Youth Shine at Mural Unveiling

Mural Unveiling Group

This past Saturday, over 75 supporters gathered to unveil the CLI’s mural. As has become a custom in our events, youth lead the activities. One of those youth was Jessica Gonzales who shared a testimony about her experience painting the mural.Here is what Jessica (14) had to say:

“About a year ago, I went to a meeting at a building named CAPACES. There was a mural to be painted on that building, and the meeting was put together so that we could brainstorm what to put on it. The most exciting part was that a famous artist came up from California to help us paint it. It was supposed to be a community project, kids all over the town were to come an help paint this mural. I was one of those kids.

A year later, my mom got a call from the director of the building saying that the sketches were all drawn out and ready to put on the walls. So one day last summer, my mom drove me to CAPACES, which I hadn’t seen in one year, and I started to paint little things. Like, bushes, flowers, and clouds, and I was getting tired of them. So I went up and asked Juanishi if I could start painting something a little bit bigger. So he let me start painting faces! After painting a couple faces, Juanishi let me start drawing some of the faces as well. Things like, their hair, their clothes, and also the items that they were holding. And let me assure you that it was much more fun than drawing bushes and flowers.

Over the next few days I got to know Juanishi very well. So well that one day he called me and my mom over and asked us to go and buy him a Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks. He stopped letting big groups of kids come and he asked me to come every day that I could. He told me that he was only letting certain people come and paint on the wall. I was one of those people. And I came everyday for the next two weeks. During those two weeks I became great friends with everyone that worked there. We all ate lunch together. We had an awesome birthday party for Larry, and we all got along so well. Juanishi started giving me hugs when I would walk through the door. I started to think of him more as a grandpa. He would walk us down to the ice-cream shop and get us all ice-cream. I was so honored that we were more like friends than anything else. Usually when you meet someone famous, they want nothing to do with little kids. But he was so kind to me. He never got angry with me, even when I would make mistakes on the mural. I didn’t understand why he was so nice to me. All I knew was that I loved being there.

By the second week, I knew everyone’s name. Even the most important people. They were all so kind, even if they did not have a big name at CAPACES. They all understood when I wanted to take a break from painting. Or when I wasn’t feeling up to painting that day. If I forgot my lunch, they would share with me a part of theirs. CAPACES was like my home away from                                    home.                                                                                                                                                                    Jessica with Juanishi

My last few days there before I had to go back to school were so sad, because I knew that I wasn’t going to be back for a while. Or at least until I got situated at school. I didn’t really work that day, we all mostly sat around and talked together. It was really hard leaving, but I knew that I would come back and help again, that I would see my other family. My home away from home. I love all of them so much, and I was so honored that I was able to work with them.”

Jessica Gonzales


Thanks to all of you for supporting us through this effort!

CAPACES Leadership Institute

Changing traditional gender roles in leadership

In early 2006, the Leadership Round-table chose to devote three consecutive monthly sessions to assessing and analyzing gender dynamics and patterns in the movement’s leadership roles. This included examining and debating how assumptions and cultural conditioning had shaped women’s options and choices in roles.

In early April, as the mass mobilizations of immigrants were sweeping the country, PCUN and CAUSA called for a mobilization to the Oregon State Capitol in Salem on April 9th. Thousands turned out, overwhelming the security team organizers’ had hurriedly assembled. Days later, we decided to answer the national call for massive marches on May Day. The staffs of CAPACES network organizations gathered to chose or assign roles for what we all expected to be (and was) the largest gathering in Oregon history at that location for any occasion or issue.

One of the most daunting was coordinating security, a function that had always been carried out by men. This time, three women volunteered to coordinate both security and police liaison. They led a security team of nearly two hundred volunteers (and including many women). City, county and state law enforcement commanders—deeply apprehensive beforehand—all praised the security operation which maintained order and quickly defused provocations by a handful of anti-immigrant zealots.

When the three women were asked why they had volunteered, they credited the CAPACES discussions for motivating them to break through the barriers.

One of those three was Lorena Manzo.

Lorena Manzo: The story of one CAPACES leader

Lorena Manzo is one of many young leaders who will benefit from the CAPACES Leadership Institute. Originally from Mexico, Lorena made her way to California at the age of 15. In 1997, she moved to Woodburn where she worked in the strawberry fields and eventually earned her GED.

Her involvement in the movement began eight years ago, when she met a neighbor who was a member of Mujeres Luchadoras Progresistas. She joined MLP’s project economic self-help project—farmworker women making and marketing Christmas wreaths. As an MLP volunteer and part-time staff member, she had opportunities to learn skills in public speaking, fundraising, and administration. MLP connected her with PCUN and CAUSA.

Lorena became a regular at CAPACES mass gathering and round-tables starting in 2004. She encountered a wider array of leaders and drew strength from their ideas, their example, and their support. “CAPACES is my university,” Lorena likes to say. “At this kind though, we put what we learn immediately into practice.”

Lorena credits the movement and CAPACES with changing her life: “My training and my work as an organizer has equipped me to be an advocate for my community in the Legislature, a place I seldom thought I’d ever be.”

Now thirty-two years old, Lorena is a lead organizer with CAUSA and an active member of the committee which is designing the CAPACES Leadership Institute’s programs. “None of us is ever done learning, or teaching others,” she explained. “The Institute will change how we see our reality.”

It will bring more of us to leadership with the skills, the commitment and the vision to transform our lives and our community.”

And Lorena’s path? “I’m preparing to be director of an organization,” she responded, confidently.