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Tom Lutz:Hello everyone. I want to thank Ken Brecher, Library Foundation and Louise Steinman for her amazing, allowed program. I feel like were in her house here. There's a salon that she's been running for 20 years, the most amazing salon in the country. Thank you to Will Hearst who helped organized this event and to David Ulin and Bill Deverell, two people who have done as much as anyone to promote LA as a literary and cultural center, and to our panel who I'll introduce now. Terry Wolverton, he's the author to 10 books of fiction poetry and creative non-fiction most recently Wounded World: lyric essaya about our spiritual disquiet. She is the founder of Writers At Work, a creative writing studio in Los Angeles, and Affiliate Faculty at the MFA Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles. Next, Luis J. Rodriguez, is the author of 15 award-winning books. His most recent is a sequel to his best-known, Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in LA and it's called Still Running. Luis Rodriguez:Actually it's not Still Running. Tom Lutz:It's not Still Running. Luis Rodriguez:It's called It Calls You Back Tom Lutz:Oh It Calls You Back. I'm sorry. It Calls You Back. Rodriguez has also founded or co-founded numerous organizations including Tia Chucha Press, which publishes the work of unknown writers. Tia Chuchas Centro Cultural, San Fernando Valley Cultural Center and the Chicago based struggling for survival, an organization for at risk youth. And on the far left, Joel Arquillos is the Executive Director of 826LA, a non-profit writing and tutoring organization that works with 8-16-year-olds with their creative and expository writing skills, and supports teachers. With locations in Echo Park, Mar Vista, and inside of Manual Arts Senior High School in South Los Angeles, 826LA has become the largest chapter in the 826 National network, and as we were talking about earlier, international network at this point, serving thousands of under-resourced youth throughout Los Angeles every year. I'm very interested to hear what these panelist have to say about community, literary community, writing community in Los Angeles in part because I am myself an immigrant. Yesterday, Christopher Hawthorne said it takes 7 yearstook him 7 years and Carey McWilliams says it takes 10 years to feel like a native. But I'm a bit of a slow-learner. I've been here for around 20 years and I feel like I've just arrived. Our panels been asked to answer the question, how, across the vast metropolitan reach of the Los Angeles basin do writers imagine, build, and sustain community. And to get started, I thought I might try something just a little oblique. I thought of this yesterday when Sam Watters said that Gertrude Stein had no interest in regionalism and when David Ulin helpfully divided the question of writing Los Angeles into writing of and writing for Los Angeles. And regionalism, which is as writing of and about, for and from a region, is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about in studying. And I think it's fair to say that no writer over the last half-century or even more wants to be a regionalist, however much they want to write about their region of their tribe as the earlier panel had it. Even in the glory days of American regionalism, Bret Harte and Willa Cather, Faulkner, as much as they were happy to be known as fine delineators of their region, they were notthey saw themselves as part of a national, global, literary community. If you ask Willa Cather who her literary community was, it would have nothing to do with Nebraska. Faulkner have very little to do with Mississippi and Twain had nothingwere very little to do with Missouri. Their literary communities were national and international. So I thought Id start by asking each of our panelist to talk for a few minutes about how they conceive community, how they conceive of theirthe communityin a number of different ways but let's start with how you conceive of your literary community or communities. Terry. Terry Wolverton:Okay. Well, I actually came to Los Angeles to find community. I have been living in Detroit. I'm a transplant, although not very recently at all, and I couldnt find an environment in Detroit that would nurture both my desire to be an artist and my circumstance of being a woman. The arts community tended to be pretty sexist and didn't have high expectations of what women were going to do in it. And the womens community in Michigan anyway didn't seem to understand the revolutionary potential of arts and culture. So where was I going to find a place to be and I heard about this environment called The Womans Building, which was a feminist arts organization and having never been to California at all, knowing no one in Los Angeles, I got on a plane and brought myself here to be part of that great experiment. And I learned some really important things while at the Womans Building that have kind of served as touch on for me as I've gone forward and done the work that I've gone on to do in the literary community here. And one is that the myth of the lone genius is a very destructive myth, you know, that individual who doesnt need anybody and doesnt have any input and just goes up into usually his room and creates masterful works, thats not really how it happens and that creativity in fact thrives in community. And that we need feedback systems that support the intention of our work, that are not about trying to make our work into some other model, and that we need places and spaces where we can create work out of our own experience, our own gender experience, cultural experience, personality, class, life experience, that those things needs to be honored and that thats where the most powerful voice come from. So all those things were taught to me at the Womans Building and exemplified there. And it's a philosophy thats gone on to stir me because in subsequent situations, I taught a writing program at the Gay and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles for 9 years and then I went on to found Writers At Work. And those are all really key things that I've tried to replicate. Luis Rodriguez:So I want to say that every community has a dynamic and I think to only be representative of one, you have to know how to access it and tap into it. Sometimes you dont. Sometimes people live in the community dont get the dynamic of that community. I have two communities that I feel very close to. Two cities that are bought as different as you can imagine but there's a lot of commonality thats Los Angeles in Chicago. And they're very important for me in my growth and development and in my writing as you know mostly it's LA based stories but there's a lot of Chicago in here too. And one of the things about both LA and Chicago that has a dynamic is that they're different, they have idiosyncrasies, they're not quite the same as each other but there's a lot of commonality. One of them is that they're the two most industrious cities in the country and people dont know that about LA. They know that about Chicago but LA is the largest manufacturing center in the country. And I grew in that world. I knew that world. I worked in that industry. And then I go to Chicago and here's like a city completely industrial except by the 80s all that industry was leaving. And the deindustrialization of the inner cityand I call it the inner city but it's really all around the country impacted. Several things, one, the growth of gangs, two, the growth of gun violence, and drugs, and I knew about that world because thats what it came out of[???][0:09:38.7] so what I decided to do was to write about some of that because this is something that very few people writing about and yet it was impacted in everything in this country. The change to the new technology, the fact that there's was whole communities now. They had no way to work and survive, and how drugs and gangs and guns became a viable economic means. It wasnt that way before but it became viable. People can jump on people all they want but you can't jump on the fact that things were taking away while some people dealt with and not everybody. I wanted to write about it. I wanted to write about how the manufacture world could change and how it changes people. So to me, that was the dynamic that I wanted to tap into both for Los Angeles and Chicago, and I just want to add one thing, I create institutions. In Chicago, I created a few of them to tap into that. In LA, it was Tia Chucha Centro Cultural, which is in the valley and we have full arts and were in a community that was hit by the deindustrialization. But the other thing that I did 25 years ago was to create a press. Because my thing has always beenI dont want to just be a writer like she says sitting around and writing, I have to be tapping into something and creating the press got me into a world of people who have lovely voices, talented and skilled but didn't have a publishing world. And thats how we ended up, you know, I just like to show people, these are books that I published of others. These are not my books because I wanted to help others especially young writers who couldnt have an outlet and now were 25 years publishing. Were well-known and at the associate of writing programs this next week, we will have an official reading 25-year anniversary reading to 12,000 people. Well, not 12,000 people but they're going to all be there. You know, we'll probably maybe 50 people that will go out butbut I just want to add, it isnt just being tapping into a dynamica dynamic. Joel Arquillos:For me, I guess the community, I guess I started with as a teacher, a public school teacher in San Francisco and thats how I got involved with 826. For those of you who dont know 826, it started in San Francisco as 826 Valencia, started by author Dave Eggers and teacher Ninive Calegari. And as a teacher in a big comprehensive public school, you know, the communities I had, I built communities in my classrooms because my students. We have communities of teachers. You had the school as an entire community. And within those, you know, those doors that school, you had a lot different communities coming from lots of parts of town that didn't get along very well. So there was always a struggle to create a community just for young people in a school system so that they wouldnt hurt each other and could be part of an environment where they would learn and grow. The 826 model really showed me something different. It wasI was involved with itit's 10 years old now and it started in San Francisco. So we weremy school and my classrooms, we got to do some of the first projects with 826. For those of you who dont know, 826 is a writing center and were able to bring in volunteers from the communities. We train them and we take them into schools. We work with them in our centers. All with the intention of helping students become writers or to help them get what their thoughts out on paper and published into books. And so as a teacher in a school, a lot of the times you do have those communities but you're also a lot of the times spending most of the time in your classroom with students and you dont get to connect with the outside world as much. You're expected to help these young people become, you know, great citizens of the world and you haveyou're hardly ever get a chance to expose them to a lot of the things going on or a lot of the amazing people living in the communities around them. And so I started working with 826, I was blown away that here are my students from, you know, point from Fillmore and from Chinatown and from all these different parts of San Francisco. 826 was able to bring in volunteers who live in a lot of the same communities, yet there was really no opportunity for those two communities to ever connect or meet. They teach each other on the streets and they, you know, immediately not trust each other. That was the first instinct. But at the school, we were able to bring these people together and to really sort start opening up conversations and getting to have these young people connect with adults who they, at first saw suspicion but eventually were able to reallyone of these people kept coming back. Were able to really build real bonds with. And from that, were able to sort of feel a confidence around their ability to express themselves and to write and to get their ideas out there. And so that opened up a real, you know, got me really excited. Luckily, some years later, I was able to come on board to 826 as their director of national programs and help expand the ages to come around the country and develop evaluation systems. But what always stuck with me was that volunteer piece thatwow, how do we, you know, this is really at the core of what we do is obviously getting strings about writing but it's really building a community of volunteers. Many of the who are writers and many of them I see here as well, to give a bit of their time to connect with young people who live nearby, sometimes not nearby but they're able to connect and work with each other. And one of the big things we really try to teach and help out volunteers understand about young people is that they come with a lot. They know a lot. They're not blank slates. They really arethey have a lot to say and a lot to contribute and we want the adults to help these young people sort of, you know, first of all, respect each other and build a real connection to show that there is a place for them in their community as well. And so there's a lot of communities coming together in that way and then also there's the volunteer community hat we have is also really important because a lot of these folks are writers and they're able to stay in touch with each other. They're able to connect with each other after weve worked with the children and build sort of a writing community at our centers, you know, through partnership with other literary agencies and very passionate writers who come in and put together, you know, writingwe have Rorschach, which is one of our regular assemblies of writers who come in and read the writing. And just get together and share their art and to work with each other and to learn from each other. Tom Lutz:Yeah. I want to get back to the question of institutions and in building community. But quickly, something that Luis saidlet me back up just a secondwhen I started Los Angeles Review of Books, I thought it was going to be a local institution. It would be, you know, it was for writersmy friends and I, were going to get together and build a little book review, and we put it online and it was immediately international, right? And 35% of our readers are overseas and have been from day 1. And I'm wondering how the electronic world has influenced how you think about community, how your communities function-- Luis Rodriguez:Well, for me it's proof that there is a borderless world, and I have never recognized borders as a philosophical thing. I recognize him because I have to go around the world and I have a passport. Legally, there are borders. But as far as I'm concerned, people have been moving up and down. They have been sharing, they have been learning, there's been impacts of cultures. Every place I've lived there was many cultures. People say, You're from the Chicano Mexican community. Actually, my communities have been Mexican, Chicano, African American, white immigrant. Theyve been a mixture, always have beenmy community isnt just one. It's all these people. Asians coming in, Salvadoriansso, to me thats where I look at my world and of course, I go around the world and I can see other cultures. I'm surprised howfor example, Germany invites me all the time. Germanys the one country I go to more than any other country. It's quite amazing. I actually love Germany. I dont know if anybodys from Germany. I'm not saying it just to say. I love Germany and the people are very open and it's like, how did that happen? So a lot of it is digital because what happens is the world is already breaking down all these barriers andthe problem is politically and socially were not catching up to the reality. The reality is these borders are no longer viable, you know what I'm saying? But were still hanging out. Were doing trade agreements. Oh you know what I'm saying? If we ever wake up, we would realize let's align to the reality. We would get rid of all those borders and we would start finding a new way to relate. It doesnt mean we dont have to come up with some kind of way to deal with each other but different than what it is now and thats why the industrialization is important because a lot of people are still thinking industrial, still thinking that old way analog, all that stuff. But the world as you're pointing out is completely changed. With the internet, you have access. You have communication at a different level. And to me, this is the future. Were just not catching up culturally, socially, and politically. But it's about time. You know what I'm saying, that were all caught up and were into a whole new world because thats where my imagination goes into that world, not to the world that we came from. Tom Lutz:My grandparents thank you for the shout out. Terry Wolverton:Certainly the digital reality is part of what were all dealing and it does expand the possibilitiesintimate contact with people that I never see through the virtue of Facebook and email, etc. But I do want to just say that I dont want to see a world in which we lose the face-to-face contact with one another. And the program at Antioch is mostly conducted online, but there's something about seeing peoples faces around the table when I'm teaching and seeing whether they're understanding what I'm saying to them or if I'm understanding what they're saying to me. If they want to, you know, throw the book across the room or it's the stupidest thing that theyve ever heard, and I can't tell that from an email. So there'son the one hand it opens up a lot of possibilities. It's Luiss saying. One the other hand, it seems that there's still a kind of alienation thats created from not having all those extra things that happen when you look into somebodys eyes. You see their facial expression. You read their body language. And I dont want the digital possibilities to subsume that. Joel Arquillos:You know, I'm actually positive about some of the digital aspects. I mean, I have a 4-year-old daughter who really enjoys our iPad and my phone a lot. When I was a teacher, we used to do back in the early 2000s, blogs are kind of becoming the thing. We actually had students writing on blogs. We found that it's sort of a new interesting way towe have through the national writing project, which I'm a member of, we and the Bay Area Writing Project up in Bay Are. We devised this project where we got students from San Francisco where I used to teach and students out in Maine to sort of use that as a platform to write about their ideas. Anything that they wanted to write about and we had them all in subjects. We found, you know, some studentsit really helped a lot of the students who just were shy and who werent the ones who were able to speak up in class. I actually brought out a lot of interesting things that we are in that sharing culture now and students were sharing some things that were really touching a nerve with students out in Maine and it really created this sort of an amazing connection. I say that though. So I came in 826maybe I'm going to add a digital element to what we do. And I'm still trying but really, what really blows me away about our work and it's beautifulkids come in to our centers and they're not looking for a computer, they're looking for a volunteer. They're looking for an adult to connect with and to work with and they want that one-on-one time. They're hungry for it. And it's really a beautiful thing to see. And even though we do have some of the technologies. We got the laptop and sometimes we have to use those things for research and for, you know, other projects that we do, which is our digital nature. A lot of times, they really crave that connection, that one-on-one connection. And we also really believe the power of publishing books and we would publish a lot of books and brought a few of those. But just the idea of a young person working hard, we could certainly put something up on a website thats really easy to do. But seeing a book in print, you know, something that they worked hard on and then we sell nationally. There's nothing like it and they get to show their mom and dad and they get to really have something tangible. It's a transform to think for a lot of young people. There's a real connection there for them. I think it's still alive and beautiful and I'm hoping it stays for a long time as well. Tom Lutz:Yeah. I mean, one of the problems with digital culture for writers of course is that it's brought us into the world where that the musicians hit a while back, which is that our work has been devalued and it's harder and harder to make a living for writers and harder and harder to build a communityyou can'tyou dont have the money to sustain a community. So in terms of your own institutions, can you talk a little a bit about how you are making them happen, how you're making them work? Maybe Joel, you can start. Joel Arquillos:Yeah. Well, I mean, with 826, you know, obviously the fun stuff is the publishing, the volunteers, the students, all the things were able to do in the communities. But you know, the backend is alsoa major of part of my life is keep sustaining it, making sure we can keep our doors open. We have two centers. We have one in Echo Park and we have one in [???][0:23:43.4] Were also inside of a school in Manual Arts High School where we work out at the college center with a few of our folks there. We also have storefronts. So I dont know if you all heard about the time travel march but we have the Echo Park Time Travel Mart and we have the Mar Vista Time Travel Mart. The Echo Park one is more of a 1980s boutique. The one in Mar Vista is more of an 1880s boutique. And you know, obviously it's a way that people sort of connect with our brand and who we are and it's how we are able to hook people into. We are a fun whimsical place. Were not your ordinary. We do a lot of work with students in the back. We do a lot of schoolwork and things but were also a place of fun and creativity, you know. It's a lot of work to keep those kinds of things going and to actuallywe raise money through those stores believe or not. It's part of our earned income model to keep our doors open. And you know, thanks to the amazing support and generosity here in Los Angeles, just all the great foundations that support us and our donors and our volunteers. Thats a big part of the job to maintain this work and to keep this going. But in the end, you know, what really keeps it going is the stories, the publications, the things were able to tell, you know, our funders, our supporters, our volunteers about what's possible and how were able to reach, you know, thousand of students each year at our centers, in the schools and being able to sort of work in places sometimes where, you know, resources are incredibly scarce, you know. You're in classrooms and schools and you know, writing, you think it would be a course that would be offered. It's not. It's rolled in, you know, as part of your English class but there's just so many other things that are also need to be taught in English as well. And so we try to fill a gap and so stating that being able to keep the number of people we need to keepvolunteers that we need to keep sustained is also just a big part of it. Luis Rodriguez:So let me just say that scarcity is another illusion. I went borders and everythingwe all live by. We think it's got drive. We can't move it and we can't sit. And one of the bad things about scarcity is that there's usually very little funding for the art, for writing, for literacy in communities. There are very little resources to go to and I have to say that because it's wrong. It doesnt have to be that way. I know there's money and I know it's just doesnt go to where it needs to go. So the efforts I think, at least of us three but also of other people is to go in those communities and create things that happen because of the people there more than anything. What we did in the Northeast Valleys, we tapped into the artistic genius of that community was already there. It didn't have outlets. It didn't have expressions. It didn't have bookstores. It didn't have movie houses. It didn't have museums. It didn't matter. We tapped into it and thats what's given us a thriving source. The community itself keeps us going. We have three streams of income. One is donations, which mostly it's one or two dollars of people come in. Everythings free. We donate what they can. Two, is grants in foundations, which by the way is limited and it's hard to find but we hustle. I'm a big hustler. I'm a hustler from way back. But now I'm hustling for good things. And then three, is that we actually have a bookstore and this press, which brings an income. It's a non-profit income. Nobodys pocketing anything. But it goes back. So even when the press makes money, it goes back to new books, new writers, new program. When the bookstore makes money, it goes back to making sure that books are accessible. You understand what I'm saying? It doesnt go into anybodys, you know, own life. I decided long time ago, I would not raise my family until Chuchas up. It would kill it. I had to find my own income which is you know, you're pointing out, it has to be as a writer, as a speaker, which is very hard and I'm hustling both ends. But it works right now and I'm going to make it work. And I think that there's a lot of ways that people can go when it comes to community, dont stay with one thing. Here's how you reinvent the world but also tap into what's there, this energy and life in every community even the poorest community if you know how to work with it. Terry Wolverton:I justbefore I start talking about Writers At Work, I want to acknowledge a couple of really important institutions who are represented on the panel. One being on Baroque, which is really our original literary institution in Los Angeles, 35+ years old and still thriving, both presenting lots of readings and also free workshops, free ongoing workshops every week, and also The World Stage in Leimert Park, which where the writers get to intersect with the musical community. It also has an ongoing workshop. Anybody just shows up. It used to be on a Wednesday night. I'm not sure if it still isgets to read, gets feedback, gets their work taken seriously as well as featured readers. So these are important pillars of our community. So when I started Writers At Work, I calculated that there was not very much grant money available for adult education in the arts, and I decided that I was not going to start a non-profit that the tradeoffthat there's a lot of freedom that I would lose in terms of what I wanted to do. So I run it as mission-drive for-profit, which the mission-driven really subsumes the profit angle. But people pay tuition for the classes and I have the ability to slide that tuition or do away with it entirely for people who need that and it'sright now I run 4 weekly workshops out of Writers At Work and occasionally I've gotten some money from the City Cultural Affairs Department to do some special publication projects. But it means that I dont have to deal with the board of directors. But it also means that everyday I get up and I reinvent it. Everyday I get up and I am trying to attract people. Everyday I get up and I'm trying to evaluate what's being offered there. Weve had some other teachers as well over the years. And the people who come are very, very serious about their work, you know. They come every week. They pay their money every month and they experience a community and it's a community that is invested in their excellence in helping them to achieve their excellence and people have a hunger for that. Tom Lutz:Yeah. I think that thats a key, right? I mean, for all of us thats a key, there are people who are invested in excellence and thats why they invest in our work as literary institutions. What's the future? How do you see the future playing out? What's are the best and worse case scenarios? Joel Arquillos:Well, for us I mean, it's just continuing on the path that weve been on, you know. We have a board of directors that also helpsreally help guide that. We have a strategic plan to help us think, you know. What impact have we made in these last few years. How many students can we serve and how many students can we serve in the best way possible to sustain us over the next many years. So we think about that and we think about how we can grow and how we could, you know, be smart about growth, so that we dont, you know, find ourselves in a place where we have to cut back tremendously. And so, you know, the future for us, I really hope that I say this in a, you know, I hope that the students that were working with are the future for us. I hope that theyweve already seen this in a lot of ways. Weve seen students whove gone off to college, who come back as interns in the summer and who work with us or who go off and work at one of our other cities. Were in 8 cities across the country. Each city runs independently but were all affiliated to the 826 model. Seeing that future is really what I'm most hopeful for. You know, seeing some of the young people who, right now, remind me of me when I was a kid and who, I couldnt sit in my chair for very long. You know, I was definitely, you know, toughmy mom and dad are immigrants in this country. My moms Cuban and, you know, my dads from Spain. You know, they had to work all the time. I didn't grow up with a lot of that one-on-one. I mean, we tried, but definitely my attention was all over the place. So I see myself in a lot of these young people but I also see that change is possible. I mean, it was possible for me. It was possible I grew and I'm able to do what I do and Id love to see one of these young people take my job one day and grow and keep this institution growing, taken to their hands and to make it a deeper part of their community and to hopefully make it more available to more people across Los Angeles. Luis Rodriguez:So I think the feature is [???][0:33:17.5] in our work and one of the things I want to show you is we did this book athow the arts transformed in the community. So everything I do has a political aspect to it. I want to change the world. There no doubt about it and I do think that what I have to do is not only be an example of it with the achuchas and our publishing and all the work we do with the kids and music and everything that everybodys doing here is part of that but I want to make sure that everybody gets that this is the way that every community should be, you understand? Every community should have arts, music, dance, theatre. Every community should be alive with festivals and books. Thats the way it should be and thats part of my change that we intrical in allalign all these things. I found that with the arts, there's healing, there's a sense of authority, there's something that you need in a community thats been disconnected that has no authority and no power and a lot of people feel meaningless. How do you reconnect them again? I find that this is powerful. The point that he would point out about having the kid seen their work. You make not just a dream but you realize it. That to me is the key dream realization intrical. We dont just have ideas and then they all die. We start making them real and thats what I want people to understand. The future is going to be not disconnection, not borders, not scarcity. You understand? I'm talking about a revolution and what I'm talking about is a revolution that opens up everybody to be fuller in themselves, fuller in their story, fuller in connection with others. So that to me is the direction I want to go in. It may not happen. People say, well, it may not happen. It's happening now. I'm seeing it now. It is happening. Were not waiting for the future. Maybe it would be nice. It's already happening but I think thats a direction that were going. Thats where the aim is and thats a direction. Everybodys got a personal genius and a personal destiny. Let's realize that even societies do as well. [Applause] Terry Wolverton:Luis is running for governor. You know, I see that mainstream culture seems to push further and further away from meaning and that if all you did was watch your TV and go to the shopping mall. It would be really easy to forget that our actions and our lives have meaning. And I think that even though I agree that it's harder and harder to monetize the arts as more people practice it, that hopefully that the writers and the filmmakers and the creators will understand that they are keeping meaning alive in the culture and understand that it isit's a sacred responsibility. It's not about, oh I'm going to go out and write a bestseller and then I'll retire. But it's really about what is it thathow am I going to reflect the meaning of life and connect with that hunger for meaning that every person has and how am I going to encourage other people to raise their voices in that chorus if you will, and thats the vision of the future I have. Tom Lutz:Well, I think we have to admit thats beautiful and we agree. Are there questions that you like to ask? Male:On the sceneLuis, you mention a particular connection with Germany. I just spent 5 years in France and I've read the stories, it's called [Indistinct voice] it's the sequel to the artist. But if there's anyone in the room that would like to connect with methat would be great but it's kind of interesting how these connections come. I think it's a question to the panel is, you know, an international scene is rather sort of surprising connection that youve made, you know-- Luis Rodriguez:Let me make one real quickly. You know, Low Riders is an LA thing. It's a beautiful LA art form. We never honor it. We dont pay homage to it and also it's criminalized, you know. There was a time when you could cruise. Now, all of them have been closed down. [Indistinct voice] has been closed down since the 70s. They arrested people. They destroyed this beautifulnot destroyed, but really marginalize this very beautiful culture. But guess what? In Japan, it's a big deal. They love low riders. They tell me that in the harbor, all this part of isinto the harbor from other countries. But the one thing that goes out is low rider cars and it's big in Spain and it's big in other countries that go, okay, why dont we honor it as an LA form, something like that. It's not the only one. I'm just giving an example. There are so many of them. And the only reason I mention this is because I think that other people can get who we are better than we can get it sometimes. And of course they're ready to go across borders and international barriers to get to that culture. And when I say about Germany, the only reason I mention is because you would think, why would they care about a Chicano writer? But you know what? People are interested. People in the world are starting to pay attention, you know what I mean? And I hate to say this. I guess one of my other Chicano writers might agree. He gets more interest from outside of the US than you do here. It's a shame. But thats what happens. More people in France by the way have been invited through a lot of other places. They seem to be more interested in Chicano culture, LA culture and what we bring than sometimes our own people. So anyway, I hope thats an example that there really is an international interest thats greater than sometimes what we think. Tom Lutz:Yeah, and I think it'sLA Review of Books, 150 countries people are reading us and hundreds of thousands of people in those countries are reading us and I think it's partly because the Los Angeles name has a certain magic. Los Angeles culture means something in the world and it's helped launched us as a cultural institution for this community. Joel Arquillos:There are 8268 in this country but also there's beenRoddy Doyle started something in Dublin called Fighting Words. It's based on this model. There's actually going to be a meeting at the end of the month of over 10 different organizations all over Europe that areare going to talk about this. We get interest from the Philippines, from Japan, from all over the world, trying to figure out how to make this work in their communities. Volunteer isnt something that I think werewe've been able to really get to a different place. I think other countries are starting to figure out, how do you build it the way sort of we have. But the idea has definitely been taking off. Luis Rodriguez:You know, I have to add something, another good example. Tia Chuchas had gotten an international reputation now and I went to the most violent city in the world 3 or 4 years ago. And now it's gotten better. Thats Mexico where I was born. I was born in El Paso but I lived there. It was so violent and I've been Guatemala. I've been to some very violent places, the whole northern triangle, the most violent places in the world. But I went to a city that was 3 or 4 times more violent. Just more recently, it was terrible, the violence was [Indistinct voice] I havent seen dead bodies in the street in a long time and they werethey started [Indistinct voice] based on Tia Chuchas. It was amazing. I'm talking about Tia Chuchas and what were doing and all of the sudden, they started one, and I've heard that the violence has gone down. But one of the things thats very big in what it's now, arts, music, people said in open mics. I can't say that it was me. It's just the way things work. People just connect and everything but I do think that there is a powerful connection, how that happened in Male:Going to the theme of Tales From Two Cities. [Indistinct voice] Luis Rodriguez:WellI mean, I totally agree that the stories are in everyone and we are lost as a culture because we can't tap into all of them. And I think that what needs to happen. This is why 826 and even the work that Terry does is vital because it taps into some of that. Those young people that show up at 826, to me thats the community nobody wants to hear and they're creating work. And I think that this is the way to go. As you know, I do work in prisons. I do them in the poorest communities. I do them in places that nobody wants to do them. I'll tell youin upstate New York. I went up there with poetry and they said, well just knock on everybodys door and see whos interested. And theyI'm walking up and down these marine camps and I happened to be there during the Puerto Rican season. I don't know if you know in upstate New York, different people come to do different things and Mexicans do most of the picking. Then the Jamaicans come in and do some of the candy and the Puerto Ricans come in to do something. They dont have them come together. So I came under the Puerto Rican Season and I'm walking into the door and these people are watching baseball. And I'm going to tell you as you probably know, Puerto Ricans love baseball, and I'm going in there and I said, the school, you know, I'm going to bring some poetry but I'll leave. You know what? You're doing poetry? They turned off the TV. They sat me down. They started reciting they own poetry. We had a poetry workshop just as there because they wanted to be heard. They wanted to have a voice and it's just so powerful to me that I was in tears, you know, just thinking about it. Because I gopeople want to be heard. So I think if we have a place for those voices, I personally would like to come and work with anybodylow-wage workers, anybody and say, tell your story. Be out there. Value it because it all has value and that is the basis for everything that we do. Joel Arquillos:We actually have a advisory board at our centers and a lot of the families from that situation and a lot of them, you know, they're really grateful because English it's not spoken at home. So they come and they will sometimes sit there with the kids but they also sit in the couches. Weve gotten them to also and through our parent advisory board to also write and we've published their writing alongside student writing as well. And then we do these parties where we release the book and the parents read in front of the children and the families. It's a powerful, beautiful thing to see that and to see their kids watching their mom and dad or their mom reading something. It's just blows you away. So there's definitely opportunity and possibilities there. Terry Wolverton:And we see around the city. When I was in [Indistinct voice] I taught a workshop for people with HIV and AIDS, who were many of them facing their mortality and maybe had never seen themselves as writers but started to become that. You know, there are programs working with veterans and programs working in senior centers and that importance of honoring the story in everybody and reminding people because I think people don't start out disconnected from their story. They're told that it's not valuable. But reminding people of the value and necessity of their story is one of the things that our institutions exist to do. Tom Lutz:I think thats a great place to end. Can you please join me in thanking our panelist. Terry Wolverton, Luis Rodriguez, Joel Arquillos, and thanks to the organizers and thank you all for coming. [Applause]