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Social Justice Conference returns following smoky setback
Roza Calderon
Monday’s events will conclude with a keynote address from Roza Calderon (Photo contributed).

Stanislaus State’s 4th annual Social Justice in the Central Valley Conference, which was schedule in November but had to be postponed due to hazardous air quality, is back on track with a panel discussion, artist talk and keynote speaker scheduled for Monday.

The original conference was scheduled for three days of featured speakers, cultural events and open-dialogue workshops focused on coalition-based community advocacy and social activism Nov. 13-15. The conference was postponed after smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County caused university campus closures for health reasons as the air quality reached extremely hazardous levels.

Monday’s event, named Social Justice in the Central Valley: Back from the Smoke (Act One), will include a plenary panel, gallery viewing, artist talk and keynote talk.

The events will begin with a panel discussion from 3:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Mainstage Theatre. The topic will be: Community Organizing for Representation of the Interests of Disadvantaged Underrepresented Communities in the Central Valley. Panel speakers include:

·         Sophia Garcia — Garcia is Geographic Information Systems Analyst for the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the pursuit of social justice in disadvantaged communities. She is part of a new team helping the foundation move towards the utilization of big data and maps to enhance the work of the foundation. Garcia knows that data is knowledge and believes that nonprofits can reach a greater audience with specific data and maps for their organizations. Her experience with GIS began at Wellesley College, where she earned a BA degree in Environmental Studies. Since then, she’s enhanced her GIS experience in the industries of agriculture, transportation planning, public works and academia, including work for the Kern Council of Governments, Kern County Department of Agriculture and Measurement Standards and Kern County Department of Public Works.

·         Pam Whalen — Whalen is Organizing Director for the Dolores Huerta Foundation. She has extensive experience in the field of organizing and civic engagement. She joined the United Farm Workers Union after graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Latin American Studies and participated in the Gallo Strike and Boycott in 1973. She also oversaw the Agricultural Labor Relations Board Elections in the Merced region. She went on to work for the Service Employees International Union for 22 years where she organized over 10,000 home care workers. Whalen is a founding member of the Community Alliance newspaper and the Central Valley Partnership.

·         Lourdes “Lulu” Oliva — Oliva is a community organizer in Fresno County with the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Lulu focuses her work on empowering Spanish speaking migrant agricultural workers and immigrants of Latin America. As the first in her family to graduate from college and as an immigrant from Guatemala, she uses her voice and personal experiences to communicate a positive message to many immigrant families and their children who have shared similar struggles. “Lulu,” as she is known by her radio audience, is passionate about advocating for women, single parent families, and immigrants and their journey towards acculturation and success. She is an editor at the Community Alliance Newspaper, and has been a volunteer radio producer and DJ for Radio Bilingüe, the National Latino Public Radio Network for 17 years.

The conference will continue with an Art Gallery Reception at 5:30 p.m. and Artist Talk at 6:30 p.m. “Voice for the Voiceless” is a solo exhibition featuring the work of Malaquias Montoya, one of the founders of the social serigraphy movement in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-1960s. The paintings, silkscreens, charcoals and oil pastels, address three prominent themes: injustice, empowerment and international struggle. The works in this exhibition are intended to raise awareness and pay homage to those whom the artist calls the “silent and often ignored populace of Chicana/o, Mexican and Central American working class, along with other disenfranchised people of the world.”

Also in the University Art Gallery is the social justice exhibit, “Showing (work x family).”

“Showing (work x family)” is a 28-foot, six-screen photography exhibition with an original soundscape that reveals the intimate choreography of everyday life. The exhibit explores the push and pull of work and family—a universal balancing act with no fixed equation.

“Showing (work x family)” is a project of Working Assumptions, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with artists to encourage conversations about work and family and to advance the power of nurturing as a resource for humanity.  Exhibit closes Dec. 18.

Monday’s events will conclude with a keynote address from Roza Calderon.

Calderon is a geoscientist, social justice activist, community leader and passionate advocate for human rights. She earned her baccalaureate from Humboldt State University where she focused on geopolitical and cultural research. Calderon works in the field of Geospatial Science and intelligence, serving as a contractor with federal and state agencies on environmental, agricultural, and defense projects. As a research geographer and geoscientist, activist, small-business owner, mother and former refugee, Calderon has dedicated her life’s work to building relationships and offer solutions to the struggles of the people in her community. She draws on many years of experience in GIS, research, environmental policy and planning. Her recent candidacy for California’s 4th congressional district was endorsed by Dolores Huerta.

This special campus event is open to the community and free of charge.