Community Engagement
More Than Statistics

More Than Statistics

By Sharon Merino What does it entail to give oneself to the cause? It means long hours, stress, frustration, and little sleep, but most of all hope — hope that all the hard work will pay off; hope that you will meet your goals; and hope that the work will truly impact everyone you spoke...
Organizing is a Lifestyle

Organizing is a Lifestyle

By Harold Dela Cruz You’ve probably all thought about doing something in your lifetime that will change the world. But what does it take to create lasting change in a community? And what are some of the challenges? Participating in the Organizing and Leadership Academy (TOLA) has shown me that positive change is incredibly difficult...
Conquering Fear - An Organizer's Story

Conquering Fear – An Organizer’s Story

By Grace Luk On my first day of TOLA, I was faced with one of the most nerve-racking tasks: canvassing and approaching strangers. Clipboard in hand, I became one of those people I often ignore on sidewalks persuading others to sign a petition, or support a cause. My job was to educate the community about...
Rearranging Meaning

Rearranging Meaning

By Kyle Peerless I am so grateful for the TOLA program. The curriculum and guest speakers we are exposed to in conjunction with our campaign work allow us to develop skills to become effective at connecting with people in a way that provides perspective and inspiration, and the impetus to take action against injustice. In...
“You should be shy about stealing, not asking”

“You should be shy about stealing, not asking”

By Monica Gomez Growing up, my mom would teach us to speak up and to ask for help when we needed something. When we didn’t ask, she would say, “Te debería de dar pena robar, no preguntar.” (You should be shy about stealing, not asking.)  Even though I am not a shy person, I sometimes...
We’re the TOLA Fellows. We Organize.

We’re the TOLA Fellows. We Organize.

By Geovanni Gomez Aurora, Harold, Grace, Monica, Sharon, Roger, Claudia, Geo, Kyle. We’re the TOLA fellows. We remind each other every day why we do the work we do. The campaign: pushing through a soda tax in 2 different cities. The work: on the ground conversations. Human interactions to convey the importance of the campaign,...
Inicando Conversaciones

Inicando Conversaciones

Por Aurora Castellanos Mi abuelita nos decía que su herencia, desafortunadamente, seria la diabetes que ha afectado a nuestra familia por generaciones. Aún recuerdo que a la edad de cinco años, observé como la diabetes le quitaba la vida a mi tia Lupe, la hermana mayor de mi abuelita. Al escuchar las conversaciones en mi...
Oakland vs Big Soda - Sparking Conversations

Oakland vs Big Soda – Sparking Conversations

By Aurora Castellanos My grandmother used to tell us that our inheritance will unfortunately be the diabetes that has affected our family for generations. Even at the young age of five I remember seeing my tia Lupe, my grandmother’s older sister, battling diabetes as the disease took the last breath of life out of her....
A Love for the Cause

A Love for the Cause

By Claudia K. Haro-Contreras Elotes, Churros, Raspados, Fruta Picada, Hot Dogs, Ice Cream, Paletas, and Quesadillas. There is no doubt that “The Mission” in San Francisco has it all. Hearing the “buenos dias” and “good morning” greetings while walking down Mission Street sure makes me feel homesick. I never imagined that working in such a...
My New Organizing Family

My New Organizing Family

By Roger Saechao “This will be a very intense sixteen week fellowship,” said TOLA Director, Christian Garcia, during my initial TOLA interview. Without a doubt the first two weeks at TOLA have been challenging. However, the experience also has been inspiring, positive, and motivating. I have had the privilege to meet experienced professionals and community...
Watch NEW Berkeley vs Big Soda Film!

Watch NEW Berkeley vs Big Soda Film!

In November 2014, Berkeley became the first US city to pass a measure taxing distributors of soda and other sugary drinks. One year later, Berkeley’s soda tax has generated over $1.5 million for community nutrition and health efforts! Concerned about skyrocketing type 2 diabetes rates among children, many communities throughout the United States and the...
"Never stop learning. Never stop laughing."

“Never stop learning. Never stop laughing.”

Interview of Angela Kline, TOLA 2 Angela Kline, is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. While in graduate school, Angela researched innovative payment system reforms to ensure that Americans receive value in healthcare dollars. Additionally, Angela was Public Policy Fellow at United Way of the Bay Area, where she analyzed inventive...

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