A Report from CLI’s Director of National Initiatives, Larry Kleinman

As you read that title, I know you might be thinking…“Didn’t Larry retire?”  Or…“the CLI has a Director of National Initiatives?”Both good questions.  The answers are “No” and “Yes!”Let me explain and share some of what I’ve been doing of late.By the time I stepped down as PCUN Secretary-Treasurer in October 2013—part of our movement’s generational leadership shift—I was already deeply engaged in national efforts to build capacity and plan for implementing immigration changes (legislative or administrative) on a massive scale.

On March 15, 2013, I organized an implementation strategy meeting in Washington DC of leaders from 50 organizations—mostly national ones.  It was the first such gathering since 2007.  In the opening go-around, I asked folks to answer what I called an “ice-berger” question:  “Tell us about the ‘Oh Sh*#! Moment’ you’ve had as you visualized the potential tsunami of work ahead”.  A sizeable portion of the participants responded “I’m having it right now!”

Flash forward two years.  We’re collectively in the throes of preparing to assist many of the five million immigrants who may qualify for “deferred action” protection (once the appeals court clears the way).  The “we” is the three dozen organizations in the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (including PCUN and Causa) and the National Partnership for New Americans, using some of the planning and training tools developed at the CLI.  The “we” is also the Committee for Immigration Reform Implementation, a coalition of two dozen national organizations and networks which I have the privilege of co-chairing.

These days, I’m in town—in Oregon—barely half the month.  Since January 1st, I’ve crossed the country eight times—mostly to DC, New York and Chicago.  Should anyone question my “commitment”, please tell them that I was in Michigan’s 20-below-zero deep freeze during Oregon’s warmest and driest February on record!  (See photo from the training with leaders of Michigan United and other FIRM organizations.)

Seriously, though, I have no complaints.  This is what I signed myself up for and I’m not alone in feeling that I’m making an impactful and very timely contribution.

I still have roles in the PCUN/CAPACES movement but I’m definitely a “back-bencher”…and that’s the plan we made in November 2012.  I can’t sufficiently describe the pride, gratitude and inspiration I feel seeing leaders of our movement—Jaime, Brenda, Laura, Lorena, Andrea, and others—stepping up.

And CLI’s “national” work?  I’m thrilled to announce that this June, 32 organizing directors and lead organizers from FIRM organizations will gather at the CLI for three-plus days engaging each other about the dilemmas of “Making and Keeping A Long-Term Commitment” to social change movement work.  We first tested this CLI-developed method with a gathering at the CLI of 20 FIRM leaders in June 2014.  It proved so successful that those leaders are returning…and being joined by a dozen more!  Most have (or had) never been to Oregon and now they are—or soon will become—part of the ever-growing part of “CLI nation”.

Así Se Puede:  Thus We Can!


CAPACES Leadership Institute

It’s Unanimous!

Juanishi (left) and Jaime A. (Right) answer questions from the Woodburn Public Arts Mural Committee

“Is the mural accessible to the public?”

“Can you guarantee the mural will last a long time?”

“Is there a central theme to the mural?”

These were just a few of several questions the five Woodburn Public Art Mural committee members were inquiring from their very first applicant—The CAPACES Leadership Institute.

Last Wednesday, the Woodburn Public Art Mural Committee unanimously approved the CAPACES Leadership Institute’s application for a mural designed by muralist Juanishi Orosco. Representing the submitted application was lead mural organizer Dalila Ortiz, who was also joined by CLI Special Project coordinator Jaime Arredondo, CLI executive director Laura Isiordia for the CAPACES Leadership Institute, and forty-plus supporters in attendance.

Despite some concerns from a few committee and community members, the mural committee unanimously approved the CLI’s application citing the “thorough preparation” of the CLI staff and the lead muralist. The approval of the CLI’s mural application officially designates the CLI Mural as the first publicly approved outdoor mural for the city of Woodburn.

Juanishi, CLI Staff and volunteers celebrate mural victory

The passage of the mural contrasts past efforts from PCUN, the CLI’s sister organization, in their push to establish affordable farmworker housing units in the 90’s. “We were forced with a lot of resistance. I remember one city councilor asking us ‘Why don’t you just go home!’” recalled CLI Executive Director Laura Isiordia.

This time around however, the city applauded the efforts of the CLI and the farmworker movement led by PCUN, for championing a mural ordinance, “Where here because of you [CAPACES Leadership Institute] and your efforts to pass a mural ordinance. To leave here without granting you a right to paint would be an injustice,” commented one city council member who sits on the Public Mural Committee.

“The acceptance of our mural application is victory shared by the community. This victory signifies that we matter, that farmworker Latino community is an important member of this community. It also means that when we unite together in the “Si Se Puede” spirit, we demonstrate the political power that we possess,” remarked Laura Isiordia after the committee’s decision.

What does this mean for the lead muralist Juanishi Orosco? “I think the board’s approval has a very positive impact in the community in that it will open doors for other aspiring muralists.” said Juanishi Orosco.

Front side of proposed mural design. Mural painting will kick-off on Saturday, July 13th.

Although there is still some preliminary work, the CLI has set Saturday, July 13th as the official kick off date for the mural painting. July 13th also happens to be the Leadership Institute’s second birthday!

For those interested to volunteer in painting the mural, contact Dalila Ortiz at dalilao@capacesleadership.org or (503)902-0756 Ext 5.

For those interested in making a donation click here! So far we’ve raised $2,800 of the $5,000 fundraising goal for the mural this summer. A 100% of staff and board have also pledged to donate, will you join us?

Help Us Paint History: CLI Mural Project

Imagine a warm sunny morning in Woodburn, Oregon where farmworker youth, community leaders, and community elders are assembling together around muralist Juanishi Orosco, a renowned Chicano muralist. Equipped with paint brushes, buckets of paint, rows of ladders, and their imagination, community members with the direction of Juanishi begin taking the first strokes of paint on a wall to create a mural that captures a segment of Woodburn’s history: the history of the farmworker.

Concept design for Street view of Mural designed by Juanishi

Imagine the laughter, the intermingling of multiple generations, ethnic groups, and civic leaders as together they paint a mural that honors the indigenous community, the early Chinese and Latino farmworkers who worked in the fields,  the farmworker movement led by PCUN, and recent events such as the 2012 election that reflects the power of the Latino vote.

Concept design for parking lot view by Juanishi

Now that’s a beautiful image, if not a powerful image, that captures the historical narrative of the farmworker community. It is essentially the image the CAPACES Leadership Institute (CLI) is assembling to paint this summer. And we’ve been determined to make it happen.

We led the campaign that changed the city ordinance last August to allow for publicly displayed murals.

We’ve identified the canvass, the exterior walls of the newly constructed CAPACES Leadership Institute.

We’ve chosen our painter, muralist Juanishi Orosco, who with over forty years of experience has painted murals throughout the west coast, including the iconic mural in PCUN’s Risberg Hall.

We’ve submitted our mural application and expect approval from the Woodburn Public Art Mural Committee on Tuesday, June 26th.

Now we need your help to make that image real. Our goal is to fundraise $5,000 by July 13th, the second birthday of CAPACES Leadership Institute’s incorporation and the official kick-off to paint the mural. The cost of the mural project is $16,000. We’ve already raised $11,000.

The mural, is more than a painting, it’s a landmark, an open history book that tells a story that we are trying to share to the community and future generations. Please consider making a contribution to help us tell this story. To donate click HERE!

Thank you!

In gratitude,


Laura Isiordia

Executive Director

More Than A Painting On The Wall

Back in the fall of 2011, leaders of the CAPACES Leadership Institute met with Woodburn city council officials for approval to paint a mural on the exterior of their building. Reluctance from the city to pass an ordinance allowing for publicly displayed murals led to a campaign that has since been known as the CLI Mural Civic Engagement Campaign.

Fast-forward to 2013–After several testimonies, the passage of a mural ordinance, the creation of a Public Mural Art Committee, and a mural design submission, the day the CLI has been waiting for has arrived: A vote by the Woodburn Public Mural Art Committee to approve painting for the CLI’s mural design (set for Tuesday, June 26th).

On the heels of an historic vote by the city to allow for the CLI to paint a mural that will stand as a monumental landmark, we’ve interviewed mural organizer Dalila Ortiz for her perspective on the campaign she has helped lead:

Q: Tell us about the Civic Mural Civic Engagement Campaign and the Mural Project?

A: The mural campaign was an opportunity not just to paint, but to bring the community to paint a farmworker mural that represents the community. The goals of the campaign were:

1) Paint a mural that would reflect the contributions of the farmworker community,

2) Work with farmworker families to engage the Woodburn City Council to change its city ordinance,

3) Bring in a well-rounded muralist in Juanishi Orosco, who painted PCUN’s mural, to paint the CLI mural and mentor for young local artists,

4) Foster a community building activity that would bring together the Woodburn community and facilitate a dialogue about farmworker contributions.

Q: What phase is the CLI mural currently in?

A: We are awaiting a public hearing for Tuesday, June 26th. On that day, we hope to get the Woodburn Public Art Mural Committee, appointed by the city council, to approve our application and the mural design we have submitted.

Once passed, we hope to have our mural painting kick-off on July 13th, which coincides with the CLI’s second anniversary as an organization.

Q: The CLI faced many obstacles in passing a mural ordinance, what was the turning point?

A: After the city dismissed our desire to paint a mural, we went back to the community. I had many discussions with families, where we received a lot of input and feedback. The community began to take ownership of the mural and the idea that it could serve as a narrative of the contributions of farmworkers.

Once the community took ownership, the city council began hearing swarms of testimony in support of a mural ordinance. I think the city council soon realized that they no longer held the views of the community and felt compelled to work with us in passing an ordinance.

Dalila (left) and Juanishi (right). Dalila has led the mural civic engagement campaign, that hopes aims to get city approval to paint a mural at the CLI. Juanishi, aims to lead the mural painting.

Q: Wow! Changing gears now, tell us about the design of the mural?

A: The design of the mural encompasses the elements of the surrounding community from the perspective of the farmworker. For example, the design incorporates the image of farmworkers picking berries and a woman holding tulips, a reflection of the existing industry in the mid-Willamette Valley. The mural also includes images from our past such as Japanese workers in the mid-Willamette valley pre-world war II and of the more recent image of Latinos voting in the 2012 election.

The mural also carries heavy symbols of education, emphasizing how important education is for the community, and tying the role of the Institute.

Q: Who will be involved in painting?

A: Juanishi Orosco will be the lead muralist, and will be accompanied by hand-picked painters to help lead the mural painting. Juanishi, as many may or may not know, helped paint the iconic PCUN mural displayed in their Riseberg hall. We will also have the community at-large to help paint the mural. We’ll have farmworker families, youth, and other leaders coming in to help paint.

PCUN Mural by Juanishi Orosco

Q: How can people help?

A: People can help by contributing their time to come down to the leadership institute and help paint. Generally we’ll be painting between 10:00am and 7:00pm. Another way for folks to help is by making a donation, to help us fund the painting. We’ll come out with more information on both soon.

Q: What does the mural mean for the movement?

A: The mural is a landmark, it portray the history of Woodburn through the eyes of the farmworker. It will raise-consciousness for people driving by of a history not often told.

Q: Finally, What does the mural mean for the community, and the families who worked with you to change the mural ordinance?

A: It feels like we, Latinos and farmworkers, are finally being acknowledged. That we are not a “hidden” community and it brings pride to know that our contributions to the community are being recognized. This project means so much more than a painting on a wall.

Coming soon… Mural Design unveiling…

Formal Education Meets Popular Education: A Test Drive for CAPACES 101

Ever entered a lecture hall anticipating dialogue, a sharing of ideas, values and experience only to receive… well, a lecture? This form of education is common in many universities across the  country, which explains why this past April many OSU students were in for a surprise as they arrived in Woodburn to participate (or take a test drive) in CAPACES 101, one of the CAPACES Leadership Institute’s (CLI) popular education courses.

The partnership between the CLI and OSU’s Advanced Spanish Coordinated Studies Program led by Loren Chavarria included five Tuesday sessions in the CLI’s facility in Woodburn and volunteer opportunities with CLI’s youth program TURNO, Radio Movimiento, and FHDC to name a few.

Popular education, often described as education for critical consciousness, has Latin America traditions that often targeted low-income and marginalized communities. The concept: rather than have top-down teaching such as teacher-pupil, we have peer-to-peer teaching initiated by a facilitator. The premise: that no matter what occupation, income bracket, and level of formal education, everyone can participate and contribute by drawing upon their life experience or through engaging activities described as dinimicas. CAPACES 101, a five-session, ten hour course covers:

  • CAPACES 101 Introduction, which provides an overview of the CAPACES 101 format based on popular education, which utilizes a facilitator, who leads discussion, draws from the audience’s experiences.

  • Historias y Logros or our History and Struggle, which provides a brief description of the history of the movement, from PCUN’s (Oregon farmworker union) humble beginnings to the development of other organizations.

  • Valores e Ideas Claves del Movimiento or Values and Ideas of the Movement, which provides the key values and ideas of the CAPACES movement and identifying what they mean to us and their importance.

  • Los “Ismos” or the “Isms”, which aims to uncover our own prejudices and offer tools to analyze the different isms and phobias such as: racism, institutional racism, sexism (machismo), and homophobia.

  • Riquezas y Convenios Colectivos or Wealth and Collective Bargaining, which covers the concepts of wealth, who possesses it, and uncovering our own personal assumptions. The class also covers the importance of Collective Bargaining in relationship to the farmworker movement.

“This course and experience was all around wonderful. It met our program’s objectives of our five C’s (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities) as well as the additional area of
Consciousness.” Said OSU faculty member Loren Chavarria

 “It was great for the CLI staff to be able to connect the formal education with the world of popular education. I think everyone had fun and learned a lot from one another.” Shared Executive Director Laura Isiordia.