Rio Jill Contreras

Was born and raised in Echo Park [settled area of the Tongva] with roots in Guatemala and El Salavador. Rio identifies as Queer/Gender-Queer, using pronouns of they, them, and theirs or in text E, Em, Eir, or Eirs.  Rio recently completed a bike journey with a collective called Raíces Roots from Echo Park to Central America as a way to deepen Eir connection with Eir raíces, our earth, and our selves. For the past 15 years E has been predominantly an educator for Youth of Color. E has engaged youth around issues of healthier communities through courses in cycling, decolonized foods, gardening, love for nature, and poetry. After a decade of being up in northern California, Rio has returned to Echo Park, a place severely impacted by displacement (gentrification). For this reason, Rio has valued being part of STAY (Standing Together Advocating for our Youth). STAY is an intergenerational and multicultural collective, mostly born, raised, and long-term community members, who have come together to speak out against all forms of violence and resist displacement. In addition to Eir work with STAY, the bike trip to Guatemala incited the Raíces Roots collective to envision L.A. Rooted, which is an emerging transformative youth education program. L.A. Rooted aims to cultivate youth organizers so they may take care of our earth, communities, families, and self. This past years summer program was organized around the theme of “Resisting Displacement: Staying Rooted,” as a means to teach them about the new colonization of Echo Park, yet remind them the importance of connecting to their ancestral roots. Rio is excited to continue building with local communities across Los Angeles and to keep Resisting Displacement!

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