Vendedores en Acción, Street Vendor Council Meeting

Betty Marin and Quetzal Flores meet with local vendors and organizers to exchange stories and share knowledge derived from their experiences in street vending. Featuring Faustino Martinez, Caridad Vasquez, Humberto Yauli, Santa Huerta, Michelle Benavides, Miguel (Ricardo) Lucas Tax, and Belen Ortiz.

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As part of Art Rise/WE RISE initiative, Self Help Graphics & Art presents Vendedores en Acción (Vendors in Action or VEA), a short documentary directed by Alvaro Parra, following six street vendors and also leaders of the VEA coalition. The film highlights the long-term mental and emotional implications caused by their line of work, their fight to legalize street vending, and economic insecurity amplified by COVID-19.

In the community space of ELACC, Quetzal Flores and Betty Marin organized a meeting to invite Vendedores en Acción, VEA (Vendors in Action) to learn about and participate in ACTA’s Sounds of California project. During the meeting, street vendors— a majority of which immigrated from various regions of Mexico, Central and South America— shared where they derived their recipes and vending strategies from, along with their personal origin stories and experiences bringing their small businesses to the U.S.. After describing the project and goals, a discussion centered on the importance of documenting their stories followed as each salesperson continued to exchange sounds, stories and knowledge with one another.

ACTA · Sounds of CA - Boyle Heights
Where did you learn your style of drawing in potential customers?
"My style comes from my Oaxacan roots. I learned from a man who lived in another town that went to the fairs in each locality, each ranch, each town, they put up their big tents. And there I learned to make shaved ice in the traditional style of the region, and how to sell; serving the public and all that, in full view of the town, making shaved ice, moving the jug.” - Don Faustino, local street vendor
Where did you learn how to cook and make sales through street vending?
“My mother-in-law was also a vendor and all of my husband's family are 100% unionized street vendors. Just as I have been motivated to learn from my friends, my mother-in-law was the one who taught me. She told me ‘Cari, come teach yourself how to cook because in the future you will need this.' And then I saw that all of them were vending. My husband's uncles sold sweet potatoes, squash, corn, raspados. We sold on the streets, in schools, everywhere, all the time." - Caridad Vasquez, food vendor