Salinas // Session A

Cesar Chavez Library // young adults



  • Strength in Numbers = different community activist groups uniting to fight for different causes
  • Catch 22 = needing experience to get a job and not having a way to get it
  • Catch 22 = doing volunteer work to build experience and then being told you're "over qualified
  • East Salinas which provides more of the local tax base, is smaller than South Salinas (the more touristy part of town) and is gerry mandered making it difficult to get the resources they need, i.e., money flows out of East Salinas, but not back in
  • The people in positions of power (Board of Supervisors) have been in office too long and don't care about nor represent the young adults in the room


  • Natasha talked about going to her Board of Supervisors meeting and how it took bravery to get up and speak and yet the Supes could care less about what they had to say
  • She also said members of the Sheriff's department showed up right before the meeting started and sat apart from them creating and "us vs. them" mentality
  • Dave talked about how it takes "practice" to be brave enough to stand up for your rights
  • This particular table were all part of an organization called MILPA that is focused on breaking the schools to incarceration experience so many locals have
  • A couple of members of a non-profit theater group said that arts did not flourish there and were not encouraged for several reasons: parents don't have time to take their kids to after school activities and they don't see the value of them leading to full-time jobs


- What were 3 themes you heard today?

Stress - stress of performing in school, stress of time management, stress of needing more extracurriculars, stress of feeling behind. All the kids at my table (mostly high school, 1 or 2 college) were worried about college and their careers - some needed guidance in what they wanted to study, some needed guidance on how to navigate their career after they've decided what they want to study. They worried about getting a degree and not being able to get a job. They worried about having to come back to Salinas after college.

Infrastructure in East Salinas - there's a pretty clear divide in Salinas between the affluent and non-affluent areas, and how they're treated with gov't money. Streetlights and parks came up a few times at my table. Streetlights because it's unsafe. Parks because there's no real 'destinations' in East Salinas, and more parks would a) get people out of their homes and b) give people something to do while in the neighborhood.

Being young - the catch 22 of wanting a job but not having enough experience to get you a job, especially as a young person, came up again in my group. One idea that came up would be to have a letter of recommendation from an adult you've volunteered with or know well in lieu of paid work experience.


- Were there any stories that particularly resonated with you? Why?

Anthony told us how he walks everywhere, and his parents sometimes don't let him go out because it's dark and unsafe. He also is the only one of his friends to have ever taken the bus, and his friends asked him how he did that and if people tried to sell him drugs while he was on the bus.

Misael mentioned how the only way he could get some money of his own was to get a fake ID and work in the fields with his parents over the summer. He's 15.

A few kids at my table are part of Joel's youth group. They set a goal for this election that they wanted to increase voter turnout in East Salinas by 10%. They canvassed and got people registered to vote and helped people get vote-by-mail ballots. They exceeded their goal of 10%. They also held a candidate forum that was hugely successful in helping people know who their candidates were.



  • The stress of being 1st generation, oldest, and performing well at school dominated our conversation
  • Education felt like a must have for these kids as a way out
  • The transition from highschool to college is difficult because of the lack of guidance from their school counselors or their uneducated parents
  • A need to bridge gaps in the community to bring people together
  • Catch-22 - being too young to have experience to get a job
  • Emphasis on taking care of their mental health



  • Gabriel spoke about how surprised he was by how few people had attended community meetings he went to. In retrospect, he said, it made sense because adults like his parents are concerned not about influencing decisions that impacts the distant future, but are focused on day-to-day decisions like "how do I get a job?" or "how can I get a better paying job?".
  • Last year during a rise in the crime rate, folks in East Salinas organized "healing circles" with their community members to provide a safe space to talk to each other and share
  • A few of the students participated in a walk-out protest after the election
Jonathan Ota