Fiesta Con Nuestros Vecinos: SAfER Celebrates 25 Years
On Sunday, Aug. 14, the Springfield Alliance for Equity and Respect celebrated 25 years of working for social justice with a party for the entire community. A party with our neighbors, Fiesta Con Nuestros Vecinos.
Sunday’s two-and-half-hour celebration was the culmination of both SAfER Program Director Johanis Tadeo and Development Director Mariko Plescia’s work. Together they planned and organized the event over the last year.
The event began at 3:30 p.m. at Tyson Park in Springfield. There, the crowd of roughly fifty community members was entertained with a poem written and spoken by Paris Woodward-Ganz, music, dancing, art, yoga, children’s activities, and a plethora of information.
Two food trucks and over twenty tables were set up for the event. Organizations tabling at the event were asked to donate $25 towards the exhibit and trade show permit required by the Eugene Springfield Fire Marshal’s Office. Tadeo said that each organization happily donated towards the $400 fee.
“To me, that just shows what real community is all about,” Tadeo said. “Coming together to help get things done for each other.”
The food trucks—Justice Shave Ice and Taqueria Fuego Burrito—and tables were spread out on the west end of the park. The info tables included organizations from all walks of life in Lane County with a special focus on marginalized community members.
Information ranged from early childhood and family planning, education, media, and financial services, many with brochures and pamphlets written only in Spanish.
Planned Parenthood was available offering information on their services including wellness exams, healthy relationships, safer sex options, gender-affirming hormone care, HIV testing, and vasectomies.
Catholic Community Services of Lane County was also there with information about their food pantries, housing counseling, energy, and rent assistance.
SAfER community partners were available offering information, promotional items, and grab bags. Ebbert United Methodist had a table set up handing out their free meal schedules on the back of a card containing their address and contact information.
The church rents out office space to both SAfER and Carry It Forward to operate out of. Carry It Forward’s founder, Kris McAlister, was there too on Sunday providing information about their upcoming efforts towards reducing the harms of houselessness.
Another local non-profit, DevNW, was busy handing out information on their financial services. DevNW, advocates for and builds affordable housing, offers programming for financial wellbeing, and provides grants or small loans, matched savings accounts, and downpayment assistance.
United Way of Lane County was on hand providing information about their services and promoting their upcoming Racial Justice Community Gathering scheduled for Aug 28.
Christie Costello, United Way’s Director of Marketing and Communications said she was excited to be included in SAfER’s event.
“This is the first time I have been to an event here at Tyson Park. Usually these types of things happen closer to downtown at Island Day Park or the Library,” Costello said. “It’s great to see another side of Springfield.”
Lane County’s parenting education and family support hub and initiative of United Way, LaneKids, was present as well. Jacob Nolte was handing out information regarding their resources on how to raise happy, healthy kids.
SAfER partnered with the Willamalane Park and Recreation District to host the event. But Tadeo needed very little help selecting the location.
“Tyson Park was specifically chosen,” Tadeo said.
First he said that “the park was closer to the residents” SAfER represents and advocates for.
The location of the park is located next to the industrial side of town on a dead-end street, with no parking lot, forcing attendees to clog up the street parking nearby.
Tadeo said that “the people who live on this side of town experience some of the highest risk of exposure to pollutants” due to their location near industrial factories and mills. That’s why he invited PCUN and Beyond Toxics to the event.
He wanted people to know that there are organizations out there offering services to help in these types of living conditions.
Climate Justice Organizer, Tomás Bartolo of PCUN, handed out gift bags full of PPE items to take home for COVID precautions. The bags had free home tests and KN95 masks for parents and kids.
PCUN is a farm union with a mission of empowering “farmworkers and working Latinx families.” Bortolo said that currently they are taking action to get paid overtime.
Tadeo said that there was another reason he chose the park.
“Last year I received a call from a community member who informed me that they had the cops called on them while they were picnicking here, in this park,” he said and that, ultimately, due to language barriers, “the family was asked to leave.”
Tadeo wanted to make it clear that all members of the community are welcome in all of Willamalane’s parks and in Springfield. Tadeo has a “goal of creating a Latinx community park in Springfield” and he said “this celebration was one step closer” to achieving that dream.
“The city wasn’t a sponsor” of the event “but the city manager did donate funds in support” of the event, Tadeo said. Nonetheless, a few notable city officials were there in support of the community, in unofficial capacity.
Interim Mayor Sean VanGordon was seen meandering through and two City Council members, Steve Moe and Leonard Stoehr, attended too. As well as two members of the Springfield Police Department.
Less than two weeks before SAfER’s event, Tyson Park hosted a different type of gathering as part of the annual National Night Out with the police, choosing to avoid Jesse Main Memorial Park this year.
Eugene’s Police Auditor also had a table at SAfER’s event helping to share awareness of the auditors role and function and how to make a complaint against EPD. However, complaints can only be made against EPD through their office. Unfortunately, Springfield does not have a police auditor process at this time.
During the Fiesta Con Nuestros Vecinos, a mural was painted under the guidance of local muralist Esteban Camacho Steffensen — the same muralist who painted the LatinX Mural on the side of Memo’s Mexican Restaurant in downtown Springfield.
Steffensen asked the community to join in to create the two panels for a mural. One that Tadeo hopes will one day be joined and mounted at a park in Springfield as a sign of safety, respect, and equity for the LatinX community.