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Grassroots in the Barrio

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When people think grassroots, they think community.  Political organizing based within the grasps of like-minded or like-situated individuals who are all aiming toward a defined set of goals. Tierra y Libertad Organization is one such group, offering a variety of programs and education to la gente, or people.

Imelda Cortez, 19, is a student at the University of Arizona and an organizer with TYLO. “Tierra y Libertad is basically an organization that has been around for about 10 years now. We do different types of work. Some of it is based around the barrio sustainability project; gardening, farming, teaches adults and youth about health. We also have the migrant rights component that deals more with immigration issues; different things that are happening to the community such as SB 1070 and most recently, the 14th amendment,” she said.

Along with immigration and sustainability, TYLO also runs more youth engaging programs such as MAIZ, which focuses on exploring various art mediums as well as barrio clean up.

Their most recent project is a mosaic that will cover of the front of the Centro, a house located on South 7th Avenue that functions as the focal point of the organization.

“In the past the organization’s focus was youth, but since, I don’t even remember when, we began trying to include both youth and adults so they could learn from each other. We recently started offering classes for adults,” Cortez said. “Not just English classes, although we do teach English. We also teach them about social justice issues, how the system works. Just the other week, we did a class on how capitalism works.”

TYLO functions somewhat off the grid. Although they are extremely active within their own barrio, you might not be able to find a schedule of events or classes—yet. Cortez says that they are working on an organizational calendar that will be available soon.

“Classes are focused on that specific neighborhood or nearby neighborhoods. We are trying to make that Centro be a model so that it can be done anywhere else. That’s why we are working there for now. Soon, we will definitely spread out,” Cortez said.

Written by Emily Bowen You are reading Grassroots in the Barrio articles

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