Gentrification Is Eco-Psychological Warfare

The global mural movement originated in post-revolutionary Mexico City to express political resistance, justice, and liberation. In Highland Park—the historic Mexican neighborhood of Los Angeles—cultural murals are being illegally white-washed amidst ICE raids and real estate rollovers. For communities facing de-indigenization and displacement, art-making is a means for cultural survival, not just therapy.

Gentrification is a form of cultural homogenization and erasure that increases disparities in community health. In Indigenous paradigms, a psychological sense of community often includes relationships with place, plants, animals, spirits, and so on. Unfortunately, nature is rarely included as a level of analysis in conversations on community psychology, perhaps because our current “ecological” model is eurocentric, with an emphasis on human individuals.

In this talk, artivist and organizer Brenda Perez will discuss how gentrification is an eco-psychological injustice that severs ties between people and the land, impacting the health and well-being of both individuals and communities. The talk will be followed by an open discussion with community organizer Vincent Montalvo.

Brenda Perez is a first generation Mexican-American native Angeleno, born and raised in Highland Park, California. She graduated from California State University, Northridge with a Bachelor’s degree in both Chicano Studies and Sociology. Brenda is a graduate of Pepperdine University with a Masters in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. As a research assistant for Pepperdine University’s Culture and Trauma Research Lab, she conducted research on the cultural context of interpersonal/complex trauma recovery and investigated self-esteem improvement strategies for Latino adolescent youth. Brenda is currently pursuing a Ph.D at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Depth Psychology focusing on Community psychology, Liberation psychology, Indigenous psychology and Ecopsychology. Brenda Perez is a founder of the grassroots project Restorative Justice for the Arts, which was mobilized to preserve murals and sacred sites, cultivate decolonial pedagogies, artivism and creativity to protect the cultural monuments and identities narrated through community art.

Vincent Montalvo was born and raised in Echo Park, California. A longtime community, environmental, and political activist, he has served on the following state, city and community agencies: Buried Under the Blue (buriedundertheblue.com), Frogtown Residents Opposing Gentrification (F.R.O.G), California Department of Fish & Game (Los Tiburones Program), Chair to the Sierra Club, and Elysian Valley-Riverside Neighborhood Council. Serving the public interest since 1992.

Accessibility information for this event: WCCW has a 36” wide ramp at our front entrance and a stairway with 8 steps and a rail. There are 2 gender neutral restrooms. One restroom is wheelchair accessible, with a handrail. We provide scent free soaps and encourage guests to attend our events scent free. If you require ASL interpretation, CART, interpretation for a language other than English, supervised childcare, or have any other access needs or questions, please contact info@wccw.us at least two weeks in advance. It is our practice to do everything we can to create a safe and accessible space.

*All members get 20% off paid programming. A limited number of free spots are also available for Warrior & Goddess level members. Email info@wccw.us to inquire about free tickets.

Our program costs go directly towards compensation of the instructors and staffers who work the event. We want to make programming as accessible as possible to anyone who is interested, however, so we offer volunteer opportunities in exchange for membership, as well as free community tickets to each program (number varies depending on capacity of the class). Email info@wccw.us for more info or to find out more about these opportunities for a specific event.

This event is part of our Winter quarter theme, Sweaty Concepts. Read more about this theme and view all related programming here.