We had the good fortune of connecting with Agustina Vidal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Agustina, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
When I was young my elders consistently told me that ‘life was somewhere else’ and to not try to find my life in my job. As a young organizer and activist I found in my work what I wanted in life: move towards justice, friendship, love, community, mutual aid, FUN! But as a Neurodivergent person with chronic pain, that often meant pushing myself being my bodymind boundaries and progressively it became very hard to keep that kind of work. This brought an existential crisis and I finally understood what my elders meant. I also became a parent and I have created a life where my life is ‘somewhere else’ that is not attached to a job.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The work I’m most proud of is, with the Fireweed Collective Team, supporting people that experience altered states and suicidality in ways that divest from the prison industrial complex and psych wards. These emotional experiences are often left out of traditional Healing Justice and Disability Justice spaces. As my comrade Elliott Fukui says ‘the most dangerous threat to a person in an altered state is people that fear those experiences’. This has guided my experience and training, it’s hard, deep self-work, and of course, as a person with these experiences, learning how to use my lived experiences to help support my people.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If we were hosting friends from out of town, the first thing we would do is check in with them early regarding their access needs. We don’t want to make any assumptions about folks’ needs, so it’s best to allow our friends the agency necessary to voice their needs and wants (because marginalized folks deserve joy & connection, too). We are a collective comprised of all sick, disabled, and neurodivergent folks with many similar folks in our networks, so planning a trip that honors everyone’s needs and limited energy capcties requires a bit more planning to assure our safety and comfort.
For a weeklong trip, I would have three major outings planned to allow time to truly relish each others company in this gorgeous city of angels. Because we will spend quite a bit of energy galavanting around town, it’s important to also make time to recharge our bodyminds, and not push beyond our limits. Rest time can also be something we engage in with our visiting guests, and does not always require spending much money for a game night and potluck or a home beauty day, for example.
On our first excursion, we could pack up our crew and head to the beach! Terranea Discovery Trail, in Rancho Palos Verdes offers us a splendid view of beachside bluffs, sea critter-laden tide pools, and shoreline caves which can be explored by foot for those who are able. For those who use mobility devices, there are fabulous and RARE wheelchair accessible trails that truly offer a special experience for those of us who frequently face isoclation due to inaccessibility and ableism. These trails are complete with picnic areas with tables which can host our homemade picnic lunch of ceviche (plant-based & seafood) tostadas with assorted salsas, roasted red pepper and sundried tomato hummus with pita chips & veggies for dunking, a mixed fruit salad because SoCal has the BEST produce, and cucumber mint limeaide with chia seeds because we can be bourgie too!
On our second adventure, we would journey out to LA Plaza de Cultura y Artesis, an institution of stories that makes known the role of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and all Latinos in shaping the past, present, and future of Los Angeles. This is one of our favorite places to bring locals and visitors to alike because it is exquisitely beautiful with ever-changing exhibits and events, located near accessible public transportation by bus or train, is wheelchair accessible and spacious for groups, and is free for all. Afterwards, we could mosey across the street to grab a bite at Phillipe’s French Dipped Sandwiches on North Alameda. We like to remind folks to always get a double helping of macaroni salad, because that level of yum is utterly necessary. After nourishing ourselves on an Angel City classic that goes back to 1908, we’d finish our day combing through the carts and shops on Olvera Street where our friends can get their fill of hand painted marionettes, Tehuana-inspired
embroidered dresses, and Mazapanes galore!
On our third and final outing, we would be compelled to offer our guests a bit of that big city excitement that we are famous for. We’d have to put on the charm early with an unforgettable culinary experience that begins on the westside in Little Osaka at Tatsu Ramen, with arguably one of the best bowl of noodles we can think of. Belly room allowing, we would need to indulge our sweet tooth at B Sweet Dessert Bar on some sublime Filipinx delights, like their Halo Halo. Their version of this classic Filipino dessert has 13 delicious ingredients layered with shaved ice, tropical fruits and jellies, leche flan and condensed milk which you mix before the first orgasmic bite! Next we’d hop over to The Smell, an all-ages, alcohol & drug-free, punk rock and experimental music venue in Downtown Los Angeles, California for a good old fashioned punk show. Simiarly, we could attend a local drag revue at a local beloved dive bar, like Queer As Punk or Send Noodz, for those of us who are comfortable with substance use.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Fireweed Collective Team Healing By Choice!
Antoinette Chen See
Lilac Vylette Maldonado