Institute Names 2004 Community Award Winners
The founding president of North East Trees and student nutrition directors in Compton and Riverside are among the award winners to be recognized at Occidental College’s Urban and Environmental Policy Institute’s 2004 “Building Communities From the Ground Up” ceremony, the annual award program that recognizes individuals dedicated to the development of a more just, livable, and democratic region through research, education, community partnerships, organizing, and policy analysis and advocacy.
A ceremony for the eight honorees is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 14 at Occidental’s Urban and Environmental Policy Institute. The keynote speaker will be Los Angeles city Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa.
“These are people who are strongly committed to helping build community, whether at Occidental, or in their neighborhoods, or in the larger region,” said Robert Gottlieb, Henry R. Luce Professor or Urban Environmental Studies and UEPI director. “They are in their unique ways engaged in making our communities more livable, just and democratic places.”
This year’s awards categories and honorees are:
Northeast L.A. Social Justice Award
Scott Wilson, North East Trees – A retired teacher, Wilson taught horticulture and landscaping at Eagle Rock High School and gardening at Descanso Gardens. Wilson is founding president of North East Trees, which, since 1990, has planted trees throughout northeast Los Angeles.
L.A. Regional Social Justice Awards
Tracie Thomas, Compton Unified School District – Thomas is assistant director of student nutrition for the Compton district. She has been featured in television programs and in news articles stressing the importance of teaching students healthy eating habits. Thomas has instituted several campus salad bars in hopes that healthy eating habits will help ward off chronic diseases later in life.
Rodney K. Taylor, Riverside Unified School District – Taylor is director of nutrition services in Riverside, where he implemented the Farmer’s Market Fresh Fruit and Salad Bar Program. The program provides students daily access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The program also provides nutrition education in the classroom and participation in nutrition-related activities such as gardening and trips to local farms and the area’s farmers market.
Alumni Community Action Award
Catalina Mendiola ’94, L.A. Metro – Mendiola graduated cum laude from Occidental with a degree in psychology (she minored in politics). She is an organizer with L.A. Metro, working with communities to train grassroots leaders and organizing public “actions” to hold politicians accountable. Mendiola worked for the Coalition for Economic Survival in Los Angeles, helping renters fight for better conditions and lower rents.
Student Community Action Awards
Yeun-Wen Lee ’04 – A biology major at Occidental, Lee is a biology major (and a double minor in music and education) and member of the Environmental Club. Last summer, she received a Mellon grant through UEPI to study the environmental effects of cattle grazing in Wyoming. She plans to pursue a master’s in environmental policy after graduation.
Maria-Isabella P. Prack ’04 – Born and raised between Salzburg, Austria and Honolulu, Prack recently served an internship with Strategic Actions for a Just Economy. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school to study urban planning or business administration. Prack ultimately wants to enter Hawaiian politics.
Staff/Faculty/Administration Community Building Action Awards
Jamie Angell, Theater Department
Victor Chico, Postal Operations Center