On Dec. 2, 2017, UCLA Luskin Master of Urban and Regional Planning students Alexander Salgado and Ana Kobara joined with UCLA undergraduate mentees Audree Hsu and Sophie Go as part of the UCLA Luskin Food Mentorship program to participate in a volunteer effort with Food Forward. Food Forward is a nonprofit organization that works with multiple farmer’s markets in Los Angeles to collect donated food from vendors to pass along to organizations in need of fresh food. Throughout the day, the students walked a farmer’s market in Hollywood and delivered empty boxes to vendors that could fill them with produce. For the day, the student volunteers collected and organized more than 1,700 pounds of food, which was then delivered or picked up by various organizations in need. “The experience in itself was very rewarding,” Salgado said. “It was nice to see vendors so eager and willing to help others.”
As part of the Mental Health and Public Child Welfare Lecture series, Laura Delano, founder and executive director of Inner Compass Initiative (ICI), visited UCLA Luskin on Nov. 16 to discuss her efforts to reclaim care from the “psychiatric-pharmaceutical industrial complex.” Through the ICI, Delano has worked to provide information and resources to facilitate more informed choices regarding all things mental health. Speaking to her experiences as an ex-psychiatric patient, Delano said, “I fully embraced the mental health system and my diagnosis when I was so hopeless for a solution to the pain. I thought maybe if I embrace this diagnosis and do everything the doctor says, I will be able to survive.” Delano suggested that the system must change the way it portrays mental illness as being in opposition to “normalcy” in order to put an end to patients feeling ostracized because of their medical diagnoses. Click below to view a Flickr album of photos from the lecture by Bryce Carrington.
UCLA Luskin Urban and Regional Planning master’s degree candidate Ribeka Toda has received the $10,000 Myra L. Frank Memorial Scholarship for women pursuing career paths in transportation. “Each fatal crash I had ever analyzed in a database had a mother, a father, a child, a dear friend. As a transportation planner, I feel a deep sense of responsibility that we have not done enough,” said Toda of her motivation to focus primarily on roadway safety. Martin Wachs, distinguished professor emeritus of urban planning at UCLA Luskin, described Toda as an exemplary student whose dedication to improving public safety in transportation goes beyond solely an interest in the technical field, but also as a vital public service.
Maria Elena Chávez’s presence at the screening of “Dolores,” a documentary depicting the life and legacy of civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, sent a powerful message about generational activism and fostering change within minority communities. The political landscape of Huerta’s generation, where there were fights for basic human rights of farm workers, is not so different from today, Chávez said about her mother’s efforts. As the film depicts, marginalized immigrant farmworkers living in poverty were able to organize and fight for their rights, benefitting generations to come. Huerta, now 87, was at the heart of this movement, demanding respect, fair wages and access to clean water on the job. Chávez described her mother as “unstoppable” and “passionate” as she has continued to make an impact in her community after leaving the Unified Farm Workers Movement organization and creating the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Chávez also discussed her mother’s impact on her life and professional choices as a political filmmaker and civil rights activist. “It’s in my blood,” said Chávez, who is the daughter of Huerta and Richard Chavez, the brother of César Chávez. She also spoke of the challenges of growing up in a politically active family and adversities she faced because of her mother’s dedication to the civil rights movement while raising 11 children. “Maria Elena Chavez’s visit to UCLA provided a direct appeal to join the movement for justice,” said Sonja Diaz, director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, which co-sponsored the event. “The political landscape that mobilized farmworkers to demand respect, fair wages and workplace access to restrooms and water is not too different from today’s crisis of inequality. As the film ‘Dolores’ makes clear, farmworkers and countless other U.S. workers living in poverty have the skills to organize, and those of us with means have the obligation to support.”
UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura served as host and master of ceremonies for a Nov. 13, 2017, lecture and discussion by the minister of defense of the Republic of Armenia, Vigen Sargsyan. “The cultural connections between the Republic of Armenia and the city of Los Angeles are deep,” Segura said at the noontime talk at the Luskin Conference Center. Noting that Los Angeles is home to the largest Armenian community in the world outside of the boundaries of the former Soviet Union, Segura added, “Armenians are a cultural, economic and political force in the city and in the region, and are an important presence here at UCLA.” Sargsyan was appointed defense minister in 2016 following a career in public service and education. He spoke about his own education related to public policy and offered insights into the challenges and goals of policymaking, providing a view of the geopolitics from his homeland south of the Caucasus Mountains region of Southwest Asia — a crossroads with ancient historical and cultural roots. During a Q&A that followed, Sargsyan talked about his country’s relationships with neighboring countries, military service in Armenia, economic development and environmental concerns in his nation.
The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and the UCLA Food Studies Certificate Program hosted a panel discussion on Nov. 7, 2017, about the community and health benefits of urban farming for the veteran population. The discussion, titled “Breaking Bread: Community Building with Veterans and Farming,” included moderator Kris Skinner, a retired Army captain and UCLA alumnus; physician Peter Capone-Newton MA UP ’09, PhD ’13 of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Mick Deluca, assistant vice chancellor, UCLA Campus Life; Jeremy Samson, a military veteran and urban farmer; and Julie Sardonia, program director for Veteran Farmers of America. A reception at La Kretz Garden Pavilion in the UCLA Botanical Gardens preceded the panel discussion, which focused on efforts to revitalize a 14-acre garden on the U.S. Veteran Affairs campus in West Los Angeles. Learn about our Off the Table series or read about previous sessions. Access a Flickr gallery below.