESCO, Dr. Manuel Torres Márquez, el sociólogo y abogado sindical, César Rosado; la recién graduada de la UPR y estudiante doctoral, Janitza Montalvo Ortiz; la abogada Jan Susler; y por videoconferencia, uno de los miembros del colectivo de Radio Huelga, Ricardo Olivero Lora. Además, se leyó un mensaje que envió Óscar López Rivera a los estudiantes de la UPR.

Al menos 16 ciudades, entre ellas Boston, Nueva York, Filadelfia, San Francisco, Santo Domingo, Amsterdam, Manchester, Madrid, Santiago de Compostela y Granada, participaron en esta iniciativa internacional en apoyo a los estudiantes puertorriqueños que luchan por defender la educación pública  accesible y de calidad contra las políticas neoliberales del gobierno de Luis Fortuño.

La fecha, además, conmemoró el 40 aniversario de uno de los días más sangrientos en la historia de la UPR. El 11 de marzo de 1971, en un Recinto de Río Piedras ocupado por la Policía de Puerto Rico, confrontaciones violentas segaron las vidas de dos policías y un estudiante. Apenas un año antes, durante una manifestación estudiantil, había muerto la estudiante Antonia Martínez Lagares a manos de un oficial de la Policía.

Vanesa Baerga


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<!–:en–>Presenting our BACCA Program to the Community<!–:–>

Posted on 30 March 2011 by alejandro

The Barrio, Arts, Culture, & Communications Academy (BACCA), por si no lo sabías, is a community-based after school program on Paseo Boricua.

The program was created in 2007 as an alternative way to reach Puerto Rican and Latina/o high school-aged youth in Humboldt Park. BACCA was also created to offer career skills to that population related to media and the arts as well as getting young people engaged in community activities.

BACCA’s five core group of students participate three days a week in classes of poetry, theater, civic engagement, and journalism. These courses are offered in order to build a successful future for our Latina/o youth within our community and to open up possibilities.

Throughout each week, we learn how to express ourselves, interact with our peers, and exercise our writing skills. Furthermore, we will be organizing community events and are currently producing a social marketing campaign on anti-underage drinking focused on alternative ways of dealing with the problems young people face.

You can find out more information about us by going to:

Kelvin Aponte, Corali Caro and Alexandra Mendoza


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&lt;!–:en–&gt;Norwegian Speaks Against Medicaid Cuts&lt;!–:–&gt;

Posted on 30 March 2011 by alejandro

A press conference organized by the Community of Wellness took place at Norwegian American Hospital on March 10th in response to the Governor’s proposed $552 million Medicaid cut to hospitals, nursing homes and other providers.  Such cuts will have a devastating impact on the health of hundreds of thousands.  Norwegian has been serving this community for over 115 years.  Cuts to Medicaid would devastate Norwegian and negatively impact the already dire health status of our community.  Please join us in Springfield on March 31st as we tell the Governor and our legislators to not cut Medicaid, call 773-772-8240 for more info.


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