Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Grants Coordinator
Do you have children? No way.
How long did you live in Pomona? Most of my formative life, from the age of about 3 until 22.
What brought you there? My parents moved to our house on Artesia Street as their first home, and my mother will attest to the fact that she was afraid to move there with her 2 young children. It was right before my brother’s second birthday.
What was the best thing about living in Pomona? My childhood. It may have not been the safest environment to grow up in, but it was certainly diverse. I went to Yorba Elementary School and, looking back, my brother and I were a minority. We are both half Mexican and half French/German/Swedish, but we “look” white. I am proud to have been exposed to other cultures that early on. I remember coming home from school speaking a totally new slang that my parents did not understand. I also think Pomona is a a great big city in a small town. There is this urban edginess to it, while still having that neighborhood feeling.
Where are your favorite places to be in Pomona? The Arts Colony – hands down. I started going to the Arts Colony when I was 16 years old. My friend, Jenine, and I went to an ongoing concert series at the Glasshouse of local bands. We spent most of our time trying to look cool, saw a lot of bad bands, and for the first time I felt a sense of freedom – something more than the school/home life. While at Mt. SAC finishing a photography program c. 2004 (?) I met my friend, Angel, who invited me to the Artwalk that was in its infancy. There were not many galleries then, but you could feel that something was happening. There was all this room for growth and experimentation. Another honorable mention would be the County Fair – we lived within walking distance, always knew someone that was working there, and could thereby get in, eat, and ride (for basically free) whenever we wanted. It was like a free mini-Disneyland in our own backyard. It was strange to go back years later and have to pay for everything – what a rip off!
What was the worst thing about living here? Since Pomona is where I grew up, I only have fond childhood memories. I don’t know that I was ever aware of any danger, until maybe high school. My parents did not want my brother and I attending middle or high school in Pomona so we used a false address to attend schools in La Verne. It wasn’t until later when I told close friends where I lived that I would learn that Pomona is considered dangerous by “outsiders”. If I got a ride from a friend, they would always roll up the windows and lock the doors when we reached Pomona. Thinking back at this moment I do now remember there being a lot of “ghetto-birds” out at night, constant sirens, and flashing lights – to me this was totally normal. (I guess that’s also why I feel so at home today living in Glassell Park, a similar type neighborhood.) I also moved away before the violence really started to escalate again. Now as an adult, not living there anymore I can recognize the overall socio-economic issues and the problems they cause.
Can you talk about one significant event that happened during your time in Pomona? I don’t know that it was a single significant event, but definitely my time spent at the dA Center for the Arts was the most significant thing I ever did in Pomona. The dA is a small non-profit art gallery whose mission is to be an all-inclusive, non-exclusive space for artists to experiment. I started volunteering there in 2006 and by the beginning of 2012 I was writing grant applications for them. I wasn’t living in Pomona at the time but still felt a strong connection to my roots and community. The dA is the reason I am able to be in the line of work that I am in today – where else can you go with zero experience, offer to write grants and be fortunate enough to win money for an organization you care deeply about? The people within that community are more than peers, they are my family. I am still in contact with them today and know that I will return in some capacity or another.
How did living in Pomona change you? Since I was there from an early age I can’t say that it changed me. Rather, it formed who I am today.
How did you change Pomona? I changed Pomona through my work at the dA. Besides my work to raise funds, plan and promote exhibitions, along with a few collaborators (Margot, Sarah, Edgar – what up?!) I started a monthly concert series for local and established bands to play side by side in an open community space. I am very proud to say that this series still takes place today. I hope that I created, or rather continued, the sense of community offered by the Arts Colony community. I guess I was subconsciously trying to recreate the times I had in high school, seeing music with my friends in a inspiring environment.
Any last thoughts you’d like to share? Viva Pomona! I also have street cred when asked where I grew up. People hear “Pomona” and automatically offer respect. I guess I’m pretty thug, right? 😉