The business of ‘New Age’

An Oakland shop called Psychic Reality is closing, but that doesn’t deter Akemi Weaver from the “New Age” business. She dreams of opening a shop selling crystals, wind chimes, dreamcatchers and other objects thought to come with a spiritual value beyond their retail price. But people will have their doubts, Weaver found. “It means I have to figure out how to make new age stuff relevant to more people.” More on Youth Radio.

Photographer to document Richmond’s bike culture

Josue Hernandez is a North Richmond resident working to beautify, teach and improve his community. Recently awarded the Neighborhood Public Art Mini Grant, he is challenging himself to capture the stories of 60 Richmond cyclists. More on Richmond Pulse.

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Chicago and Richmond each have Pullman Porter histories

Following the Civil War, African American men employed as “Pullman Porters” — railway employees who assisted passengers on Pullman company trains — founded the first black labor union and distributed black newspapers. As early advocates of civil rights, they are credited with improving conditions for the working class. While the Pullman neighborhood in Chicago was designated a national monument this week by President Obama, Richmond’s Pullman history remains less-known and in danger of fading from public memory. Ethel Dotson, a tenacious community advocate, has fought to have buildings in the Pullman Historic District preserved as landmarks, but restoration efforts have stalled. Read more of this story on Richmond Pulse.

New tastes in Boyle Heights

Boyle Heights is a hub of taco production. Carne asada, cabeza, chorizo; every stand offers the usual meat options. In this land of plenty, what makes a taco stand out?  Meanwhile, Viva Los Cupcakes has invented cupcakes with a Mexican flair, with flavors like tamale con mole and Margarita. And the Beat talked with owners of local spots that go beyond the average taco.  “[At first], locals didn’t come in because they were intimidated by the more affluent clientele the restaurant attracted. But things have changed, and the business now draws customers from Boyle Heights and all over the Los Angeles area.” The faces of the evolving food scene, on Boyle Heights Beat.

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After budget cuts, community wants to save arts education

After school programming helps to fill in for the Long Beach Unified School District, which has been forced to offer fewer courses in visual arts, music, dance, and drama. One local dance teacher uses hip-hop, Latin, modern, breakdancing, and contemporary dance to keep the art alive for children. He incorporates the historical and cultural background of each dance style to enhance students’ social knowledge beyond the dance steps. “We’ve turned the corner with the budget, and arts education in Long Beach is reemerging. This year we actually have started to add music back into the schools [where] we have previously suspended some programs…It’s much healthier than it has been in the last six years.” The story is on Voicewaves.

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Change Gon’ Come

‘Street Literature’, an award winning music video featuring RYSE youth, uses the power of narrative and counter-narrative to illuminate the pain felt by young people of color as judgment escaped those implicated in the deaths of young black men.

“Change Con’ Come” is a follow up video focusing on young people’s struggles to make changes in their own lives and avoid the fate of others like them during encounters with the police. “As a community member, it’s important to show we have the ability to change society’s perception of us. As a director, I feel it’s important to show what young people see everyday. In this way, my work addresses the question, ‘How can you be down for change if you don’t know what needs to be changed?’ Change Gon’ Come addresses how we plan to change within ourselves to help change others.” This video is the latest from the RYSE Center.

More high schools serving breakfast in the classroom

Breakfast in the Classroom is a Los Angeles program that provides food for kids in the classroom during morning hours. The program is part of a national effort to increase participation in school food programs by families who qualify for reduced-price meals but aren’t taking advantage of them. Eighty percent of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District live below the poverty line, and many of them are skipping meals; studies show that children who don’t consume enough calories can’t focus well in class. Read what students and teachers are saying about the program, on Boyle Heights Beat.

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When parents can no longer parent

When Hank Rugg was 16, his father had a stroke that caused severe repercussions. Whereas before he was an authoritative figure, both critical and supportive, now Hank’s father needs some help from his son. “Sitting in his electric wheelchair… my dad still tries to be the one guiding me… Except now, I cringe talking about my challenges, because my dad isn’t able to help me anymore.” A personal story of the complicated dynamics that happen when parents go from caretakers to needing care, on Youth Radio.

Paying for community college

President Obama’s proposal to cover three-quarters of the average tuition of community college for qualifying students excited many young people, but they know it’s not a catch-all. “For me and my friends, Financial Aid in the form of Pell Grants, already covers tuition and some transportation.  What we’re struggling with is paying for other  basic necessities while we go to school.” What do you do when free tuition is still too expensive? Listen on Youth Radio.

Reflections on friendship and immigration in the tech era

Traveling to her parent’s home state of Oaxaca gave Elsa Mejia a chance to test the potential of social media to preserve friendships across borders. While observing the minimum effort with which friends can use online social networks to stay in touch, she recognized that some distances can’t be bridged by technology alone. “Staying in touch and maintaining friendships with people who still live in México today — even with all the communication tools available — is a choice we don’t all make… For those of us who do choose to learn more about our parents’ native land, it can instill a sense of pride and belonging — and it becomes easier to understand our families, their customs and traditions.” Read her commentary on The Know.

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