How You Can Get Involved In Environmental Activism in Los Angeles

The environment is taking point on the world stage as the effects of climate change become better known (and much scarier), but deniers still demand more research be done. Those same people probably don’t realize that the research has been ongoing for over half a century, and the conclusions are the same all across the world. The problem is real. But how do you help? Where should you go, and what should you do to be a part of the needed change?

These are a few resources you can use to plan your efforts!

  1. The website Meetup is a phenomenal resource if you live in a big city like Los Angeles, and it should be the first place you look when trying to make a difference. You’ll find thousands of like-minded people interested in all sorts of activities across a wide range of topics like fossil fuel, clean renewable energy, forest and water conservation, education, veterans benefits, and even veganism.

When using this resource, you can decide what it is you want to do. Would you prefer to volunteer? Perhaps you want to protest. Or maybe you just want to get together with other people who are part of a club. The choice is most definitely yours.

2. If you’re interested in information and causes related to aridity and climate change, then check out the Arid Lands Institute. They offer a wide range of resources for outreach, research, and education.

3. The Burbank Green Alliance takes aim at unsustainable practices in the surrounding areas. They offer lectures, workshops, networking, newsletters, and resources for people who want more information. If sustainability is your thing, this is a good place to make a stop.

4. The Burbank Recycle Center is a good spot if you’re having trouble finding a way to recycle certain types of goods. They’ll take everything you would typically leave at the side of the street or bring to the grocery store, in addition to harder-to-recycle goods like scrap metal, antifreeze and oil filtration devices, and more. It’s also a good place to get involved in a workshop, or take a tour.

Or, if you live in the neighborhood and just want a recycling bin, you can drop by and pick one up.

5. The California Coastkeeper Alliance aims to coordinate programs that help to safeguard all relevant waterways in the state of California.

There are literally hundreds of resources, so look around to find the right one for you!

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How The Aids Crisis Started in Los Angeles

October is LGBTQ History month. And while the HIV virus is now a known thing, the AIDS crisis or rather that government’s lack of action regarding the spreading of the virus amongst LGBTQ communities in the early 80s, shows just how strong a community united can bring about change.

A bit of background. The HIV virus began in central Africa and made its way over to the US via Zaire and Haiti. The HIV virus is more easily spread through Anal Sex which is why it affected gay communities more than straight or even lesbian communities. After the Stonewall riots in 1969, LGBTQ activists across the country made significant advances in gay rights including protection against discrimination in employment and through criminal attorneys the decriminalization of sodomy. It was during this time, the early 1970s during the sexual revolution, that the first AIDS cases were appearing in Los Angeles.

The first official government report was in June of 1981. A government bulletin in Morbidity and Mortality reported,

In the period October 1980-May 1981, 5 young men, all active homosexuals, were treated for biopsy-confirmed Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia at 3 different hospitals in Los Angeles, California. Two of the patients died.

It garnered media attention throughout the early 80s. An appearance from gay and men’s health activist Larry Kramer appeared on the Today Show to discuss the anger in the gay community. But while this was going on the HIV virus was spreading to hemophiliacs during blood transfusions as well as injection drug users. However, many people who objected to LGBTQ were referring to the outbreak of AIDS cases as the gay plague and using it as a way to justify anti-gay rhetoric and that God was smiting them.

Finally, in 1984, Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler discovered that AIDS was caused by the HIV virus. She also developed a test to see if a patient had AIDS and predicted a vaccine by 1986 (well that never happened). It wasn’t until years later that Reagan even acknowledged AIDS was a problem or the government offered a treatment (called AZT) that slowed down the progression of the disease but did not cure it.

In 1987, The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power or ACT UP formed and their activism helped speed up the government’s response to the AIDS crisis. Through the late 80s and early 90s, ACT UP and other activists fought for the rights of men’s health. By 1995, AIDS was the single greatest killer of men between the ages of 25-44. It was also the year that the first protease inhibitors, a new type of drug, was able to halt or reverse the progression of the AIDS. However, this treatment is extremely expensive (Currently HIV thrives in poor regions who can’t afford treatment like Mississippi).

It wasn’t until 2003 when George W. Bush enacts the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR which delivers life-saving HIV medicine to poor people around the world. The program currently has provided medicine to 14 million people all over the world.

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Cambodian Activist Wants To Help Homeland From California After Release

Meach Sovannara’s life isn’t easy. It never has been. Cambodian residents who speak out against the government and other political dissidents can expect swift action if their words are heard by enough people. It happened to Sovannara in 2003 when he and his family had their lives threatened as a result of such protests. They made it safely to Long Beach.

That didn’t stop him from continuing the good fight.

In 2014 he was arrested for giving a speech as spokesman of the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

In 2015 he spoke at a protest alongside countless other demonstrators who were upset with their government. He was taken by the police. He was given a twenty year sentence for his part in the protest, to be served inside Prey Sar. It didn’t stop him. He wrote an article elaborating on his own thoughts about the government, then smuggled it out of prison. It was subsequently posted on Facebook where it made the rounds. His time inside only got worse once his overseers found out but by that point the damage was done and there was nothing they could do to stop it.

Jamie Meach, his loving wife, demonstrated for his release ever since the 2015 incarceration. She tried the legal route with lawsuits. She made personal appeals to Cambodian officials. She expected nothing to work, but something did. He was released from prison earlier this year, but he made it clear that we shouldn’t expect that to be the end of it.

It’s clear that Sovannara probably won’t be able to safely return to Cambodia, but whether he does or not won’t change the fact that he’ll continue to protest political corruption in Cambodia from his new home in Long Beach. After all, we live in an age that makes publication and dissemination of alternative views easier than ever. He plans to be active on social media when possible.

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Learning About The Women’s March Leadership Team

On January 21st, 2017, approximately one year after Donald Trump was inaugurated into office, roughly 440,000 women in the United States and over 5 million worldwide participated in the Women’s March on Washington. Considered the largest single-day protest in United States history, the protest was to advocate for women’s rights as well as immigration reform, health care reform, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and racial equality.

Tamika D. Mallory, Co-President 

Referred to as “a leader of tomorrow” by Valerie B. Jarrett (Senior Advisor to Barack Obama), Tamika is a social activist who advocates for civil rights, equal rights for women, gun violence and police misconduct. She also created the gun violence prevention program NYC Crisis Management System which provides funding for community-based efforts to stop gun violence in NYC.

Bob Bland, Co-President

Not a stranger to changing the paradigm, Bob’s mission since 2012 was changing the fashion industry. Creating Manufacture New York (MNY), the company’s goal was to create a sustainable and ethical supply chain for apparel and textile production.

Carmen Perez, Board Member 

For over 20 years, Carmen has been advocating for such things as civil rights, mass incarceration, gender equality, violence prevention, and community policy. She is most known for her work inside juvenile detention centers where she provides spiritual, cultural and educational events. Her efforts have led to legislative reform and alternatives to incarceration.

Linda Sarsour, Board Member 

Not afraid to fight for what she believes in, Linda, who was born in Brooklyn by Palestinian-American parents, successfully advocated closing NYC public schools on two important Muslim holy days: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. She has led over 100 marches through 5 states. She also delivered a speech on the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.

This is by all means not a complete list. To see all of the board members visit their website here:

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3 Activists You Should Be Following on Social Media

Activism has become more of a social media pursuit than a media-in-the-streets operation.

Hashtags and slogans will play a role in uniting people around the world in favor of a particular cause. It gives many a sense of belonging to something bigger than them, and there comes with it a belief that more and more voices on social media will be loud enough to generate change.

Some of that comes true, like the recent #MeToo movement about sexual harassment, which has led to changes in Hollywood and in the political arena, as serial sexual harassers are being brought out into the light in the hopes of cleaning up the environments in which they lived.

If you are someone who wants to activate against some injustice in your community and you are looking for an inspiration to help steel yourself for the battle and find worthy causes on social media, here are three Los Angeles-based activists that you really should follow on social media, if you’re not already.

  1. Feminism and Women’s Rights: Liz Plank

Going by the Twitter handle @feministabulous, Liz Plank works as a senior producer and political reporter at, a popular left-wing media and blog site. She posts often about feminism and women’s rights issues, especially as they intersect in politics.

  1. Race, Environment and Social Justice: Aura Bogado

An outspoken writer who advocates for Native American rights as well as other immigration and social-justice topics, @aurabogado is an investigative reporter at Reveal, and also has written articles for left-leaning publication The Nation.

  1. Transgender Rights, Gender and Race: Kathryn Black

@kat_blaque has gained quite a following as a transgender activist who speaks her mind based on her unique perspectives about gender, transgenderism and race. She has a provocative approach and provides some personal experiences to help make her points.

Whether you want to get behind the #MeToo movement, support transgender or women’s’ rights, or stand up for any type of social justice issue, you can always follow any one of these three personalities or a number of others who have risen in L.A. in recent years and can inspire and motivate you to action in support of a cause which you deem worthy enough to put skin in the game.

Activism is about caring, is about having a passion for something bigger than you, and doing your part of create and inspire change. For a world that seems to like the status quo and “routine,” advocating for change is revolutionary, rebellious, and … let’s face it, sometimes something that needed to wake us out of our spell.  Activism is the un-routine.    

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Who Was Cesar Chavez?

Cesar Chavez, 1927-1933, was a Mexican-American famous for his role as a union leader, labor organizer and Latin-American civil rights activist. In 1962, he found the National Farm Worker Association. After a successful strike with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee against California grape growers, the two unions merged to form the United Farm Workers. Chavez believed in peaceful protests and nonviolent methods to influence change such as boycotts, marches, and hunger strikes. Through his efforts, he was able to improve conditions for farm workers in California, Texas, Arizona and Florida (despite friction with the famous Teamster union).

Chavez was born in Yuma, Arizona to immigrant parents but moved to California with his family in 1939. With this family, he traveled up and down the coast working in fields under terrible conditions such as delipidates migrant camps, corrupt labor contractors, poor wages for hard labor as well as racism. He became active in other labor organizations but resigned to focus on developing his own labor union for farm workers. In September 1965, when the National Farm Worker Association joined a strike initiated by Filipino farm workers in Delano’s grape fields, Chavez became a household name. He organized a march on Sacremento in 1966 and brought the harsh conditions of the farm worker into the limelight.

He was also noted for his hunger fasts that he used to prove that non-violent protects can be effective. He organized a huge fast in 1988 to protect the suffering for farm workers and their children, ignorance of farm workers rights and the use of pesticides. Chavez fasted for 36 days, Reverend Jesse Jackson started where Chavez left fasting for an additional three days. The fast was passed to other religious and celebrity figures including Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Kennedy, Carly Simon and Danny Glover.

Chavez died in his sleep on April 23, 1993.

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Celebrity Suicide

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, after the two back to back celebrity suicide deaths this past week, suicide hotline numbers have jumped up a total of 25%. Because celebrities are always in the limelight, people often feel a connection to a celebrity even if they have never met. When a celebrity dies, society as a whole feels a collective loss and the news of a celebrity death prompts people to seek help. Over the past few years there have been a lot of celebrity suicides:

  • L’Wren Scott – On March 17, 2014 the fashion designer and was found dead in her New York apartment.  She committed suicide by hanging her self.
  • Mark Salling – In January 2018, the former Glee star was found dead in a tree in the Angeles Forest area. He died of asphyxia by hanging himself.
  • Robin Williams – On August 11, 2014, the comedian died of asphyxiation by hanging himself from the doorknob in his bedroom.
  • Chris Cornell – In 2017, the rock star was found dead in his hotel room also had hung himself after taking a lethal dose of benzo, barbiturates, and amphetamine.
  • Chester Bennington – Another celebrity who was found hanging in his home in California.
  • Tony Scott – In 2012, this director jumped off a Los Angeles County bridge to his death. Anti-depressants and sleeping aids were found in his body.
  • Jonathan Brandis – In 2003, this up and coming star committed suicide by hanging himself in the hallway of his Los Angeles apartment building.

The list continues on and on. What is interesting is that most celebrities kill themselves by hanging.

If you or someone you know is an emotional distress or suicidal, please call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

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Cuba: Marriage Equality

As the daughter of a communist party chief, not a birth injury attorney, Mariela Castro, whose father is Raul Castro (and the niece of Fidel Castro), is just the advocate the LGBTQ community needs in Cuba. For most of the 20th century, communist parties have been proponents of the LGBTQ community and have been the earliest advocates of their rights. Therefore, it’s about time that Cuba updates their laws to include gay marriage as constitutional. As one of the leading gay rights activist in Cuba, Mariela plans to draft charters and create amendments to Cuba’s 1976 constitution this summer.

Homosexuality was not always celebrated in Cuba especially before their revolution. Many men were targeted with harassment and faced criminal charges for homosexuality. After the revolution, many homosexuals fled to Miami to escape persecution. Some were forced to work in camps during the UMAP program. However, by the late 1980s and the early 90s, the attitude toward homosexuals changed with even the country’s leader Fidel Castro urging Cubans to be more accepting of homosexuals as it was a natural tendency that should be respected.

Mariela has had other successes while being a gay rights activist in Cuba. In 2005, she proposed a law that allowed transgender people to receive sexual reassignment surgery and change their legal gender. This proposal became law three years later in 2008 and now transgender people can become their true gender free of charge. If anyone can get a law to pass to allow same-sex marriage in Cuba, it’s her.


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What is the California Dream Act?

The California Dream Act was put in place by California state legislation in an effort to allow AB540 students to apply for financial aid in public colleges and universities of California. In other words, the act was put in place to allow undocumented students to obtain financial aid from a public educational institution. This will help young men and women across the state further their education. Since AB540 was passed in 2001, other bills have been passed that assist undocumented students in gaining financial aid. The California Dream Act, and the bills that have been passed along with it, have made an impact on many, many lives.

What Bills go Along With the California Dream Act?

AB 540

AB 540 is a bill that was passed in 2001. The bill was put into place by Assembly Member Marco Antonio Firebaugh. AB 540 allows undocumented students to be exempt from paying out-of-state tuition at public colleges and universities in California. This bill has allowed undocumented students from around the world to attend college for a reasonable price.

In order to be eligible for AB 540 consideration, the student must meet the following requirements:

  • Be enrolled in a California high school for three or more years
  • Graduate from a California high school or receive the equivalent degree (GED)
  • Submit a written promise to the public college or university where they currently or plan to attend. The statement must include that they meet all of the requirements and that they are taking steps to becoming a legitimate citizen.

AB 130

AB 130 was passed in 2012. The bill allows eligible AB 540 students to receive institutional aid, like scholarships, from a public college or university of California. The aid that is granted must be derived from non-state funds.

AB 131

AB 131 was passed in 2013. This bill allows eligible AB 540 students to receive financial aid while attending a public college or university in California. The aid for AB 131 is allowed to be partially derived from state funds. Undocumented students can access AB 131 funds by either applying for scholarships through the public college or university and/or apply for financial aid from the state. When applying for financial aid through the state, the California Student Aid Commission has set up forms, similar to FASFA, to determine the financial need of the student.

You can apply here: Application for Califonia Dream Act.

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Our Modern Day Black Activists

It’s February which means three things: Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day and the thing that we are the most excited about Black History Month. There have been amazing and life-altering activists that are important to understand and learn. People like Martin Luther King Jr, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglas, just to name a few. But why is no one celebrating the black activists that are fighting for black rights currently?

NOTE: We are not using the term African American because not all black people are from Africa. We fight for the rights for anyone who has felt prejudice or racism for the color of their skin whether they come from Africa, the West Indes or other areas in the Caribbean. 

We’ve put together this list of people who are attempting to make a difference in our country right now and who will one day hopefully be celebrated during Black History Month.


Putting his degree from Harvard Law School to good use, Stevenson founded and now serves as the executive director for the Equal Justice Initiative. He has many goals as a black activist but the most prominent being how the criminal justice system is biased towards the poor and minorities. Some of his accomplishments include handling court cases especially those who are faced with the death penalty and advocating for them. He also handles juvenile criminal cases (criminal cases for those under 18 years old) and advocates for them to not be given death penalty or life imprisonment without parole. The EJL’s goals include ending mass incarceration, excessive punishments and bringing to life the racial disparities in how the criminal courts treat minorities.


Back in 2010, Michelle released her book The New Jim Crow which also challenged the mass incarceration of the black community in the United States. She points out that even though the Jim Crow Laws (separate but equal) are no longer a thing, most of the black community lives their life behind bars stripped of their fundamental civil rights that the previous black activists we mentioned fought so hard for. Currently, she works for the ACLU and continues to shed light on how our criminal justice system is biased towards people of color.


Although she has been a black rights activist for over 20 years, she’s still going strong. Her current efforts are running the Black Women’s Roundtable which provides black women with knowledge, skills, and resources that they need to help face the social issues that are happening in their community. These rounds tables help break down public policy, provide leadership training and contact civic education to empower black women. During her spare time, she works with the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation to help young black voters registaer to vote as wel las encourage them and prevent voter surpression.

As you can see, black activism is still alive and present in our country today. So although Black History Month is important to show how far we’ve come, the reality of the situation is that we still have far to go in order to be fully equal.

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