In an event called “Take Back Our City,” people from across San Antonio gathered at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center to look at the past to inform today’s conversation about gentrification and displacement.
An 11,000-year timeline papered the walls of the meeting room, going back from today to a time when indigenous groups were still migrating to the Americas.
During the three-hour conversation, attendees added events to the massive timeline and told stories about how they and their families were affected.
NOWCastSA recorded the conversation on this video playlist and curated the stories.
Scroll past the playlist to read their stories and click through to each story's own spot in the videos. (The group will hold its next meeting at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center on Aug. 27, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Antonia Castaneda tells a story about the history of colonialism world wide, and how it relates to today because she believes that we are living the structures and legacy of colonialism. (Watch her story here: https://youtu.be/_sz8TAhYp-0?t=26m30s )
Franchesca Caraballo, a young college student tells a story about the construction of I-35 and how it served as a racial divider in the city of Austin. (Watch her story here https://youtu.be/_sz8TAhYp-0?t=33m23s )
Irasema Cavazos: Tells a story of how her family was displaced:
"In the 30’s there was a depression. Many times when there is an economic downturn they turn against the immigrant. A lot of families were uprooted and deported, and my family was uprooted and deported even though my grandmother was a U.S. citizen, my mother a U.S. Citizen, but my grandmother was married to an undocumented man, so when he was deported, I mean what is a woman with children going to do? She’s going to go with her husband, or we have the situation that we have now with families being torn apart. So my mother who is a U.S. citizen who was raised in Mexico refuses to speak English to this day even though she’s a U.S. citizen." (Watch her story here: https://youtu.be/_sz8TAhYp-0?t=34m38s)
Barbara Witte-Howell told a story about how her grandmother started what she called the Mexican market in a local mission in order to conserve it. (Watch her story here: https://youtu.be/bEToACftR_Y?t=39m52s )
Patti Elizondo recounted policy implemented by president Dwight Eisenhower during WWII which created the national highway system, and how those policies created highways that cut almost directly through historical churches in San Antonio which indirectly paved the way for urban renewal and displacement here in San Antonio. (Watch this story here: https://youtu.be/_sz8TAhYp-0?t=42m36s )
Rebecca Flores told a story about the 1966 Farm Workers’ Strike pertaining to how this event shed light on the issues that the Chicano movement cared about, and how that group was empowered to affect change (Watch her story here: https://youtu.be/_sz8TAhYp-0?t=48m8s )
Maria Berriozabal told a story about the 32 organizations that were founded in the San Antonio in the 1960s and 1970s such as the Chicano Movement that paved the way for modern special interest groups that are not getting as much press as those groups did back then. (Watch her story here: https://youtu.be/68nGcf2M8-0?t=34s )
Patrick Herndon spoke about John Stanford a local videographer who organized groups in this area that put forth an effort that eventually led to a U.S. Supreme Court case that expanded free speech. (Watch his story here: https://youtu.be/68nGcf2M8-0?t=2m23s )
Eduardo Juarez recounted his childhood experiences in terms of the introduction of single-member city council districts to San Antonio. (Watch his story here: https://youtu.be/68nGcf2M8-0?t=4m59s )
Lauryn Farris shared a personal story about growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in Ann Arbor, MI, and how her struggles growing up in an underrepresented community pertains to the problems that San Antonians face. (Watch her story here: https://youtu.be/68nGcf2M8-0?t=5m49s )
Maria Berriozabal shared with her fellow attendees what it was like to be elected as a San Antonio councilwoman as a direct result of the introduction of single-member districts. (Watch her story here: https://youtu.be/68nGcf2M8-0?t=10m45s)
Tony Villanueva told a story about the community-driven effort to establish an institution of higher learning in the south side of San Antonio to better serve those communities. (Watch his story here: https://youtu.be/68nGcf2M8-0?t=12m7s )
Maria Berriozabal also told a story about how the aquifer, San Antonio’s main source of water, is constantly being affected by desires of development companies to build over the Aquifer on the Northeast Side of San Antonio. She references the many times that citizens defeated proposals to build reservoirs to supplement the water the city gets from the Aquifer. (Watch her story here: https://youtu.be/68nGcf2M8-0?t=19m25s )
Meredith McGuire told a story about a battle between C.O.P.S/Metro Alliance and developers pertaining to residents being responsible for developer impact fees. (Watch her story here: https://youtu.be/68nGcf2M8-0?t=22m55s )
Amy Kastely told a story about the effort by the community to place a moratorium on development over the aquifer, and how she felt that moratorium was used to benefit members on the governmental body that passed it. (Watch her story here: https://youtu.be/68nGcf2M8-0?t=26m12s )
Henry Hernandez spoke about the need for new buildings in his neighborhood because there are buildings that don’t currently serve a purpose. (Watch his story here: https://youtu.be/68nGcf2M8-0?t=35m11s )
Facilitator Gianna Rendon spoke about how people her age are under the notion that the problems that San Antonians face are new. She spoke about the decade of downtown, and how the downtown area is spreading into other parts of the city. Her speech details many recent occurrences of how public spaces are being privatized. (Watch her story here: https://youtu.be/68nGcf2M8-0?t=40m45s )
NowCastSA also interviewed the staff of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.
Graciela Sanchez, Director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, explained that this event was just the first of many put together for residents that are concerned that developers have taken over to discuss their concerns.
Outreach and intern coordinator, Gianna Rendon spoke about the importance of realizing that the issues of today have happened in the past.
Hunter Sosby, an Esperanza Peace and Justice Center intern, spoke about how events such as this one show that the multiplicity of issues across the city are interconnected and deeply rooted in past events and issues. (Watch these interviews here: https://youtu.be/cn9sZgpzK4M )
Once the discussion on the timeline was complete, attendees received a "Power Map" that outlined a list of people who make the decisions in this city. The City Council of San Antonio only constituted a small portion of that list. Other notable decision-makers on the power map included developers, tech companies, and many other industry leaders. The discussion of the diffusion of power in San Antonio was used to accentuate the many ways in which public places are being privatized across the city of San Antonio.
The final discussion was about the upcoming city bond programs, and how citizens can get involved with those programs through their respective city council members.