Pretty chiles

Chiles in Mercado Hidalgo, Tijuana


Brewed Awakening: Serving fair trade coffee, tea and speakers to stir the social conscience

Check out this Wednesday night speaker series sponsored by my friend and colleague Jamie Gates, at Point Loma Nazarene University. Critical analysis of social issues and smart conversation from a faith perspective.

Sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University’s Center for Justice and Reconciliation, the Brewed Awakening series gives a platform to speakers who bring critical analysis of pressing contemporary social issues while pointing to ways of engaging these issues with hopeful alternatives.  The Brewed Awakening series showcases individuals and organizations with keen insight as well as practical ways of getting people involved.  Special attention is given to Christians who are engaged in the struggle for justice and reconciliation.  All speakers are encouraged to reflect on the relationship between their passion for justice, their actions and their faith.

Wednesday, February 9
Colt Forum, Point Loma Nazarene University
7pm (6:30 coffee)
Friendship at the Border: Developing a cross-border peace park in San Diego/Tijuana
Friends of Friendship Park,
Located where the US-Mexico border meets the Pacific Ocean, Friendship Park is a unique venue of great historical significance. It has served as the centerpiece of California’s Border Field State Park since its inauguration by then-First Lady Pat Nixon in 1971. PLNU has co-sponsored the annual advent celebration La Posada sin Fronteras at the park for the past 8 years.  Recent changes to the border fence have marred Friendship Park and destroyed the space as a place where families divided by nations can freely gather.  Friends of Friendship Park is calling for a restoration of Friendship Park both for the sake of cross-border friends and families and as a symbol of hope for more peaceful times.

Tuesday, March 15
Colt Forum, Point Loma Nazarene University
7pm (6:30 coffee)
Modern Abolitionists: Border interceptions in the 21st century slave trade
Jenna Hudlow, Tiny Hands International,

Tiny Hands is a Christian non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the church in the developing world to help the poor overcome poverty and become lights of the world.  We are committed to finding the greatest injustices in the world, and working towards relieving them however possible.  We are particularly called to orphans, street children, and the victims of the sex-trafficking industry. We want to find those who are already doing the work, who are called and faithful, and help them do it in greater ways and with more efficiency. We do it all in obedience to, and for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 12
Colt Forum, Point Loma Nazarene University
7pm (6:30 coffee)
Sabbath-Jubilee Economics: Putting radical Biblical economics into practice
Ched Myers, Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries,

In the story of the poor man Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), Mark’s gospel gives us an archetypal portrait of the journey from “blindness” to faith (relief sculpture left by Charles McCollough). We believe that Christians should stand for compassion and equity, and against all forms of oppression and violence in these difficult times. To do this we must face our personal and political blindness to the realities of human suffering, as well as to God’s horizons of justice. Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries is a group of believers committed to revisioning the relationship between the Word and our world, in order to help animate and build capacity for communities of discipleship and justice.

For more information, contact Dr. Jamie Gates, 619.849.2659 or .

Learn more about the Center for Justice and Reconciliation at

For directions to the university, call 619.849.2200 or go to

Friends of Friendship Park to Unveil Alternative Design to Assure Dignified and Humane Public Access to Border Park

Coalition Deems Border Patrol Plans Inadequate and Inhumane

WHEN: Wednesday, February 9, 5:30 p.m.
WHAT: Press Conference Unveiling of Proposed Design for Friendship Park
WHERE: Marina Vista Community Center, 1075 8th St., Imperial Beach CA

The Friends of Friendship Park Coalition will unveil their alternative architectural design for San Diego’s historic border park in a press conference at the beginning of a public outreach Open House scheduled by San Diego Border Patrol on Wednesday evening, February 9.

Working collaboratively with the Friends of Friendship Park, celebrated San Diego architect James Brown, principal at Public Art & Architecture (, has developed a proposal for Friendship Park that would celebrate bi-national friendship as a necessary part of true security.

“Jim Brown’s design for Friendship Park aptly captures the essence of bi-national friendship, while addressing every legitimate security concern that San Diego Border Patrol officials have shared with us across months of consultations,” stated John Fanestil, Executive Director at the San Diego-based Foundation for Change and a leader in the coalition.

At present Friendship Park features security infrastructure and arbitrary enforcement practices resulting in public confusion about whether and how the public can visit the park. A limited public access area created by San Diego Border Patrol has offered park visitors an experience that many liken to visiting someone in jail.

Formerly, families from San Diego, Riverside and Los Angeles would come to the park to visit with family members who had often traveled for days from the interior of Mexico for a family reunion. The present arrangement prevents families like these – and other visitors to the park – from comfortably talking with each other. Family members, who sometimes have not seen each other in years, are routinely turned away after a 30-minute visit.

San Diego Border Patrol will have on display at the Open House proposed modifications to the park which do nothing to address these problems. In addition, Border Patrol plans would place the Boundary Monument – an historic marker recognizing the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo at the end of the U.S.-Mexico War – on the south side of the border fence, leaving it inaccessible to the U.S. public.

“Proposals coming from San Diego Border Patrol continue to violate the spirit of Friendship Park,” stated Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee and a leader in the coalition. “By ensuring that visitors can see each other, touch each other and converse freely in a dignified and orderly manner, our coalition’s proposal honors the original purpose of this historic border park.”

Click here for a slideshow of Friendship Park


John Fanestil,, 619-823-6223
Jill Holslin,, (619) 804-8030
Jim Brown,, (619) 682-4083

The Friends of Friendship Park is a coalition of leaders and organizations promoting orderly and dignified public access to Friendship Park, San Diego’s historic park on the US-Mexico border.
# # #

New video on borders & migration: “We Are One”

In July 2009, I met a group of French filmmakers from Marseilles at a border wall event at the Centro Cultural de la Raza.  The filmmakers–Romain de l’Ecotais, Maxime Rostan and Guillaume Vidal–had been traveling for weeks through Latin America & Mexico, documenting border walls and migrations in the Americas.  In San Diego, they traversed the border with Enrique Morones of Border Angels, and visited the cemetery for migrants in Holtville and later took a tour down to Friendship Park.

Today they sent me a link to their video, titled We Are One, a King Size Trip Production, with music by Watcha Clan.

Tijuana artists take back the night

THERE’S been an outburst of new activity in Tijuana lately.  But it’s not what you think.  That sound you hear is not the angry sputter of cartel violence threatening to spill over the border into pristine San Diego.

What you’re hearing now is the hissing sound of spraycans as mural artists take back the streets and walkways of Tijuana.


See a slideshow of my photos here on Flickr

Grey concrete walls are popping with brilliant red, bright kelly green and rich teal blue.  Here you can find giant happy fish leaping out of splashing water, and bright orange frogs hopping through a jungle of green leaves, and a cool blue sunbather relaxing under her beach umbrella, observing the scene through her sleek black sunglasses.  

This past year, a group of 50 muralists was commissioned by a non-profit organization called FestiArte, to paint 25 murals along a mile long stretch of the beachside boardwalk in Playas de Tijuana. The administration of the previous mayor of Tijuana, Jorge Ramos, invested about $3.4 million in remodeling the promenade and the Parque de Amistad near the landmark lighthouse (El Faro) on the south side of the border fence separating the U.S. from Mexico.

My friends Anselmo Juan, Kafy of HEM crew, and James Mercado were out working on their pieces the day I was there, Sunday, January 23, preparing for the big inauguration of the FestiArte Proyecto Murales en el Malecón Playas,  celebrated Sunday, January 30, 2011.

The 25 murals are just the first phase of the project, coordinator Claudia Alamina noted. The second, planned for the next four months, calls for replanting gardens and remodeling stairs and walkways. G12 (Grupo de 12), a coalition of environmental organizations headed by Proyecto Fronterizo de Educación Ambiental, will work on landscaping the park with a garden of native plants.

Tijuana scenes

Coconut vendor in Playas de Tijuana

Amazing sunset in Playas de Tijuana

The sunset was amazing at the Playas de Tijuana boardwalk on Jan 23.