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The Far Reaching Effects of the California Drought

in The Word is Text by

by Liliana Valerio

Clear skies, the sun’s rays beaming, and the sight of birds in the trees along with the sound of a lawn mower, a typical morning in California. Sounds like a picture perfect day, unfortunately it is not the case for recent months, not with an ongoing drought that seems to not get any better. Such a natural disaster has prompted many changes throughout the state. Last year, in April, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown enacted Executive Order B-29-15 which directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions throughout the state of California in efforts to reduce water usage by 25%. To make this possible, Brown also directed the replacement of 50million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant plants, mulch and gravel.

Landscaped home using drought tolerant plants and gravel in Southern California. While the order has been effective in the past year and is beneficial in many respects, it has complicated the lives of many, especially those of Latino gardeners. According to, latinos make up about 38% of California’s population. Also, according to Fox News, “more than 73% of workers in the landscape industry in California are (Latino).” As the drought continues and residents either neglect their lawns or re-landscape their lawns by installing plants, mulch and gravel, which do not need much water, as a means to comply with Browns order, many gardeners have lost their jobs as residents do not need their services, leaving many with hopes that “El Nino” will be their savior to a certain extent.

Home with a neglected lawn as a result of water reductions and drought conditions in Southern California. No matter what the case it seems, many Latinos are being negatively affected by this irreversible natural disaster that is only being made worse by the demands of Governor Brown. Just one of California’s Latino gardeners being affected and forced to face the drought’s effects directly is Pedro Valerio, a Southern California resident who has been making a living and supporting for his family through the business of gardening for about twenty four years. With minimal knowledge on Governor Brown’s water mandate, Valerio started landscaping with drought tolerant plants in efforts to please his clients and avoid getting fired. However, with many people choosing to landscape using mulch and gravel, Valerio constantly worries and stresses about the possibility of losing his job entirely as clients will soon no longer need his services. If such a tragedy were to happen, Valerio says that he would find himself forced to do something else in order to make a living and continue supporting his family, or even go back to Mexico. As his clients reduce their use of water and his amount of work, Valerio spends much of his free time learning about drought tolerant plants, through videos on YouTube, visiting Southern California Nurseries and his brother in law who is a botanist at UC Davis, all the while hopelessly searching for new clients only to be turned down about 20% of the time as they too do not need gardening services for the same reasons. With the struggle to find new jobs and maintain his current clients, and the drought showing minimal signs of improvement, Valerio like many other gardeners finds himself counting on “El Nino” to make the conditions of the drought better as his struggles only get harder to deal with. Pedro Valerio’s case like many others demonstrates the gravity of the drought and the hardships it imposes on California’s working class of gardeners and their families.







Works Cited

Bermudez, Esmeralda. “Gardeners, Nurseries Struggle to Adapt as Drought Outs Their

Business.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 11 Dec. 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

Brown Jr., Edmund G. “Executive Order B-29-15.” Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. –

Newsroom. State of California, 1 Apr. 2015. Web. 26 Feb. 2016. PDF file.

California Drought. State of California. 25 Feb. 2015. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.

Facundo, Marcia. “California Gardeners Say Their Industry Is Drying up Because of Ongoing

Drought.” Fox News Latino. Fox News, 16 June 2015. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

“Governor Brown Directs First Ever Statewide Mandatory Water Reductions.” Office of

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. – Newsroom. State of California, 1 Apr. 2015. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.

Nasser, Haya E. “California Gardeners Struggle for Work during Drought.” Al Jazeera America.

Al Jazeera America, 25 May 2015. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

Impaction Hits CSU, Northridge

in The Word is Text by

by Jonathan Hernandez

One of the beauties of being a college student is the experience that we get when we leave our bubble. That bubble can be, living in a small town in Ventura county or simply living in a small unincorporated area East LA, whatever it may be, escaping these two places through the means of college education is no longer going to be an option for many California residents. Many students dream of exploring different cities and escaping their day-to-day life routine and wish to explore other places in California are quickly being shut down by the CSU systems through Impaction.

At CSU, Northridge, Impaction affects high school students who live in Ventura County or East LA. Students will not be admitted into California State University Northridge in the Fall 2016. Instead they will need to attend CSU, Dominguez Hills, CSU, Los Angeles, or CSU, Channel Island.

Impaction is completely taking away a choice and option of any of those individuals that want to leave their bubble and expand their diversity by leaving to study at a different region of California. The whole idea of “leaving the hood” for some of many young students is no longer going to be an option, that is why it is going against the grain. We grow up with this idea that college is a mean for us to become successful and to explore and grow our culture by experiencing others, but most important to understand that there is more to life than where we grew up. Now, due to impaction, students who live in these areas mentioned, are no longer eligible to attend CSUN for the Fall 2016

A Veteran’s Story: Part II

in The Word is Text by

by Edith Casas

Look for Part I Here

Making a decision to start over in a new career or to remain in a successful place was one of the hardest decisions of her whole life. Outweighing the pros and cons of her decision seemed to favor staying in the military. After all, it would have been easier for her to stay because of the financial stability, management position, and inevitable success.

Then why leave? Why would she walk away? Many of her military friends and leaders advised her to, “Just stay and retire, what’s 10 more years.”

For most of her career, she was away from home and naturally her family wanted her to end her career. On the other hand, she had just given birth to a baby girl and was starting a family of her own. Staying in the military would require long periods of time away from home, traveling, and continuously moving from place to place. Would she be willing to make room for military life and possibly sacrifice her family’s livelihood?

Financial stability was at the top of her pros. Walking away from a job that was guaranteed and stable brought back the emotions that she had felt on that initial bus ride to RTC. Scared, cold, wondering if she would regret her decision, uncertainty were all the feelings she felt as she signed a military form known as DD-214 agreeing to end her time in service. “I had to wear my uniform on that last day I wasn’t sure why, but knowing it was the last time I felt really sad but excited at the same time,” she described her last day in service. Signing the DD-214 was the easy part, after that is when reality hit.

Support from CSUN for Mizzou

in The Word is Text by


mizzou1Earlier this year, a series of events unfolded at University of Missouri. Payton Head, Missouri Students Association president, was called the N-word on campus. This led to several rallies, the first called “Racism Lives Here.” Even after attention was brought to the issue, no action was taken on campus. It wasn’t until October 4th, 2015 that Mizzou’s Chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, finally acknowledged the racial slurs occurring on campus. An inebriated man showed up at the  Legion of Black Collegians (LBC) 2015 Homecoming rehearsal, yelling more racial slurs. His response was to tweet the following:



Clearly, this was not enough to tackle the issue. Payton Head joined Legion of black Collegians (LBC) and held a sit-down study protests where they claimed administration was not taking the action necessary to approach the discrimination and fear on campus. By October 10, there was still no response. The coalition chanted throughout campus, and approached president Wolfe. On October 24th that President Wolfe met with the coalition. The terrorisms had to go as far as a an offensive symbol made of human feces displayed in a resident restroom. While he agreed that racism on campus is an outrage, he did not implement any action.

As a result, Jonathan Butler began a hunger strike on November 2 in response to the lack of action from administration. In addition, The Missouri Tiger football team had nine black players who stated that they would refuse to play or practice until the President and Chancellor resigned. Their game against the Brigham Young University Cougars was just this weekend, and the players kept to their word. When the school saw that the players were serious, the President stepped down. Once all the black players got on board, it became even bigger national news since the school makes several million dollars in ticket sales.

This only met one of several Mizzou student demands. However, later that night, on Yik Yak, death threats ensued. Students began to fear for their lives, as the death threats became more then claims. People began to walk the streets in bandanas, threatening the students of color in Mizzou. Later, the person responsible for sending these death threats, Hunter Park, was arrested. However, his punishment was minimal in comparison to the claimed fine for terrorism.

These events led to a national conference call with Mizzou students on Sunday November 15, 2015 at 7pm. The students shared their stories, their fears, and their hope for action. In response, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) students created a coalition of students of color. On Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at 12:15pm, students will be holding a silent demonstration in front of the Oviatt Library. These students ask that we come together in unity, and show that we stand in solidarity with the Mizzou students. As a coalition of student clubs that involves students of color and various backgrounds that stand with Mizzou, we are declaring solidarity with multicultural clubs at CSUN, as we stand united in holding CSUN responsible on an institutional and administrative levels in the pursuit of nurturing and developing diversity on the campus.



A Veteran’s Story: Part 1

in The Word is Text by

by Edith Casas

“Accelerate your life,” was the Navy’s slogan when she joined. Part of her decision to join was seeing the world and the other was running away. Traveling the world seemed to be something only the rich and famous did, not an ordinary girl from LA.

Growing up in a Mexican household, as the oldest child expectations of her were high, strict parenting was clear and proving herself to her parents meant everything. Adolescence was rough, filled with rebellion, breaking rules, and constant disappointment. Going to college was not enough, she needed to leave, escape, a new beginning. As the first person in her family to ever join the military, she knew the journey would not be easy but definitely rewarding. Two weeks after she graduated high school, she was off to Navy boot camp.

The bus ride from O’Hare Airport, in Chicago, to where she would spend the next two months seemed prolonged. All she remembers of that ride is her pounding heartbeat, countless emotions filled with nervousness and fright. Questioning herself, “could I really do this?” It was too late to turn back.

“Everyone off the bus now! Let’s Go! Move it, Move it!” were the first words upon arriving to the Navy’s Recruit Training Facility in Great Lakes, Illinois. Scared, cold, feelings of regret, and home sick were all the thoughts running through her mind. With determination and faith she passed all tests, what turned out to be one the most challenging summers, was also surprisingly fun. She graduated Navy RTC in the fall of 2005.

For the next nine years, she did everything she expected to do in the Navy and everything the Navy expected of her. During the day, launching and recovering aircraft from the flight deck was her day job, “long hours yet exhilarating,” she described. “The horizon was beautiful, the breeze was so refreshing it made you feel alive, and the deep blue ocean just made you wonder,” she described her view and thoughts on the flight deck.

Traveling to some of the most beautiful places in Europe, are some of her favorite memories. Seeing places like the Colosseum in Rome, to desert safari tours in Dubai, and tasting the splendid national dish of Spain called “Paella,” made traveling what seemed to be impossible possible.

After almost 10 years of service and reaching the rank of Petty Officer First Class (E-6), her military journey was about to abruptly end. The Navy was her passion, the recognition of her hard work was euphoric, and rising through the ranks was one of her greatest achievements. However, she had to make a choice to continue on a journey of hard sacrifice with career satisfaction or to focus on her, a new career, and life.

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