A common question that I am asked is: “What inspires you as an artist?”

While I have several sources of inspiration one of the most significant and driving forces for my work are the organized communities and organizations who are deeply committed to social justice in the short and long term. One of the organization’s here in the Bay Area whose actions consistently fuel my work is POWER. Jesus and I are supporters of their work and fans of the community leaders whose development the organization supports.

POWER is an organization that unites working class families, youth and tenants to achieve economic, racial and gender justice through organization and empowerment. POWER’s mission is to eliminate poverty and oppression by developing the capacity of working class communities of color to play a powerful role in the political processes that impact our lives and the well being of communities.

POWER builds strategic alliances, wages effective community action campaigns with low-wage immigrant Latina women workers and low-income African American families and youth, and develops the leadership skills of their members. POWER’s work changes the conditions and policies that exploit and displace families and communities, by influencing policy to win migrant justice and responsible development that secures living wage employment, job security, affordable housing, and community services

This year POWER’s Women Workers Project has gotten off to a running start – they helped to win a free monthly Fast Passes for 12,000 youth in San Francisco!

Thanks to POWER, Chinese Progressive Association, the MORE Public Transit Coalition, Jamestown Community Center, the SRO Collaborative, Urban Habitat, the San Francisco Youth Commission, the MTA, Supervisor David Campos and more, low-income SFUSD students will ride MUNI free for the remainder of the school year!
POWER’s leaders have fought steadily since June 2010 for free bus passes for youth riders, who depend on the bus system to get to school and after school programs. While the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) claimed that they couldn’t possibly scrape together the funds for such a program, San Francisco cut the number of yellow school buses in half, making even more young students dependent on the bus system. At the same time, the MTA couldn’t seem to get around to implementing the Lifeline program, which promised to reduce the cost of monthly transit passes for low-income youth from $20 to $10.

As $1.4 million dollars allocated for the Lifeline program sat untouched, many parents found themselves in the same difficult position as POWER leader Tere Molina:

“Sometimes I have to choose to either buy food or buy Fast Passes for my children so they can get to school.”

POWER leaders used community actions, negotiations with the MTA and meetings with allies on the SF Board of Supervisors such as David Campos to get the Lifeline program into the hands of low-income young people before June 2011, when the funds would be lost as the new fiscal year begins. Last week, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution supporting demands for 12,000 Fast Passes for youth from April–June 2011! The Supervisors also made a commitment to work with DCYF (Department of Children, Youth, and Families) to provide the reduced-cost bus passes throughout the 2011–2012 school year.


16th Street BART station

Come down to 16th Street BART and fill out your BRIEF application to get your free fast pass! All you need is your student ID number and your household income…no, really, THAT’S ALL! Bus passes will be distributed through the schools, but you must APPLY to receive it.