When it comes to your health, your zip code is more important than your genetic code. Place matters for health because where you live determines how you live – whether you have access to healthy food, quality jobs, affordable housing, and high performing schools, and so forth. Place also shapes your sense of belonging, particularly for children. Neighborhood conditions can affirm one’s sense of self-worth or reinforce feelings of hopelessness and second-class citizenship. That is why The California Endowment launched Building Healthy Communities — a 10-year investment in 14 low income communities designed to begin undoing the root causes of poor health and build agency to change the odds for low income Californians. ELACC is proud to represent Boyle Heights as part of this initiative.

One component of Building Healthy Communities is a comic book series, How Did We Get Here, profiling each of the 14 communities in the program. Together, they tell the story of California’s future — a story of dignity and inclusion, where everyone belongs and has the opportunity to live to their full potential.

For the Boyle Heights comic written by Eric M. Esquival, we were proud to tell the story of community members Caridad Vasquez, Gemma Sandoval, Kathy Matsouka, and Rudy Castillo, with contributions from ELACC team members Quetzal Flores, Carla De Paz, and Carmina Calderon, and illustrations by Jules Rivera. This graphic novel tells a story of different histories coming together to form one community with multiple experiences and yet a linked destiny. As this graphic novel illustrates, unhealthy neighborhood conditions are the result of discriminatory policies by decision makers and long-term disinvestment of public and private dollars. But, the future is not yet written. Despite all of the challenges facing Boyle Heights, this is a story of hope. As these illustrations so beautifully depict, residents are coming together to change the story, because everyone deserves to live in healthy neighborhoods.

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Click here to download the comic book.