We Said Goodbye to Mary Rose Cortese of Florence-Firestone

2015 launch of the “Everyday Heroes” LA County Library project, Florence-Firestone Constituent Service Center, 7807 Compton Avenue, LA 90001. Featured: Mary Rose Cortese, Joseph Titus, and Jonathan Pacheco Bell [Photo by author]

Thank you to AARP Livable Communities Workshop organizers and my fellow panelists for this week’s conversation on engaging older adults.

On September 13th, we lost Ms. Mary Rose Cortese, one of our community elders in South Central LA’s Florence-Firestone community. Mary has joined her brother Joe Titus in the next chapter. I know they’re up there still advocating for Florence-Firestone.

Mary and Joe welcomed me into the community on Day 1 in 2009. They were honorary abuelitos to me and many others. Hug your elders. Ask them to tell you stories. Document their lives. Cherish them every day.

At the end of this #AARP session, I dedicated my presentation to Mary Rose Cortese 🙏🏽💛

Abolish Fines at LA County Library

Florence Library in Florence-Firestone, 2015

With Supervisor Janice Hahn’s fine-free library motion going to the Board of Supervisors tomorrow, I wrote a piece urging Supervisors to abolish fines at LA County Library.

Beyond Spanglish in CDMX

I was not raised speaking Spanish. When Nana Josephine Pacheco née Ontiveros came to #LosAngeles from #Texas, the school teachers struck her with rulers por hablando Español en clase. So Nana didn’t teach my mom. And nobody taught me. I learned Español in earnest in the last 8 years working as an Embedded Planner on the ground in Florence-Firestone. For real I’m at like 6th grade level, pero sabes que, es mejor que nada!

On arrival Friday in #CDMX, I quickly had to adjust to Español. It was thrilling. I found myself absorbing the spoken word, the unique rhythm, cadence, & dialect of #Chilango, the Spanish of Mexico City. Immediately I found myself translating signs, speech, & writing intuitively. Dormant neurotransmitters began firing. Parts of my brain were trabajando overtime to help situate myself in this new space & culture.

I recognized this feeling. It had been awhile but I’d felt it long before. I told mi esposita that this exhilaration must have been the same stimulating experience of learning Inglés as a child con mi familia on the streets of East Los Angeles y Montebello 40+ years ago.