We had the good fortune of connecting with Sonia Roman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sonia, how do you think about risk?
I think risk is the mother of being brave to explore the possibilities. To take the leap of putting yourself in a place, role or situation that you love and are passionate about- not many dare. July 2018 I took that leap of faith and posted a question on Nextdoor App “How do you start a community clean up club?” A few people replied for me to post the date, time and place. I then bought a few brooms, dustpans, small table and asked county for some gloves and trash bags.  I wasn’t sure how many people were going to show up on the first clean up.  My mind was set on “If I am the only person that shows up that’s a win!”  Luckily 13 individuals showed up on that first clean up August 2018. That is when ”The City Terrace Project” clean up group was born.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Community clean ups are what I lead…  for me it has been a push to justice and change in my community to have cleaner safe streets.  This now crossed into knocking doors to politics, advocating for resources for the community (example getting a large trash bin for the Rv’s in my community to have sanitation services or residents to throw their bulky items, more pedestrian trashcans etc. ) The clean ups has a process: it starts a few weeks prior to the event with flyers, social media advertising and lots of outreach. In regards to how easy or not easy it is a mixture.  Regards to challenges yes several happen.  A challenge is some community members not seeing the positive of volunteering.  Some people would tell me it is a was of waste of time to clean up because it would become dirty again tomorrow. I would tell them ignoring is being part of the street trash problem it is better to be part of the solution. Another challenge has been supplies since there is no tax I.D. large companies turn down the donation request and I would have to purchase equipment out of my own pocket. What I recently started doing is making a wish list of supplies needed and some neighbors also asking friend’s and local businesses for supplies or waters . Now a lesson I have learned is focus on the goal and mute out those comments that don’t serve you. Another great lesson is the  benefits of community clean ups create sense of community, pride, inclusion, engagement, healthier safe streets and planet. One thing I want the world to know is that any act of kindness goes along way… and picking one piece of trash off the street makes this a better world. Another thing that I am proud of is that due to the clean ups an environmental and social justice group has formed called Visión City Terrace in 2020 we are all volunteers advocating for cleaner streets and air.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My best friend would definitely have a great time in LA… some places to take her to experience is Sound Bath at a Tipi in Agoura Hills with Pamela Robins “Meditating with Animals” and another cool spot for relaxing is People’s Yoga in East LA. they have the best instructors and wellness classes from breathwork, vagina steaming, acupuncture, different yogas… etc. Of course the beaches… in particular Malibu has spots where it is not crowded. WE have from China Town, Placita Olvera, lots of museums… amusement parks. Now when it comes to eating Antigua breakfast in El Sereno, LA Azteca Tortilleria in East LA, Cooks torta in Monterey Park and Jacks N Joe breakfast by USC. And things to check out are the amazing murals through out LA.. so many great muralists.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a few people in the beginning of my clean up journey that really inspired or supported me. My first shout out is to my longtime pet Pinky he crossed over May 5th 2018 and in his memory and my grief I decided to become a lead the community clean ups. My second shout out is my supportive husband Humberto who said “find a hobby to get you out of your depression and anxiety.” My third shout out is to Carina S. a resident in my community, she has taught me so much on environmental justice, zoning and air pollution. Carina is constantly being involved on how to make our air clean. My fourth shout out is for Adolfo a resident in my community as well, he runs the Instragram page for the group @vision_city_terrace. My 5th shout out is to the environmental group that formed “Visión City Terrace.” I GOT so many people to thank and give shout outs… forgive me if I didn’t mention you. Last but not least my shout out goes to my maternal grandmother Magdalena Ruiz Diaz (r.i.p. July 4th 2007.) She was an advocate and pioneer for her town called San Jose de los Llanos, Zacatecas Mexico. There she went to the main city of her state to get resources such as water, electricity, phone line, food and low cost medicines where she practiced being a midwife and nurse of her town. I inherited the passion to advocate, lead, organize. MY grandma Mama Nena was a true risk taker for the higher good of others and social justice.

Instagram: @vision_city_terrace

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