Alhambra Source at 4: 'It reminds us that we’re part of a special community, we have a voice, and our voice matters'

Alhambra Source celebrates its fourth birthday this week. We have worked with more than 100 local contributors since launching in 2010. Community contributors attend a monthly editorial meeting to suggest story ideas and come together, and then throughout the month they pitch stories, interview community members, write drafts, edit their pieces, and help us share their stories when they are published. More than that, community contributors share their passion for local issues, events, and the people of Alhambra. Their hard work makes this a true community news website. We have collected below some of their favorite memories:

Alhambra Source's impact on civic engagement is immeasurable, and I’ll always be grateful for it

Contributors brainstorm ideas at a 2011 meeting."There were some really dark days that had me down. Seemingly one-way conversations with the city and being accused of tilting at windmills. That started to change when I was introduced to Daniela Gerson at a water contamination meeting. I remember her telling me about a local hypermedia project she was organizing through a grant from the Annenberg School of Journalism and that it would focus on Alhambra. It was like an oasis in the desert.  My favorite memory was the day the site went live. Its impact on civic engagement has since been immeasurable, and I’ll always be grateful for it." -Eric Sunada

Creating a window into how an American city functions

"As an international student from China and urban planning student, Alhambra Source gave me great opportunities to get to know how the American communities and government functions. And I met a lot of interesting people here through various community contributor meetings, outreach events, and reporting. I am glad that through my work as a Chinese translator, we are enhancing the understanding among different ethnic groups in the community. My favorite Source memory is painting an Alhambra Source mural with different people at the Alhambra Art Walk." -Jue Wang

Taking the time to create layered stories of local character

"One of my favorite experiences was working on a story that I did not write, but helped edit the audio for a slideshow. The writer, Kris Fortin, interviewed Geraldine Pedrini, who was the owner of Pedrini Music. In their conversation she sang and reminisced about the store, how her life revolved around music, and selling sheet music. It was a layered interview, because it offered a glimpse of the person, but also took the audience inside her home. Not many publications take the time that Alhambra Source gives to its subjects." -Nathan Solis

Jump-starting a career in photography and civil service

"Through Alhambra Source, Daniela has connected me with professionals I thought I would have never met, such as journalists and photographers from The Los Angeles Times who gave me my first ever photo critique and professionals from KPCC who provided so much help and support while as a Reporter Corps member. Although I did not exactly chase after my dream to travel the world as a National Geographic or TIME Magazine photographer, four years later, looking back, I truly treasure the experience and opportunity I have gained from Alhambra Source, as well as meeting so many dedicated community members in the city and beyond in the San Gabriel Valley. Thank you to the University of Southern California and everyone who help to make the site what it is today. I am looking forward to many more years of Alhambra Source." -Albert Lu

Jesse Chang (right) and Jue Wang (center) interview a community member in Chinese.Watching from afar how life in a little slice of Los Angeles was both breaking apart and evolving

"Over the last four years, the Alhambra Source has been a constant reminder to me that home follows you wherever you go. Having been on the East Coast for several years I found the Source to be a sort of lifeline between me and my place of birth and growth — watching from afar how life in a little slice of Los Angeles was both breaking apart and evolving. I also spent many hours of my life illustrating for the Source and it was huge in terms of how I came to be the artist I am today. More than anything else, my favorite memory of the Alhambra Source is when I attended a contributors meeting in May and found myself surrounded by interesting, uplifting and cozy people. I love the Source because it is genuine and that is a hard thing to find these days." -Jee-Shaun Wang

Empowering a diverse and talented team passionate about local news, community, and civic engagement

"It has been a privilege and joy to be a part of the growth of Alhambra Source since I first joined as a community contributor two years ago. Being a part of a diverse and talented team of staff and volunteers that are passionate about local news, the community, and civic engagement is an empowering experience. My favorite Source memories include getting to know amazing individuals that I've worked with and interviewed. It has also been an honor to learn from the exceptional leadership of Daniela Gerson and Nasrin Aboulhosn." -Courtney Hong

Contributors discuss stories at a 2014 meeting.Finding a new lens through which to view one's own community

"As a long-time San Gabriel Valley resident, I wanted the chance to write about and explore my own community. Alhambra Source seemed like an exciting place to do this, so I jumped at a chance to help write a column (called See | Hear | Do) about fun things Alhambrans can do around their city. The writing assignments led me to see the city with new eyes. It provided me an excuse to wade into the middle of a laser tag battle zone and to get to know a group of dedicated weekend guitar warriors who meet each week to work on their chords at Rick's In and Out. I couldn't have asked for a better lens through which to see the community! I've moved away from the area and no longer write the column for Alhambra Source, but I miss getting a chance to go outside of my comfort zone and entice others to do the same." -Elizabeth Chou

Connecting to an adopted hometown via random information tidbits and participating in a team

"For this non-native of Alhambra, the Alhambra Source has met a felt need to get more involved with my new favorite town. Both through reading it and participating on the team, I've been able to become more connected and aware of what's going on nearby. I enjoy learning random tidbits about Alhambra and appreciate the give-and-take of information that the Alhambra Source involvement has allowed. Happy Birthday!" -Ian Dale

Finding the story of a diverse city

L-R: Reporter Corps members Raymond Penaia, Elisa Perez, and Valerie Cabral conduct an interview.

"While outsiders may describe the city as quiet and boring, my experience with the Alhambra Source has shown that the city of Alhambra proves otherwise with a diverse community that has its own unique story to tell. I’ll always remember the laughs and discussions shared with my fellow members of Reporter Corps whether it was inside of the meeting room, going out and about to conduct group interviews with community leaders, or even before our final presentation. Even if we hit an obstacle in writing our respective stories, we all managed to find another way through it while laughing with each other at the same time." -Raymond Penaia

Impacting policies of my hometown, one dog park at a time

"Growing up here, I didn't feel that there was anything particularly special about the place, other than the food. However, when I began interning with the Source in 2011, that was the first time when I ever felt truly connected to my home town. One of my favorite experiences with the Alhambra Source came after my editor Daniela Gerson pushed me to write about something I cared about. I chose to talk about Alhambra's lack of a dog park, and how current city ordinances restrict dogs from entering any public park, even while kept on a leash. The piece included a poll for readers to vote on the issue, and the results showed that a lot of residents felt the same way. It even prompted some readers to speak up at city council meetings, and eventually the issue made it onto the council's agenda for serious consideration. At the time, I was skeptical of my own ability to have some kind of impact; but the Source created this very opportunity, and it is there for anyone in Alhambra who wants to contribute." -Esmee Xavier

Gaining skills that carry on beyond reporting

Community contributors go bowling.

"For 10 weeks, I worked at the Source as part of its Reporter Corps program. We talked to journalists, teachers, and district officials about education issues. I thought that education reporting would be over with once I finished the program, but to my surprise, my Reporter Corps experience has come to good use in a sociology of education class I am currently enrolled in. I am excited to be able to use the interview skills I honed as a Reporter Corps member and the knowledge gained from talking to those intimate with the education system in the classroom." -Arthur Wang

Learning to trust myself to ask good questions, and learning about my community in the process

"My favorite memory with Alhambra Source was when I and my fellow Reporter Corps members interviewed Dr. Roz Collier, president of the Alhambra Teachers’ Association. It was my first interview as a journalist and I was incredibly nervous. I remember thinking that I was surely going to mess things up—but I didn’t. I left the interview feeling informed, enlightened, and more curious than ever. Before the interview I was worried about asking the wrong question, but afterwards, I couldn’t care less! My questions came naturally to me from then on. The Alhambra Source helped me learn how to trust myself, and taught me a great deal about the issues affecting my community." -Elisa Perez

Connecting with my community, learning about education, local government, and civic engagement on a deeper and more practical level

Contributor Connie Ho (right) conducts an interview.

"Working for Alhambra Source was the perfect opportunity for me coming off of college. Living outside of Alhambra while I was in school, the Source gave me the chance to connect with my community, learn about education, local government, and civic engagement on a deeper and more practical level. In the past, I had a rigid idea of how to get involved with my community through voting, volunteering, and just by being a good citizen. But it wasn't enough for me to just sit around. Writing and interviewing residents gave me an outlet to think critically and see my surroundings not just for what it is but how it can be better. I'm really glad that there is an organization like the Source that values my opinion and makes me feel that my voice matters in my own city." -Alfred Dicioco

Serving my community and being a part of something bigger than myself

"Being part of the Reporter Corps program taught me more than doing interviews and writing articles. It taught me the rewards of serving the community. Upon the program’s conclusion, I knew that I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself – whether that was through journalism or regularly attending community events. This is because Alhambra Source, by its very existence, gives its contributors and readers an opportunity to be part of something bigger. It reminds us that we’re part of a special community, we have a voice, and our voice matters." -Kristine Hoang

Contribturs toast to their hard work at a 2014 happy hour.

Turning enthusiasm and ideas into real stories

"Wow, I can't believe it's been four years, four good years. My favorite Source memory has been the lively story pitching sessions during our monthly meetings, particularly when the Source was just starting out. There were many community contributors attending those meetings, all with more enthusiasm than actual writing experience, with each member pitching ideas that reflected their particular interests. Then Daniela, with a gentle but firm hand, would prod and push us along and help us hone those ideas into real stories." -Joe Soong

Talking to community members and sharing their stories

"The first story I wrote was a few years ago; I covered a free health fair in the area and I loved the opportunity to talk to people, get their insights, and share photos about the event. The site has really grown in terms of its coverage, with articles ranging from lifestyle and culture to education and crime. I look forward to seeing what the next four years has in store for the Source." -Connie Ho

Learning about the value and power of journalism and how it can impact our lives

"Being involved with the Alhambra Source has opened my eyes to news and journalism. Before I never put much thought into what I see on the news and how it can impact our lives. Being a part of a team that is producing articles has taught me how valuable and powerful it can be. My fondest memories would have to be the wonderful article Nasrin Aboulhosn wrote for my mom. Other than that, the get-togethers have all been memorable. The annual event like the first one at Nucleus, the happy hours, and the monthly meetings. It was great to meet some neighbors and hear what different people are interested in." -Tim Ganter, web developer

2 thoughts on “Alhambra Source at 4: 'It reminds us that we’re part of a special community, we have a voice, and our voice matters'”

  1. CONGRATULATIONS…and hoping you’ll continue with this project; hopefully engaging more people to be aware of what is happening in Alhambra, hopefully people sending in their comments so the city council might listen to a variety of concerns instead of only listening to those who support their agenda.

  2. I loved reading all of these memories here, and, of course, I've got a few favorites to add: The first Community Contributor meeting, and not knowing if anyone would show up. And then Javier and Kerrie and Karin, Eric, and Neal walk in and start a tradition that is now four years strong! Heading out with them and other brave souls with a yet-to-be-launched website mock up to start spreading the word at the “Hot Spot.” When the meetings — and then the potlucks — really took off, and the pad thai that Michael would bring, the fresh veggie dishes from Jesse, Fosselman's ice cream from Esmee, beer from Tim — and of course, Joe's Pollo Loco. It has not just been eating and meetings either 😉 All the hard work felt worth it when we took the stage together at Southern California Public Radio to receive the community advocacy award. I feel so fortunate that all of you have given your time, talents, and energy to create Alhambra Source, and to continue to grow the site and the community. Looking forward to seeing what you do in the next four years!

Leave a Reply