Sunday, December 13, 2009

Juarez, Mexico
October 3, 2009
by Creative Writing Workshop Participants
and Julia Lopez

Siento la sensacion
Amor libre
enfrente de las rejas
Poder libre
sin miedo
sin prejuicio

Mi vecino es
mi hermana
mi hija mi abuelito
la sierra que nos vela
nuestra madre
que nos cuida

Siento la sensacion;
Ahora, Papa es un amigo
caminando siguiendo una linea derecha
empujando la arena
con los dedos de sus pies
caminando derecho,
desde un lado del Arroyo al otro

No hay entrada
ni salida
todo es abierto

Paso por el camino
entrando sin miendo
saliendo con seguridad
saludo a mi vecino
veo su sonrisa
su piel color de canela
color de la tierra morada

Paso por el camino
veo la fuerza de su casa
pedazos de madera
una rompecabeza de cemento
cubierta en miel y chiles
y el olor de ayer

Veo el carino de su hijo
el abrazo de las flores
un regalo de rayas de luz
un corazon partido
por el agua hambriento
y las letras de un poema
volando hacia el cielo

Siento la sensacion;
miles de mananas
sonidos de paz
un parque alumbrado
calles pavimentadas
mis sobrinas
jugando futbol
las kermeses y su musica,
Kioskos, y dulce chipotle en el aire
veo a nuestros vecinos
vigilando la comunidad
con amor y tranquilidad

Siento la sensacion;
los artistas cantando
el himno de la libertad
del Arroyo del Indio
hacienda muecas
a lo imposible

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

On Saturday, November 14th
I became an Alumni of the
2009 Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute!
I started as a NELI Fellow in April. One of the most rewarding parts of the program was the incredible network of support of NELI participants and Julia's working group the "VIPS". The non-profit community is very diverse and unique. I appreciate the opportunity to share the NELI experience with many of its most dedicated leadership!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I am up doing Centro closing work because I do not have internet access at the job.
These are the last few days. I will soon, no longer be, an Executive Director. I will need to change the title of this blog or create a new one? I don't know-its been weird. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This is how we close it...
On The Streets!

Centro Pedro Claver Youth
reflect on their summer 2009
experiences working the
"Art, Change and Entrepreneurship'program.
Centro staff and board join in acknowledging
the youth participants great work
and future plans.

It is all bitter sweet-30 years of amazing
youth leadership,
and lots of love!

what happens next?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CPC Youth-Summer 2009
30th Anniversary

57 days
turmoil + revelation
disillusion + a clear blue sky
a newborn brown baby
love immediate
without conditions
rainstorm + heatwave
first pair of
apple bottom
the food line grows
doors close
Monday August 31
the Aloe
pushed itself out
the pot is too small
never ends
will stop
the door opens
I dream t holding
Marilyn's Monroe's face
telling her
everythings gonna
be alright
I dream t of
porcelain rabbits
6 feet tall
in disney ballgowns
ears erect
Ricky holds my face
and tells me
everythings gonna be
I dream t of
giant bald eagles
by my window
Magda treats
mani cure pedi cure
she holds my feet
and tells me
gonna be alright
there is a drunk man
in Denver
mugged by 8
black men
the day before
she arrives
his fairy tale
I hold my
sisters hand
facing east
I sing to her
the door opens
Monday August 31
walking through
Mami is smiling
holding the baby
in front of the
christmas tree
I know you are a
good girl
and everything

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I am so small
I am almost invisible
how can I contain this much love
just think of your eyes
they are small but see such magnificence
paraphrased poem by Rumi

I have stepped back
off the edge
read my
free preview copy
stress management
self-care handbook
Michelle shares her lessons
from NALAC
leadership institute
taking control
as an individual artist
decide to become conscious
what I want to do
and the work I have to do
to do it
individual mission
individual vision
identify a personal board
who do I ask
that would care if
I didn't exist!
Zoia gave me a journal
from Belize
It will contain
my individual
one year plan

Monday, June 29, 2009

My toes are over the edge.
My arches and heels are
trying to stay firm and strong
trying to support the whole body
it is a battle
the sun is shining
the air is crisp, clean
tragic thoughts loom
in conflict with Sekhmet
the Egyptian Sun Goddess
"Lioness, Lady of the Flame,
fiery female power of
She and many many others
consult and push
suggest thoughts
for change and creative action
I am challenged today.
This week begins with:
  • Doubt
  • disparate communication
  • Tops pushing Tops to the Bottom
  • "Who Does She Think She Is" moments

Friday, June 26, 2009

This week was
a challenging week for Me;
ED me
Artist me
Mami me
Woman me!

The week was filled with preparing for and having difficult conversations. Our summer work program starts on July 6th and my Summer Program Coordinator was missing in action all week. It turns out that she was out of town all week, her phone isn't working and she won't be in touch until late today.

Our Housing Counseling program is undergoing a file audit...and we are struggling to recover documents to complete our files and be able to have our work be counted. As the ED I am ultimately responsible and when the shit hits the fan it blows first in my direction. I have felt like shit this week! Especially during my 5am wakings and I can't get back to sleep.

Things that kept me from falling or jumping off the edge:
  • Damani's smile and excitement when he got his Mac Pro Laptop. I had collected money from friends and family since his birthday in October and we finally got enough to make the purchase
  • speaking to Miguel Luciano, Michael Reyes, Edda Loredo-Santiago and Dan about their art and the work they will be doing with our youth this summer
  • Reading "Einstein's Dreams"

Monday, June 22, 2009

Check out our interview on "Radio Times" with Marty Moss-Coane!

Wednesday 6/17/2009

Hour One
How do we create safe communities? What is the Kensington community doing in response to the violent events of the last two weeks? A car driven by a man with a bench warrant out for his arrest ran over and killed two young girls, a 22 year-old mother and her baby girl in the Feltonville neighborhood; and a vigilante mob beat up a rapist of an 11 year-old girl in Kensington. We check in with two people who have been building communities in Eastern North Philadelphia. JULIA LOPEZ is the Executive Director of Centro Peter Claver, an asset-based program that works towards a self-sufficient neighborhood through home foreclosure prevention counseling, a youth summer arts school, physical development of neighborhood and many other programs to improve the neighborhood’s quality of life. STEVE HONEYMAN is a community organizer has worked in neighborhood development in Kensington as the former Director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Organizing Project, recently pressuring the Philadelphia School District to rebuild Willard Elementary School. Listen to the mp3

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

23 hours before the opening of the film!
So much to do and I am secure in the fact
that it won't all get down. Need to whittle
down my task list for tomorrow. Struggling
and worried about 2008 Youth attendance.
It is Tuesday and it feels like the end of
the end of the week. Not good. I am incensed
with the possibility of great embarrassment
should not one youth show up for the premiere
of the film they worked on. Trying so hard not
to micro-manage our Youth Coordinator and
expressing the sense of urgency.
I don't know how many folks will show up.
the Principal of the school where it will play
is not expecting many. She bases this expectation
on the meeting we had in 2007. It doesn't matter
the successes you have experienced. What matters
is the last moment, the last event, that any one
of us has experienced. Or what has been publicised.
It is a very strange juggling act; supervision,
fundraising, haphazard (word of the week)
staff development and supporting new Board...and
I am preparing myself to break the
news to Damani that he did not get the extra part
for the 'Last Airbender" movie. His first audition
and callback and it all came down to the
costume fitting! Ugg:-(
The "business' as they say stinks when you are
rejected. And it is all about how you look,
and if you fit the type. That is why I ended up
writing and producing my own work!
I was always my type. No matter what I wrote
to perform. And I performed a lot, especially
early on. I was Miss North Philly PR winning the
Miss America contest, I was a virgin wife, I was
a lookout for hubcap thieves, I was a ballet dancer.
And now I Executive Director, a Galla, a
NELI Fellow who hasn't done her homework!
These things aren't permanent. I am a mother, forever.
My most cherished, fulfilling, heartbreaking job.
See you at the Premiere!

Friday, June 5, 2009

the Storm
seems to be an ongoing theme for the past few weeks, I have been running even when I was supposed to be standing still. I am running, even now, as I write...running downstairs to buy a flan de queso and coconut cake to support the mujeres of Hogar Crea de Delaware! I always see the guys on the street selling the sweets and never bought anything. I have worked with so many women who have are and have been incarcerated and most times they get no support no love. So I bought the cakes-disregarding my so called tight budget, disregarding my "diet" and disregarding the fact that I have to get the hell out of the office in 10 minutes.
I am on the way through the storm...
on my mind-
  • Onelia back in PR
  • Damani's costume fitting
  • Getting the work permit notarized so he can pe part of the film
  • catching a train to Langhorne
  • Left Marissa's present at home
  • A tough meeting with Ceiba staff and my staff
  • Pepon agreed to host Centro's 30th birthday kickoff dinner in August
  • Praying Damani passes all of his classes

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"I went to Church. Do you have a dollar for an eggroll?"
A request from the last "client" of the day at Centro Pedro Claver!

I feel like we are missing some music...
Look for an original creation by my son Damani
entitled "Ocean's Goodbye".
As soon as I figure out how to post music:-)

I am taking a break. Its hard to do it. I thought I would be able to get away from work thoughts this past weekend, we had and extra day-Memorial Day, and I almost made it through but it didn't turn out that way. I had left my cell phone at my sister's house in Levittown and it turned out to be a good thing. For one week I was able to work on a task without the phone ringing bringing news, or follow up tasks, or quejas, or troubleshooting or...I spent the afternoon with my niece Tina on Saturday the 23rd. She delivered the phone and we hung out. we hadn't spent time together, just the two of us, for a long time. I also owed her a birthday present ! She drove me home (remember my van was totaled:-( !) and no more than an hour later I find out that a friend had been arrested in Bucks County.
she had come from PR to help her niece, who was a victim of domestic violence, navigate the systems she was now faced with. My friend had tried to reach me during the week when my phone was out. I tried to only commit to tasks that I was able to manage. I did not want to take the lead because it was a volatile situation and there were a lot of critical unanswered questions. This morning I went with a colleague to the district court for the hearing and it had been canceled. Money was raised in Puerto Rico for the bail and we are now waiting to see if the transfer will make it before 3pm when the banks close. 10 minutes left.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

November 2008 I did a radio interview for Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky. I speak about Centro Pedro Claver and recite my poem "And Then". Check out Thousand Kites and if it moves you recite inmate poetry for radio.
Listen up and let me know what you think:-)

Thousand Kites is a intereactive arts project focused on the U.S. criminal justice system.

Adelina's Last Day
at Centro Pedro Claver.
Adelina is going to help her daughter during her "parto".
This picture reflects the effects of the economic crisis on Centro and its ED, me!
I was late opening up. I still haven't got into the rhythm since we had to cut Don Alex's hours and he isn't able to open up shop on Monday's and Wednesdays and Fridayssssssss. Feeling bad and trying to light up the moment, I took a foto. I wasn't that late and Adelina and Don Francisco weren't waiting long but I can't stand it.
It makes me feel irresponsible. I understand I am taking it to the extreme but I hate when I have to wait for folks especially during work. So, all was forgiven and Adelina's last day is today. It was sad. Then I started thinking; I have to find a new receptionist. I have a meeting with Proyecto Ayuda tomorrow and hopefully they have someone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Charles Coaches Julia

So I was accepted and in April started the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute at Bryn Mawr college. The program is intensive focusing on my development as an individual leader as well as a leader within my org Centro Pedro Claver.

I was provided an executive coach-Charles.
Our first session on campus was a little weird.
Charles gave me feedback with his eyes closed
and that inspired a very active and dramatic internal dialogue.
I tried to convince myself that we all have different styles of taking in information and responding.
there was one moment where I just stared at him and visualized the creation of a new
character for a performance. I definitely will steal the physicality for future study!

Ok-enough bustin' on Charles.
we had our second session and I was quite anxious about it.
I wasn't prepared and was realizing the traits that were documented in my
Myers Brigg Type Indicator, of which I am a Pressure-Prompted ENTJ (Extraversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judging). That is another story!
It turned out to be good phone session-great so I didn't have to see him close his eyes.
Here are notes from our conversation:
  • I am creating crisis
  • I am 35% proactive and 65% reactive on the job. these are my numbers and it is an improvement!
  • I need to create a timeline for and invest in the board development work so that our new board can be self-sufficient
  • board needs to set and agenda looking up and out-the capacity and the leadership is there
  • I need to achieve connectivity with my staff, be centered so that we can move forward
  • I need to ask how my voice can be helpful during times of crisis
  • I need to have frequent staff meetings with status reports
  • Share my vison, the vision, their vision
the following notes I like the best:-)
  • I need to take time to reflect (a beach somewhere maybe)
  • the intellectual needs to be in alignment with the heart stuff
  • Internal integrity is important-if there isn't any then we become splintered and disconnected-this is so true Charles!
  • I need to change my language, be more definitive-stop with the namby pamby (my words) "I'm gonna try to do it" stuff
  • My internal dialogue needs to be up to speed with my outward projection (this refers to my superb acting ability to look like I am direct tough no nonsense, when I am insecure on the inside.
  • I have all that I need to...
My homework and workwork:
  • access and transform in to role as leader
  • help frame my vision, craft my message
  • Consult with artist me to be the leader that I want to be
I apologize to Charles and his closed eyes talk because this session helped! Its amazing what $5,500. can buy. Oh yeah, I am a scholarship student! Never mind!

Monday, May 11, 2009

On the Way To Work

In the middle of "but fuck" nowhere
eavesdropping on two day laborers
waiting for the 39 bus
Utuado Old timers
Puerto Rican flag on a chain linked fence
J+J Multiservices
ATM inside Susquehanna Market
47 bus stop
Stop the Violence mural by P.A.G.N. mural 1992
tan, brown, beige hands reaching up to 26 names
47030 reading PECO energy meter
My back is to the street
#1 Chinese Kitchen
2nda Iglesia Nueva Jerusalem
Jose Ali's forest mural between Huntingdon+Lehigh
Passing El Bohio and my morning coffee,
can't get off the bus
La Guadalupana Grocery-Los Mexicanos arrive on 5th and somerset
Delicia's Bakery
Beware of the dog
Sunshine restaurant on the way to what was the Girls Center
Deja Vu
Jhoandra Reatuarante and Dominican Coffee
Don Alex is waiting at the front door of the Centro
He says that he usually gets up early and its no problem
He can open up...
Work and travel after the crash.
image detail of a Johnny Irizarry '09 sculpture

Friday, May 8, 2009


5 days later

water, water
3 for 3 life saved
saved life
rubber caresses water
water caresses rubber
sliding fast
40 miles per hour
fast or slow
floating on a thin slice
of air, of air
the hydroplane
my body is weightless
for once
for 1.5 seconds
control is suspended
the gods godesses
jesuses marys
allah buddah
orishas ahs
ahs ahs ahs
they sing and dance
swim inside the raindrops
kiss my lips
and Damani's hands
Mami's suspended threads of silk
Papi's pulled caramel toffee
hold our breasts, firm and still
straight and away
from broken glass
blowouts, dented steal,
flying doors
hoods, trunks
2 jembe drums
hold onto our shoulders
saving our hands
they will wait, wait
for our hands to speak to them
they promise
conversations for tomorrow
3 for 3
life saved
saved the day
hitting head on
1.5 seconds, gone
hitting sound, pounding
vibrating through space
back to life
stop to start
all over again
3 for 3
lives to celebrate
dance on
suspended threads of silk
and pulled toffee
kissing lips and fingers
made of black and white keys
1/2 notes sing
to black tar paved oceans
sing to wild flowers purple red
on the side of the road
3 saved lives
no time for regret
no time for fear or longing
1.5 seconds gone
in the light
everything is permitted

Friday, May 1, 2009

This proposal is creeping on the back of my neck!
Life has gotten in the way
it forces me to question my priorities!
I try to focus...
family is important
the reason for all of this
work, art, love
I download Luz Selena's pic and post
my son Damani and mi hermano Johnny.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Due Tomorrow

Hail 2009

The end of the day and the grant application is not done and due tomorrow!

I didn't get enough sleep last nite. At 3:33am the doorbell rang. I stayed in bed because sometimes somebody just rings the bell as they are walking by. It rang a 2nd time. I crawled out of bed. walked through the apartment to the front window and saw a police car on the sidewalk and police tow truck, flashing lights. I did a quick inventory of my overdue parking tickets as I opened the window and looked down a the cop waiting by the door. he asked if I was Julia Lopez and I said Yes. He asked if I could move my van so they could tow the car that was behind me. I looked at the car and the whole front end was smashed.

I floated through the day. I received mail form DCED saying that our grant report was rejected and if we don't provide what was missing in the next 30days that that would delay the receipt of the grant money from our last ap that was accepted and that we have already been waiting to receive for the last 5months. it is confusing how bureaucracy doesn't work sometimes...most times.

I met with John, my executive coach-sounds so weird to say:-)-today about
balancing groupings of the myriad of tasks,
scheduling grant writing-how can I do that and not always be on the tail of a deadline,
Dead Line...hmmmmm,
prospects for fundraising,
the budget ,
and making sure I take a break-3 to 4 day weekend?
I need the ocean.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tormenta de Luz

Time to work on the proposal now.

Feeling Chumped

5:37 PM
Gathering support materials for our proposal.
Tryin' to make the argument without bullshitting:
teaching art can be job training+ create social change

listening to white boy and white girl singer songwriters;
I'm Yours
slightly reggae-ish-too many times
ugh...and what kinda name is mraz?
tomorrows payday
grateful that I can actually get paid on payday
things that are hard to explain
my wrist still in pain
youthX trying to get off the corner
and the ED writes a letter for his probation officer
about his community service hours
for prison or for school?
haven't started my homework for NELI
Swine Flu
Obama's 100th day
my sister closed on her new house at 1pm today
first home owned
no time to celebrate today
gathering support materials for our proposal

I was watching the clock of my car radio as I tried to figure out the quickest way to West Philly! Down Erie, left on 15th, right onto Broad, left on Lehigh then left on 22nd, right onto Girard then all the way to 34th. I got to 38th street parked at a meter on the corner of Chestnut across the street from the 7-11.
The meter didn't take nickel or dimes and I had to buy a fake vanilla cappuccino-the only thing I could stomach-so I could ask for quarters from cashier.

I had enough quarters for 1hr and 40 minutes. I told myself to chill out, being late is not the worst thing that could happen in my ED life. I go through the maze that is the Leadership center at 3814 Walnut Street. I finally get to the receptionist and apologize for being late. She tells me that the meeting had been canceled. I hold my breath. She says she emailed me on Monday and called. Then I realize that we had been having issues around our web domain and emails. We also have been having difficulty with retrieving our voicemail messages (I'll tell you about our jack leg phone system later) So I never got the messages.

I walked over to the Barnes and Noble on 36th street. I didn't want to waste the quarters. Sat and had a burnt bagel that was still edible, looked at the flat screen monitor and read bits and pieces of news about the swine flu and Obama's 100th day.

too late

I arrived at 8:20am and there was an elderly black man leaning up against the Centro building wall. My first thought was that he was homeless, just chilling and maybe I should stay in the van until Adelina arrives. I didn't want to be alone with the guy should he want to come into the Centro for shelter from the rain. What an idiot I am! Of course I am going to get out of the car and open the door, say good morning to the man and ask if he's ok. Damn,,,I hate when that happens...that thought of possible dangers! Anyway, I approach the door and the man asks if he can get a food voucher and if today was the right day. He follows behind me not leaving me much space to open the gate, I get a little antsy and I ask him to move back a little. He comes in. I ask him if he has his ID. He asks if he should sign in on the form that is on the clipboard on Adelina's reception desk. I say no because that was the "KFC chicken distribution" sign in. (I;ll explain that one later). He fills out the voucher form and I xerox his ID and make a copy of the form. I tell him we distribute chicken on Tuesdays and that it has always been on the same day. Why I said that I don't know! He thanks me and was on his way. I told him to have a safe day and to try and stay dry.

It was too late to call Don Alex to open up today so that I can make my meeting at UPenn on time.
I will have to be a half hour late waiting for Don Francisco to come in at 9 so Adelina doesn't have to be alone in the office. I still feel bad for having to cut Don Alex's hours. I was trying to figure out if I should increase his time adding on one more day...but I have to wait to see if our cashflow can get a little more stable.

Its 9:03am-gotta go! UPenn wants to know how they can support the Latino community and I am going to tell them, even though I will be late!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First Escape-b4 reading look at 1st post 1st:-)

Vashti, my partner in crime, sister, colleague, and sometimes misery loves company cohort, won Leeway Foundation's Transformation Award and was so kind to take me with her on an out of the country (sort of) trip, to see an old college friend in St. Tomas! 6 days away-June 07, one month before my one year anniversary at Centro. I had been on the go in non-profit world, leadership transition, crisis intervention mode and was runnning on empty. It is a very good thing when you have amigas in the struggle to force you to take care of yourself!

Lets Get It Started

My wrist t is killing me! I got one of those IMAK ergoBeads wrist rest to aleve any stress while I am typing and have no idea if it is working. I know that my wrist is sore and last nite I had to take 600mgs of rite aid brand ibuprofen to get a good nites sleep!

Since I began my work as an Executive Director for Centro Pedro Claver, I have always thought it would be a good idea to document my, what has turned out to be, carnaval like travels through the world of EDdome. It doesn't help that I am an artist so there have been many psycholdelic moments and visualizations, and performances, and...

I haven't figured out how to structure this blog thing yet but one thing I do know-
The story is important! The day to day joys and struggles are important! Being and artist and trying to do this is important!
Especially if you are the first Puerto Rican hermana I running an organization in a Puerto Rican and Black neighborhood, that had been directed by white men of god for the last 27years!

I have been here since July 2006. I'll try to start with today and when it moves me or is necessary, I will bring up experiences and/or lesson learned from the last two years.
All suggestions are welcome!
Lets get it started...