Culture

As LA Teachers Go Into The Second Day Of Their Strike, A GoFundMe Campaign Is Bringing Taco To The Picket Lines

Los Angeles teachers are on strike for the first time in 30 years demanding smaller class sizes, more support staff, and pay raises. The teachers are part of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which is the second largest school district in the nation. As teachers strike for better conditions for their students, a GoFundMe campaign made sure they will stay fed to continue their fight. The campaign, called Tacos for Teachers, brought taco trucks to various United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) picket lines across Los Angeles County Monday, Jan. 14, the first day of the strike.

Thousands of teachers in the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union are on strike demanding better conditions for them and their students.

The strikes are impacting more than 900 schools and about 500,000 students. Schools are still open and students are being supervised as teachers strike and protest against Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

Students, parents, and Los Angeles residents have been showing support for the teachers by joining the protests and through social media posts.

According to USA Today, some teachers are more concerned with class sizes as they are trying to manage classes with 50 students.

Parents who can have chosen to keep their student shome during the strike in solidarity with the teachers.

The LA teachers strike comes just one year after major teacher strikes throughout West Virginia. In the end, the state of West Virginia raised wages for teachers to end the strike, which gave hope to other teacher strikes throughout the country. However, the LA teachers strike is the biggest protest of educators.

Tacos for Teachers!, a GoFundMe page raised money to make sure teachers are fed and energized for their fight.

CREDIT: CREDIT: UTLA GoFundMe

The campaign was started by Democratic Socialist of Los Angeles (DSA-LA) and the Los Angeles International Socialist Organization (ISO-LA) to show solidarity with the teachers and staff who are on strike. Max Belasco, a community organizer for DSA-LA, says the campaign took off after collaborating with ISO-LA and agreed they wanted to create an avenue for support for teachers. He notes that many of his colleagues are part of the UTLA union so this issue hit close to home for him. Many people have asked about ways they can give back to instructors and Belasco thought that food was the best option here.

“Obviously we want people to come out and support but many work during the hours they’d be striking so why not show solidarity in the form of tacos,” Belasco said. “Everyone in LA loves tacos and if it helps feed our hard-working teachers even better.”

Belasco says the contributions have been much larger than originally anticipated as he expected to receive about $1,000 to have one taco truck. However, donations have surpassed its campaign goal of $5,000. By Tuesday, the second day of strikes, the campaign has raised over $22,000 to feed teachers on strike.

The strike has gotten national attention and support from teachers across the country who have contributed to the campaign.

“What’s cool is we’ve gotten support from teachers across the country in places like Chicago and even Virginia,” Belasco said. “The country is watching the strike and they’re giving to a good cause as well.”

The LAUSD is nation’s second largest school district and stretches across 710 square miles across LA county. Seventy-three percent of its students are Latino and are low-income as more than 80 percent of its students get free or reduced-price lunches. Belasco says these teachers are striking for more than just pay raises but better teaching environments that include smaller classrooms and new materials.

“These teachers are fighting for the future of these kids and are taking leave without pay because they believe its a fight for not only for public schools in LA but for education,” Belasco said.

Teachers are being treated to more than just tacos as students and community members pitch in to feed the teachers.

These small gestures from students have kept teachers energized in their battle for better teaching conditions.

It’s clear that the communities they serve are behind them and their fight.

Parents of LAUSD students are posting photos and messages of support calling on others to get behind the teachers who educate and care for their children.

As the strike enters its second day, teachers are standing firm in their fight.

Red is the color of solidarity for the teachers strike. #RedforEd

Only time will tell if the strike initiates the change that teachers are demanding.

Do you stand with the teachers on strike? Let us know.


READ: 21 Different Types Of Tamales You Are Definitely Eating For The Next Few Months Because Leftovers

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A Geographer Just Created A Digital Map Of Mexico Highlighting Taco Shops And It’s A Thing Of Beauty

Culture

A Geographer Just Created A Digital Map Of Mexico Highlighting Taco Shops And It’s A Thing Of Beauty

@datavizero / Twitter

One of the biggest changes that the so called digital revolution has brought to our lives is the capacity that today’s computer systems have to process huge amounts of data. Processors today are able to run algorithms that bring together millions of data entries to find trends, cluster groups of similar objects and generate visualizations that can help us understand even the most complex aspects of science and culture. This is known popularly as “big data” and has changed the ways in which governments and companies understand reality and make decisions. For example, before high speed processing mathematicians took literally years to make sense of census data and find correlations between factors such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age and literacy levels.

Guess what? This can be done today with a few clicks as computers bring together millions upon millions of data entries and make sense of it all. It all sounds very geeky, but big data is defining how we live our lives, from how traffic lights coordinate to how much tax you gotta pay each year.

So all this geeky, nerdy stuff should be put to good use, o no?

Enter Mexican geographer Baruch Sangines, a true wizard when it comes to generating great data visualizations.

Credit: @datavizero / Twitter

This young scientist is the Chief Data Scientist at a company called Jetty, and he does some pretty groundbreaking research on pressing social issues such as housing and poverty.

His LinkedIn profile is pretty impressive: “Experience in public and private sector with skills to analyze and visualize data related to: commuting, transit, housing, tourism, migration, security, and urban environment. Expert in territorial analysis and passionate about the cartography and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to visualize small and big data”. Wow. hold your horses, Einstein! He is a proud graduate of Mexico’s National University and has Master’s Degree on Demographics and Statistics. 

So why did he go viral on Mexican social media in the past few days? We mean, science is sexy but not viral sexy (sadly!). All because of this map:

Credit: @datavizero / Twitter

No, it is not a visualization of WiFi points in Mexico. No, it is not a rendition of cartel activity. No, it is not a highlight of the areas in which development runs at a faster pace. It is about something much, much more relevant to everyday life in Mexico lindo y querido. Any guesses?

Nothing is more important than a delicious taco when you most need it! 

Credit: The Splendid Table

Just look at that tortilla, a bit crispy, a bit soft… and that perfectly marinated meat… 

Well, Baruch created a visualization of taco stands in Mexico and nos ponemos de pie ante tal maravilla! 

Baruch called this visualization Taco Universe, and it showcases all the registered taco stands and shops in the country. We can clearly see that there is a high concentration of taco shrines in the capital Mexico City, and that hotspots like Cancun and Cabo are also highlighted, perhaps thanks to gringo tourism craving fish tacos. The scientists used the database Directorio Estadístico Nacional de Unidades Económicas (Denue) (Statistical National Directory of Economic Units) from the federal census agency INEGI. The map highlights how taco culture is primarily based in the center of the country, with local varieties such as Puebla’s tacos arabes (a shawarma like type) increasing the traffic in that area. 

But it is important to note that many taco stands are not accounted for (and that is not this scientist’s fault).

Thousands of Mexicans subsist in an informal economy with businesses that are not registered and pay no taxes. Among these businesses, mobile taco stands reign supreme. There are hundreds of taco stands all around the country that are set up informally. Sometimes you can find the most delicious tacos there! You can also find informal vendors selling tacos de canasta, a variety that is literally carried in a basket. This map does not take these informal enterprises into account, even though they are key to Mexico’s taco culinary tradition. 

So you are curious about tacos de canasta now, aren’t you? 

Well, just look at these crispy, sweaty, fat-rich babes. Tacos de canasta are filled with guisados or stews, or with refried beans. We are almost sure that Baruch did not include them in his map, but we can forgive him for making us crave unos taquitos (we bet you are calling your comadres or compas right now to hit the taco stand) and showing us how Mexico is a country that despite its many challenges still finds time to live up to the old adage: barriga llena, corazon contento. 

The Mexican State Of Queretaro Just Made The World’s Biggest Taco De Carnitas —And Guinness Records Confirmed It

Culture

The Mexican State Of Queretaro Just Made The World’s Biggest Taco De Carnitas —And Guinness Records Confirmed It

@luisbnava / Twitter

Mexicans have been putting food inside a tortilla, folding it in half and calling it breakfast, lunch and dinner, since before the Popol Vuh came to be. Tacos are our love language, our most precious export to the world —ok maybe that’s an exaggeration… or is it? You could offer us caviar, pâté de foie gras, white truffles, oysters and we’d (rightly so) still choose a taco de carne asada. But there’s one Mexican among us all who loves tacos so much, he set out to make the world’s largest one. Stuffed with Carnitas, and weighing an exorbitant amount, Alejandro Paredes managed to produce the world’s biggest taco de carnitas. 

Queretaro is the record holder for the world’s largest taco de carnitas.

The state of Queretaro in Mexico earned the Guinness World Record for their gigantic taco de carnitas a few weeks ago. The monster-taco stretched to an entire city block, and measured 102 meters long (nearly 335 ft) and weighed 1,200 kilograms of tortillas (almost 3,000 lbs) and 1,507 kilograms of delicious carnitas (just over 3300 lbs).

Alejandro Paredes Resendiz is responsible for the carnitas-filled monstrosity. 

Credit: @luisbnava / Twitter

The organizer of the event came up with the idea in 2011, when he promised his uncle —the head of Queretaro’s gastronomical council— that he would make the world’s biggest carnitas taco. 

Apparently, the Guinness record committee declined several applications prior to Paredes’.

Alejandro Paredes said the Guinness organizing committee had already declined five previous applications for ‘the world’s biggest carnitas taco’, so he waited until he knew he could fulfill all the requirements necessary to qualify for a world record.  “We used certified workers with history in Querétaro,” said Paredes. “We complied with all the regulations of the Guinness contract. All of the carnitas were made today, everyone had the proper equipment and, most importantly, we shared the food with all who attended.”

Guinness World Records does not award prize money, but Paredes said that if they raise any money as a result of the record, it will be donated.

“If we earn even one peso, it will be donated to the DIF family services center, because Querétaro should be the best state in Latin America,” he said.

For Reséndiz, the achievement was not only a world record, but also a personal best.

“I broke my own record because the last taco I made was 75 meters long. It was registered, but not certified. I hope that all 1500 people can eat. We began at six in the morning and we won’t go home until the volunteers feed the visitors and the taco is gone,” he said.

The enormous taco fed 1500 attendees. It took more than 25 chefs and 150 gastronomy students to prepare the record-breaking feat. The huge team of cooks started preparing the food 12 hours prior to the assembly of the taco. 

Queretaro managed to take Guadalajara’s record. 

The 102 meter long taco, made in Queretaro, broke the record that had been set by Guadalajara with its 75 meter long taco a few years prior.

But why carnitas in Queretaro?

Credit: donmacizo / Instagram

In Mexico, each state has its own culinary traditions and local plates — ‘carnitas’ is not typical of Queretaro, so why did they decide to make this particular taco?

“I recognize that there are other states in the country, like Michoacán, where they make delicious carnitas, but here in Querétaro there are seven different styles,” Paredes said. Alejandro Paredes claims to have conducted a study to find our which food was most consumed in his state, and voila, he found out that the people of Queretaro love carnitas. 

Carnitas are made by cooking the different parts of the pig in giant copper or stainless steel pots. The meat is traditionally seasoned with a mineral salt called tequesquite, but there are many different regional variations.

Local tourist agencies, taqueros, and municipal authorities plan to share the news about the record-breaking event, to promote tourism in the area and to invite taco-lovers everywhere, from Mexico and the world, to visit Queretaro and try its delicious carnitas.