Making time for your story

Making time for your story

“…how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children, because all I had read where books in which characters were foreign I had become convinced that books by their very nature had to have foreigners in them and had to be about things which I could not personally identify.  Now things changed when I discovered African books…” –Chimamanda Adichie

This morning I discovered Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Adichie, via a TED video where she speaks at length about the danger of the single story.  The single story is not inclusive of all perspectives, dis-empowers and results in unfair assumptions and/or portrayals about cultures and people.  I know all too well the value and importance of telling my story.  Its a discovery, that took me through a process–that sometimes angered or caused pain–as I came to terms with it in creative writing classes in college.
Chimamanda’s message resonates and reminds me why six years ago I agreed to collaborate on a monthly open mic event that would eventually evolve into a multi-media project  that includes this website.  At the time I had also committed to another labor of love–I had opened a small independent bookshop that carried books that reflected my story.  So, I have had a firm grasp of that lesson for some time now.

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10.10.10 Domingo Newsbytes

Hard to focus on the news today, my friend Anita ran the Chicago Marathon and I was much too excited about tracking her progress.  Running is her passion and in addition to family and work commitments, in the last year she carved out time to train for today.  She’s definitely inspired me to indulge in my own artistic interests, set some goals and pursue some creative marathons of my own–these also happen to align with an ongoing dialogue I’ve been having recently with Diana and Coya about creative goals for 2011.  I will be sure to keep you posted.

Creative marathons are not new to me.  In 2010 I was honored to partake in hours of collaboration with the wonderful El Stitch y Bitch for the creation of a knitted and crocheted altar dedicated to our crafty ancestors.  The groups collaboration is the cover story of the November issue of Cafe–the story is not linkable yet so if you want to read it you have to pick up a hard copy of the magazine.  I usually find a free copy at Pilsen restaurants and/or cafe’s.

I was pleasantly surprised to see another Proyecto Latina favorite, Monique Frausto in that issue, she’s part of a story about Latinos reconnecting with their language and heritage.  And there is also a wonderful article on Concha Buika, that recounts a childhood memory that still haunts her, but taught her to seize the moment each and every time she takes the stage.

A random an interesting tid-bit about Google and the word Latina.  I know I’ve turned up questionable searches that include the word Latina in their name.

Seriously? Dear JLO, I’m going to tune-in but for the record I’m uncomfortable and resisting the Latina nanny concept.

Perhaps the life of Alicia Amador, could one day inspire a leading character on prime time tv.  According to Windy City Times, Amador passed away last Thursday of cancer–”her greatest legacy was the impact she had on children and families in the Pilsen community.”  Amador was a staff member at Mujeres Latinas en Accion and founding member of Amigas Latinas.

Finally, I’m counting down for the next Proyecto Latina on Monday, October 18th.  Kansas City poet, Linda Rodriguez will be sharing poetry and a piece title, We’ve Been Here All Along: 13 Ways of Looking at Latinos in the Midwest. I’ve gotten a sneak peek at the work she is sharing and I have to tell you its going to be a special treat. Plan to join us!

I leave you with a first in a series of short films, a project by Proyecto Latina friend and fellow artist extraordinaire, Ricardo Gamboa–who is always on creative marathons.  His most recent project focuses on concerns over immigration issues.

10.03.10 Domingo Newsbytes

Last night between trying to soothe my sore throat and listen to the cold rain tapping on my window I began to reflect on the week. The highlight was hearing anchor/reporter Soledad O’Brien give the keynote speech at the Chicago Foundation for Women Luncheon. The room was packed with 2,000 women from all walks of life and there was such a wonderful buzz of excitement.

During the speeches, a bird made it into the dining area. I watched it zig-zag throughout the room and hoped it wouldn’t poop on my head. Thankfully, it didn’t! When the event was over I left feeling inspired! Another person that inspired me this week was a former student of Irasema’s. We ran into her coming out of the Connie’s Pizza. She told us with a beaming smile that she has graduated school and was attending college. She was part of Poetics, a writing group of young girls from the Back of the Yards neighborhood, Irasema had mentored some years back.  For me, it is a joy to see the impact that Irasema has made on these young women.

This week I also encountered a challenge that left me disenchanted. The lesson I walked away with is don’t assume your community will step up to the plate and advocate for you, your art or your team. This is where the opportunity to educate and encourage advocacy for others comes into play. I feel that if we can’t do this within our own communities we’re screwed especially when we are working on projects outside of our communities.  I’m sure that one day I will be able to write about this experience and lesson in more detail.

One of the things that I’m looking forward to this month is the arrival of poet Linda Rodriguez from Kansas City. We have the honor of featuring her on Monday, October 18th so we hope you will come out and listen to her wonderful work. Read more about Linda…

In the news this week…I was delighted to turn on the TV and see journalists Achy Obejas and Teresa Puente on Chicago Tonight talking about Latino politics. As I watched them on TV I felt so proud to see them share their insights on who is expected to run for mayor from the Latino community. It occurred to me during their conversation that no Latinas are running for mayor. I wondered if during my lifetime I would ever see a Latina or even another woman as mayor of Chicago? Hopefully, someone will step up to the plate soon. See what Teresa and Achy had to say…

Speaking of journalists, Latina Lista pointed out this week in her post “New York Times reporter violates trust of undocumented immigrant in interview” how Reporter Kirk Semple recently wrote an article  “Mexican New Yorkers Are Steady Force in Workplace” and put these undocumented workers and their families at risk by revealing too much information about where they reside. In my opinion, as journalist he should know better than to break the trust of his interviewee who is doing him a favor by allowing him to even interview him in the first place.

That’s all for now. I’m keeping things short this week. I’m on my way to moderate a panel on a topic near and dear to my heart and with three amazing fellow artists:

Latinas telling their stories through the arts Sun. Oct. 3, 2010, 2-3  p.m.  The focus of this discussion is Latinas telling their stories through the arts and what impact it has on them as artists as well as what we can do as a community of women in the arts to support creative visions and generate new work to tell our stories. Audience Q&A included. Panelists: Desiree Castro, writer,  Thelma Uranga, fiber arts, Laura Vergara, artist. Held at Catedral Cafe, 2500 S. Christiana.

We welcome any thoughts and/or comments. Have a great week and if you have links of news articles you want to share please send them to info@proyectolatina.org

09.26.10 Domingo Newsbytes

09.26.10 Domingo Newsbytes

After a very intense summer I decided it was necessary to “disconnect” in order to re-energize.  So, I took time to enjoy that gorgeous Harvest moon and rejoice over the arrival of my favorite season.  This weekend as I got back onto social networking sites and answered non-work related emails I began to discover all the wonderful projects taking place this fall.

The week ahead is full of activities for Proyecto Latina, you can catch up with Diana and me next weekend at the Little Village Arts Festival (LVAF).

  • LVAF Opening Night Fri., Oct. 1, 2010, 7-9 PM.  Proyecto Latina is part of the evening’s line-up, we are honored to be participating again this year, we will have the following ladies paying literary homage their La Villita roots: Desiree Castro, N. Reyna Amaya and Irasema Gonzalez. Location: Universidad Popular, 801 South Hamlin Avenue.
  • Latinas telling their stories through the arts Sun. Oct. 3, 2010, 2-3  p.m.  The focus of this discussion is Latinas telling their stories through the arts and what impact it has on them as artists as well as what we can do as a community of women in the arts to support creative visions and generate new work to tell our stories. Audience Q&A included. Panelists: Desiree Castro, writer,  Thelma Uranga, fiber arts, Laura Vergara, artist. Moderator: Diana Pando. Held at Catedral Cafe, 2500 S. Christiana.
Earlier in the week you can catch Diana Pando on another panel:
  • Art as a means to resist: Talk-back with Latino/a artist, Sept. 29, 12:30-2:30 p.m. Part of Malcom X’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, 1900 W. Van Buren, Cultural Center. Panel includes: Diana Pando, Proyecto Latina, Edith Bucio, and Segundas Productions.

image by Thelma Uranga

We also want to let you know about our other Proyecto Latina member Thelma Uranga–she shares with us the photo to the right, taken earlier in the week when she and Jessica Phillips  took El Stitch y Bitch to La Casita at Whittier Elementary in Pilsen.   In a gesture of solidarity they brought knitting supplies, gave lessons and shared a way to pass the time as the waiting continues in a stand-off to save the field house from demolition and have it turned into an adequate school library.

The Whittier sit-in has gone past its tenth day and officials have confirmed that the building will not be demolished without a third assessment.   The parent sit-in continues and mom’s are adamant that they, “don’t want fake grass. They want books.“  Anne Elizabeth Moore at Vocalo,  shares the perspective of nine year-old Monica who is accompanying her mother at La Casita sit-in, she is a fourth grader that says, “I love to read.”

Very reminiscent of the 2001 hunger strike to have the Little Village/Lawndale High School built, it saddens me that almost ten years later these extreme measures still have to be taken  to ensure proper education resources for our community.

In a different fight for justice, Esperanza Medina made the news two years ago as an acid assault victim.  This week she removed veils that have concealed her face and injuries and stepped out publicly to share the story of her lengthy recovery.  She plans on wearing a sleeveless dress and pulling her hair back to reveal all scars when she attends court next week where she will confront her alleged attackers.

Chika A Day by Naomi Martinez.

Another woman who flipped the tables from victim to victor was Ingrid Betancourt.   She details the story of her kidnapping and six and a half years in captivity in a new book.

Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa shares that, “violence in Mexico is connected to vast shipments of weapons from the United States.“  She also points out that there are no links between high crime rates in and immigration.

On a way lighter note, some  final side-note items:

Ely Guerra‘s most recent Chicago concert was last night, in an interview with Jose Luis Benavides for Gozamos, she shies away from talking about future plans but ultimately shares that future creative pursuits include food and perfume, Guerra says, “Making perfume is like making music.”

For Hispanic Heritage Month, Amor Montes de Oca, from Arte y Vida Chicago will be Tony Sarabia’s guest for October 1 edition of Radio M for a  survey of Hispanic Legacy.

Artist Naomi Martinez is ten days into a self-imposed  30 day challenge, where she posts a doodle of her trademark Monstrochikas daily through Oct. 17th.  In today’s post Naomi announced that she will be also be conducting an art workshop for next week’s Little Village Art Festival where she will show attendees how to make felt plush animals–she promises to post details for that soon.

Finally, remember to save-the-date and join us the third Monday in October for Proyecto Latina reading series.  Our out-of-town guest of honor is the intensely fierce poet, Linda Rodriguez.  Get the full scoop of event details here.

09.18.2010 Doming Newsbytes

09.18.2010 Doming Newsbytes

This week I was fortunate to be come across so many dynamic women. My first encounter came when I did a communication’s training for the Women of Power housed inside the Cook County Sheriff’s office. They provide services to women that have just been released from prison. The women ranged from 19 to 62 years old and they were all trying to improve the quality of their lives and also inspire others going through similar situations to do the same.

A few days later I ran into Irene Tostado from the IL Resource Net. She is one of the organizers for the conference I was attending for nonprofits to get federal funding. That same day I ran into Olivia Sanchez, executive director, of Project Vida. Her organization provides preventive education and direct services to people with HIV/AIDS.

Than I get a wonderful Facebook message from actor/writer Stephanie Diaz Reppen letting us know that she is on her third draft of The Quetzal she said, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for breathing life into its writer”. All of these women I’m happy to say are either in a masters program or are in the process of getting into one. What strikes me about all of these women is that they are all telling their stories or their organizations and leading the way trying to improve the quality of their lives and their communities. With this in mind we hope all of you remember to create your own opportunities.

Paloma Martinez & Aaron Michael Morales

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend Strong and Chata, an art show organized, by Paloma Martinez in the Pilsen neighborhood. What struck me about her performance piece which included a boxing ring, beer cans and little jars to blow bubbles was the competing narratives between her and the character Juan Bob. I felt really proud of her because not only did she organize a whole art show that included the work of local artists but she also stepped out of her comfort zone and performed this piece. Again the lesson here is to create your own opportunities for yourself and others.

This week the ladies of Proyecto Latina also had a busy week:

Thelma and Irasema were on Eight Forty-Eight talking about their Día de los Muertos Alter.  Listen to the interview.

The lovely and talented Coya Paz was part of Paper Machete listen to the podcast.

I also had the chance to do a guest post for the 3 six and 5 project based on the walk I took on 18th street. Check it out!

Yolanda Cardenas is working on a soon to be unveiled musical collaboration with…??? We hope we can share her good news with you soon!

We hope this will inspire Latinas in the arts and other sectors to tell their stories. There’s a lot of great work being done in are communities and Latinas are definitely leading the way.

Next month we have the honor of featuring Kansas City poet Linda Rodriguez! She’s a powerhouse poet that will be reading from her book “Heart’s Migration”. Read more…

Here are your Domingo Newsbytes:


This week Mexico had its 200th B-Day Celebration. In case you missed it on TV check out this wonderful photo narrative of the celebration featuring highlights from the event.

Poet Julia de Burgos has been recognized by the U.S. Postal service with a 44- cent stamp. She was an award-winning writer, journalist  and  a celebrated Puerto Rican poet.

“We want it turned into a library, that’s what we want,” said Araceli Gonzalez. She is one of the parents doing a sit in at the Wittier school to protest the demolition of a building adjacent to the main building.

Early detection of cancer is key for Latinas to fight cancer. Pink Pearls of Hope is an initiative that promotes early detection. Learn more about early detection.

Even though Día de los Muertos is a few weeks away the annual Día de los Muertos show is in full swing and one piece that sticks out is the altar by Patricia Carlos honoring the women of the Mexican Independence and revolution.

US Treasurer Rosie Rios will be one of the women speaking at this year’s Smart Money Smart Women. The event includes breakout sessions on managing money. Register today for this event. It’s Free!

Don’t forget Proyecto Latina needs your help! Have story ideas or come across an article about Latinas or an issue that impacts our community? Send us your suggestions to info@proyectolatina.org. Feel free to also comment on our posts we’d love to hear from you. You can follow us on Twitter @proyectolatina

Have a great week everyone! –Diana Pando