Streaming Our Stories

The LA River was once a center of community in our region. From the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach, the river was a vital source of life for indigenous tribes, who established thriving villages along the water. 

Today, we often overlook the paved river as we pass it on our commutes, but I think that we can restore the LA River to what it once was: a place to connect with nature and community. With this vision in mind, I met with local artists to discuss opportunities in creative fields in Southeast LA (SELA).  This team of artists conceptualized a community event on the LA River to give artists a platform to showcase their work.

These efforts eventually led to the SELA Arts Festival. Over the last two years, this event has brought thousands together to celebrate art, music, and culture. This year, that same team of artists is using their creative talents to bring the festival to our homes.

The virtual 2020 SELA Arts Festival will be an interactive event with a virtual art gallery, as well as performances, spoken word, and vendors. This year’s festival theme, Streaming Our Stories, is all about the individual and collective stories of the SELA community in relation to the river and current events.

Since many of us feel isolated during this time, I think it’s especially important to reflect and celebrate our community and our stories. I hope you can join us in celebrating on August 1st from 4 – 8 p.m.

For more information about the SELA Arts Festival, please follow us:



SELA Arts Festival - Streaming Our Stories - Saturday, August 1, 2020

Going Virtual

This year, we’re reimagining the SELA Arts Festival on virtual platforms. We’re working to bring everything that you love about the festival, including visual art, performances, food, and creative activities, to your home. 

Going virtual provides opportunities for artists to think outside of the box. According to Edlin Lopez, a painter and curator of the festival’s visual arts gallery, virtual platforms “create opportunities for us artists to get outside of our own comfort zones.” She continues, “This year, with the launch of my new art studio, Open Walls, I have been able to expand my curatorial and narrative practices beyond a physical limit.”

Many artists are especially excited to use virtual platforms to share their experiences and insights on current events. SELA writer and printer, Xitlalic Guijosa, said that artists have a different platform to talk about current issues--like environmental justice, our undocumented communities, and current political climate--using art.

Through platforms like Open Walls and social media, the SELA Arts Festival will continue to showcase, uplift, and celebrate SELA stories. It will also serve as a virtual venue for the community to bond over our shared experiences and emotions during these challenging times.


Healing Art with Eric Contreras

Art is almost as old as humankind itself. Since prehistoric times, we’ve felt the need to express ourselves through creativity. But why do we make art and why has this tradition survived for millenniums?

When we asked spoken word artist and SELA performer, Eric Contreras, about the importance of art he said, “Art is healing. Art, for many of our people that can’t afford therapy, this is our therapy…It’s a story that many times we tell for other people who haven’t been able to tell their own stories.”

Art is how many of us find relief from our stress, pain, and trauma. And anyone who’s ever lost themselves in the experience of a song or painting, knows that you don’t have to be an artist to experience this catharsis.

Given the current state of the world, the power of art can be pivotal to our healing as individuals and as a community. This year, we chose the theme, Streaming Our Stories, because we want the SELA Arts Festival to be an outlet for artists and spectators alike to create, reflect, and heal together.

Be Counted!

Be Counted!

Communities like ours have historically lacked the services and opportunities afforded to others, but we each have the power to change that.

You can help improve services in SELA by filling out your 2020 Census survey.

Critical programs in our community like education, healthcare, and social programs depend on federal aid. We can each ensure that we’re counted when the Federal Government funds schools, fire departments, food assistance programs, and other vital services by completing the Census.

Funding for community services are especially important during the COVID pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, but our community still lags behind the national average with only a 50% Census response rate.

That’s why my office is getting the message out by sending mailers and participating in Census Caravan events throughout our community. These car parades, organized by the SELA Collaborative, are a safe way to raise awareness about the importance of the Census in SELA.

Now I hope you’ll help our community by getting the word out to your family and friends. Every single person in SELA - regardless of age, religion, job, or immigration status - depends on services funded by the Census.

You can fill out your online Census survey in just 10 minutes here.



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