As a young Hispanic, I know that there are many reasons why I need to vote and have my voice heard. With the midterm elections coming up, this is an important time for me to do my part and help shape our nation into what I want it to be.
Read informative and heartwarming stories from our local Community Reporters while they are out and about in their communities. Want to learn more contact Postmaster@AccessSacramento.org
On Wednesday, July 12th, Sol Collective hosted a film screening of the Netflix documentary “They Call Us Monsters” The film features three boys, Jarad Nava, Juan Gamez, and Antonio Hernandez, who are all facing life sentences for murder or attempted murder and work together to write a screenplay about their lives before they were incarcerated.
The screening at Sol Collective was so filled with people Wednesday night that some of the audience had to stand up in the back of the room just to watch the documentary.
Despite the moments of comic relief in the film, it appeared difficult for some viewers to grasp the severity of the boys’ crimes until the trial at the end of the film. Nava was sentenced to 200 years-to-life, Gamez was sentenced to 90 years-to-life, and Hernandez was also sentenced to 90 years-to-life at the age of 14.
“If they tell me I’m never going to get out again I don’t know what I’m going to do,” 16-year-old Nava said in the film. “There’s nothing to look forward to, there’s no hope.”
The film addresses a very serious question regarding criminal justice: should minors be charged as adults for serious crimes?
A young woman named Yesenia was confined to a wheelchair for the rest her life after Nava shot her in the back during a drive by shooting.
“When they arrested him, I was relieved,” Yesenia said in the documentary. “I don’t want him to be dead or anything, I just want him to pay the price.”
Yesenia said she didn’t want Nava to spend the rest of his life in prison– just fifty years or so.
Anti-Recidivism Coalition member Carlos Cervantes, who participated in a discussion after the film, has first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to be in a prison like the boys were–in fact, he was once in the very same one.
“We see these kids and we’re laughing but these kids have no choice but to thug it out,” Cervantes said after recalling his own experiences before he joined ARC.
Outside of the film and the screening, Nava had an interview with PBS from prison and said he’s become “a better man”.
“I’ve since chosen to leave the criminal lifestyle in my past and serve my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Nava said. “I haven’t done drugs in three years [as] opposed to getting high every day. I got married to a beautiful amazing woman and we have two daughters, one’s three, the second a [little] over one year.”
According to a recent article by LiveScience, most cases of opioid abuse in teenagers began with prescription opioids from a doctor. The study cites that 85 percent of the surveyed group of teenagers that had abused both prescription and injection drugs said they abused prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, before moving to heroin an average of two years later.
Beyond the national scale, prescription drug abuse has become a domestic issue for the Sacramento region as well.
“OxyContin made its way [to the Sacramento region] maybe seven years ago,” said John Daily, founder and clinical director of Recovery Happens Counseling Services, in a recent Sac Magazine article. “Suddenly overnight half of our clients became opiate addicts.”
One reason for prescription opioid addicts switching to heroin and street opiates is the steep cost of OxyContin, Vicodin and other prescription painkillers.
“When Oxy became harder and harder to use, it became about easy access to heroin,” said Daily.
“The only time I ever saw [someone start using heroin after using prescription opioids] was somebody who did prescription painkillers every day and it got too expensive, essentially,” said resident August Garvin. “When people actually develop a legitimate addiction to prescription painkillers, it gets too pricey […] and [they] can’t get an excuse from the doctor anymore.”
Teenagers, at a hormonal and emotionally turbulent time in life, can sometimes see drugs as a solution to their problems.
“I was depressed […] so I think I was lashing out,” said Zoe Sanchez. “That was what made me experiment with [nonmedical use of prescription opioids].”
The danger also extends beyond just that of opiate use. According to a Sacramento Health and Human Services Public Health Warning, a dozen overdoses from an opioid called fentanyl were reported in Sacramento county within the timespan of approximately two days leading up to March 25th, 2016. The report describes fentanyl as “odorless and colorless”, and links the cases of overdose to the lacing of fentanyl with street tablets of Norco, a popular prescription opioid and an easy street marketing target for patients addicted to prescription Norco or other opioids.
While not all prescriptions result in addiction, caution should always be used with prescription opioids, and street-sold painkillers should be avoided at all costs. The road to heroin is not brightly lit, though unfortunately it seems to be well-traveled.
The “Art Street” exhibition is bringing crowds of people to an old warehouse at 300 1st Ave in Sacramento, where local artists have set up installations and interactive galleries for a nearly month-long presentation in continuation of the “Art Hotel” event of last year. The exhibition opened on February 3rd and will continue through February 25th, open Monday through Friday from 3pm to 9pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 9pm, closing later many nights for special events listed on their website. Attendance is first-come, first-serve, and even those who make limited reservations are advised to arrive at least 30 minutes before their reservation slot.
In an old warehouse off of Broadway Avenue, local Sacramento artists have set up interactive exhibitions and installations, bringing a new creative life to the city.
Featuring displays from over 100 artists, the Art Street gallery event opened to the public on February 3rd and will run until February 25th in the warehouse at 300 1st Avenue, Sacramento, CA. The exhibition is open Monday – Friday from 3pm to 9pm and Saturday – Sunday from 11am to 9pm.
The official website notes that the warehouse may stay open past closing hours for special evening events. These events include musical and theatrical performances, many taking place in the West End Club venue within the warehouse itself.
The event is a continuation of last year’s Art Hotel presentation, also organized by the M5 Arts collective.
“I think Art Street is a little bit above and beyond,” an attendant of both Art Hotel and Art Street said of the differences between the events. “It’s more interactive, and it’s a bigger space and a bigger venue.”
Due to the popularity of Art Street and the limited space within the warehouse, slots to enter the warehouse are given on a first-come, first-serve basis. A limited number of reservations are also offered on their website, linked above.
The success of the event is a positive sign for the future of artists as a whole in Sacramento.
“I think it’s growing stronger and stronger every year,” an Art Street attendant said of the Sacramento arts scene. “I think the Art Hotel last year made a huge impact on our community. It’s still bringing people in and people are still talking about it.”
People can be just like tomatoes. Gardeners know that if tomatoes are planted in the same soil over and over again, they will not grow. The soil lacks nutrients, and minerals, and is unable to sustain life. Even if the little plant grows, it only gets so big before it withers away. Would anyone grow if they were to be “planted” on the same “soil” over and over again?
According to reports by the Prison Policy Initiative, a criminal justice organization, inmates made about $19,185 per year before they went to prison and people who make little money have a much greater chance to be incarcerated than those who are considered higher-earners. Almost 2 million children have parents that are incarcerated, and about half of those kids are 9 or younger. Many people wonder how families with one parents missing from the household provide a nurturing environment for their children. Has there been any change in the “system” in the last few years to address this? Will there be any changes in the next couple of years?
To some students that are about to enter the working class, they do not at all see themselves as potential inmates.
“My plan after high school is to go to college. No, I don’t see myself in prison because I don’t intend to do bad things,” says Allicia Lee, a John F. Kennedy senior who’s graduating in June of this year. Prison is not an option to some because they were raised in an environment that who focuses are learning. Many high school graduates intend to continue on the path of educations in college, not crime.
Another senior that will be graduating this June believe that he will not go to prison. However, he does see himself in prison when thinking about it.
“I would sometimes imagine myself in prison when coming across the subject of prison,” says Andy Zhao of John F. Kennedy high school. To him prison is like a shadow lurking from the behind, waiting for the right opportunity.
To others, however, it can be seen as the ground they live on. They live in low-income neighborhoods, which lacks in quality educational options, making the youth who live there all the more susceptible to turn to crime. Their parents are prison inmates, making life much harder without a “model” to follow.
People can survive in these conditions, but will the children ever have any hope to prosper?
The Yisrael Family Farm is offering cooking classes for seniors, families, and teenagers in February, March, and April at the Oak Park Community Center on 3425 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
The class are free to attend and offers multiple time slots for each age group, aiming at ease and accessibility for the general public.
“The type of audience I hope to see at the class is the kind that eats,” says cofounder Judith Yisrael. “I’m looking forward to meeting people who are ready and willing to try new foods and are not afraid to be pushed outside their comfort zone.”
The Yisrael Family Farm was founded by husband and wife team Judith and Chanowk Yisrael in 2007 and is based in the Oak Park area of South Sacramento. The farm was created in part, according the website, in response to the declaration of Oak Park and nearby areas as a ‘food desert’, what the U.S. Department of Agriculture declares as “a low-income census tract where either a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store”.
The farm, run by Chanowk, Judith and their children, now has over 40 fruit trees and free-roaming chickens. Since its inception, Yisrael’s have founded programs and community outreach efforts, such as We Diggit Urban Gardens, aimed at building gardens for South Sacramento residents at no cost through funding from the California Endowment, and Project GOOD (Growing Our Own Destiny), an educational outreach program for youth field trips and hands-on events. Project GOOD is also the program through which the upcoming cooking classes will be run.
In addition to specific recipes and dishes, the class will teach food safety, nutrition, and basic cooking technique. Each different class will also cater to their respective audience.
“The series for seniors will focus on delicious meals and snacks that won’t take too much time while Family Night Out series will bring families together in the kitchen and focus on teamwork and collaboration,” Judith told Access Sacramento. “Our TGIF Teens will focus on great tasting easy to make meal ideas, such as our Three Sister Tacos and homemade pico de gallo!”
The Seniors Group will be meeting Tuesdays from 10:30am – 12:30pm on February 7th and 21st, March 7th and 21st, and April 4th and 18th.
The Families Night Out group meets Wednesdays from 5pm – 7pm on February 1st and 15th, March 1st, 15th, and 29th, April 12th, 19th, and 26th.
Lastly, the Teen Scene group will be meeting on Fridays from 5pm – 7pm on February 10th and 24st, March 10th and 24th, and April 14th, 21st, and 28th.
The question of who will lead the world of tomorrow might not be as clear cut but it’s a question many have tried to answer. Young people will be the one to take the torch once the older generation retired. Are the youth of the Sacramento prepared to make changes?
Sacramento has unveiled new resources to help support cyclists ride their bikes safely and easily through the city. A ‘Bikeway User Map’ highlighting the various bike routes in and around Sacramento has been released in conjunction with a safety and general information class titled ‘Urban Bicycling 101’.
“It began with Councilman Steve Hansen’s proposition of the Bicycle Diversion Program, that required some cited for bicycling on the sidewalk to take a bicycle education class,” Active Transportation Specialist and class instructor Jennifer Donlon Wyant told Access Sacramento. “We wanted to expand the class and broaden cycling education to the entire city.”
The Urban Bicycling 101 Class teaches guidelines and the laws for safe cycling through the metropolitan areas of Sacramento. The classes are taught in-classroom on the second Thursday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm and each class can be registered for individually through the Urban Bicycling Class section of the Sacramento Bicycling Program page.
“I’m not an avid cyclist, but I did learn a lot from this class about the resources that are available,” said one attendant of the class. “It was important basic information about being a cyclist.”
The map was provided to Urban Bicycling 101 participants during the class. It is easy-to-read and contains helpful information both for navigating Sacramento’s bike-friendly paths as well as staying safe and following proper cyclist protocol. On the first page is a broad overview of the bike lanes in blue, bikeways in purple and off-street paths highlighted in orange within the city limits, and even includes a few major streets leading out of the city into places like West Sacramento, Elk Grove, and the Executive Airport. The second page details the denser Downtown and Midtown grid areas, marking the directions of one-way streets with directional arrows. This page also contains helpful illustrations detailing information about hand signs, proper ways to be detected by a traffic signal, safety tips and regulations.
For those not attending the class, the map is available on the city’s bike page as a PDF and in physical form in the coffee shop on the ground floor of City Hall, or at Bicycle Advisory Committee meetings in City Hall, Room 1119.
According to local Sacramento television station KCRA, there were nearly 300 bicycle collisions and 8 bicycle fatalities reported in the county between January 1st and May 20th of 2016. Memorials in the form of ghost bikes have appeared over the years in some of the city’s busiest intersections where deadly incidents have taken lives.
“I think the dangers are that vehicle drivers are not always paying attention to where bicyclists are, and on the flip side a lot of bicyclists aren’t necessarily following all the rules,” the class attendant elaborated.
With the announcement of these programs coming only two months after the opening of the Golden 1 Center in the downtown area, the city may be looking to prevent more collisions and fatalities, and to keep Sacramento a bicycle-friendly city.
For the past few months I’ve been working for Access local.TV as a neighborhood news correspondent. Although the experience was short lived, I can certainly say that the skills that I’ve gained from working here and the people I’ve met have really helped me to branch out my abilities as a content creator.
Prior to my time here I had no real world experience as a journalist outside of school. I was very shy to simply show up to a place or an event as part of the media. I wasn’t comfortable with capturing footage or photography of the event and interviewing key participants in the story. But since working as a journalist for access local, I’ve become incredibly more comfortable with being on the scene and more confident as a journalist. On top of that I’ve also written many articles and have continued to do what it is that I do best, which is producing and editing videos.
Some of my favorite articles that I’ve written the past couple of months are the Boys and Men of Color, RYSE: Film Festival, and my personal thoughts on what’s important about voting to name a few. These were important to me because it felt great to write about something of real significance in my community. Being able to learn how to strengthen my writing skills as I produced these articles was a great lesson for me.
Although I still have much to master in the realm of writing, just being able to say that I have experience in journalism is important to me and to my resume. As for any advice that I would give to any future neighborhood news correspondents, I would say to always give your best effort in every written work or video made, as each piece reflects who you are as a creator or as a digital media producer.