THE K NOW FALL 2019 YOUTH MEDIA
ONE FAMILY, THREE GENERATIONS: A CONVERSATION ON LGBTQ+ TOLERANCE IN AMERICA
CONCENTRATION CAMPS: FROM JAPANESE INTERNMENT TO TODAYâ€™S DETENTION FACILITIES
HOW YOUNG PEOPLE ARE LEADING A NEW AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION IN THE CENTRAL VALLEY
AWA K E N I N G
In the past decade, there have been countless articles published about the millennial and Gen Z populations and their apparent disregard for how things have always been done. These groups, roughly defined as young people born anywhere from the late 1980s to the mid-to-late 2000s, are constant targets of derision from older generations because of their focus on self-care, on being politically correct, on valuing personal lives over work and for not getting married and having children. While these same criticisms happen as every new generation comes of age, the young people living in the world of 2019 are pushing back against a society at the brink of collapse. From mass extinction, to climate change, to concentration camps and the spreading of hate, these youth have grown up in a world of extremes. But instead of letting this force them to conform and accept the status quo, they are fighting back. With young people like Greta Thunberg and Emma González leading the way, today’s youth are taking it upon themselves to enact change. They are speaking out and fighting for laws around climate change to address the real threat we are all facing. They are pushing for gun control and safe schools. They are refusing to accept that “immigrant detention facilities” are anything other than American concentration camps and they are no longer subscribing to heteronormative ideologies that are simply not reflective of the complexitities of human identity and sexuality. Even more importantly: they are pushing older generations to do the same. By leading by example, they are dragging the rest of the country into a more accepting and equitable society. They are truly creating the path to “Awakening.” In this publication, the young people of The kNOw demonstrate the different ways they are continuing to fight for this awakening with examples from their own lives. As you read about their struggles with LGBTQ+ acceptance, their fears about mass extinction and their fight for more inclusive and comprehensive sex education, I have only one ask of you: Hear them. Let go of your own political leanings and prejudices and listen to what they are saying. I promise you, you will not regret it.
Kody Stoebig Program Manager & Editor The kNOw Youth Media 700 Van Ness Ave. Fresno, CA 93721 theknowfresno.org
The kNOw Youth Media is a program of Youth Leadership Institute. At Youth Leadership Institute, young people realize their power by learning to use their voices to create meaningful change. We work within coalitions and with elected officials to promote policy change that makes our communities more equitable for young people, especially young people of color. To learn more, visit yli.org!
04. ZOFIA TREXLER
One Family, Three Generations: A Conversation On LGBTQ+ Tolerance In America
06. AN AMERICAN America
06. MARIA TORRES To Earth, From Earth
07. IZZY RODRIGUEZ
The Reality of Reproductive Rights In The U.S.
08. RAYMART CATACUTAN
Concentration Camps: From Japanese Internment To Today’s Detention Facilities
10. JOHNSEN DEL ROSARIO
How Young People Are Leading A New Agricultural Revolution
12. ERIC ESCAREÑO
How Mandated Sexual Education Is Failing Our Children
13. IVAN VICENTE MANRÍQUEZ
Fresno Weighs In: LGBTQ+ Inclusive Sexual Education
14. ULONIE GARZA
What Animal Extinction Means For Our Own Extinction
14. MARIA TORRES
Recycling For Dummies
16. MELISSA ANDRADE
Too Much Change Is Not A Good Thing. Ask The Climate. Program Manager & Editor Kody Stoebig
Program Coordinator & Editor Johnsen Del Rosario
Cover Art Ulonie Garza & Maria Torres
Translations Ivan Vicente Manríquez & Melissa Andrade
ONE FAMILY, THREE GENERATIONS: A CONVERSATION ON LGBTQ+ TOLERANCE IN AMERICA Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community comes with the daunting task of navigating a world that is too often cruel and unaccepting, but with support and tolerance, this journey becomes a little more bearable. This is why it is so important to create a world that opens its arms to the LGBTQ+ community instead of marginalizing and further isolating its members. In the past 70 years, leaps and bounds have been made in the field of LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance. However, when we make so much progress, we sometimes forget to look into the past and remember the realities we’ve left behind us. This is why I sat down seventeen-year-old Eric Escareño, his mother Diane Ortiz, and his grandmother Sally Brey; individuals from one family comprising three generations of Fresnans that are witnesses to not only how far we’ve come, but how much further we need to go. How was the LGBTQ+ community perceived when each of you was growing up? SB:You could not mention you were gay.You had to be in the closet in my time. I had a cousin that was gay and it was a rough time for him. Very rough. My sister and a few other cousins stood by his side. All of the [rest of the] family disowned him because he was gay. DO: When I was in school, I remember you didn’t hear “gay.”You would hear the word … well, okay, I take that back.You heard the word gay, but it was just somebody who was different, odd or said something stupid in class. “How gay is that?” “You’re so gay.” That’s what you heard. I didn’t know anybody up until I was in high school who was gay. It was to the point where one of my best friends, who I did not know was gay, came out to me and begged me to keep a secret because he had two siblings who were both gay and the father disowned them. He could not be disowned, he said. He was not ready for that. I pretended to be his girlfriend in front of his parents....I was older than one of my brothers who was gay and I did not realize it. He used to get tormented in school. Absolutely tormented. Ridiculed. Picked on. And I did not know 04 | Fall 2019
the reason why he was having such a rough time in school because he was such a lovely person. Just a really good person. He wasn’t out in the open, you couldn’t be out in the open back then. At all. In any way. No.
I think that’s when it mentally clicked what gay was. DO: I didn’t really put a lot of thought into it until my best friend came out to me. Even then, it was naive because I would say, because I had a massive crush on him..., “What do you mean you like guys? I think it’s because - have you ever had a girlfriend?” He [said], “That’s the problem Diane, I absolutely have no desire to be with a girl.” It was the first time it clicked in my head.. I just thought it was lack of experience on his part, but that wasn’t it at all. He simply just absolutely, positively had zero interest physically in girls. And then I had a girlfriend who had come out to me and then it was like, “okay, now I get it.” I think it was at that time, 18, when I truly understood.
SB: How old was I? 12. My cousin, like I told you, he was older than us. I knew he was gay. He had a tortured life. He would be beaten up all the Eric Escareño, Diane Ortiz and Sally Brey | Photo by Zofia Trexler time by other men when they would EE: I mean, now, it’s more widely accepted when find out. Half of the family that stood behind him had we’re talking about the community in general... At to fight for him, argue for him, to protect him because least in my experience, it’s been okay. There are certain he was always getting beat up really bad. individuals who decide not to look past [someone’s] differences, and [instead] point them out, but it is what When did Eric come out to you? it is. It’s significantly better; we’ve come a long way, but there’s still more to go. DO: Well, I just one day… How was the LGBTQ+ community represented in the media when growing up, if at all? SB: It was unheard of. EE: There’s a lot of representation now. When we look at the different social media outlets, we can see that there’s a lot of people who are out and proud.You don’t necessarily have to be closeted anymore. When did you realize what being gay was? EE: It was probably around 8 or 9 when I was like, “oh, there’s something really different.” Me compared to other guys and what I found attractive, and what I was attracted to.
EE: At the Costco gas line. DO:Yes, and you were what? 13? EE: I was a freshman. I was just asked by [a girl] to Sadies (The Sadie Hawkins Dance). DO: Girls have always gravitated towards him. He has always had maintained good friendships with them. And then this young lady asked him, and I [asked], “Well, how does this make you feel?” and he [said] “eh.” I said okay, is there something you’d like to share with me because I really feel that it’s important that if there’s something you want to tell me, I love you despite whatever it is. Feel free. And he hasn’t stopped talking about it since. It was…
Diane Ortiz during her senior year of high school
Escareño at age 4 with his brother Austin (left) and his mother Diane (center)
EE: The Costco gas line after I got asked to Sadie’s my freshman year.
are very scary people out there.
SB: Same here. Every time he goes out, I tell him to DO: I remember what it was like when a guy would watch his surroundings and not to trust people.You ask you out and you liked them, how excited you were. have to be on guard a lot. He didn’t display any of that. The dots all connected. EE: Every time I walk out the front door, it’s always SB: I didn’t find out until [his] sophomore year. I was “Hijo, please be safe.” cooking, and he called me in and [said], “Grandma, I have something to tell you.” When he told me, I [said], Does it ever make you resentful that sometimes the “I know, Eric.” I tried to get you to look at girls, and world you’re in isn’t accepting of who you are? you didn’t. I knew all the time… I don’t tell him to look at girls anymore. EE: Of course. [Here you have] my mom and grandma, the two people I love most in the world. Whereas Growing up and seeing how the LGBTQ+ if you were to do the interview with my dad, he’d community was treated, was there maybe anything that scared you when Eric came out?
Escareño in first grade
going to church. It really bothers me that a kid today goes to church and is made to feel there is something wrong with them. There isn’t.You should be able to love who you love, be who you are and be proud of who you are. If your family doesn’t accept it, then you find a family who does.You find a group of friends that do. Because ultimately, you have to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of each day and you have to like who you are, love the person you’re looking at and just know that you’re accepted by the people around you. If it’s not in your household, then you find one where it is. Truly, I really believe that. I don’t think that anyone should change anything about themselves to fit a mold. In fact, we have family members that I know that if they knew Eric was gay, would have some qualms. But that’s his choice – who he wants to know, know. In this house, anybody who comes in this house, or is in my presence, they will accept him or they’re not going to be part of my life. That’s just the way it is.
They will accept him or they’re not going to be part of my life.
DO: Oh, absolutely. First off, yeah, we’ve come leaps and bounds but there are still very narrow-minded, very … I don’t want to say people are bigoted, but I just honestly feel like they have a lack of understanding that a person’s sexuality absolutely has nothing to do with the person themself. I don’t know why it offends people, but it seems to bring out anger in a lot of people. So yeah, I’m always fearful for him. Even as old as he is, when he goes out, I’m fearful. I didn’t know why my brother was treated the way he was, and when I found out, I was filled with tremendous anger because I wished I had gone to school with him so I could have protected him. I’m very glad for Eric’s friends that he has because I feel better knowing that they accept him for who he is. But that doesn’t mean that when he’s out in town or out on a date or something, that the people around him feel the same. They might feel aggressive towards him. Threatened by him. Especially because he has no qualms about being who he is, which I’m proud of and I’m grateful he’s proud of who he is. He should be. But in some respects, it scares me sometimes because there
be giving significantly different answers. It’s rough, especially when you see the difference between two households. Over here, yes, my grandma’s tough, my mom is Christian - they’re both religious but still accepting, and they believe that the God they know loves everybody for who they are. Whereas my dad, when I came out to him, he said, “I wish you weren’t.” He doesn’t necessarily believe that gays go to heaven. It is what it is. It’s something that I’ve struggled with a lot, because you love somebody so much, you know, you want them to love you for who you are. Is there anything that any of you want to say to someone out there who’s either struggling with their sexuality or acceptance of themselves? DO: I would say you have to be true to who you are. My personal belief [is that] God does not make mistakes. I truly believe looking back, Eric was clearly born to be the person that he is today. He grew up
EE: [To] anybody who is out there and is struggling to accept themselves because of their household or because of their friend group, you have to look at both your biological family and your logical family and make sure you’re surrounded by people who are going to love you no matter what. Definitely surround yourself with people who love you. Learn to love yourself. It’s easier said than done, but over time, you realize you’re beautiful. Like my mom said, God or whoever you want to believe is up there or if there’s nothing at all, you were made to be who you are. That’s that. SB: [I’d advise them to] surround themselves with people who love them. And those that don’t love them, it’s their loss. And they can be themselves around the people that love them... It’s everybody else’s loss for being stupid. by Zofia Trexler theknowfresno.org | 05
Illustration by J.R. Diaz
AMERICA I am an American. At least I like to believe so, but deep down I know that I’m not. I am an immigrant, an illegal immigrant. My parents brought me here when I was barely starting school, when long-term memories first started to develop. I grew up here. Everything I know and have learned is here. Everything that I am familiar with is here. In America. And now I’m on the verge of becoming an adult. But with that comes something very scary for me -
a job. It isn’t the fact that I have to work, it's actually trying to find a job. Most job applications ask for one thing that scares me the most: a Social Security number. This 9 digit series of numbers is something I wish, day after day, that I had. But I don’t. I’m not an American. Because of this, becoming an adult is something scary. How will I earn money? Do I lie and put in random numbers? I don’t like to lie - especially with something like that - but if I did lie I could get a job that I would like. One where I’m not exploited or treated like less than others. One where my knowledge and skills can be used.
But for that, I’d have to lie. So, do I do what’s right and tell them that I don’t have one? Leaving myself exposed or to be taken advantage of? Letting them use me while they can and once they’re done, not even pay me. Just place a call and have me taken away? Send me off to a place that I don’t call home. A place that I just don’t recognize. My parents tell me that I’m from there, but in my mind, that’s not where I call home. It's here, America, that I call home. I am an American!
TO EARTH, FROM EARTH Dear Earth, My children, The livings that I take care for. My future. I have something to tell you. I’m dying.
My coral reefs are turning white. My water is being polluted. And so much more. You’re not only hurting me, but my sea creatures too.
I give you enough resources But you are taking more. More than my life can handle.
And worse, some of my children are not recycling. Some of you are littering, Making me dirty.
I’m burning up. My ice is melting.
I’m sad to say this But my time is running out.
06 | Fall 2019
Keep in mind, if I go away I can’t take care of you. I’m begging you, my children. We gotta do something. I need your help. My life is in your hands. I have been taking care of you For my whole life. So please, Help me for a change? Help me stay alive.
Poem and photo by Maria Torres
THE REALITY OF REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS IN THE U.S. Growing up, my mom always told me that whatever I decided to do with my body was my choice. But I didn’t really understand what she meant until I started learning about women’s reproductive rights – or the lack thereof. As I started hearing more and more about states like Georgia and Ohio’s newest abortion restrictions, my heart broke as I imagined how the women in those states must be feeling and what they have to go through
in order to have an abortion. Depending on the state they live in, these women could travel anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours only to be denied access. Men in the government have always tried to dictate what a woman does with her body and it makes my blood boil. They don’t understand how establishing these laws can truly affect women. Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop abortions from happening. All it does is lead to extremely unsafe “back-alley” abortions
and the deaths of many women. So whatever side of the abortion debate you fall on; whether you think it’s moral or immoral, whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, it is important that you know the real risks that come from outlawing abortion and why having freedom over her own reproductive rights is crucial for every woman. by Izzy Rodriguez
theknowfresno.org | 07
CONCENTRATION CAMPS: FROM JAPANESE INTERNMENT TO TODAY’S DETENTION FACILITIES “After Pearl Harbor, there were talks about rounding us up, to which we began calling ourselves Japanese-Americans. Up to that point, we just referred to ourselves as Japanese, but after that we began using that hyphenated term.”
is not a foreign concept in Fresno. Fresno’s history of redlining and separating minority groups are engraved in the foundation of the city. It has been seen in Black, Chinese, Hmong, and Hispanic communities throughout Fresno.
about minority groups?
Saburo and Marion Masada are survivors of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which ordered Japanese-Americans to be put in camps after the effects of Pearl Harbor. I had the honor of speaking with the two about their experience and how they see similar issues taking place in 2019. When I brought up the topic of Japanese Internment, Mrs. Masada corrected me by stating that they there were concentration camps.
This is most evident in the use of redlining throughout our city’s history. Redlining is a systematic way to marginalize minority groups by denying services or making it more difficult to access resources by raising prices. This is often accomplished by ostracizing groups. Major news outlets play a role in this process
Marion: In the news is that little girl, they took her father. This was in Mississippi. She said, “My father is not a criminal. Please have a heart and bring my father back.” Her plea in the media was potent, very strong. I hope that the message got through to everyone who sees that, because that’s what’s happening. Innocent people are being rounded up.
The two then discussed the discrimination they faced even after World War II ended.
which Marion and Saburo touched on.
Saburo: I do, and that’s out of ignorance, self-centered greed, and prejudice. Today I’m hearing the same thing I heard in ‘42.
They called us non-aliens. That means citizens. They didn’t have the guts to call us citizens.
Marion: After the war, it was difficult the way that people treated us. We were Americans. They wouldn’t rent to us, sell food to us. They made us feel like it was bad to be Japanese. Saburo: For the Japanese to walk down the road, you were made to feel self-conscious with an inferiority complex. It’s hard to buck against it. Especially if you grew up learning to be quiet...if someone calls you Jap, just smile. The use of discrimination to separate minority groups
The “Lights For Liberty” Fresno vigil
08 | Fall 2019
Marion: I feel like all the storytelling in the media reports at the time were all lies.You could even see the Fresno articles back then not reporting the truth. Saburo: Japanese farmers produced 90 percent of the vegetables in California, but when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, anti-Japanese groups found the perfect time to exploit the fears and the hysteria of war to get rid of us by spreading lies that we were disloyal to America. Catacutan: Today we see our own president claiming specific groups are drug dealers, terrorists and rapists. Do you see similarities today with how people speak
Marion Masada (left) and Saburo Masada (right) Photos by Raymart Catacutan
What Marion is referring to is the Mississippi ICE raids that occurred earlier this year, a prime example that even today we have federal organizations targeting minority groups. Ever since their formation after the September 11 attacks, ICE has taken pride in “protecting against border vulnerabilities.” This has led to more deportations in the past two presidential terms than in any other time in US history, which means more families being torn apart and Americans being held in detention centers. In 2017, Donald Trump closed the Office of Detention Policy and Planning, the office that withheld living standards in these detention centers.
Bob Sandoval at the “Lights For Liberty” vigil
Saburo: In the Mississippi case, half were released because they had no right to be rounded up in the first place, but the damage was already done because their children saw them being taken away and went through the trauma of being left behind. Rounding people up and figuring who is actually “guilty” is inhumane, we don’t do that. We believe, until you’re proven guilty, you’re innocent, but that is not the way ICE functions. In our case, we had no trial, just fear. We should’ve learned a lesson from that, but we still do the same thing.
The country saw how broken and traumatizing the roundup process is with the girl from Mississippi, but the long-term mental health damage caused by concentration camps is a topic that is often overlooked when we speak of ICE and camps.
Saburo: Our good friend was given permission to see her father, and when she did, she could hardly recognize him due to the abuse. She said, “I seen my father and his condition. If I ever hated America, it was at that point. I had hated my country.” Another friend’s oldest brother had to take care of everything when Marion: They called us non-aliens. That means citizens. their father was taken. The burden of being responsible They didn’t have the guts to call us citizens. for his whole family being taken drove him to suicide in the camp.
The Masada’s lived through a time of separation and discrimination and, in a way, they still are to this day. Fresno has had its share of ICE raids, some even taking place in courthouses. In 2019, a hold center exists in our very own downtown with heavy transparency, the same way our own fairgrounds were used as a Japanese concentration camp. The process of rounding up groups of people, separating families, and putting innocent people in inhumane living conditions still takes place today. The responsibility falls at the hands of our own communities to stand up for one another. by Raymart Catacutan
A note from Marion Masada: If anyone experiences discrimination and prejudice, please make it known to organized groups such as the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno (ICCF) and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) - to name a few. If we keep it to ourselves it doesn’t help, but to bring it out in the open... it can be dealt with.
For more information, please contact MNYT: Mobilizing Youth to Nix Tobacco firstname.lastname@example.org 559-418-0324 theknowfresno.org | 09
HOW YOUNG PEOPLE ARE LEADING A NEW AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION IN THE CENTRAL VALLEY When people think of agriculture, most picture a farmer cultivating their crops and raising livestock. And yes, that’s a huge part of what agriculture is, but it’s also much more than that. Agriculture is a science, a complex and ever-growing field that requires a lot of conservation, management and data. In the San Joaquin Valley, where agriculture continues to be the backbone of the economy, it becomes difficult to maintain and manage a farm when agriculturalists have to constantly worry about the harmful effects of climate change. Most notably, the severe drought the valley experienced this past decade. But one Madera farmer is hoping to change the way agriculturalists farm by developing and implementing more environmentally conscious practices in their work. Matt Angell is a farmer, an entrepreneur and an innovator. Like most farmers, Angell grew up farming and ranching in both the vineyard and the cattle businesses. He earned his business degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and, after managing corporate retreats in the Sierras for a couple years after graduation, he eventually ventured into the irrigation business. But, before Angell got into the irrigation business, his father sent him to a conference hosted by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean ecologist. “He taught something called holistic management,” Angell said, which is a farm planning system that helps
farmers better manage agricultural resources in order to reap sustainable, environmental, economic and social benefits. “He taught techniques on how to use cell grazing, and how to manage and measure our feed. I went from being a cowboy to being a grass farmer,” he continued. “It was an integrated system. I saw through good management and management practice, you start understanding the importance of measurement and record keeping.” Post conference, Angell returned to Madera with a better and clearer understanding of management practices. And that’s when he began his venture into the irrigation business. Upon returning home, he noticed that the vineyards around him were all flooding. At that time, drip irrigation was still in its early stages, but Angell knew that installing it anyway was the most practical next step. And, after seeing the work he did, other vineyards began bringing him in to do the same for them. “I started my career there, and eventually started my own company here in Madera,” Angell said. “But what I learned is that people, even though we built these really good irrigation systems, they were still kind of doing the same practices they did when the vineyards were flooding, so we ended up putting sensors in the ground.” “We would grab the data with a GPRS modem, and we built our own little software program,” he continued.
Matt Angell (left) and Jayla Cuevas (right) outside of Madera Pumps
10 | Fall 2019
“You could see how the water reacts in the soil, and how the plants used it. We started measuring temperature and things that went on in the filters.You could look at your phone and see exactly what was going on.” With his background in irrigation and management practices, Angell is now advocating for Madera County as a whole - especially farmers - to be more conscious of their water usage. “I’m advocating that Madera County see our water inflows and outflows, and that we actually understand what we need to do and how to manage it,” Angell said. “I think people in general want to do the right thing - it’s just having good information to make those decisions on, and that’s critical. That’s a process of measuring, understanding the information and based off the information, mak[ing] good management decisions and knowing what to do moving forward.” He plans on implementing this practice throughout Madera by educating the community on how to selfaudit. A self-audit in this capacity is a self-examination on how you are using water and, after seeing the data, adjusting your day-to-day to better manage your use of water. In order to effectively self-audit, people first need to look and understand their irrigation systems. If the irrigation system is efficient, good. But if not, Angell offers advice on how to best make use of each system.
Angell and Cuevas examining grapes at the Madera Pumps vineyard
Angell and Cuevas checking in on the Food 4 The Future planter box
“The idea is to show someone how to set their timer and their controller - it’s most important that you do,” he continued. “Instead of a 15-minute set, do three sets of 5 minutes.You turn it on and your first set comes on. You go out and put little red flags on it. “You look around and take a device and stick in your yard,” he continued. “If it says you’ve over-irrigated here, maybe you make a conscious decision to change that sprinkler.You’re making decisions based on the right information.” Angell believes people have to take an active role in managing their resources. “The right amount of water will actually grow an amazing crop,” Angell said. “There are three things that a plant needs - water, sun and oxygen. The roots need oxygen. What happens when you over-irrigate? You drown them and then your plants aren’t healthy, and now you’re fighting a plant that’s unhealthy.” In order to educate folks on this new environmentally conscious practice, Angell believed young people need to be at the forefront of this change and, with that, the NexGen movement was born. NexGen is a movement that consists of the next generation of young people that will proactively educate themselves and the community on resource conservation. With science and trusted data that is politically neutral, they will facilitate clear and insightful communication to responsibly define and help people change the way they value resources. “I sit on the local Research Conservation District [RCD],” Angell said. “Our job is to bring innovative technology and educate other growers. As we did that, I saw there was a need for a youth organization. “The RCD is meant for all people, and the RCD’s role is to
Angell and Cuevas reading a VFD (variable frequency drive) for measurements
figure out what their community needs,” he continued. “But what we’re missing is a fire, and young people bring that enthusiasm. They bring themselves, and bring ideas on what they need moving forward.” Jayla Cuevas, 19, is an assistant project manager at Madera Pumps and one of the young people partnering with Angell to lead the NexGen movement. “Matt came to me and asked how we can get young people involved,” Cuevas said. “We started thinking, ‘how can we get young people involved in research conservation and in the farming industry and how can we bring it from large-scale to small-scale in cities where people aren’t as educated as farmers?’” Angell and Cuevas began looking at organizations already established like Future Farmers of America [FFA], but they didn’t want to put a restraint on the movement, limiting it to only FFA youth. With FFA in mind, Cuevas realized that in high school students have plenty of clubs like FFA that allow them to have the resources and platforms they need to do the work. But when high school ends, those resources disappear. “When you’re about 35, you already have years of experience, so you’ll start getting more opportunities,” Cuevas said. “But there’s a big gap between 18 and 35 where you may not have those opportunities.” And so, in June 2019, NexGen was born. “We had so many different ideas [of where the movement could go],” Cuevas said. “We could have just taught how to self-audit but then we moved forward with teaching people [that aren’t farmers how to grow their own food],” a NexGen project called Food 4 The Future.
Angell said there is a stigma when it comes to young people – that the youth don’t care about what’s happening around them – but he believes that the next generation are incredibly talented, passionate young people that have all the information in the world to make things happen. “Here’s what I know,” Angel continued. “[Jayla] can walk into my house and change my attitude about how I feel about water. Whereas if I had another farmer tell me, I probably wouldn’t hear them as well.Your child can educate you better than anybody else in the world, and you know why? Because they care.” “I hear Greta [Thunberg], and I see myself in what’s going on,” he continued. “Instead of having something that’s just for old guys, let’s start a revolution. However we got started, it has to be focused. If we can start educating and get people thinking, we get to change the outcome and that’s all we need to do.” While NexGen is only in the early stages of their movement, they hope they can provide knowledge and instill confidence in current and future generations of young people. Cuevas envisions and hopes that other young people can see the work that they are doing and replicate it in their own communities. “We haven’t totally nailed it, but we have an idea,” Cuevas continued. “And we don’t want to nail it. We want people to help us nail it. We don’t want to come in here and say, ‘This is what we are and you’re going to help us.’ We want it to be, “This is what we have, how can you help us grow what we have?’” For more information about NexGen, visit nexgenrcs.com. by Johnsen Del Rosario theknowfresno.org | 11
HOW MANDATED SEXUAL EDUCATION IS FAILING OUR CHILDREN The flying things and striped flies… Correction, the birds and the bees. Our education system seems to think the first statement is sufficient enough when it comes to teaching our youth about their sexual health and future endeavors. The current standard in most states only requires schools to teach students about sexual health and practices once during their 6th-12th grade careers. The lessons they receive are only the barebones, with only the briefest biophysical descriptions and not much else. We as a society need to implement proper sex education in order to ensure more public safety and to reduce the number of sexual diseases that stem from improper education. Currently, only 13 states require that the material being taught to young people is medically accurate. Let that sink in. By law, 37 states in our country are allowed to teach medically inaccurate sex ed if they so choose. This is simply not acceptable. We need to realize that when sex ed is being taught it needs to be 100% medically accurate and cover much more than the biophysical. For instance, in the state of Texas schools are only required to teach abstinence, completely ignoring any other methods of contraception. And The Lone Star state would like to believe that this method of teaching is working, however, statistics show that Texas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation. According to the 2016 Texas STD Surveillance Report, Harris County has the largest number of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis cases in all of the 254 counties in Texas, and Houston has the highest number of any city in the state. Evidently, Texas mandated education is leaving out the most important information, such as the STD transmission rates and the impacts of engaging in sexual activity without any protection. Similarly, there is an extreme lack of education for those who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. It is reported that states who lack LGBTQ+ resources and education have exacerbated levels of STD’s in those who identify as bisexual, gay or those who participate in sexual acts with men. This issue stems from the fact that many education systems turn a blind eye to those who identify as something other than heterosexual. 12 | Fall 2019
Clovis Unified student Victoria Servin, 17, explained that she received “sex education” once during her 4th-12th grade career. She explains the lessons she was taught revolved around her menstrual cycle and the pains and disadvantages that come along with it. Nathan Ruiz, 18, who attended Fresno Unified all throughout his educational career, summarized his LGBTQ+ sex education in one word: nonexistent. Individuals would argue that if we teach more in-depth sexual education, we are pushing our students to engage in the act, but it is incredibly ignorant to believe that students aren’t partaking in these activities in the first place. Proper sexual education would be very easy to implement in all 50 states because certain states already have extensive lesson plans and curriculum planned out. Iowa has a statewide program that requires HIV/AIDS education must be included in the curriculum along with information about other sexually transmitted diseases and HPV, with resources and education for those who identify as anything other than heterosexual. And all of their lessons must provide up-todate, science-based, age-appropriate information. To put it simply, implementation is easy and the benefits are insurmountable. When the proper education is placed into action, it is seen and reported that there is a drastic decrease in teen pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Thorough and accurate sexual education not only ensures that teens are protecting themselves, it also ensures that the next generation of adults are moving forward with the knowledge they need to create a safer, more knowledgeable and more understanding society. by Eric Escareno
For more information, visit plannedparenthood.org
FRESNO WEIGHS IN: LGBTQ+ INCLUSIVE SEXUAL EDUCATION With the danger that many young queer people face everyday in the eyes of prejudice and hate, a danger to their health is most often threathened. Although, a lot of schools may emphasize safe sex, they only aim to keep heterosexual students safe, instead of young LGBTQ+ students. For this weigh in, we asked the youth of Fresno what they thought about the state of LGBTQ+ sex ed in their schools. by IvanVicente ManrĂquez
theknowfresno.org | 13
WHAT ANIMAL EXTINCTION MEANS FOR OUR OWN EXTINCTION Whenever extinction events are brought up, they are always talked about in the past tense. As events that happened millions to billions of years ago to species humanity has never known. But what many don’t know is that there is currently an extinction event happening – and it has been going on for hundreds of years. Our extinction event, known as the Holocene extinction, is one that is rarely talked about, but it’s fast-burning and very real. We’ve already begun to see signs of it, from animal extinction to biodiversity loss within our oceans. This alone is scary enough, but the actual situation is far more serious that it appears. A record number of species are going extinct and, with things like increased agriculture and overhunting, human beings are the cause of it. Food for our ever increasing necessity for our survival, but at what cost? Much of the world’s natural land is being destroyed to make way for farming, which in turn destroys the habitat for the species that reside there. It’s estimated that 60 percent of mammalian life is now livestock, with only 4 percent wild mammals. But mammals aren’t the only creatures being affected by human activity. Along with the increased need for food is an increased need for water, causing humans to
build dams that can have harsh effects on aquatic life in rivers. Birds have also seen a rapid decline as loss of habitat plays a part, as well as being captured by people who collect them. According to the University of Michigan, loss of biodiversity can have severe consequences for the environment and can be even more devastating for the planet than climate change. Lack of biodiversity can have a list of cascading effects, such as an increasing loss of food production and undrinkable water as the natural species are unable to maintain these fragile ecosystems. One stark example of this danger is the fast-dying coral reefs, which are home to hundreds of species of fish. In 2017, more than half of the Great Barrier Reef went through a bleaching event due to humancaused climate change, which killed off coral that had existed for hundreds of years. The fish that once resided in the Great Barrier Reef will soon no longer have a home. This specific loss of biodiversity will have catastrophic consequences if it continues. According to World Economic Forum, 80 percent of the oxygen we breathe comes from the ocean. If our ocean becomes unhealthy due to dead coral reefs and the extinction of fish living in them, we will lose a large source of the air we breathe.
RECYCLING FOR DUMMIES
by Maria Torres
14 | Fall 2019
Not only are humans causing the demise of thousands of species, but we are also destroying them in record numbers. According to a report by The Guardian, an estimated 83 percent of wild mammals have already gone extinct due to human involvement. And it doesn’t stop there. Roughly 500 species have gone extinct within the last century, and the number is growing by the dozens, with over 16 thousand species on the endangered species list. Many argue that extinction is the natural order of things, but in reality the natural rate of extinction sees only the demise of 5 species a year. In a large contrast, our current extinction rate is 1000 times that, coming in at nearly dozens of species a day. The terrifying reality of extinction in our age is rarely acknowledged, but must take center stage if humans wish to survive. The culling of millions of species is not only detrimental to the health of the planet, but also to the people who live here. If humans want to continue living in our society as we know it, huge changes must be made to the way we handle our natural environment and surrounding ecosystems. Either we learn to co-exist with our fellow species on Earth, or there will no longer be a place for us here. by Ulonie Garza
Illustration by Ulonie Garza theknowfresno.org | 15
TOO MUCH CHANGE IS NOT A GOOD THING. ASK THE CLIMATE. - MICHAEL SCOTT
We have entered an age where the earth is getting hotter than young Leonardo DiCaprio. Did I get your attention? Good. I am most certain that, by now, you’ve heard recent news about California droughts, Amazonian rainforest fires, countless hurricanes and other natural disasters. These tragedies, and the climate change crisis they represent, have become the greatest threat to our species. Whether we are ready or not, it is time to educate ourselves on this topic and confront it with full force. For starters, we need to understand that global warming is the primary cause of climate change. The earth keeps itself warm by trapping the sun’s heat in its atmosphere, a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect. Without this natural process, Earth’s average temperature would be about -18°C — an uncomfortable temperature for any life to prosper. Throughout the industrial era, humans have maximized the greenhouse effect by releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere, capturing more heat than necessary
and ultimately leading to global warming. Whenever we burn fossil fuels for generating electricity, driving cars, heating, factories etc., the emission of carbon dioxide into the air drastically increases. This gas is, by far, the most problematic one of all when it comes to global warming. Along with the increase in greenhouse gases, factors like overpopulation, deforestation, and the destruction of marine ecosystems are also huge causes of global warming. With the population skyrocketing, the demand for fossil fuels has driven carbon rates to dangerous levels — threatening the atmosphere and our health. In contrast to humans, trees and other plants “breathe in” carbon dioxide and “breathe out” oxygen, which makes them natural carbon sinks. This means they can absorb carbon from the air and transform it into oxygen through photosynthesis, subtly decreasing amounts of the harmful gas. But because the population is growing so fast, countries have been rapidly cutting down forests to make room for growing communities, and we’ve been going through natural resources at alarming rates with nothing to help us filter out the harmful carbon. So let me make this clear: Burnings fossil fuels + getting rid of trees = an excess amount of carbon. Without trees, mother nature does have a backup plan: coral reefs. The ocean absorbs 50% of carbon amounts, but when it reaches its limit, the ocean acidifies and kills the reef and all of its inhabitants. In addition to this, as the land gets warmer, so does the sea and when the sea gets warm, the coral reefs start bleaching and die off. Which means: Burning fossil fuels + getting rid of trees + killing coral reefs = global warming.
Keeping this equation in mind, climate change has affected us, not only by temperature, but by manipulating the way the earth moves around us. Ice caps have been melting, water levels rising, and oceans gradually swallowing up land. The Maldives, for instance, is a tropical nation that has been feeling the wrath of global warming recently. With the highest elevation at about 8 feet above sea level, The Maldives is predicted to be the world’s first country to Illustration by Kyra Jan Cruz sink because of climate change. 16 | Fall 2019
But this isn’t humanity’s first rodeo with a global environmental crisis. In 1987, a global agreement, known as the Montreal Protocol, was successfully passed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer from deteriorating as a result of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons (unreactive gaseous compounds of carbon with bromine and other halogens). I may not be an environmental scientist, but I can sure say that our future is not looking too good. Typically, global crises like this should be handled professionally by governmental leaders as seen through the Montreal Protocol. But in our case, our country’s leadership refuses to address the situation. So instead the youth across the world are taking a stand. Greta Thunberg, a determined 16 year old girl from Sweden, has recently dedicated her entire life to saving the earth. She has been working hard to promote ways to care for the earth, including sailing across the Atlantic Ocean to avoid the emission of harmful chemicals that come from airplane travel. Beyond that, she and her family have made simple changes into their lives to reduce their own carbon footprints, including giving up air travel and not eating meat. And like Thunberg, there are many ways YOU can help reduce your carbon footprint too! To avoid directly burning fossil fuels, we can find other efficient ways of transportation, including carpooling, riding a bike, taking the bus, or even walking to our destinations. We can also save electricity by turning off lights when they’re not in use, changing to energy efficient light bulbs, or going solar altogether. Of course, some of these things take an awful lot of investment, like saving up for an electric car or buying a reusable water bottle instead of using single-use plastics. More than that, it can be as simple as planting a tree and speaking out in your communities. No matter how old you are, what color your skin is, or what your socioeconomic status is, your voice matters. And every action you take now protects and preserves the earth so that future generations - our children and grandchildren - can enjoy our beautiful planet. “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” - David Brower by Melissa Andrade