February 22, 2021

Community: Kendra Lopez

I first noticed Kendra Lopez; a Fresno native, Fresno State and FIDM alum, when KSEE 24 ran a story on 9372 Run, a local running community based in downtown Fresno. Turns out she was a key factor in making that happen

Lopez came back up to Fresno about a year and a half ago after spending nearly a decade in the Pico-Union neighborhood immediately west of Downtown Los Angeles. In the last few months Kendra has started her own running group, Fresno Art Run which recently partnered up with The 559 Mural Project, created Central Valley Community Cookouts— a community cookout inspired by Heleo Leyva, was selected to become a brand ambassador for Brooks Running “Run Happy Team” for 2021, and set up a personal creative outlet called My Day In Fresno.

During her time in L.A. Kendra wore many hats; a student at FIDM, retail worker, cleaning AirBnB’s, brand ambassador, visual merchandiser at Macy’s, marketing coordinator for a large Kombucha brand— and in 2011 discovered the “DTLA Running Group” through Meetup.com which she helped grow by hosting an additional night introducing a “snails pace” group option for new runners to ease them in at a pace that was comfortable for them. On top of that, Lopez was taking photos and helping run the group’s Instragram account, organized social events to bring everyone together, and was a main leader of contact for information on all things DTLA for people new to the area and for those visiting. Additionally, on the non-profit, front Kendra helped launch the Team Homeboy Industry Back On My Feet chapter in L.A. and knows first hand how running can create a community that offers compassion, hope, and the empowerment of individuals.

Coming Back to Fresno

What prompted you to come back to Fresno?
I felt like I experienced everything I needed to, I was in starting my 30’s and really just wanted to be close to home and slow down a bit! I needed to gather myself and understand what my new evolving identity would be and how I could use my skills in my hometown! 

What do you hope to accomplish in Fresno?
Just really expose all that we have to offer whether it’s our running culture or unraveling how unique it is and share it with others. And hopefully really share my insights and background to help elevate the conversation whether in marketing the running community involvement and be a resource to others!

Fresno Art Run

What is/what birthed Fresno Art Run? & when did it begin?
Fresno Art Run started September 3rd  by running to the “Fresno Proud” mural specifically starting on the east side to show the community that we can run/walk into downtown to see art. 

What is FAR’s goal?
Exploring different pockets of Fresno with the goal to promote health and wellness while exploring Art (murals/architecture/churches/landmarks).

Central Valley Community Cookouts

Inspired by Heleo Leyva, Central Valley Community Cookouts is a community driven movement aiming to provide a hot gratitude meal to essential farmworkers as a way to thank them for their hard work. 

In its inaugural event that took place early December of last year in rural Selma they were able to provide 150 meals, PPE, socks, beanies, clothing donations, and resources for health coverage. 

When it came to gathering items like hats and gloves for the cold weather, Lopez says she posted a call to action on social media. She also partnered with Ricardo Castorena from [Binational Central California], an organization that provides education on COVID along with PPE to farm workers in the Valley (Bolanos). Another notable mention, Castorena takes on a large role with MLTV Movimiento Latino, who’s focus is to entertain the central valley and promote awareness to those that don’t often receive the resources necessary to thrive in our society 

CVCC’s goal is to have 4-6 cookouts from a grassroots efforts in rural towns that are underserved.

A third cookout has already been scheduled to take place on Friday Feb. 26th in Del Rey

We had a generous vendor who sold Tamales to fundraise for two causes she believed in. She donated half of her proceeds to the next cookout. Since she is from the small town of Del Rey I worked with our contact to make it happen in Del Rey. Community giving back to community and I’m just the connecting piece that will pull it all together.

At this time, CVCC is the only satellite of Leyva’s Community Cookouts which is originally based in East Hollywood.

Brooks Running

What is your connection to Brooks?
I started wearing Brooks 5 years ago. I love the styles and I feel they provide the most comfort and support for me.

I fell in love more with them when I ran the New York City marathon and seen that they did a exclusive show design for Des Linden, a badass female runner.

What does it mean to be a part of the Run Happy Team?
I seen the “Run Happy” opportunity in October and was so inspired that they are looking for runners to share the brand and be a part of the Run Happy Team nationwide. 

I applied and didn’t think anything about it until I found out after Christmas. 

For me Run Happy is sharing my happiness for running and art here in the valley. Putting Fresno and all that we have here and sharing it. Showing that we can run in areas not common and explore with others.

What do you like most/appreciate most about Brooks?
Being that the pandemic was tough on a lot of us I felt that if running can make you feel a little normal do it. Show how happy and good you feel by having the opportunity/space to explore art locally and push yourself and feel better!

I appreciate how inclusive Brooks is. As a female Latina in her 30’s not typically seen as a commercial runner they are investing in runners that are shaking up things in communities all over the country! Having an opportunity to identify with fellow runners of all backgrounds really inspires me to in return “not be pushy of the brand to others” but have a genuine conversation of how I relate and love the brand!

Creativity

As a creative, what are your creative goals for 2021?
As a creative I hope to really learn how to use a professional camera. I’ve had the opportunity to capture the city on a run and would love to work on a couple of projects that are a representation of Fresno. Hoping to take some of my iPhone 6 shots to print to showcase some historic images that may no longer exist due to the gradual changes of the city. 

My creative goal. Would be collaborate locally to see if we can see a “movement mural” that is representative of health and wellness in Fresno. So many people walk, run, bike I would love to see a mural representing the time of change. To encourage others to get active.

Other Goals

You have a wonderful idea for a non-profit. What is it?
Have a running group similar to the “Back on My Feet” chapter here in Fresno. With the Poverello House, Union Rescue Mission, or US Vets. If not something similar to the model. 

It uses running to help members transition from homelessness, addiction, or other issues. It helps people through health and wellness and provide a structure as they go through their specific programs. Giving them the skills and confidence to work on their health and wellness while being accountable and learning along the way!

A Message From Kendra Lopez

“If you could experience your town on foot. See what local businesses exist, share your finds with your community. Inspire your kids, and youth that it could be cool to get active and enjoy safely all that we have around.

If you left and came back and learned something share it with the town that raised you. You’d be surprised how much of a difference you could make whether big or small. Keep on pushing, and reaching. If it does not exist create it. It only takes one person to show up.”

Links
@JustKendraLopez
@MyDayInFresno
@Fresno_Art_Run
@CentralValleyCommunityCookouts

Works Cited
Bolanos, M. (2020, December 04). LA Street vendor Brings COMMUNITY Cookout to San Joaquin Valley farm workers. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from https://www.kvpr.org/post/la-street-vendor-brings-community-cookout-san-joaquin-valley-farm-workers#stream/0

February 8, 2021

Pet Photography

Something I enjoy doing is wandering around with a film camera and taking pictures of scenes and people who catch my eye. Having a camera on hand in the street is a bit of an all-access pass when it comes to interacting with strangers, and for whatever reason it also manages to shake away the shy.

The image above took place in downtown L.A. I had arrived early to an event so to kill some time I took a couple laps around a few blocks. The dog and human were doing the same thing; except they were both at work— meeting cars in the middle of the street and handing them boxes of goods. The two were an extension of each other. Not having any pets growing up it was this moment where I first noticed the human-pet relationship out in the urban wild.

Months later, a friend showed me something they found on Pintrest; a studio portrait of a human interacting with their fluffy friend, and asked if I would be up for recreating it. It genuinely ended up being some of the most fun I’ve had in the studio.

Pets are members of the family. All too often stories come up that start with, "I had a dog who would..." or "our childhood cat had this habit of..." It's important to create portraits that capture the spirit of our furry companions.

December 9, 2020

Audrey Eckroth

NXL Las Vegas 2020 | NorCal Disruption took 1st Place in Division 3.

I first noticed Audrey Eckroth at the Northern California AFPL events playing on a team called Grrl On Grrl. She was fearless and had no problem playing heads up with the opposing guys in the center of the field. When I got a chance to talk to her, I noticed how little attention I had been paying to the tournament scene. Audrey’s story goes deep.

How did you hear about paintball and when did you get started?

I started back in 2006. There was a new paintball field in Lodi called Enemy Paintball and we had three airball fields on super nice grass. Played once and was hooked on it ever since. I would ref on Friday and Saturday then play on Sunday. I started playing six months after my mom died to help bring myself back to life and find something else to love so she wouldn’t be on my mind 24/7.

What are some of the teams you have played for in the past?

I have been on a lot of teams but my main ones were Grrl On Grrl, DMG, Norcal Infamous and Norcal Disruption. I have played from divisions D5-D1. Played on Femmes Fatales for one event and Destiny for a few also. 

WCPPL #2 2020 @ Ambush Paintball Park, Moorepark CA

How often do you play?

I play every weekend sometimes three times a week, but I like doing double weekends. I play has much as possible. I love stepping onto the field and getting stronger and better. It’s my way to escape on the weekends without worrying about anything.

There have been a couple events where I would play in two different divisions in the same day, and a few times I even played on three teams in one day. It’s fun like I said— I love playing as much as I can but it’s tough. I’m always moving and don’t have much time to enjoy it with my team and friends. But it’s doable and I don’t mind doing it sometimes.

On a typical weekend, which field are you at?

I’m usually always at Davis and Fairfield the most with my team Norcal Disruption, but I love going to Capital Edge in Sac and Extreme in Modesto. Love trying out new fields and meeting new people and the way different teams play.

Do you have a role model?

Don’t have just one role model, I have a few, but my favorite I would have to say Scott Kemp and for a girl I would say I looked up to Bea Young when I was new to this sport.

WCPPL #2 2020 @ Ambush Paintball Park, Moorepark CA

How would you describe your style of play?

My style of play is usually up the gut. Usually when a team needs a 50 player  they would contact me and see if I’m free to guest with them. I used to be a D-side player or someone who stays back and lanes but the 50 is so much more fun and I can do so much.

Did the “W” have any influence?

When we had the W on the field that would be my first time doing the 50 moves ‘cause it was super easy to get to but it was always a 50/50 chance one of you would get out. Always caution the 50 when the W was in the game. Kind of happy we had it or I would still be on the D-side and home. Now I’m a killer up the gut.

Do you feel additional pressure competing in a male-majority sport?

First when I was new it was hard to get guys to respect you. After playing for 15 years I think I play like one of the guys and I can keep up with them. most guys are afraid of me now if they see me on the other side of the field and it’s a good feeling. Usually they’ll be like “ball one,” joking around but not anymore. 

WCPPL #2 2020 @ Ambush Paintball Park, Moorepark CA

The league knows you as a player who is effective up the center. How does it feel knowing the other team braces themselves when you line up?

A lot of teams know me for going up the gut but that won’t stop me. I keep doing what I’m doing until they stop me and usually they cant. I usually never get shot off break unless its super open.