On Saturday, Sept. 24, Alianza was excited to revive a tradition from back when we were known as Building Healthy Communities by hosting an informal opportunity to hear from community members and share updates on our work.
We are calling them Community Chats, or Charlas Comunitarias in Spanish, and this first one was held at the Coachella Library. Others will take place around the Eastern Coachella Valley in the coming months.
Each event will be a space for community members to learn about Alianza’s recent campaign activities, such as events being planned by our Youth Organizing Council, the Environmental Justice Campaign’s attention on communities around the Salton Sea, and the Community Justice Campaign’s efforts to expand restorative justice and improve the learning environment in area schools.
Just as important is the opportunity the chats create for people to share experiences that inform our work and to see how they can become part of the change.
Special Projects Manager Joel Hernandez gives an overview of Alianza’s work.
Saturday’s event brought a large youth turn out. Several of them shared about the issues they see in their communities and schools, and as a group we discussed actions to address their concerns.
Issues covered included the lack of local infrastructure and the lack of awareness of school resources like the Wellness Centers in Coachella Valley Unified School District schools, something our Community Justice Campaign and YO-C members long advocated for.
Community members and Alianza staff sit in a circle and discuss how to address issues.
Alianza Executive Director Silvia Paz said: “We are often led to believe that there is no funding but the truth is, there is funding. What there is a lack of is direction in how to use that funding.”
The Community Chats are supported with funding from the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation. The next event is planned for November in Thermal.