Rooted In Place
Most of our work takes place in the ancestral territories of the Tongva, Tataviam, and Chumash Indigenous communities, an area that is now known by the colonial name of Los Angeles County.
To keep ourselves accountable to the dignity and integrity of the movements that have educated us, we name below some of the frameworks from which we draw terminology.
What We Actively Resist
People for Mobility Justice operates with loving accountability, joy, and solidarity centered on black and brown communities in order to transcend systems of oppression and violence. We uplift each other to actively resist displacement, the police state, transphobia, homophobia, sexism, racism, classism, ageism, ableism, anti-Blackness, xenophobia, Islamophobia, Eurocentric indoctrination, tokenization, exploitation, oppression, and colonization. We embrace growth and the challenges that come with it.
We welcome constructive feedback when we have fallen short in upholding cross-movement solidarity, actively resisting oppression, and working towards mobility justice.
City of Lights to MCM to PMJ
In October 2008, Allison Mannos and Adonia Lugo, two women of color from the Los Angeles region, founded City of Lights/Ciudad de Luces (CoL). We'd both noticed that, at a time when more public resources than ever before were going toward “sustainable” or “active” transportation infrastructure projects, these investments weren't being guided by the many people of color out there using bicycles as a mobility solution. Allison was an intern at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), and staffperson Dorothy Le joined the collaboration. So did Andy Rodriguez, a a K-Town native and student at LACC. Some of us were inspired by the Bus Riders Union, a legendary Los Angeles campaign that had been successful in holding Metro accountable to the needs of its core riders. What would it look like to create an agenda for L.A.’s core bike riders, the people who had been riding out of economic necessity?
Our first idea was to use free bike lights as an engagement tool, and we were fortunate to get started with donations from Planet Bike and the Community Outreach Partnership Center at UC Irvine, where Adonia was working toward a Ph.D. in anthropology. What we learned through our outreach led us to develop a bilingual and culturally-relevant bicycle safety curriculum (one of the nation's first), and over the next three years we undertook popular education with hundreds of cyclists at various centers that served low-income populations. We led group rides and we advocated on behalf of the bicycle users in the communities we served.
CoL's multiracial team knew that mobility issues for low-income residents went beyond bicycle advocacy. In 2012, we started developing a much broader vision for street safety and how transportation development was tied up with neighborhood change in our region. To more holistically capture the work they wanted to do in Los Angeles, CoL left LACBC and became Multicultural Communities for Mobility (MCM).
MCM focused on documenting and addressing the transportation needs voiced by L.A.'s communities of color, who have been disproportionately impacted by deaths and injuries caused by motor vehicles. They are also at risk for law enforcement harassment while walking or biking in their neighborhoods. While MCM continued CoL's education and community building programs, we also got to know the government contracting process from the inside, partnering with public agencies and transportation planning firms.
Now, with help from our partners, we are learning to name the mobility justice strategy we have innovated over the years, and we are ready to start our second decade of leadership with a fresh name: People for Mobility Justice. We believe in cultivating mobility leaders, and we hope our work reflects our affirming and healing approach.
Much love to the folks who added their energy and ideas to CoL and MCM over the years:
Jackie Vergara, Efren Moreno, Jr., Julio Orellana, Lys Mendez, Molly Arevalo, Betty Avila, Carlos Velásquez, Erik Charlot, José Veliz, Arlen Jones, Ramon Martinez, Woodsin “Woody” Joseph, José Guzmán Flores, Alexis Lantz, Brenda Yancor, Bobby Gadda