Building Healthy Communities 
November 2017
New Law Bans Farmers From Using Pesticides Near Schools, Advocates Say More Needs To Be Done 
This past Tuesday, the California Environmental Protection Agency approved a plan to enforce pesticide buffer zones statewide. Our partners say that while thi s is a great step forward there is still more work needed to protect ou r children.

Valerie Gorospe, Community Organizer at the Center of Race, Poverty & the Environment
The new regulations cover most school hours, but advocates say the rule doesn't consider after school or weekend activiti es held at schools, or the fact that pesticide drift remains in school grounds  and on top of cla s srooms long after spraying.

"We advocated for some stronger regulations because pesticide drift doesn't stop after class is over.  The rule to limit pesticide use near schools from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. window is an improvement, but still not good enough," said  Valerie Gorospe of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment and a member of Californian's for Pesticide Reform. "We plan to keep pushing for more protections going forward, but this is a step in the right direction."  

Dean Welliver Attends Inaugural Summit for the Obama Foundation
Deal Welliver, Program Associate at South Kern Sol
Our own Dean Welliver, Program Associate at South Kern Sol, recently attended the Inaugural S ummit for the Obama Foundation in Chicago. Bringing together civic  leaders from across the globe for a two-day summit held October 31 and November 1, the summit was packed with panels, workshops, and speakers including elected officials, writers and artists, social justice leaders, and entrepreneurs.

"M y favorite panel was called 'Getting Women in the Room Where It Happens,' which included  Dolores Huerta," said Welliver. "There were so many good conversations about how women  can support women to deal with sexism in the workplace, tokenization, and self-doubt." The panel included former National Security Advisor under President Obama, and Mana Al-Sharif, the woman arrested for driving in Saudi Arabia.
Dolores Huerta, Susan Rice, and Mana Al-Sharif speak on the "Getting Women in the Room Where It Happens" Panel

As Program Associate at South Kern Sol, Welliver encourages local youth to find their own voice to raise awareness and visibility of health and race equity issues impacting underserved communities across Kern.  Welliver wants to ensure that policymakers and other stakeholders authentically have youth at the table, not just to check of diversity boxes. 

"As a youth advocate it is hard to move forward, people doubt you-- but it is worse when you're not at the table, because your perspective doesn't get there. You want to be seen as well as heard," said Welliver. "At the Summit, Michelle Obama said that before youth can use their voice, they have to know how to find it. Now with my role at South Kern Sol, I am fostering youth journalist voices who want to create narrative change in their own community."
Michelle Obama with Poet Elizabeth Alexander

"I came back feeling extremely grateful to Dr. Ross and the [The California Endowment's] President's Youth Council, and also Dolores Huerta, Camila Chavez, and the work of The California Endowment," added Welliver when asked what was his greatest takeaway from the summit.

Roots of Resistance: Central California Environmental Justice Network
Gustavo Aguirre, Jr., Organizer at CCEJN and KEEN
The Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN) held bi-annual Roots of Resistance Conference on October 21 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center. The conference included workshops and trainings from nonprofit and community leaders.
"The purpose of this conference is to showcase the environmental justice victories from Fresno and Kern Counties, as well as an in-depth analysis of the struggles and resistance efforts in Southern San Joaquin Valley," said Gustavo Aguirre, Jr. of CCEJN and the Kern Environmental Enforcement Network (KEEN).
Nearly 200 people attended the conference which included speakers from the Committee for a Better Arvin who spoke about their work to enforce pesticide drift buffer zones around schools, and implementing resident-based air quality monitoring technology.
After such a successful Roots of Resistance Conference, Aguirre hopes to continue the momentum and energy created back to South Kern, starting with young leaders in South Kern.

South Kern Sol  Attends Voto Latin o's Power Summit in Austin, Texas
Photo above (from left to right): Reyna Olaguez, Executive Director of South Kern Sol and South Kern Sol Youth Reporters, Veronica Morley, Yesenia Aguilar and Marisol Sanchez

In mid-November, three youth from South Kern Sol had the opportunity to travel to Austin, Texas to participate in Vo to Latino's 10th Annual Power Summit. The youth, Marisol Sanchez, 17, Veronica Morley, 21, and Yesenia Aguilar, 19, heard from national figures like Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino's President and CEO, as well as the former Secretary of Housing and Development, Julian Castro-- who announced during the summit. that he is considering a run for president in 2020.
Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino
Voto Latino brought together nearly 500 youth leaders from Texas and several other states to empower and teach them about the importance of being civically engaged in their communities.
"Even if you are 17 or if you are undocumented and cannot vote- we all know someone who can and we need to make sure they get out to the polls on election day," said Kumar during her welcome address. 

"The take away message was that when communities stand together and vote, communities will rise up and be stronger," said Reyna Olaguez, South Kern Sol's Executive Director, who also attended the event. "In Kern and across the nation the reality is that youth are registering to vote, but very few are actually going to the polls on election day and this needs to cha nge in order to  change our communities for the better."

"There are 41,000 registered voters between 18-24 years old in Kern County and only 19,000 voted in the 2016 general election. Out of those, 53 percent are Latino but only 44 percent voted. Youth participation lags behind older voters about 13 to 15 percent," said Olaguez who added that there are about 365,000 registered voters in Kern.

Bringing Education Justice to California City 
After parents in the Mojave Unified School District reached out to the Dolores Huerta Foundation for help in addressing the racial disparities in school suspensions, Building Healthy Communities South Kern's Kern Education Justice Collaborative partners began their work to find a solution to the extreme suspension and expulsion rates for students of color in the district. Outdated disciplinary practices remove students from the classroom a
Gerald Cantu, Education Policy Director at the Dolores Huerta Foundation
nd allow these same students to fall behind in school.
In a series of education justice op-eds in The Bakersfield Californian, Gerald Cantu, Education Policy Director at the Dolores Huerta Foundation, cites that students of color across Kern are pushed out of schools through disciplinary practices, as brought to light in recent the Kern High School District settlement.

Mojave Unified School District has the highest rate of suspensions in the county, with approximately 41% of student body suspended between 2014 and 2015, the majority of whom were black. Despite being a minority in the district, black students were expelled two times more than their white and Latino counterparts.
BHC-SK asked Cantu to tell us how this campaign will look like in Mojave.
"As we begin our work in Mojave Unified, we intend to apply the lessons learned through our years-long efforts at Kern High School District, where we worked with parents to advocate for adoption and faithful implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and restorative justice practices, training on implicit bias, and a diverse staff representative of the student body," Cantu states.
Dolores Huerta speaking to the press after the Kern High School District settlement.

"We are training parents and residents to become leaders with the tools to advocate for discipline reforms at school board meetings and to run for school board. It's going to mean progress towards the dismantling of the school-to-prison pipeline for students of color. Two school board trustees will be up for election in 2018, and we intend to hold candidate forums where parents and community members will have an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates."
Want to get involved?
Parents can get involved and attend trainings by contacting the Dolores Huerta Foundation and Faith in the Valley.

BHC South Kern Kicks Off Cross-Collaboration Series

Jack Becker (Program Manager at Bike Arvin and Bike Bakersfield), Alex Gonzalez (Organizer at Faith in Kern), Bill Phelps (Chief of Program Services at Clinica Sierra Vista) and Elizabeth Martinez (Healthy Policy Organizer at the Dolores Huerta Foundation)

Building Healthy Communities South Kern partners attended the inaugural Cross-Collaboration Breakfast on October 20, spending the morning identifying the places Action Teams can support each other and increase their reach.
Youth Commentary: Why I Organized a Walkout to Defend DACA
By Marisol Sanchez, South Kern Sol
Marisol Sanchez, youth activist and youth reporter at South Kern Sol

On October 9th, I helped organize a protest that included more than one hundred students from three different high schools, in support of friends and family members who are recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.[LE1] 
The DACA program has allowed those brought to the United States as children to come out of the shadows, to feel like they finally belong not only in Kern County, but in America.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Trump Administration's Sept. 5 memorandum began the phasing out of DACA, leaving only a brief window between September 5th and October 5th to renew their status. That deadline has passed. Now it's up to Congress to help any and all recipients whose DACA and work authorization expires by March 5, 2018. That's also the same window the Trump Administration is giving Congress to come up with a solution.

Will Congress save the Dreamers like they did once before? They have to. In the meantime, hundreds of Kern County DACA recipients now exist in immigration limbo. This has brought back fears of being separated from families and mass deportation.
All of this is why we had to march. We had to do something.
Read more from South Kern Sol here.

We have the power to build healthy communities for the next generation.

In This Issue
Health Happens Here
  In partnership with
The California Endowment