Each year, the Durfee Foundation selects, celebrates, and invests in a handful of people who are making Los Angeles a better place. Gregory Rodriguez is one of these people; he's working to develop a new form of journalism revolving around "attachment" and "place" in Los Angeles.
Rodriguez is the Executive Director and Publisher of Zócalo Public Square, a nonprofit that blends live events with humanities journalism. He and his staff organize free public events and conferences, while publishing daily journalism syndicated to over 100 media outlets across the country. Zócalo, which means “public square" in Spanish, hosted 70 events in 11 cities at 27 different venues in 2012, reaching as far as Shanghai and Berlin. Zócalo describes its approach as broad-minded, accessible, nonpartisan, diverse, and energetic.
Over the years, Rodriguez has been an op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times and written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Time, and The Atlantic. He's also the author of Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America.
The Durfee Foundation decided to invest time and money into Rodriguez because he promises to uncover and develop a new form of journalism in America. According to Rodriguez, L.A.'s cultural landscape is still incredibly segregated despite all of the community organizations, cultural opportunities, and educational resources that exist. His vision is to use journalism to invigorate and integrate the city's public discourse.
Durfee's Stanton Fellowship Program provides six fellows with $75,000 each over a two-year period to contemplate intractable problems in their sector, and devise innovative solutions. Funds can be used for travel, research, salaries, consultants’ fees or other expenses related to the Fellowship inquiry. “Over time, we hope the Stanton Fellows will help to chart a new course for Los Angeles.” said Clair Peeps, Executive Director for the Durfee Foundation.
These fellowships were designed to help leaders brainstorm and problem solve their way through big picture issues in a variety of fields including health, arts, environment, economy, or housing. “They are among L.A.'s most innovative thinkers, and each is pursuing a project vital to the well-being of people in Los Angeles,” said Carrie Avery, President of the Durfee Foundation. To do so, the fellows must duck out of their pressing day-to-day demands for about three months to fully devote themselves to solving the city's unsolvable problems.
Other Stanton Fellowship recipients include:
Omar Bronson, Executive Director of the LA River Revitalization Corporation looking to create a civic movement to connect the 51-mile LA River greenway
Debra Duardo, Executive Director of Student Health & Human Services for the LA Unified School District looking to engage parent involvement to combat K-1 absenteeism
Madeline Janis, Co-Founder and National Policy Director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy looking to study how investing in transportation infrastructure can boost domestic manufacturing
Joe Lyou, President and CEO of the Coalition for Clean Air looking to develop a zero and near-zero emission freight technology system in Los Angeles
Adam Murray, Executive Director of the Inner City Law Center looking to study how legal services agencies should focus their limited services to fight poverty