News / Identity

  • Our Culture is Our Resistance

     

     

    Dear fellow Latinx Peoples,


    In the media and in this country we are raised to be believe that all we are good for is to labor for white capitalists like Donald Trump. That we are "at risk communities" needing white intervention. That in order to be successful we have to strip away our heritage and consent to whiteness.


    But fuck that. We have fought the colonization of our lands and minds for over 500 years defending ourselves against every colonial empire thrust onto us by Europe. Our tradition and heritage is one of resistance and militant action. Our societies have produced complex languages and methods of expression that don't rely on the written word but instead on how we relate to one another in community, story and song.


    The work of our ante pasados produced the most radical constitution on the planet: the 1917 Mexican constitution, which guaranteed, ejido, collective land rights. (These rights were significantly weakened as the Mexican government prepared for the implementation of NAFTA)


    In the face of dictatorships we have produced song to express the beauty and the belief in our shared resistance.


    We are the children of fighters and our legacy asks us to endure in the belly of the beast, here in what is now so obviously, the most racist society on the planet. In this, let there be no doubt that the American dream rests on a vision built off the stolen  land of native peoples and the enslaved labor of black folks


    Our generation has made its own mark as we fight the oppressive religious structures of our parents to embrace our queer and trans community. We have the ability to be intersectional, to feed the promise of a worldview and application of our heritage with our own voice and spirit


    We have learned that words move mountains and our moments of solidarity can take on any empire and any delusional "leader." 


    To my non Latinx POC community ... sup... I love you very much and I love the fight we have formed together. There is beauty in our struggle but pain with every step and breath we take.


    Know that the one truth I hold is that our future is tied to an intersectional understanding of how we relate to one another and that white supremacy needs to be dismantled


    And know that the only warmth I find comfort in is the space we hold together in our tears and our hopes. Our shared love will carry me as we get beaten, arrested, targeted, and deported. In short made disposable by the state and its white supremacists


    I will rise and love with you or I will die trying.

     

    Filiberto Nolasco Gomez

    El Huateque

    #dumptrump2017

  • The New Slumlord of South Minneapolis

     

    Mostly Latino Low Wage Workers Take on the

    New Slumlord of South Minneapolis

     Minneapolis, MN. --- Juan Jimenez had not planned on going to the protest. He had never attended a meeting of Inquilinos Unidos, though he was aware that renters had been organizing in his apartment. Conditions had changed at his building but he had decided to not threaten the only affordable home he could find with the new landlord, and wait for the new normal to settle over his life. Now, after months of extra fees and strange demands, after threatening letters had been posted on his and his neighbor’s doors, moments after getting home from work on April 16th, he finally got mad. Juan stormed out of 3019 Pleasant Ave., an envelope crumpled in his fist, and piled his family into a taxi. He shouted the address of QT Properties to the cabbie. (Or at least the most recent address - they have had four different offices in the last 18 months.) Now he was fuming, tapping the envelope against his knee as he sped through South Minneapolis toward a crowd of about thirty people who didn’t know they were waiting for him.

     

     

    Jason Quilling, who owns 3019 Pleasant Ave., is the new slumlord of South Minneapolis.

     

    Between 2008 and 2012 the Minneapolis City Pages devoted a significant amount of resources to examining Spiros Zorbalas who they described as the biggest slumlord in recent memory. He owned 37 properties and went to jail several times for, among other things, possession of cocaine. Zorbalas was a colorful character who loved talking to reporters. Most of City Pages’ articles sensationalized the man and his habits more than the conditions his renters suffered. But it was these conditions that led Zorbalas, thanks to pressure from key city council members, to abandon his holdings in Minneapolis. About the time Zorbalas’ reign was ending, Jason Quilling began buying up properties in South Minneapolis.

     

    Quilling is not as colorful as Zorbalas. Zorbalas lived in a 5.5 million dollar beachfront home in Naples, Florida, while Quilling lives quietly on his Dayton farm. Zorbalas was described by City Pages as a ‘brash bon vivant,’ while Quilling hides behind a labyrinthine corporate structure. Zorbalas was an equal-opportunity abuser, while Jason Quilling profits from a blatantly racist business.

     

    Maria Alvarado has lived at 3019 Pleasant for 18 years. Her two sisters and her niece all live in the building next door. Maria’s life was “tranquila” until Jason Quilling bought the building in August of 2014. After that, “molestias todos los dias.” QT Properties placed weekly letters in bold colors on the front of the building and on her door, threatening fines for children playing outside, shoes left in the hallway, and apartment doors decorated with wrapping paper (as Maria does every season.)

     

    Many Latino renters had lived in 3019 Pleasant for over a decade, and more had lived just as long at 3105, 3023, and 3027 Pleasant, and at 3032, 3020, 3018, and 3114 Pillsbury, and at 3021 Longfellow. The story was the same in each building: the landlord never made repairs, but never bothered anyone and didn’t mind if rent was a little late. But when QT Properties bought the buildings, things started to change. The renters were curious of the changes, but didn't think anything of them until the threats and fines started.

     

    Several renters turned to Lyndale Neighborhood Association for legal advice about the new rules and changes to their leases. Their stories were alarming enough that Jen Arnold, lead organizer at LNA began door knocking in these buildings to learn more. She was joined by Natasha Villanueva and Roberto De La Riva, who are both school teachers and LNA boards members.

     

    The renters told similar stories but didn’t realize their neighbors shared their experiences. For example, in mid-February the renters had received letters demanding they pay rent online starting in March. The organizers heard over and over again, “I can figure out how to pay this way, but not everyone can.” The door knocks led to meetings, and the coalition of renters and organizers named themselves Inquilinos Unidos.

     

     

    Renters, sometimes still in their work uniforms, gather in an LNA meeting rooms to share their fears and frustrations about broken appointments, ignored maintenance requests, and how Fernando Campofreda (the property manager) and other staff treat them. The meetings always start with story-telling-- answering the question ‘why are you here?’

     

    Angela begins. In November when she and her roommate Marisela asked for repairs to their one bedroom, Fernando told them, “we don’t do repairs while people are living in the apartment.” The two took their complaint to City Inspection and the repairs were finally made on the last possible day. Like nearly all tenants in 3027, 3023, and 3019 Pleasant, they had signed a year lease which included off-street parking, but one month in QT Properties demanded monthly payment for parking. After an exchange of letters, Angela and Marisela took QT Properties to court, won their case, and received a parking sticker; but they were the only ones. Other residents chime in that they either paid the extra fee or now park blocks away.

     

    Ofelia Benitez goes next. After living in 3114 Pillsbury for about three months, there was a plumbing problem in Ofelia’s apartment. The floor flooded and it took management days to get to the apartment to stop the problem. After that, they told Ofelia she needed to move out for six days so they could fix it. She couldn’t afford to stay in another place, so she used fans to dry out the floor. The water caused the floor to warp, and there was an inch step between the kitchen and the bedroom. When Ofelia asked for repairs, Fernando told her he didn’t have the staff to make the repairs. One morning, Ofelia tripped on the warped wood and fell, hitting her head and injuring her foot. The management company did not reimburse her for any of her medical bills.

    As they told their stories, the renters discovered that QT Properties targeted the Spanish speaking community through vague ads in Spanish language publications. The ads resemble those in the back of City Pages: “room for rent, call this number.” Many of the renters work in the service industry, making low wages and struggling to support their families.

     

    Besides those terse ads, the renters only knew about their shadowy landlord through Fernando and a voice on the maintenance line answering machine telling them to call back. The renters did not even have a permanent address for the company that had so much power over their lives; QT Properties has used four different houses as an office in the last 9 months.

     

    Seeking a place to send a letter, Inquilinos Unidos found 24 separate Limited Liability Corporations mostly in Minnesota which are connected by Jason Quilling’s ownership, a building at 2960 Winnetka Ave., or both. Ten of these LLCs own at least one rental building, and another four are construction firms. According to Jen Arnold, one lawyer, a Lyndale resident, suggested that creating this many LLC’s might be meant to protect Quilling from litigation.  

    At the next meeting, organizers shared these discoveries with renters. An oversized styrofoam board covered in post-it-notes tried to illustrate the connections among Quilling’s small empire. Their suspicions were affirmed, the company, and the problem, was bigger than Fernando. As their situation became clear, the renters began to draft a demand letter for Fernando and Quilling:

      

    April 16th, 2015

    Dear Jason Quilling,

    We are here today to ask you to make some changes in the way your business (Q.T. Properties) is managed. We are tired of being disrespected in our housing.

    1. We want to be treated with respect.
      1. We want warnings of changes that affect us with two weeks notice, like parking, new leases or the location of your office.
      2. We want your staff to be respectful and not threatening towards us.
      3. We want your staff to be available to answer our calls. They should make appointments with us when it works in our schedules, so we don’t have to take days off of work. We want your staff to show up when they make appointments with us.
      4. We want to be notified with one week’s notice about when an exterminator will come so we can make arrangements to be there.
      5. We want you to ask permission before you enter our apartments--it’s the law!
    2. We want our apartments to be in good condition.
      1. We want your staff to respond to repair requests that we make within a few days, and to respond to emergencies immediately.
      2. We want you to hire maintenance staff who are certified to do the repairs they are making, and to hire a sufficient amount of staff to attend to requests in a timely manner.
      3. We want you to hire certified exterminators for pests so that the exterminations are successful.
    3. We want the option to sign 6 month or 1 year leases.
    4. We want alternative methods to paying rent and submitting maintenance requests online.
    5. We want written communications in Spanish and English from your office, including the lease.

    We think the first step in addressing these demands is to find a new manager in your office to replace Fernando. He continually offends us and is in charge of all the decisions that have made it difficult to work with your company.

    We anxiously await your response. You can get in communicate with us by sending a letter or email of response to Jennifer Arnold (jennifer@lyndale.org) at the Lyndale Neighborhood Association.

    Sincerely,

     

    Inquilinos Unidos por Justicia

     

     

    Armed with the letter and their stories, on April 16th the renters descended on 3112 Hennepin Ave, the most recent home of QT Properties. The business had its windows open but as soon as the crowds began chanting the panes were shuttered. The renters brought their children, who peered through the mail slot, yelling for Fernando. Their parents wanted to give Fernando a letter, they said. When no one answered, the renters took over the space, climbing the steps, turning the porch into a stage from which they told of injustices and threats. Pedestrians wandered past, curious about the ruckus in an otherwise congested commercial center. An Apple store and an Urban Outfitters are both just around the corner.

    Board Member Roberto de La Riva went around to the neighbors to inform them of who they were living next to. Ofelia, Angela, and Maria told their stories to cheers of support from other renters and a handful of men and women who had come to show solidarity. The media remained respectfully quiet, even as they interviewed renters. After the letter had been ceremoniously shoved through the mail slot, as the energy leveled out, a taxi zoomed to a stop in the middle of the street.

     

    Many of those present did not know who the man was, but those who lived at 3019 Pleasant Ave. recognized the Jimenez family. Juan ran to the front of the crowd while his wife paid the taxi driver. He mounted the porch and pulled a bill out of the envelope he was holding: $486 dollars for two towed cars. He had been one of those who paid the mid-lease parking fees, he had dutifully affixed the new stickers, so why had he been towed? “This happened because the protest is going on,” he told the crowd. Another renter had been abused, but thanks to Inquilinos Unidos, Juan Jimenez had a stage to speak from, and a crowd to listen.

     

    After the protest, QT staff met with city officials. While the meeting was closed to the public, QT clearly felt pressured. They have been posting letters on their tenants doors, insisting there is no problem. They urge direct communication with the management company, discourage renters from ‘inconsistencies in association,’ and warn of outside agitators who are just trying to stir up trouble. They have also door knocked twice, but it is clear that the renters know their power is in the bond they have created telling stories and depending on one another and they refuse to deal with the company alone.

     

    At the same time, the company has ignored demands to give tenants the latest parking permit (remember, free parking is promised in the lease). They have not rescinded their demand that rent be paid online. As a result, tenants distrust the communication with the Landlord and they fear if they express their concerns they will be retaliated against. Tenants say the management company is trying to isolate tenants instead of agreeing to meet with them altogether, as they have been asking for since before the protest.

     

    On May 6th a group of renters met at Lyndale Neighborhood Organization to meet meet with JoAnn Velde, Chief Inspector for Minneapolis Inspection Services - for buildings with 1 to 3 units. (The room was filled with a bounty of Mexican sweet bread that this writer disproportionately consumed, unable to shake off the nostalgia of eating, “pan de dulce” on the streets of his native Los Angeles.) Renters spoke with conviction as they carefully described the frustrations of being tenants of Jason Quilling. JoAnn was visibly moved, as a translator described the deplorable conditions renters had been living in. Most shockingly renters revealed that when Quilling took over 3027, 3023 and 3019 Pleasant he had essentially stolen their security deposits.

     

    When asked if this was the worst case JoAnn had ever seen she mentioned that Spiros Zorbalas had been the worst slumlord in recent memory. As they spoke, Jen Arnold wrote out their concerns on a poster board. The rough, sharpie-scrawled note makes a strong case for a New Slumlord of South Minneapolis:

     

    Building Negligence

    General Disrespect

    Needless Fines

    Drain plugged for two days, heat turned off overnight.

    Longfellow tenants receive an eviction letter at the same time.

    50 dollar a day fine for having AC.

    Longfellow building has heating problems.

    While canvassing renters spoke to a white women who mentioned that the property manager Fernando not only fixed the washing machine, but even returned money.

    Rent increase in an apartment from $625 to $700 within 6 months.

    Floors were flooded, and no emergency staff came for six days. After, were not repaired. Parent concerned since her child is asthmatic.

    No options for physical rent payments, tenants forced to pay via internet or move.

    The management doesn't seem to like fun. If you sit outside you get fined $60.

    Lots of bugs, maintenance just put down some paste. Mice and cockroaches. They said they would be killed by the venom in two minutes, but they were still there in 2 months.

    When they signed the lease, Fernando was nice, but when they called for repairs he was mean.

    Tenants will be fined $500 for opening their windows before April 15th, but there is no kitchen exhaust.

    Laundry machines don't work.

    They were told arbitrarily that they couldn't have a satellite dish. Many were given one week notice taped on the front door.

    Were told that it's illegal to play outside, $50 fine; management chained fences so youth couldn’t play between buildings.

     

    To listen to Jennifer and I talk about the organizing and what it all felt like and to here Jennifer's goofy Minnesota accent check out our podcast convo below! 

     

    Note: Here at chipsterlife we primarily blog while sometimes telling long form stories, reflections, features on artists and something close to actual journalism. In this piece I was motivated to investigate Jason Quilling and QT Properties by Jennifer Arnold, Lead Organizer at Lyndale Neighborhood Organization. Thus was borne Chipsterlife’s first investigative long form piece. I spent considerable time with Jennifer and the renters  to try and understand the complexities and story of the restless, predominantly latino tenants who had had enough. Jennifer graciously helped me pull together the essential components for this investigative piece. Furthermore, through an unnamed informant we were able to get Quilling’s personal cell phone number. After some phone calls and texts I was not able to get a comment on the record from him about his properties; he simply dismissively claimed that the accusations levied by the latino renters are made up and affirmed that the properties are well maintained.   

    -Filiberto Nolasco Gomez and Logan Carroll,
    with significant contributions from Jennifer Arnold
  • The Battle for Chicano and Latino Studies

    The Battle for Chicano and Latino Studies:
    What a banner drop on Cinco De Mayo was really all about

     

    Born out of the struggles by Chicanos throughout the United States to set the terms of their identity, the University of Minnesota established the first Chicano Studies Department in the upper Midwest in the 1970s.  Following similar successful efforts on the West Coast, the epicenter of the burgeoning Chicano Movement, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities department blossomed following a sit in by student activists at the primarily administrative building Morrill Hall.

    While victorious in its inception, the Chicano and Latino Studies Department has never had more than 4 faculty members and normally only two--one senior faculty and one junior faculty, i.e. non-tenured. Faculty have come and gone, many citing the inhospitable environment for faculty and students of color at the University of Minnesota as a primary motivation for leaving. Last year, the University revealed that former Chair Louis Mendoza’s tenure track faculty line would not be replaced, leaving the department with one tenure track professor. Chicano leaders throughout the community interpreted this as an attempt to destabilize the department and set it on a track for closure. Students and other community members responded to this and other social justice related concerns on campus with a series of events throughout the academic year, eventually leading to a sit in at the President’s office by one particular group, Whose Diversity?.

     

    On a snowy Minnesota afternoon, at a faculty organized solidarity rally for support of the students arrested during the sit in, the only professor in the Chicano Latino Studies Department spoke. Assistant Professor Jimmy Patiño gave a speech to a crowd of well-layered protesters on the front steps of the University’s main administration building. He explained:

     

     

    “I am currently the only faculty member in the 40 year old department of Chicano and Latino Studies. I have been put in a situation where I must constantly think and rethink how this situation came to be and what my responsibilities are in doing something about it.  And the administration has given excuses as to how this occurred, has minimized the absurdity of such a situation, and even suggested that this department is somehow supposed to have only a few faculty members. With all the excuses, what I hear from the admin is that “we do not value what you have dedicated your life to do. We do not value this field of study and the community it takes as its central subject of knowledge creating.”

    With the former Chair Professor Mendoza’s departure, along with the University’s decision to not reinstate and rehire for his position, the department was put in an extremely tenuous. Not having a senior faculty member has limited the number of professors who teach classes and can complete other necessary administrative tasks. However, most crucially, this has left the department without a viable candidate to serve as chair--a (usually) tenured professor who oversees the department. Although this position is currently held by Professor Éden Torres, she is actually “on loan” from the department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and her term is up next year after which she will go on sabbatical and then phased retirement.

    While the one hire from the University may “solve” the problem of who will chair the department after Torres, it does not solve the department's larger problems. In order to have a truly sustainable and thriving  department that lives up to the standards of excellence in academia, Chicano and Latino Studies requires a minimum of five faculty members. While a seemingly ambitious goal given the dire constraints of University funding, activists argue that this ask is nothing compared to peer Midwest institutions. For example, the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign's Latino Studies department has 12 faculty members; the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Chican@ and Latin@ Studies department has 13 faculty members; and the University of Michigan’s Latina/o department has 10 faculty members.

     

     

    Activists explained that this was the reason that early in the morning on “Cinco De Mayo,” an estimated 40 ft  banner that read “FUND CHICANO STUDIES.” with the hashtag “#onehireisnotenough” was dropped from the University of Minnesota’s Coffman Memorial Union’s balcony. This act of protest was designed to highlight the University of Minnesota’s systematic and detrimental underfunding of the Chicano and Latino Studies department.

    Activists chose to drop a banner as a response to the University administration’s lack of engagement with the community over the tenuous state of the department. Earlier this semester, a number of activists sent an email to President Kaler, Vice President Hanson, and CLA Dean Coleman asking them to attend a community meeting. Dean Coleman responded by stating that there had not only been enough discussion over the matter, but that in fact that the matter had been resolved. Coleman was referencing the opportunity granted to the Chicano Latino Studies Department to search for one senior faculty hire next year, a direct result of the Whose Diversity? sit in. Activists argue that one hire is simply not enough to stabilize the department.

    The activists’ demands, however, go beyond the department’s faculty hiring numbers. They also demand that the University reinstate funds so that the department can rehire its Outreach Coordinator at full-time status. The position has proven to be crucial to Chicano and Latino Studies, as this department and academic field was founded on an inextricable connection to those in the community. The department’s outreach coordinator maintains those community connections and helps them thrive. Furthermore, this position has been central to developing programs to recruit, retain, and sustain Chicano and Latino students at the University.

     

    - Filiberto Nolasco Gomez 

     

     

  • AN OPEN LETTER ON BLACKFACE AND BLACKNESS

    Minneapolis based Visual artist Junauda Alma Responds to a performer on stage using blackface. 

     

    I am up early as usual and I find myself listening to
    “Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away” by King Stevie Wonder. I find my ass crying and dancing really hard. There was one lyric in particular that swiftly put me all up in my feelings. 

     

    Why must my color black make me a lesser man?

    About a week ago I was backstage at an event curated for performance artists, Culture Wars at Patrick’s Cabaret. I was getting ready when my sweetfriend/sis-star, Jayanthi called me out to see what was on stage. I look and see one of the other artists performing.
    In BLACKFACE and devil horns and butt ass naked, splashing fake blood, thoroughly into his ass and genitals and humping the ground and wiping his ass with black paper. It was confusing me.

     

    The BLACKFACE part of it.

     

    I walk back into the dressing room with Jayanthi and we talked about it. Da fuq? BLACKFACE? What were we going to do? And we didn’t know. Nobody else seemed disturbed but us. And we didn’t feel particularly brave or righteous, but we knew it was wrong and this was a disturbance to the love of Black people and respect to the ancestors. And we were about to do a piece on the healing space of sisterhood within white supremacy (how meta...). And then here go some BLACKFACE. We decided after reflection to call that shit out on stage. We started rehearsing sumthin...

     

    As part of the piece, I tell a story about feeling ugly in kindergarten because BLACKNESS (sweet, delicious, contemplatively divine and omnipotent BLACKNESS) was something I was taught to despise and misunderstand in me and in the world. After this I then said, “Then I grew up and became an artist. And got asked to be in the Culture Wars. And then here go some BLACKFACE.” Then Jayanthi and I looked at each other and said “Fucking BLACKFACE?” and stare at the audience for a little while. Then Jayanthi said “Are we giving it glory by mentioning it or staying silent? This is adding to my struggle.” Then we continued on with our piece.

     

    It burned me and Jayanthi’s hearts. We couldn’t stop talking about it for days and it was pissing us off that we were being preoccupied with this fellow artists’ work and he had no accountability to it. Since then we have talked to the curators, received what I believe to be heartfelt apologies for both allowing the work to be shown to an audience (twice) and even allowing images of it to be used for publicity, not recognizing the BLACKFACE as a fucking problem. Not noticing the BLACKFACE as noteworthy at all. Invisible. At the end of the day, we felt alone in calling out the BLACKFACE on the stage. Somehow no one involved seemed to have their heart up in it as much as we did and that hurt us.

     

    Someone showed me a Facebook post of the artist who performed in BLACKFACE and he was proud of himself and his mastubatory and boring (my opinion, maybe others were moved) artwork and additionally said “May Satan Bless her Heart” in reference to me for “offending” me. He categorized the work he did as “taking a risk.” Sigh... Okay. In 2015 when White and Armed AmeriKKKa is murderously struggling with seeing and loving Black people, BLACKFACE ain’t taking a risk. Sorry homie. White supremacy/fear is still psychically draining and killing Black people, even children, via the school systems, environmental racism, racism in hiring and pay, the prison system and with state-sponsored and vigilante gun violence. To name a few. Black Lives Matter. So being in BLACKFACE and saying it has something with being a risky artist falls flatly on the wrong side of history.

     

    It reifies the lies around BLACKNESS not being sacred and beautiful. And the church set this trend, when they made BLACKNESS seem like it had to do with craziness and evil and made Jesus look like a wholesome BeeGee. So devil horns in BLACKFACE...why? And for whom? Not for me. Who is art like that for? All the White people I saw staring back at us when Jayanthi and I said BLACKFACE out loud. Is that who that piece was for? I am really trying to understand. Actually, I am not...One of my sis-stars, another brilliant wild woman artist, who knows the BLACKFACE artist in the community, said if she was there she would have said, “Jaime?! Jaime!!!! Jaime, is that you? Get that shit off yo’ face!” The thought of her doing that makes me laugh and smile so hard. And wish someone would have done that.

     

    There is so much more to say and yet, I just want to go in my backyard and start working the earth for my garden. I love how the earth just got this spirit that reminds you of your truth and light, your sensuality and sweetness. Reminds you of your wholeness. A sis-star of mine, once told me when I was heartbroken to go panty-less with a big skirt and find a piece of the earth to sit down and get recharged and I must get back into that practice, now that it is warm enough. I am going to sit in the sun and recharge from the earth’s BLACKNESS and not fuss with this backwards, crazy shit anymore

     

     

  • Chipsterlife One Year Later

     

    Gente,

    This project has been live for slightly over a year and was conceived a little over a year and half ago in separate but related conversations with Claudia Magaña, my sort of brother Jose Anguiano and my bro in law Jesus Estrada. At the time we concluded there really isn't a website devoted to the cultural and social aspects of the latino experience with a consistently progressive voice and lens of analysis. We noted the pathbreaking work of Latino Rebels and wanted to complement the voice they offer by focusing on music and longer form writing with a bias towards the pacific coast and of course a view from my unexpected home in Minneapolis. 

    I didn't really know what I was doing when I started this. I mostly just followed my intuition about what I thought was interesting and what was missing among conversations within the latino social media space. In reality the whole concept was based around a podcast series I was tinkering with while employed in my first gig in Minneapolis, (I have since moved on to my fourth job here and I expect this one will stick!). I had been running a speaker series that know one showed up to and I was getting frustrated expending so much energy getting folks to do something they clearly had no interest in. So it made sense to record the conversation with the guests and stream it over the internet. I interviewed folks with the intention of connecting their conversation to national narratives. Moving into podcasts energized me and once I left that job I wanted to continue the podcast realizing that I would no longer be limited by the restrictions of a politically tentative non-profit. I loved how the podcasts connected me to communities and individuals my social anxiety restrict me from and how I formed strong relationships with my guests. It was and is great! 

     

    I have been fascinated with how the site has developed, how people have responded to it and the community that has formed through it. I have met amazing people and have made a lot of good friends, not the least of which has been the fellas of Chicano Batman that embraced my project and have made themselves available over and over again culminating in an epic benefit show for Unaccompanied Minors in Oakland, California.The second event that really alerted me to the possibilities of what the website could be was the hoopla surrounding that dam Santa Barbara News-Press front page! When I got an email from one of my twitter buddies and advocates Jeronimo Saldana about my name and campaign mentioned in Cosmopolitan I was blown away, and mostly confused.

     

    What lands and what people put energy around is never all that consistent. I tried doing a Buzzfeed style "12 Chihuahuas of Christmas" having found a bunch of  Chihuahuas in Santa outfits. It fell flat and taught me a strong lesson abut my audience and how much I need to stick to my vision. The lesson? Clearly my audience had gotten used to the mostly dour and raw articles that I post with something to chuckle at every so often! 

    In the about section you can read about the inspiration for the website, how the vision and direction is inspired by the memory of my father, the consummate humble story teller. I crafted the site as a way to grieve his loss and commemorate his life. I do hope I have honored his memory and to you the reader I hope I have conveyed his rhythm and impact on me. I love my father very much and feel his presence in the words that I right and the chuckles in the podcast.

    So a couple of admissions. I have never liked the term Chipsterlife. In the early stages of brainstorming my crew and I came up with a bunch of names that didn't make sense or where unavailable in domain name form. The term itself came on my radar when it was used to describe me at some point by my buddy Jeanalee Obergfell and I thought it was a funny term. Sometimes folks really get worked up about the term and I generally agree with them, however, its meant to be a joke NOT to be taken seriously. Tongue in cheek homies!

    Ok on to the warm and fuzzy. So man many thanks! Certainly, one of the unexpected surprises is the mentorship and support Julio from Latino Rebels has offered. His constant retweets and enthusiasm for my project was very affirming in moments of uncertainty. At a time when I was doubting the whole project Daniella Ortiz-Padilla briskly stepped into my life and we penned what remains the most popular thing produced on the site, Gentrifications Storefront. My nameless buddy who alerted me to some f-ed up stuff and what became two posts that would be the basis for a hilarious lawsuit threat. Marco Hyman is diligently fixing up the store, in the process of replacing the crappy photos I took of the otherwise marvelous products. My photos did them a grave injustice. Speaking of products Rochelle, Ebelyn and Trama Textiles have been wonderful vendors. Patty Delgado has graciously allowed me to repost her awesome content. Chhoti Maa is awesome! Taylor Shevey inspired one of my most revealing posts. The twitter crew who taught me how that business works Victor Sanchez and Jeronimo Saldana. As I mentioned before Chicano Batman has given this project mad love and has anchored my foray into music and the arts. Franco Funktion has been my favorite and most popular podcast and also represents my first foray into music sales. Franco's all I want is to be invited to your thanksgiving dinners or any other family gathering! Lastly and most recently look out for new products with my emerging business partner and co-worker Liz Engels.

    Of course mad love always goes to the fam bam for putting up with my unabated restlessness and humoring my incessant brainstorming. Look I actually did put this together! 

    Thank you readers, likers, retweeters and folks that share. Keep reading and enjoying and feel free to suggest and write up some stuff! I will always post things from collaborators. 

     Con Amor

    Filiberto Nolasco Gomez

     PS I am a now a Mexican Citizen!

     

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