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Marta Gonzalez

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  • Statement on the Passing of Bishop David O'Connell


    Statement from One LA-IAF on the Passing of Bishop David O’Connell

    We are shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic death of Bishop David O’Connell. He was a beloved bishop, an extraordinary pastor, and a wonderful man. He taught thousands of One LA leaders to both love their neighbor and to fight against injustice. We will carry him in our hearts.

    Bishop Dave had a long career as a leader in local Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizations through his decades of service in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In the 1980s and 1990s, Bishop Dave was an active leader in the South Central Organizing Committee (SCOC) as the pastor of St. Frances X. Cabrini and Ascension parishes. His ministry and organizing work addressed gun violence, historic disinvestment in what was then known as South Central Los Angeles, poverty, and the plight of undocumented immigrants.

    The organizing work of Bishop Dave and SCOC led to the passage of California’s assault weapons ban in 1989, helped thousands of immigrants become citizens after the 1986 immigration reform act passed during the Reagan Administration, and shut down liquor stores in the wake of the riots following the Rodney King beating. Bishop Dave continued his IAF organizing work with St. Michael’s parish and was one of the founding leaders of One LA-IAF in 2004 when SCOC and three other local organizations merged to form a county-wide organizing effort. As a leader with One LA-IAF, Bishop Dave led efforts to win health care coverage for undocumented immigrants, expand community-based policing, assist homeowners facing foreclosure during the Great Recession, and help former prisoners obtain employment and rebuild their lives.

    We will remember Bishop Dave for his emphasis on the development of parish leaders and for the love that he infused in everything that he did. Most recently, Bishop Dave played an instrumental role in the IAF’s Recognizing the Stranger training initiative, sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Recognizing the Stranger has trained over 4,000 parish leaders throughout the West and Southwest in how to utilize the skills of broad-based organizing to strengthen their communities through a culture of encounter and the building of relationships with people from different backgrounds. These themes echoed throughout Bishop Dave’s life as a pastor who was known for his presence and ministry on-the-ground, among the people. We miss him dearly and will continue to be inspired and transformed by his life and legacy.

  • One LA Secures Commitments from City and County Candidates

    Photo Credit [Fox11 News]

    One LA-IAF, a broad based organizing group in Los Angeles, received commitments from candidates running for Mayor and County Supervisor to work together on issues of affordable housing and mental healthcare access.

    Los Angeles, CA --- On Sunday, October 23rd faith and community leaders from the broad-based, nonpartisan organization One LA-IAF gathered at Northridge Middle School in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. The public assembly was held two weeks before the general election and invited candidates for the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles and for County Supervisor, District 3. Candidates Karen Bass, Lindsey Horvath and Bob Hertzberg attended.

    In stark contrast to the zero-sum politics of Los Angeles City Council, One LA leaders from all corners of the county (South Los Angeles, the Westside, the Eastside, the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys) came together to present a common agenda that cut across faith, race, and geographic lines. The agenda focused on affordable housing and mental health care access. 

    One LA-IAF highlighted the overlooked opportunity to maximize the amount of affordable housing built on the publicly owned land on Metro projects. Desmond Faison, of NoHo Home Alliance, challenged the candidates to think about the current project in North Hollywood, District NoHo. “Failing to create a significant amount of integrated affordable housing on public land is inconsistent with Metro's policies and a huge missed opportunity to create an affordable community at one of the busiest public transit hubs in Los Angeles.” The median income of the area is $48,000 yet only 20% (or 300) of the 1500 units of the project will be affordable units and will be segregated from the market-level units. This number is well below the project's original proposal and Metro’s current standards of 100% income restricted units. 

    Candidate Bass responding to One LA, Photo credit [Fox11 News]

    Mary Jackson, St. Brigid Catholic Church, shared the effects felt in her entire family by the lack of mental health care access, “When we invest in individuals with mental illness, we help not just that individual- but their families and their communities. By helping these vulnerable members of our society, we will make Los Angeles County more safe and livable for all.” Despite consistent promises to provide community mental health treatment options, there is a persistent shortage in mental health beds for short-term acute, sub-acute, and longer-term patients. Families in Los Angeles struggle to find adequate mental healthcare treatment options and worry that without support their loved ones either end up in jail or homeless. Conversations between One LA leaders, providers, and experts point to the inflexibility of County funding as a barrier preventing providers from nimbly delivering services that can address the severity of the needs for mental healthcare treatment. 

    Representative Karen Bass, Candidate for Mayor, affirmed her desire to work with One LA, “I can’t succeed without your participation. I love One LA and the diversity reflected today.” She agreed to work with One LA to promote affordable housing on publicly owned land and increase access to mental health and agreed to meet within the first 100 days of her administration.

    West Hollywood Councilmember and District 3 Supervisorial Candidate Lindsey Horvath expressed her desire to work with One LA and suggested that the next meeting take place sooner than 100 days.

    State Senator Bob Hertzberg and Supervisor District 3 candidate agreed to work with One LA on the issues of affordable housing and mental health, keeping track of his own commitments in a journal while on stage.

    Throughout the meeting local leaders then shared stories about the issues they and their communities are facing. A former educator shared the bureaucratic barriers providers face when applying to county mental health service funds and a Black mother and veteran shared how her family was priced out of their rental home in Jefferson Park. Each candidate was then given the same amount of time to answer questions related to the issue agenda. 

    “We know that our democracy does not stop after November 8th. That is why we will be following up with all elected officials and ensure that we keep this conversation moving forward. We are working together to better our cities and county and make our government work for and with us,” declared Christine Walters from Community United Methodist Church.

  • One LA Leaders Participate in IAF Visit with Pope Francis


    Sheila Thomas, One LA-IAF leader and member of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church meets with Pope Francis.
    [Photos credit: Rabbi John Linder]

    Our network had the rare opportunity to visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican.  

    An interfaith delegation of 20 leaders and organizers from the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation met with him to share our collective work of broad based organizing at a time when the Pope is guiding the global church in a historic Synod listening process.

    The Holy Father sat side by side with us in his residence, thanking us for inconveniencing ourselves to come see him.  What ensued was a true dialogue, a 90-minute conversation in Spanish with lots of back and forth engagement.  The encounter was filled with many graced moments about both the joys and the struggles of our work, and the work of the Church, past, present, and to come. 

    This invitation to meet was in large part due to the recognition of our work by local Bishops, particularly those involved with the 'Recognizing the Stranger' strategy, which is dedicated to formation and leadership development of immigrant parishioners. As well, our involvement to support the Synod process in multiple dioceses has helped to bring those in the margins to the center of the synodal dialogue. 

    As we shared our experiences of organizing, we were struck by how carefully he listened, asked questions, and engaged with lots of humor. Early on, he reflected back to us, “Usaron mucho las palabras ‘ver’ y ‘escuchar,’... Me impresiona que ninguno de ustedes es parte de alguna teoría.  Ninguno dice ‘leí un libro y me interesó eso.’” (You constantly use the words “to see” and “to listen.. I am impressed that none of you start with any theory. No one says ‘I read a book and that interested me.’)  “El peligro es intelectualizar el problema” (The danger is when you intellectualize a problem).

    He stressed the importance of being with people and paying  attention to their reality, emphasizing Amor Concreto, love concretely in action, saying that he understood our work as seeing and hearing of injustice in the real lives of our people, acting to change the situation, and being changed ourselves as a result. He expressed his appreciation for our focus on what we are doing, rather than to complain about what is not being done or to disparage anyone. Ustedes no menospreciaron a nadie.”

    Before concluding, he thanked us for our visit, saying that although he had never known of IAF before, he was glad that he knew us now, and he welcomed further conversation around our continuing work with the Synod process.

    We teach that power recognizes power.  For Pope Francis, “el verdadero poder es el servicio,” (“true power is service”).  Recounting the Good Samaritan, he clearly stated that the Gospel cannot be understood without acting with those who are suffering.  He recognized the leaders and organizations of the IAF and the powerful work that is happening every day at the margins. He referred to the IAF as “Good News for the United States.”

    We are humbled to represent the many decades of work from those who preceded us, and we are encouraged in the continuation of our work into the future.  

  • Faith Leaders Commend Supervisor Solis and Commit to Work with County on Plan to Vaccinate Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods


    One LA - IAF leaders stand ready to work with Los Angeles County on a plan targeting hot-spot neighborhoods to break the chain of transmission and reduce racial inequity.

    Faith Leaders Commend Supervisor Solis and Commit to Work with County on Plan to Vaccinate Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods

    One LA-IAF leaders extend their appreciation for Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis’ leadership and swift response to the call for targeted COVID-19 vaccinations to LA County residents in the hardest hit areas of LA County:  Boyle Heights, El Monte, South LA and Pacoima.  These efforts will directly address and help to dismantle the racial inequalities resulting from the vaccination strategies undertaken in the recent past.

    One LA-IAF institutions stand ready to collaborate with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, LA County's Department of Public Health and Health Services to remove barriers currently facing low-wage and essential workers who currently do not have access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

    One LA’s 6 Point Plan is designed to provide access to vaccinations for those neighborhoods hardest hit by this pandemic. This includes:

    • Target the hardest-hit neighborhoods by identifying the census tracts with the highest-incidence of Covid-19 and lowest rates of vaccination.
    • Partner with trusted, local institutions – congregations, neighborhood organizations, schools – which are better suited to provide information, dispel fears and myths, and guide people through the process of registering for an appointment.
    • Invest in mobile vaccination teams that can set up temporary neighborhood-level vaccination sites in the hardest-hit neighborhoods.
    • Simplify the sign-up process with multiple methods to register and a large base of volunteers from trusted community institutions to do outreach.
    • Use a pro-active model, rather than a passive approach, that includes door to-door canvassing in the hardest-hit areas and hardest-to-reach populations.
    • Saturate hot spots until they have achieved 60-70% vaccination rates. This will break the chain of transmission and demonstrate that vaccination works, which will promote public confidence and reduce vaccine hesitancy.

    One LA member institutions are trust centers made up of churches, schools, community non-profits and synagogues. Our institutions are predominately in neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the pandemic- we are also the first place Angelenos reach out to when in need.  We look forward to working with Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to increase access to Covid-19 vaccinations and education that will help temper the fear and despair felt by so many individuals and families.

    One LA-IAF is a broad-based organization made up of 25 member institutions, including churches, synagogues, schools, clinics and nonprofits across LA County. One LA-IAF is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the oldest and largest national organizing and leadership development network in the United States, and the West / Southwest IAF.



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