We know you're used to hearing from Active SGV online on a regular basis... From Facebook posts, IG stories and DMs, to the newsletter--we talk with y'all a lot! But did you know that the person behind all those photos and posts is our Communications Manager, Andrea Jaramillo?! She's been working with Active for a year (exactly a year + some change!), quietly behind the scenes to help share Active's message. So next time you get a message from us, chances are it's her! Get to know Andrea below.
How did you get your start at Active SGV?
I spent the last 10 years living abroad and around the US studying and working until 2018, when I moved back to the SGV. Previous to moving, I lived in Bogota, Colombia, working with indigenous communities/sustainable fashion and digital communications; I enjoyed working at a community level. I reconnected with my homegirl CarCarDiesel, (aka Carly Curiel) and she told me about ActiveSGV (even though I was working on other things at the time). Randomly, after nearly a year in LA, I was thinking of asking CarCar if her non-profit was hiring when I saw she had shared their post for the Comms Manager position. The perfect position for me to apply all my skills! The stars aligned I guess, cuz I applied, got the job and the rest is history!
What do you like most about working at Active?
What I enjoy most about working at Active is the awesome team I get to work with every day. Everyone is so passionate and genuinely cares about creating more equitable and healthier communities. We have a lot of fun on the clock and off! I also love our office! Have you been? It’s a little green space oasis!
What has been your favorite experience working here?
My favorite experience so far was at Noche de las Luminarias 2019 (our annual fundraising night), where I had a chance to see the impact Active has on our community first hand from folks around the SGV. It felt good to hear others speak so highly about the org and know that we all worked together to have an impact on our region. We also had a sweet little team afterparty, which was fun.
If a friend was visiting the SGV from out of town, how would you spend the day?
If an out of town friend comes to visit, one of the first thing’s I do with them is take them on a beautiful morning hike in the San Gabriel Mountains and spoil them with beautiful views and fresh air. If they don’t like hiking for whatever reason, I’ll take them to the Rose Bowl for an early morning run around the track. Next, I would take them to lunch at my favorite local business, Fiore Cafe (they have the BEST bread and grow many ingredients from the garden on their patio). We might spend the afternoon at the Norton Simon Museum or Huntington Gardens. I’m all about the food in the SGV, so for dinner we’d hit up central SGV for noodles… Maybe Pho somewhere on Valley or my favorite noodle spot: Noodle Harmony in Monterey Park.
What are you reading, watching, listening to or diggin' these days?
When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking. During the early days of quarantine I baked A LOT of bread, so much of my reading and watching were cooking and bread videos. I also did a deep dive into learning about natural/biodynamic wines which is a super interesting sector of agriculture and farming. Now, my boyfriend is super into fermenting (pickles, tomatoes, chilis, lots of different things!) So I've been absorbing a lot of second-hand knowledge of that.
Non-foodie reads and listens include:
-The Wangs Vs The Word, a novel by Jade Chang
-A playlist I created on Spotify called 'silk' (think neo-jazz and modern blues).
-Esperanza, a poetry zine created by my cousin Brian Leon.
-Currently taking a break from streaming TV/movies :)
Follow Andrea on Instagram here and for recipes and yummy food content, check out Tastebuds Instagram and website!
From her involvement in policy making to the Metro Service Council, Diane's work in the SGV has made her one of our region's strongest advocates for resilient communities. With a background in Public Health, she returned to the SGV in 2016 and began volunteering with BikeSGV. Since then, she's discovered environmental justice is directly linked to the community's public health and is living out her dream by helping improve her community.
1. How did you get started working at ActiveSGV (/ in this field)?
I started following BikeSGV online in 2015 when I lived in San Diego, I was happy that there was a group working to improve active transportation in the SGV, and wondered if I could get involved from afar. Life happened and I returned to the SGV in 2016 looking to work in the public health and urban planning fields, while I searched for jobs I started volunteering at BikeSGV and even continued after I was working at LAC USC Medical Hospital. Eventually there was an opportunity for me to join the team and I was happy to transition over as a full time employee. I knew that regardless of what I did professionally, I wanted to support the efforts of making the SGV more bike and pedestrian friendly, yet the more involved I became, the more I learned about environmental justice and the need to improve the layered needs of this community. I am happy I get to live out my dream of improving public health in the SGV.
2. What do you like most about ActiveSGV?
I feel privileged and honored to work in the SGV, having passionate and dedicated colleagues inspires me to continue working towards making the San Gabriel Valley a more sustainable and equitable place for everyone. There are so many perks that come with the job, like the encouragement to take the bus or ride my bike to work, being able to create the #ReadSGV book club and flexible work schedule that allows me to still pursue my personal passions. During this crazy 2020, I also value that we have challenging conversations to become a better organization, if we werent growing then we would be doing a disservice to our community.
3. Favorite and/or memorable ActiveSGV experience?
The original 18-mile 626 Golden Streets that ran from South Pasadena to Azusa will always hold a special place in my heart, the process was so new and watching staff and volunteers work together to put on such an ambitious event was inspiring. We learned so much from that experience and it solified that BikeSGV was the right place for me. As many supporters know, Brian, my brother, trained volunteers, was the Monrovia hub captain and managed to get the 501st Legion (for the Start Wars nerds) to participate in the event. Ernest Lee took a photo of Brian and I at the end of the event, looking tired but happy - it reminds me of how lucky we were to spend so much time together before his passing. I also love that he wore timbs to an open streets event! I want to express how much I appreciate the day-to-day memories we have created, "instant recess", Climate Ride, and even learning how to properly compost. I continue to grow on a personal and professional level being surrounded by people who challenge and support me through it all.
4. If a friend from out of town were to visit, which place in the SGV would you take them to and why?
This question makes me smile because many years ago during winter break my college friends and I visited each others hometowns. When they visited Baldwin park, we rode our bikes to Santa Fe Dam, bought some Baldwin Park Pizza Co., visited the first In-N-Out, and watched a movie at the Vineland Drive-In Theatre. If friends visited me again after the COVID pandemic I would have us visit the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to get some time in nature and eat more veggies :) maybe some Thien Tam in El Monte or grab a Green Juice at Jugos y Tortas La Michoacana in Baldwin Park!
5. What you're listening to/ reading/ watching/ digging right now:
I have been learning and re-learnin a lot about how to become anti-racist, how to be a better advocate, and also find ways to hold on to happiness.
Here are a few things I am digging right now:
1. Pleasure Activism, The Politics of Feeling Good by Adrienne Maree Brown (Book)
2. Stamped from the Beginning, The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (Audio book because its dense!)
3. Miss Colombia by Lido Pimienta (Spanish album)
4. Dub Side of the Moon by Easy Star All-Stars (a literal dub raggae tribute album to Dark Side of the Moon)
Keep up with Diane on social media on Twitter and Instagram. For Metro SGV Service Council updates on twitter: @DianeVelez_SGV For pictures of my life on Instagram: @dayan.velez
Our Staff Spotlight feature is back! This month, we're featuring one of our newer Active team members, Marlene! With a passion for hiking and biking and a background in education, Marlene started to look for opportunities that would allow her to advocate for safer streets and environmental justice. It was long before she crossed paths with Active SGV, and well, the rest is history! Check out her feature below.
1. How did you get started working at Active SGV?
It started with a decision back in December 2018 that I would look for opportunities that resonated with my values and interest—being outdoors and riding my bike. At the time I did not know about ActiveSGV, or that an organization like this existed. All I knew is that I needed to be proactive in the fight for environmental justice, advocating for safer streets for cyclist and pedestrians, and healthy communities. Like many people I started searching for opportunities to get involved specifically around these issues. I briefly volunteered at organization in Downtown Los Angeles before joining the Vision Zero street team to do community outreach. I found these experiences fulfilling. A few friends shared the opportunity at ActiveSGV and thought that it would be a good fit. As I read and learned about ActiveSGV work on environmental justice, equity, and sustainability I knew that I wanted to help and be a part of this community. I was very fortunate to be invited to join.
2. What do you like most about Active SGV?
I love the passion and dedication of all my colleagues from the OG’s to the young interns. I feel inspired and energized by their leadership. It motivates me to step up my game, to grow, and to look for ways to be a better person, colleague, and advocate. Before shelter place, it was also really cool to ride bikes to events with my colleagues—some of the coolest people I know.
3. Most memorable Active SGV experience?
My favorite/memorable experience at ActiveSGV happened in February when we hosted the Emerald Necklace bike train. It was my first time doing the ride so I was really excited. I wasn’t the only one excited-- 60 people came out for the ride! The bike trains had not been done in a while, so it was nice to see a large group of people come out on a Sunday morning. After the ride a few of us went to Sweet Veggie, shout out Andrew and Amy for introducing me to this vegan/vegeterian spot! The day didn’t end there, after lunch Ed gave us a tour of his amazing backyard filled with fruit trees and let us to pick fruit to take home. It one of my favorite days so far!
4. If a friend came from out of town, where would you take them in SGV and why?
I would invite my friend for a hike on the Gabrielino Trail followed by food either at ThienTam vegetarian restaurant or Plant Love Food both offer delicious vegan/vegetarian food! I would probably also show them Jeff Seymour Family Center, it’s such a wonderful example of how to reimagine spaces to be sustainable and welcoming.
5. What are you listening to, reading, doing, digging right now?
Since shelter in place I started listening to podcast. I like stand up so a lot of the podcast I listen to are by comedians, not all but most. Here are a few of my favorite that I recommend:
1. Small Doses with Amanda Seales
2. Whitney Cummings Good For You
Want to learn more? Check out ActiveSGV's new podcast, ActiveLab