The idea behind LA Rooted was born in the spring of 2013, when educators Rio Contreras and Johanna Iraheta dreamed of creating a transformative educational program for youth.
After traveling through Latin America in 2012 visiting alternative technology, permaculture and resistance projects, Rio and Johanna wanted to share the lessons learned from their experiences abroad. With Raices Roots, a people of color cycling collective, Rio & Johanna learned about the importance of connecting to the outdoors, ancestral values and history, and love for self identities.
With a community of supporters and believers rooting them on, Rio and Johanna registered 10 youth from ages 7-18 for the very first summer program. The youth learned about healthy self identities, healthy vegan food recipes, graywater recycling, ancestral basket weaving practices and more. LA Rooted connected urban youth to the outdoors by hosting the program at the native garden of the LA State Historic Park, taking youth kayaking at the LA River, a bike ride around the city and an overnight camping trip at the park. The program culminated with a student-led art exhibit in downtown Los Angeles, where parents, supporters and other community members were invited to experience what the students had learned during the four-week program.
In January of 2014, Brenda Yancor and Miguel Ramos, also members of Raices Roots, joined Rio and Jo to help plan the summer program. In July 2014, LA Rooted hosted its 2nd summer program with the theme of “Resisting Displacement.”
In the spring of 2015 LA Rooted hosted its first Loving Accountability Bike Tour – a bike tour for womyn, trans queer people of color ages 18-24. The ride was 150 miles across three days and focused on workshops, conversations and practices centered on Accountability in our own lives and our communities.
After discussing the future of LA Rooted’s leadership structure, the decision was made to create a group of leaders that were made up of womyn, trans and queer people of color. The group would be called the Fire Circle and would be made up of Fire Keepers & Fire Watchers and would be made up of people who had participated in adventures with LA Rooted in the past, and were committed to dedicating time, energy and love to support transformative education in ancestral wisdom.
From there, Miguel went on to focus on his studies and has since been one of LA Rooted’s greatest supporters.
Rio, Johanna and Brenda put a call out to womyn, trans and queer people of color who had participated in the Loving Accountability Bike Tour, and our new group was born:
Brenda Yancor, Cinthia Lozano, Johanna Iraheta, Rio Contreras
Imelda Romero, J de le Tierra, Yajaira Villareal
In July 2015, LA Rooted had its 3rd summer program with the theme “Water As Our Teacher.”
In 2015, LA Rooted starting planning for the Gratitude Tour, a tour for previous participants of our summer programming. The tour will take students on a 50 mile ride and will focus on the meaning and practice of Gratitude.
Los Angeles Rooted is a grassroots collective, meaning our work is fueled by and for our communities.