Friday, December 30, 2005

Nashville cited in list of "irrational" acts against Hispanics in 2005

After the recent Carnegie Corporation report on Nashville, the city has received another national mention related to Hispanics, and it's not favorable. The Metro City Council's recent proposed ban of taco trucks and food trailers (stories here, here and here) drew the attention of columnist Ruben Navarrette, who mentioned the ban in this nationally syndicated editorial as an example of irrational acts against Hispanics in 2005. Excerpts of the editorial, which ran in over 200 papers nationwide:

"Where's the holiday spirit? I bet that's what a lot of U.S.-born Hispanics are wondering as 2005 comes to an end."

"These are scary times for the nation's largest minority. Everywhere you look, it seems that some Americans are trying to erect more walls, deploy more guards, and whenever possible, roll back the influence of Hispanic culture."

"Maybe it's all about the numbers. There's something about accounting for 40 million people that makes some folks uncomfortable – as if it's only a matter of time before they are edged out for admission to colleges and some of the better jobs. Or maybe what they are afraid of is that their neighborhoods and towns will be overrun and their language, culture and customs will be eroded."

"And when people get uncomfortable, they act irrationally."

"The Nashville City Council considered a proposal by three of its members to ban taco trucks and other mobile food vendors. Supporters of the ban insisted that it was prompted by legitimate health concerns and not by – as critics suggested – a cultural backlash against Hispanics who, according to The Associated Press, operate the majority of the mobile vending trucks in the city. But the council members had a tough time explaining why the ban did not apply to smaller street vendors, such as hot dog carts."

One Hispanic advocate who worked with the bill's proponents called it even-handed legislation and not a racial issue. Others called the ban overkill when existing regulations would suffice, and when mostly non-Hispanic vendors of hot dogs were excluded.

Navarette was recognized in 2005 by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the nation's 100 most influential Hispanics.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

In cold racial climate, minorities consider exit

Race and class are Boston's hidden costs of living

Nashville faces identity crisis

"The turnaround came when I started to realize this was my environment and I could have an effect on what was going on"

Nashville's approach toward diversity has been under scrutiny lately. Nissan employees in California are considering moving to the automobile giant's future headquarters in a Nashville suburb, and a survey by Nissan's relocation agency showed that the employees' number-one concern is diversity. Assuming Nashville is able to attract these and other diversity-seeking newcomers, will the city be able to keep them in the long run? Will diversity itself be the deciding factor, or will the subtleties of Middle Tennessee sentiment be high on the mind? The issue may ultimately be whether Nashville is friendly enough to be a welcoming city.

As the Boston Globe reports in this article, Boston is finding out that the perception of an unwelcoming racial atmosphere drives minorities away.

"Within a year of moving to the Boston area toward the end of 2000, Raymond Johnson began lobbying his wife, Idella, to leave a region whose coldness -- in every sense of that word -- had baffled, frustrated, and ultimately alienated him."

" the summer of 2004, they packed up and moved to this small town just east of Raleigh. They have not looked back. The schools are solid, the weather is balmy, the neighbors are friendly, and housing prices are a fraction of what they are in Massachusetts. But for this African-American couple, there was a hidden cost of living in the Boston area that had nothing to do with housing or taxes or insurance."

"That hidden cost had to do with Boston's most intractable problem: race. And it was further inflamed by Boston's enduring obsession: class. Those factors coalesced into a tipping point for the Johnsons. Seeking a racially mixed environment for their children that, in Idella's words, 'looked like the world,' they faced the realities of a region divided into two worlds: one black, one white."

"Raymond and Idella Johnson embody a warning contained in an April report by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University: 'Perceptions of racial discrimination can affect the decisions of talented minorities within the region to stay or to leave.'"

The story is one of a series called How We Live Here, which follows minority individuals and families in Boston who have been frustrated with racial unfriendliness in the city.

Tiffany Dufu, a 31-year-old African-American professional who recently moved to Boston "was flat-out stunned when a list of 'The 100 People Who Run This Town' in last month's issue of Boston magazine contained only one black person. (It was the Rev. Eugene Rivers, listed at No. 97.) 'I'm looking at the list and I'm going, come on, you've got to be kidding me," says Dufu. 'Either this can't be true, or this is true and this place is in big trouble. How can the civic leadership tolerate that?"

" an African-American woman, Dufu is also troubled by some of what she has seen and heard in the Boston area. So troubled, in fact, that she is far from sure she will stay here when she and her husband, Kojo, start a family. 'I'll be really candid and say that as long as it was just Kojo and I, I'd be fine with it,' she says. 'But I have concerns about raising my black children in Boston. This would be a tough place for me to have a family.'"

Not all minorities are leaving Boston, of course. David Blanding, a 20-year-old African-American Boston University student, decided to channel his disappointment over the the university's lack of diversity into renewed investment into the community:

"'The turnaround came when I started to realize this was my environment and I could have an effect on what was going on. Once I gained that ownership, I was able to be more open and do more things,' Blanding says. 'This is my school. I'm a shareholder in this large corporation. I might as well do something meaningful with it. Since then I've been much more involved on campus. Out in Boston as well. Making this my city.'"

"'Martin Luther King once said a true leader has to be not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus,' he says. 'It's not about waiting for people to be ready. It's about making people realize that they're ready.'"

Photo by Roey Ahram. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Minority business workshop planned for downtown Sounds stadium

Nashville SoundsThe Tennessean reports in this article that a three-hour business workshop will be held to encourage minority participation in the proposed Sounds stadium downtown.

"The three-hour workshop targeting minority businesses to be a part of the construction and operation of the new proposed Sounds stadium downtown is from 9 a.m.-noon Jan. 13. The meeting will be at Greer Stadium on the club level. Call 862-5471 for more information."

"Metro's Division of Minority and Small Business Assistance is helping to coordinate next month's workshop."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

FBI busts Georgia forgers of Tennessee residency papers reports in this article that a group of people based in Atlanta have been arrested for shuttling underground expatriates to Tennessee and selling them forged proof of Tennessee residency papers for the purpose of obtaining legitimate Tennessee certificates of driving (as opposed to drivers licenses, which require more than just proof of residency). According to this checklist for applicants on the Tennessee Department of Safety web site, Tennessee residency may be proven by such mundane documents as a utility bill, bank statement, or a property lease agreement.

"Claudio Galvan, the accused leader operating out of the Atlanta area, and driver Armando Rodriguez-Riveros were arrested Friday with five Hispanics believed to be clients as they tried to get driver's certificates at a Maryville testing center."

"The seven, who had come from Marietta, Ga., the day of their arrest, were arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court on charges of conspiracy to illegally obtain identification documents. If convicted, they could face 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine."

"[T]he ringleaders are accused of ferrying van-loads of illegal immigrants to Tennessee every few weeks to obtain the certificates, supplying them with phony Knoxville residency documents and charging them $800 to $1,500 apiece."

"The activity has centered around Knoxville, centrally located along the north-south Interstate 75 corridor, but an FBI complaint said Galvan claimed he was 'expanding his business into the Nashville and Chattanooga areas as well.'"

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad

Merry Christmas from the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, and saludos navidenos to our friends across Latin America.

Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace
good will toward men

Gloria a Dios en las alturas
y en la tierra paz
buena voluntad para con los hombres





Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Belmont alum stars in North Carolina TV "novela" reports in this article that Belmont University graduate Roxana Vera Hadden stars in a North Carolina based, Spanish-language soap opera called Nuestro Barrio. The News & Observer reports in this article that Nuestro Barrio is being picked up in Greensboro, Charlotte, Greenville, S.C., Atlanta and Las Vegas and is being shopped to networks that would blanket the show across the Southwest and Northeast.

"Hadden is Hispanic communications coordinator for 'Nuestro Barrio,' a Spanish-language novela, or soap opera, that is being filmed in Durham for release on the local UPN channel and throughout the Southeast in January. She also has a role as one of the leading characters in the 13-episode miniseries, which, like any worthy effort of the genre, deals with topics that get as steamy as a salsa dance."

Hadden chose to participate in the show because of its educational goals.

"'We call it edutainment. We have story lines with real-life issues' that cross cultural barriers, but are mainly geared to helping Hispanic newcomers to the United States navigate barriers and resolve pitfalls confronting them, Hadden said."

"The themes of the episodes run the gamut of predatory lending practices, health issues, language barriers and rental discrimination. They play out on make-do sets at 604 N. Duke St., where one room may be an auditioning stage by day and a hospital waiting room for filming at night, or in the director's office, which serves as a bank in some scenes."

A web site for the show is under construction at

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Nashville Hispanic Chamber Holiday Mixer this Wednesday

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* announced its Holiday Mixer to be held this Wednesday at the Red Iguana. Non-perishable food donations will be accepted at the door.

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, cordially invites you to toast the holiday season!

NAHCC HOLIDAY MIXER Wednesday, December 21st **** 5:30pm - 8:30pm **** RED IGUANA * 305 Broadway

RSVP 332-9777 Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Please support Second Harvest Food Bank by bringing non-perishable products. (canned meats, vegetables & fruits; rice, beans, peanut butter, crackers, Spanish dry foods, etc.)

*There are two Hispanic chambers of commerce in Nashville: the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, December 19, 2005

SunTrust, Bank of America, Wachovia, First Tennessee seek Hispanic trust, and business

The Tennessean reports in this article that banks in Nashville are reaching out to the Hispanic population as a client base with efforts like SunTrust's financial classes for Spanish speakers:

"Such classes are among ways that Midstate banks are warming up to the Hispanic community as its growth in population and incomes makes it more attractive. Among the bank's goals are to reduce language barriers and wipe away distrust among immigrants from countries such as Mexico where banks aren't as stable as in the United States."

"Like many banks, SunTrust now accepts cards issued by Mexican consulates as one form of identification for opening new accounts."

"Two months ago, Bank of America stopped charging its accountholders to send money to Mexico, a key service since Mexicans send $21 billion home each year from throughout the United States."

"Last month, Wachovia Bank began offering its clients the option of receiving their monthly statements in Spanish."

"Some lenders, such as Southeast Financial Federal Credit Union, also use payment records for rent and utilities as a way to check credit worthiness before making mortgage loans to Hispanics who don't have much of a credit history."

"First Tennessee Bank, for instance, has bilingual employees in areas with a concentration of Hispanic residents. It also partners with nonprofit groups to teach home-buying courses."

"'We look at it as a rapidly growing market, but as one that's still a very small percentage of the overall market in Tennessee,' said Mike Edwards, Nashville region president for the Memphis bank. 'It's a market we continue to evaluate what out future plans and actions should be — it's one that has our attention.'"

Friday, December 16, 2005

Reports from Hispanic Knoxville

KnoxvilleTwo Knoxville papers recently explored the Knoxville Hispanic community in searching, in-depth articles. published this multi-story series entitled "Spanish Lessons" featuring the following subjects:

Sunday: How many Hispanics live here? Do they feel welcome in East Tennessee?

Monday: Education: Expanding Hispanic outreach, assimilation through the classroom

Tuesday: Law and order: Police try to tear down barriers

Wednesday: Health care: Where Hispanic immigrants go for medical treatment

Thursday: Helping hand: Too many needs, too little support

Friday: Business: Migrant laborers, Hispanic CEO, model employer

Saturday: Global community: Hispanic buyers, sellers change Green Acres Flea Market accents

This Metro Pulse article focuses on illegal immigrants and the public sentiment against them.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Anti-immigration sentiment ripe for political manipulation

This article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that the White House will turn to immigration as an issue that can shore up its waning support among senior citizens.

As reported previously here in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, some have eyed the issue as a weapon against Tennessee's Governor Phil Bredesen in his re-election bid in 2006.

The national sentiment against immigrants and immigration is evident in this listing of various polls on the subject.

Various pieces of immigration legislation are making their way through the U.S. Congress, including this punishment-focused bill opposed by the business community and religious leaders. The bill was described in this Wall Street Journal article as specifically designed with "get-tough" measures to appeal to voters in 2006:

"The bill's congressional supporters say it was designed with the 2006 elections in mind. Will Adams, spokesman for Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo, the leader of an immigration-restriction faction in the House, says Republican leaders asked their members for get-tough ideas to include in the bill. 'They wanted red-meat votes -- votes that appeal to the conservative base,' Mr. Adams says."

The article says that this particular bill reflects a harsh sentiment in the House that is not shared by the Senate, and that neither the Senate nor President Bush would be expected to push the bill toward law. Nonetheless, it is souring the debate and making compromise less likely, shaping up 2006 to be a year of rhetoric and little progress.
[update 12/16/2005]

As reported previously in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, there are both Democrats and Republicans who are concerned that the current tone of immigration rhetoric is more harmful than helpful.

Nashville Latino Health Coalition forming

The Nashville Latino Health Coalition announced efforts to form a coalition to unify existing health networks and coordinate collective action:

The Nashville Latino Health Coalition (NLHC) is a new coalition that is being formed, and all interested organizations and community members are invited to be part of this coalition.

NLHC is a new broad-based, community-wide coalition focused on health of the Latino population in Nashville that expands on existing networks of agencies and institutions that serve this community, and that unifies the Latino community with these agencies in a participatory process.

The intention of forming this coalition is to build on the existing networks and advances in access to services for Latinos in Nashville, and take what we have to the next level, to affect change at the community level, through a participatory process that leads to collective action starting from the grassroots level. The vision is for NLHC to link practitioner sectors [health care, social service, public health, some non-profits] not only more strongly among various components, but also more systematically with other organizations, academic sector, and grassroots community members.

The kick-off meeting with organizations was held on November 16, 2005 at the Woodbine Community Center. In attendance were 85 people representing 43 organizations from the health care, public health, social service, government, non-profit, and university sectors that are interested in the health and well-being of the Latino community. Around 30 additional people have expressed interest in participating in NLHC but were unable to attend this meeting. The participants expressed enthusiasm for the value and need for this new coalition, in particular the intention to involve members of the grassroots Latino community.

The next step is to organize members of the grassroots Latino community to be involved in this coalition, through a community organizing campaign and capacity-building effort that will be led by the Nashville Latino Organization (Organizacion Latina de Nashville, OLN).

The proposed goals of NLHC (which may be modified once community members get involved and the coalition becomes established) are:
1. To empower and mobilize Latino community members to take collective action in area of health
2. To identify clearly the role that each agency/institution plays in serving or working with the Latino community
3. To identify continuing gaps and needs of the Latino community in the area of health
4. To develop concrete initiatives to address these gaps, in a participatory process for the direct benefit of community members

Some of the anticipated activities and outcomes of NLHC include:
- Consolidation of existing data, knowledge, experiences, best practices, etc., into one system (so that each organization/project does not have to reinvent the wheel)
- Articulation of sociocultural barriers/facilitators to health care access, adherence to recommendations, and health-promoting behaviors (e.g., health literacy, cultural beliefs/practices, communication, etc.)
- Community participatory action research to evaluate community-based interventions addressing these barriers/facilitators
- Collaborative community-level initiatives (e.g., linking health care, social service, public health, etc.)
- Enhanced infrastructure for sustained service-learning programs with students
- Improved cultural competency/relevance of health-related services
- Reviving and strengthening previous efforts focused on recruitment/mentoring/pipeline for Latino individuals to enter health care field in Nashville
- Ultimate outcome: improved health behaviors, health care, and health outcomes for Latino population

The next meeting of the NLHC will be scheduled for mid-January. If you would like to receive announcements about the coalition activities, subscribe to the NLHC listerver by sending an email to: The body of the email should have one line: subscribe nlhc

For more information, contact Pamela Hull (, 320-3005).
Pamela C. Hull, Ph.D., Associate Director, Center for Health Research, Tennessee State University, Box 9580, Nashville, TN 37209, 615-320-3005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Hispanic pedetrians at greater risk in South reports in this article that Hispanic pedestrians in the South are at greater risk of accidents due to poverty, cultural issues, and Southern states' relative inattention to sidewalk design and safety. Tennessee, however, is one of three Southern states in which African Americans have higher pedetrian fatality rates than Hispanics.

"...Hispanics are disproportionately victims across the South. They die in pedestrian-vehicle accidents at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group in every Southern state except Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee, where only blacks die at a higher rate, according to 2002 data reported by states to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

"The highest pedestrian fatality rates for Hispanics were in Mississippi, with 4.72 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 Hispanics; Alabama, with 4.71 per 100,000; and South Carolina, with 4.62 per 100,000."

"Critics blame poor urban planning. As Southern cities and suburbs expanded rapidly in recent decades, planners have focused more on resolving traffic congestion and other growth issues than ensuring pedestrian safety, said Sally Flocks, president of Atlanta-based Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety."

Sidewalks have been a hot topic in Nashville since the initial campaign of Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, in which he promised to improve the city's sidewalks as a quality of life initiative. The Nashville sidewalk project is in full swing, as reported by the Nashville City Paper in this article about Hillsboro Village.

Surrounding cities have found the same problems with sidewalk policy as Nashville, including piecemeal construction, as reported in this article in the Tennessean.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Representative Jim Cooper calls for business leadership in immigrant debate

The Nashville City Paper reports in this story that U.S. Representative Jim Cooper called on Nashville's business community to take a leadership role in the nationwide immigrant policy debate:

"'This is where the business community really has to stand up and make a difference, otherwise the debate on this could get out of control in a hurry,' he said, adding immigrants are essential for many industries such as home construction, hospitality and tourism."

"Cooper called on businesses to get their paperwork on immigrants filed correctly so these industries can benefit from an immigrant workforce in a legal way."

"But he criticized the country’s custom of holding a yearly green card lottery, which distributes working permits to about 50,000 immigrants per year without looking at education skills, family ties or any other merits of applicants."

Cooper was speaking at the December 5 Nashville Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Vanderbilt and UT recognized for Hispanic outreach

The Tennessean reports in this article that Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee have been recognized by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education for their efforts in recruiting, retaining, educating and graduating Hispanic students.

"'It's an honor to receive this recognition,' UT Chancellor Loren Crabtree said. 'Our commitment to diversity is stronger than ever, and being included in this list speaks to the hard work of faculty and staff in nurturing, supporting and encouraging our Hispanic students.'"

UT Chancellor Loren Crabtree said that Hispanic freshman enrollment is up 26 percent from last year.

While Vandy and UT were among the 500 universities recognized for their Hispanic outreach, they did not make the list of top 100 schools graduating Hispanic students.

The criteria and list of schools can be found at

Bantu outnumber Hispanics at immigrant-friendly schools

The Nashville Scene reports in this article that Somali Bantu children outnumber Hispanic children at Nashville's Cora Howe Elementary and other federally assisted immigrant-friendly schools:

"Nashville educators first began noticing Bantu children in their classrooms toward the end of last school year, but the real influx came in September, when Somali Bantu children replaced Latino children as the most visible minority at Cora Howe Elementary and other schools that teach federally funded programs for non-native speakers."

Holiday Tango December 15

Tango Nashville will host "La Gran Milonga Holiday Argentine Tango Social" December 15 from 7 to 9 pm at Ibiza Night Club:

Toast with us farewell to 2005 and welcome with excitement a brand new 2006! Featuring celebration Tango performances by Tango Nashville's Troupe, plenty of dance and social time, authentic Argentine snacks (homemade "empanadas") AND a great selection of Tango music. Festive attire if you feel like it! Ibiza Night Club, 15128 Old Hickory Blvd., Nashville, TN 37211 (almost corner with Nolensville Pike, in the Hickory Trace Village strip mall where the Sherwin Williams store is). 615-331-0382.

Friday, December 9, 2005

Nashville at heart of "global interior"

The Carnegie Corporation of New York's Carnegie Report publication has published this article on Nashville's role in the national trend of immigration into the interior of the U.S. It is an in-depth article spanning five web pages. A shorter version can be found here on

"Nashville is part of a new American frontier sometimes called the 'global interior' that runs from Minnesota to Texas where immigrants and refugees have moved in unprecedented numbers since 1990. Of the nation's one hundred largest metropolitan areas, Nashville ranks first in the number of new immigrants arriving from 1991 to 1998 relative to the number of foreign-born counted there in 1990. Atlanta, Georgia is second and Louisville, Kentucky is third."

"'Nashville now has a stake in the immigration debate in a way that it hadn't before,' says Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies. The city's reaction to the large and sudden growth amidst the absence of a comprehensive national immigration policy has positioned Nashville as a model of dynamic and counterintuitive change in the transforming American landscape of immigrant and refugee resettlement."

"Frank Sharry, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Immigration Forum, said immigrants are drawn to Nashville because of its reputation for 'jobs, nice people, low crime and good schools. Immigrants want the same things we do.'"

"'Nashville is the only community I know in the United States where the Chamber of Commerce and the business community have stepped up and said 'Let's make this work,'' says Frank Sharry of the National Immigration Forum."

Disability services for the Hispanic community

On December 14, Tennessee Disability Pathfinder will host a presentation and lunch featuring disability services for the Hispanic community:

DISABILITIES AND SERVICES FOR THE HISPANIC COMMUNITY LUNCH. 8:30 AM - 2:00 PM, Knowles Senior Center, 174 Rains Avenue, (located at the state fairgrounds). For more information contact Claudia Avila-Lopez at (615) 322-7830 or Tennessee Disability Pathfinder is a statewide bilingual information and referral center at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Family Outreach Center.

Tennessee imports Costa Rican jobs

The Nashville Business Journal reports in this story that German Plastics Manufacturer Bavarian Polymers has purchased land in Dickson County, Tennessee to replace its manufacturing facility in Costa Rica, effectively importing jobs from Costa Rica to the Volunteer State.

"...Bavarian officials say they plan to run at full capacity, with 114 employees, by the end of 2006. Those new jobs will help stem the steady losses posted by Middle Tennessee's manufacturing sector this year. After several strong years earlier this decade, local factories have shed 700 jobs in the past year."

Bavarian Polymers "plans to use the site to make plastic extrusion window and door frames."

"...They were manufacturing in Costa Rica and getting killed in transportation costs."

"...the deal turned out to be a bit more complex than it appeared during the flirtation stage. Securing financing took some doing, given that none of Bavarian's partners are U.S. citizens."

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Nashville's emergent Hispanic musical tradition

The Nashville Rage published this article describing two Nashville clubs that cater to the Hispanic market, noting that some Hispanic Nashvillians long for more options:

"[R]egardless of the language being sung, Hispanic nightlife is familiar territory: dancing, drinking and dining."

"It's Saturday night at Latin dance club Ibiza, and the DJ calls for international shout-outs: 'Puerto Rico!' The crowd roars. 'Columbia! Honduras! Guatemala! Dominican Republic! Cuba!'"

"Ibiza's live performers come from as many countries as their patrons do. 'Our most popular group so far was N'Klabe, a young salsa group from Puerto Rico,' Santiago says."

"Live music is the cornerstone of entertainment at Coco Loco, another popular Latin nightclub on Nolensville Road. 'We've had bands from the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Columbia,' owner Santos Gonzales says. 'We also regularly have guest DJs from all over. We have a very multicultural clientele.'"

"Despite the variety of venues available, some Spanish-speaking Nashville residents say they think there's something missing. Hispanic Marketing Group owner Marcela Gomez says her friends usually end up hanging out at home on a Friday night. 'I'm not into reggaeton or any of that,' Gomez says. 'We really are lacking a place for Hispanics who have been here a while but still enjoy Latin entertainment.'"

Nashville also boasts versatile Hispanic musicians who play in more than just Hispanic clubs. This article in the Tennessean features a rich biographical portrait of Nashville Tejano musician Rafael Vasquez, who moved to Nashville 25 years ago and currently leads the band San Rafael.

Tennessean editorial on proposed border wall

The Tennessean published an editorial on a proposed plan to build a wall on the U.S./Mexico border:

"Forget the cost of a border fence, which the Bush administration puts at $8 billion. Forget the fact that other walls in history - the Berlin Wall comes to mind - succeeded only at being monumental symbols of oppression."

"A fence wouldn't work. It wouldn't prevent people from renting boats and sailing to U.S. ports. It wouldn't prevent them from entering the country from Canada. It wouldn't prevent people from tunneling under it, flying over it, or blowing up pieces of it and walking through the rubble."

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Mobile food trailer ban on hold; family businesses await decision

Photo by Susan Adcock for the Hispanic Nashville Notebook

The Metro City Council deferred the second reading of a bill to ban mobile food trailers, as reported in this article of the Nashville City Paper and this report by WTVF NewsChannel 5, and family-operated vendors who comply with the current rules wait to see if a change is still on the way.

"Jerry Rowland, director of Food Protection Services at Metro Health, said a compromise 'sounds good to us' and said Metro still prefers educating, rather than regulating, kitchen owners."

Rowland said that mobile food vendors had not taken advantage of free classes, sometimes offered in Spanish, that would better educate the vendors of the relevant regulations.

"[Bill sponsor Amanda] McClendon said she would likely support a compromise but said she wants trailers to work on a level playing field with restaurants situated in buildings, which she said must meet additional requirements such as Americans with Disabilities Act provisions."

In this Tennessean article, McClendon and co-sponsor Buck Dozier said that local health, fire, and codes agencies were offering to improve the way they work with the vendors.

An editorial in last week's Nashville Scene echoed popular sentiment that an all-out ban was overkill.

In an interview with the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, vendor Roberto Lopez of Tacos y Mariscos Lopez # 2 on Murfreesboro Road said that his customers, who are primarily but not exclusively Hispanic, universally tell him how good his food is, and that he's never had a customer get sick. He has had some bad health scores, but he says that normally his scores are in the low 90's. The Metro web site shows his last score at 95. Any deficiencies pointed out by inspectors are mostly little details, he says, but he corrects all of them.

Mr. Lopez gave the example that, one day, he was washing the pavement with a hose and some detergent, and an inspector said he couldn't wash the pavement that way without a drain. Mr. Lopez stopped, which is how he treats every issue that is pointed out to him. He said that in the past, inspections had occurred about once every six months, but a few months ago, inspectors came by four to six times in one month. Tacos y Mariscos Lopez # 2 passed all the inspections. Since he complies with the regulations, Mr. Lopez said that he has no reason to complain about them.

Photo by Susan Adcock for the Hispanic Nashville Notebook

Roberto Lopez is the second of many brothers. The first Lopez brother came to Nashville seven years ago and is a legal resident. Roberto came three years ago. Four of the brothers - Rafael, Roberto, Ignacio, and Felipe - own five taco stands in Nashville. Their stands in Nashville are Tacos y Mariscos Lopez #1 on Nolensville Road; #2 on Murfreesboro Road, #3 Gallatin, #5 Franklin, and #6 Nolensville. They all do well, but #1 is the most successful. They also have cousins who run a couple of other stands in Nashville - Eduardo Cervantes runs El Tapatio Mobile Unite at 4801 Nolensville Rd, and his brother Reymundo Cervantes runs Tacqueria Alteno, near Bell Road. Roberto has other brothers, a wife and daughter, and he preferred not to discuss them in this interview, but it became clear that whatever the Council does to vendors, this family is going to feel it.

Photo by Susan Adcock for the Hispanic Nashville Notebook

Tacos y Mariscos Lopez # 2 is open 365 days/year, from 9am to around midnight. Roberto and his brothers enjoy their work, having sold tacos in Mexico before coming to the U.S. Roberto is almost always around, and when it's real busy, he works on the chicken on the grill. He rents the adjacent building, an old dry cleaners, and the goal is to build his own building, bringing the kitchen inside and offering better service. He says he is all for competition, because competitors make you work even harder.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Vanderbilt research unearths ancient Peruvian irrigation canals

Vanderbilt News Service issued this press release about recent research in Peru:

Canals discovered in the Peruvian Andes dating back over 5,400 years offer long-sought proof that irrigation was at the heart of the development of one of the earth’s first civilizations.

The discovery by Vanderbilt University anthropologist Tom Dillehay and his colleagues, Herbert Eling, Instituto Naciona de Anthropolotica e Historia in Coahulila, Mexico, and Jack Rossen, Ithaca College, was reported in the Nov. 22 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The anthropologists discovered the canals in Peru’s upper middle Zana Valley, approximately 60 kilometers east of the Pacific coast. Preliminary results indicate one of the canals is over 6,700 years old, while another has been confirmed to be over 5,400 years old. They are the oldest such canals yet discovered in South America.

“Peru is one of the few places on the planet where there was independent development of civilization. One of the signatures of the beginning of civilization and complex society is intensive agriculture, where you have not only crops but also irrigation technology,” Dillehay, distinguished professor of anthropology and chair of the department, said. “That element—irrigation technology—was always missing in archaeological findings of early Andean civilization. We found it by looking farther up the valley away from the coastal plains and by excavating deeply.”

Anthropologists had presumed that the canals that helped support early Andean civilization had lain closer to the surface and were hence destroyed by human activity and nature over time. Dillehay and his team found that the canals had not been destroyed but had been buried by sediment. The team made its initial discovery of the canal system in 1989 and has been working since to uncover the broader picture of the canals and the civilization that they supported.

“Our findings indicate that people were building these canals and creating artificial wetlands—essentially garden plots—in the Andes over 5,400 years ago,” Dillehay said. “This was an important moment for this civilization as it established a codependency between the crops and the people, which allowed and encouraged larger groups of people to begin to settle down in one place.

“This type of agriculture also created leisure time, allowing people to do things such as crafts and to become involved in public ritual,” Dillehay continued. “What you see in a civilization after they start cultivating food and domesticating animals are changes in social life.”

The team uncovered four canals ranging in length from one to four kilometers. The canals are narrow, symmetric, shallow and U-shaped. They were lined with stones and small pebbles, and appear to be individually designed to take advantage of different periods of water availability. The canals were built along the edge of a terrace above a nearby stream and used gravity to deliver water downhill to the agricultural fields. A striking feature of the canals is that they are located on a very slight slope, indicating that their builders were able to engineer them to function hydraulically in a relatively sophisticated manner. All domestic sites found in the area lie within 2.5 kilometers of the canals and share tools, structures, dietary remains and other features, indicating they were part of the same society.

Nashville pitching its diversity to Nissan employees

nissanThe Nashville City Paper reports in this article that Nissan's employees in California are hearing the pitch that Nashville is a diverse city, in an effort to entice the employees to move with Nissan's headquarters to Cool Springs:

"Brian Courtney, vice president of communications for the Nashville chamber, said the resource center was organized by the Tennessee Economic Development Department with assistance from Prudential."

"He said organizations from the Nashville area are sending representatives to do two two-hour sessions a day on the quality of life of the Nashville region, including schools, shopping, entertainment, real estate and diversity."

Monday, December 5, 2005

Middle Tennessee shows strong support for Hispanic education

The Nashville City Paper and the Tennessean both reported on Hispanics in the school systems and adjustments schools are making to ensure their success:

from the Nashville City Paper article:

"Tennessee has the fourth fastest growing Hispanic population in the nation — a phenomenon that is a challenge to both the school systems and the Hispanic children trying to acclimate to them."

"In Davidson County, the graduation rate of Hispanic students is 40 percent, the lowest of any ethnic group."

"The number of Hispanic residents of school-age in Davidson County grew 380 percent between 1990 and 2000, while those poised to enter school in the next four years grew 521 percent, according to The New Latino South report from the Pew Hispanic Center."

"Metro schools’ English language learner (ELL) program has had great success helping non-English speaking students master the language."

"The Girl Scouts of Cumberland Valley in 1999 launched Hermanitas, a bilingual program at eight Metro schools for Hispanic girls to interact with others who can relate to what they are going through."

"Through the YMCA, Josias Arteaga and Camilo Rodriguez operate Hispanic Achievers, a weekend program for children kindergarten-age and up with a focus on academic enrichment, pre-university training and career exploration."

"Many Hispanic children, however, regardless of how well they excel in high school, cannot attend college or receive scholarships because they don’t have Social Security numbers."

"The majority of immigrants since 1995 lack legal status, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, and Tennessee is estimated to be home to as many as 150,000 undocumented Hispanic immigrants."

from the Tennessean article:

"What: Two Middle Tennessee systems recently received extra money to educate students from other countries who enroll in their schools. The funds, about $163,000, were awarded under the federal Emergency Immigrant Education Program."

"Why: Districts that are experiencing a significant increase of immigrant students were eligible to apply for the federal funds. The priority was given to districts who have little or no experience serving immigrant children."

Tuesday: Vanderbilt Center for the Americas hosts Conexion's "Celebration of Achievements"

The Vanderbilt News Service issued this press release announcing a "Celebration of Achievements" of Hispanic Middle Tennesseans who have participated in programs of home ownership, bilingual skills, and business leadership training:

Programs promoting home ownership, bilingual skills and business leadership training within the Middle Tennessee Hispanic community will be recognized Dec. 6 during Conexión Américas’ “Celebration of Achievements” at Vanderbilt University. The event, which is co-sponsored by the Center for the Americas at Vanderbilt and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant, will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the university’s Alumni Hall.

Conexión Américas, a Nashville nonprofit organization that promotes the integration of Hispanic families into the community, will recognize families who have bought houses through its Open Doors home ownership program, participated in its Spanish/English Language Exchange and taken part in the Prosperous Business leadership training program.

“Hispanic families value Home Ownership because it represents a solid commitment to their integration into the community,” said Jose Gonzalez, executive director of Conexión Américas. “Participants in the program are required to save toward their down payment and attend a home-buying class that gives them the tools to build their credit and become savvy about their future investments.”

The Language Exchange Program, which will be sponsored by Cracker Barrel in 2006, is an initiative that pairs two individuals—a Spanish speaker and an English speaker—so that they can help each other improve their foreign language skills. The program also fosters intercultural exchange between Tennesseans and Latino immigrants.

“There is a myth going around that Hispanics coming to our city don’t want to learn English. This is absolutely not true,” said María Clara Mejía, director of socio-cultural integration for Conexión Américas. “In working with the Latino immigrant community every day, we witness that one of their top priorities is to learn the language. They understand that this is of great importance to their success in building a life in this country.” Conversely, a growing number of Tennesseans who realize the competitive advantage of bilingual skills and the importance of becoming familiar with Hispanic American cultures are interested in learning Spanish. Mejía said that this helps build bridges between the non-Hispanic local communities and their Latino neighbors.

“Nashville today is, in many respects, a microcosm of the Americas,” said Vera Kutzinski, director of the Center for the Americas at Vanderbilt. “Local organizations such as Conexión Américas have worked hard to make Nashville a place where cultural differences do not isolate and divide people.”

The Language Exchange Program is possible thanks to the collaboration of Vanderbilt students who are majoring in Spanish, attending classes about Latin America and working on service-learning projects; volunteers from the Center for Non Profit Management; and representatives from Bilingual Latinos, all of whom are committed to helping newcomers improve their language skills.

Prosperous Business is a basic four-month business course geared toward Hispanics who want to start their own businesses. Areas covered include registering a new business, hiring employees and marketing a start-up company.

“We feel very fortunate about the level of support and commitment that we have received from the Nashville community,” said Mejía. “People understand the importance of what we are doing; speaking the language is a crucial step in the integration of Hispanic families into Tennessee, while starting a business and owning a home is fulfilling their American dream.”

Nashville uniform company makes border patrol clothing in Mexico

The Nashville City Paper reports in this article that Nashville-based VF Solutions makes U.S. Border Patrol uniforms in Mexico, and some Washington politicians want to change the law to require that they be made in the U.S.:

"Complaints from border officers about their attire have prompted at least two U.S. congressmen to call for a new law requiring the uniforms to be made in the United States."

"The shirts and pants are made by Nashville’s VF Solutions under a contract with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. VF is allowed to subcontract work in Mexico, Canada and the Dominican Republic."

"Agency officials would not release details about their contract with VF Solutions, but said the multi-year contract was awarded in accordance with federal acquisition regulations that seek out the best value for the government. Security concerns have been addressed, according to a prepared statement released by the agency."

"Last year, Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi introduced legislation requiring all Border Patrol uniforms to be manufactured in the United States, but the bill never passed."

Nashville firm gets part of NAFTA Superhighway project

The Memphis Business Journal reports in this article that Nashville's K.S. Ware has been awarded a contract to work on a portion of I-69, the so-called "NAFTA Superhighway" project that will create an interstate corridor from Canada to the Texas/Mexico border through the western edge of Tennessee:

"[Memphis firm] Buchart-Horn will design a five-mile section of Interstate-69 between Millington and Cuba-Woodstock Road north of Memphis, the firm announced Wednesday."

"Joining Buchart-Horn on this project will be Burns Cooley Dennis of Memphis, and K.S. Ware of Nashville, who will provide subsurface investigations. Memphis' THY will provide survey services."

Previous reporting on I-69 appeared in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook in this August story.

Friday, December 2, 2005

NAPE and Garcia meet with Hispanic community

The Nashville Alliance for Public Education (NAPE) and Dr. Pedro Garcia, Director of Metro Schools met this week for lunch with a diverse group of 21 Hispanic residents of Nashville. The meeting, in which residents learned about the activities of NAPE and had direct dialog with Dr. Garcia, was coordinated by Jose Gonzalez, member of the Board of NAPE and Director of Conexion Americas, and was hosted at Glencliff High School.

As much as a third of the audience members were parents with children currently enrolled in Metro Schools. A number of concerns, interests and fresh ideas were presented, and future meetings involving the Hispanic community are planned.

Story by Cesar Muedas for the Hispanic Nashville Notebook

Monday event honors Greg Rodriguez, 1954-2005

Five months after his death and memorial service, friends of fallen Tennessee Hispanic Chamber* leader Greg Rodriguez are getting together on his birthday at the Renaissance Hotel. The celebration will include awards for Hispanic students, and entertainment and food will be provided.

Nashville Honors Late Hispanic Chamber President at Renaissance Hotel

On Monday, December 5, 2005, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm, on the 3rd. floor of the Renaissance Hotel, 611 Commerce Street, Ms. Vicky Vargas and Friends will celebrate Greg Rodriguez, Jr.'s, birthday in memory of his passing earlier this year. This event is sponsored by the Renaissance Hotel. ALL are welcome to join in the celebration. This event is FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBIC.

On June 8, 2005, Nashville and Tennessee lost a great man, a great leader, and a great friend, Greg Rodriguez, Jr., President of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Greg, as all his friends and acquaintances knew him, left behind a very strong legacy. Greg Rodriguez, Jr., was a visionary leader of the Hispanic community in Tennessee. In 1999, he founded the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, headquartered in Nashville, TN, and served as President of the Chamber until he passed away. A complete obituary of Greg Rodriguez, Jr., can be found at the end of this email, or at

The celebration will feature awards for outstanding Hispanic students, live music and food. RSVP is appreciated to, but walk-ups are welcome too.

For more information on Greg Rodriguez, Jr., visit

*There are two Hispanic chambers of commerce in Nashville: the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Nashville-based Louisiana Pacific expands in Chile

In this press release, Nashville-based Louisiana Pacific announces expanded operations in Chile:

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation announced that it will be expanding operations in Chile to serve growing markets for oriented strand board (OSB) based building products outside of North America.

Under the expansion plan, LP will move and upgrade the equipment in a previously closed OSB mill in Montrose, Colorado to Chile. The new mill will have an annual OSB production capacity of approximately 160 million square feet, and serve customers in Chile, as well as other countries in South America and growing international markets outside of North America.

LP Chile currently operates an OSB panel and specialty products facility in Panguipulli, Chile with a sales and support office in Santiago. The Panguipulli mill began operations in 2000, and has an annual production capacity of 135 million square feet.

"We have been very pleased with the success of our Chilean operations," said Harold Stanton, Executive Vice President, Specialty Products and Sales. "LP Chile has been a catalyst for migrating building practices from masonry to wood-frame construction. Frame construction using LP OSB structural panels provides homes at 70 percent of the cost of traditional masonry."

Stanton concluded, "Our established production and marketing presence in Chile provides a solid platform for the expansion of LP's international business strategy."

Nashville Conflict Resolution Center brings conflict resolution tool to Hispanic Nashville

The Nashville Conflict Resolution Center sent out this invitation to a Community Forum to introduce mediation as a conflict resolution tool available to Nashville's Hispanic community:

Conflict Resolution Across Cultures
in the Latino/Hispanic Community

The Nashville Conflict Resolution Center
Invites you to attend
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
11:30 am-1:00 pm
Aurora Bakery – 3725-A Nolensville Road, Nashville, Tennessee


11:30-Noon: Convene, network, get your lunch, and settle in for an invigorating program. (Lunch will be provided.)
Noon-12:30: Speakers present information about NCRC and its partners, as well as a brief Mock Mediation.
12:30-1:00: Lively discussion about current needs in the Latino community and how we can work together to provide better services and leadership.


The aim of this project is to improve cross-cultural relations in the Nashville Area, with a focus on the growing Latino population. We will facilitate a dialogue, initially with local leaders in the Latino community, so that we can better understand the needs. Additionally, we will provide information and ideas about the use of mediation and conflict resolution to help people navigate the daily challenges of life in Nashville.


Our Forum on December 6 is the first of four community meetings in the next twelve months. It will be a gathering of community leaders and professionals both from the private sector, and from non-profit agencies and government.


This project is for all of us. We need your voice and your ideas. You will hear important information about existing and potential mediation programs and organizations that offer these services. And of course, everyone in attendance will benefit from meeting and networking with other community leaders.


The two Project Coordinators are Leoncio Dominguez and Nelly Baker, both bilingual in Spanish and English, and they will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the program. Leoncio can be reached at (615) 480-4859, or by E-mail at Nelly can be reached at (615) 830-7256 or by E-mail at

There is no cost to attend, and lunch will be provided free of charge. If you are planning to attend, we would appreciate hearing from you so that we plan accordingly. However, pre-registration is not required. Please invite others who are interested and who would add an important voice and viewpoint.
Our goal is to ensure a diversity of voices and viewpoints.

Funding for this project provided in part from the National Association for
Community Mediation, through a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Nashville Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC)

NCRC is a Tennessee non-profit organization which began as an outreach effort of the Nashville Bar Association. NCRC seeks to improve the lives of Nashville area residents, particularly those in under-served communities or otherwise disadvantaged in the judicial system, by providing a broad range of no- or low-cost mediation services and teaching effective, non-violent conflict resolution skills.

Mediation is private, it is voluntary, and it is empowering – it helps people resolve their conflicts peacefully and constructively. NCRC mediators work with Nashville’s courts, businesses, and residents to achieve resolution in a variety of civil, family, and victim-offender conflicts. We offer our services in both Spanish and English.


Mediation is a private, confidential, and voluntary process that allows participants to settle their own conflicts. Almost any type of conflict may be resolved through mediation as long as the participants are willing to communicate with one another aided by a trained, impartial third person—a mediator.


You can call and leave us a message at (615) 242-9272, or send us an E-mail at:
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