Asian American Studies Program presents

The Balgopal Lecture on Human Rights and Asian Americans, 2011

Wednesday, March 9
7:00 PM
Levis Faculty Center, Third Floor

Open to the public

Speaker: Dennis G. Arguelles, Director, Community Economic Development, Search To Involve Pilipino Americans, Los Angeles, CA

Title: When a House is Not Always a Home: An Examination of Twenty Years of Community Economic Development Work in Los Angeles’ Asian and Pacific Islander Communities

Fueled by the energy of grass-roots, self-help and civil rights activists, Community Economic Development (CED) emerged as a strategy for community empowerment during the “War on Poverty” of the 1960’s and 70’s. Aimed at addressing the “roots” of urban poverty – inadequate housing, the lack of economic opportunities, unemployment and capital flight – Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community-based organizations began implementing CED strategies at about the same time, although in Los Angeles they truly took off in the early 90’s in the aftermath of the 1992 Civil Unrest. Since then, these efforts have helped transform whole neighborhoods, strengthened community-based institutions and improved the quality of life for countless immigrants and low-income families. However, the current housing crisis and economic recession have also exposed the limits to which CED strategies can combat greater market forces, serve disadvantaged populations and build community cohesion.

Dennis Arguelles has worked in Los Angeles’ Asian American Community and for several community-based organizations for over 20 years. As an urban planner and community development professional, he has witnessed the emergence and participated in the implementation of CED strategies in Los Angeles’ Asian enclaves, including Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Chinatown, Thai Town, Historic Filipinotown and Little Cambodia. In his talk he reflects on these experiences and the impact of CED on Los Angeles’ API communities. He also speculates on the future of these neighborhoods and the challenges facing community-based service providers, advocates and activists.

The speaker, Dennis Arguelles, currently serves as the Director of Community and Economic Development for Search To Involve Pilipino Americans, a social service agency serving Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown community. In additional to working for numerous community-based organizations, he is the former President and Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON), a federation of over 35 Asian and Pacific Islander organizations in Los Angeles County. He previously served as the Assistant Director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center where he co-edited The New Face of Asian Pacific America: Numbers, Diversity and Change in the 21st Century. As a graduate student, he co-authored Beyond Asian American Poverty, one of the first comprehensive studies of poverty in Asian and Pacific Islander American communities. In 2007 he was appointed to the City of Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Review Commission by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He received his B.A. in Political Science and M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA.

The Annual Balgopal Lecture on Human Rights and Asian Americans was established by a generous endowment from Pallassana R. Balgopal and Shyamala Balgopal in 2007.

Co-sponsors: Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Relations, School of Social Work, Department of African American Studies, American Indian Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, Latina Latino Studies