2% For The Loisaida Center
Supporting the Latin community in Loisaida with impactful projects and initiatives.
As part of our ongoing commitment to community, Loisa donates 2% of sales each month to a social or food justice organization. For Latin Heritage Month (Sept 15-Oct 15), we have chosen to support our friends at the Loisaida Center, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the Latin community in the Loisaida (a.k.a Lower East Side) neighborhood of NYC. Our name Loisa was inspired by Loisaida and the products its community uses to cook their food every day. We are proud to be elevating the Loisaida Center and celebrating the amazing work they do.
Loisaida, Inc. began as a grassroots movement in the Lower East Side (also known as the LES) led by Puerto Rican activists and Hispanic residents in the mid 1970’s. This developed from a need to combat the effects of rampant violence, drugs, gangs, and poverty facing the neighborhood children and families. Later in 1978, Loisaida, Inc. was formally incorporated in New York state as a local development corporation, with the mission to address the serious economic and social disenfranchisement of poor and low-income Latin residents, with employment and training opportunities, comprehensive youth development initiatives, as well as neighborhood revitalization activities that positively highlight the rich culture, heritage, and contribution of the Puerto Rican and Latin American community in this city.
However, in 2008 Loisaida, Inc. faced eviction from its original quarters at the 709 East 9th Street Community Center, then a city-owned property, which had been its home since its inception. The building, which also housed a daycare center, had been put up for development in a neighborhood that was quickly gentrifying. However, with local community support the Community District Board 3 (CBD 3), unanimously passed a resolution in support of Loisaida, Inc. and required that it be made part of any development plan or use of the 709 East 9th Street property.
During September 2012, in order to strengthen its capacity to secure its new center’s sustainability, Loisaida, Inc. became an affiliate of the Acacia Network, a premier health, housing, and economic development organization; the largest Hispanic-based non-profit community development organization in New York State, and the second largest in the United States. The new Loisaida, Inc. Center builds upon the organization’s 36 year history of developing award-winning innovative programs in education, arts and culture, and community development.
Loisaida Inc. expands on its original mission to further highlight the cultural heritage, history and contributions made by Latin, Black, Asian-American and immigrant communities in New York City focusing on producing place-keeping programs, collaborations and activities for our intergenerational community. We offer accessible arts & cultural programs and initiatives at the intersection of media, technology, social and environmental justice.
Through its multi-purpose space, the Loisaida, Inc. Center provides space, mentorship, resources and opportunities to emerging community leaders, artists, and creators working in diverse disciplines, promotes a vibrant social and community life, and serves as an incubator for self-sustainable initiatives. Our approach celebrates the urban surroundings, grassroots invention and immigrant spirit of the Loisaida neighborhood in its dedication to highlight our cultural vitality and contributions to NYC.
La Cocina de Loisaida
La Cocina de Loisaida is a monthly in-person cooking class series presented by Loisaida, Inc. and Essex Market, where longtime Lower East Sider and home chef María Bído shares authentic Puerto Rican recipes and cooking techniques passed down by her abuela — all based in authentic Puerto Rican flavors and ingredients from Essex Market. The series is presented with the collective mission to preserve and pass down culinary heritage from the Lower East Side community.
In María’s own words, “This class is so important because it allows Loisaida to help keep the Puerto Rican traditions alive in the Diaspora. So many people tell me that they do not have elders to show them how to make the recipes that are so important in our cultura. It’s a blessing to be able to share the recipes and techniques to keep the traditions alive in NYC as many first and second generation Puerto Ricans unfortunately do not have someone to show them.”
The program is a fan favorite with classes often selling out weeks before. Some student testimonials include:
“This class was an absolute delight to experience. Maria is a natural teacher, and was incredibly thoughtful in how she led things, keeping everyone engaged with a learning-by-doing approach while sharing her family connection to her craft, and cultivating a lovely group atmosphere of eager students.”
“This was a super amazing experience. The food was delicious. Maria made it so interesting talking about Puerto Rico and the ancestors and so much more.”
“Mía’s Cocína - Puerto Rican Food was such an amazing experience. We learned some history of the food we were cooking in the class. We got to cook delicious vegan Puerto Rican food and it felt like we were cooking in a community kitchen.”
The Fall 2023 session kicks off with a Hispanic Heritage Month lesson on September 15th. In this new season, you can learn to create the Puerto Rican national dish (arroz con gandules), arroz con pollo, pasteles, coquito, and several other dishes that are a phenomenal combination of traditional Caribbean flavors! View the full class schedule and get tickets for upcoming lessons by visiting our website.
Media Used for Justice Equity and Respect (M.U.J.E.R.) is a program that brings a unique opportunity for community members age 18-35 to lead an independent media production project to share a personal story, learn to develop strategic messaging, work on script writing, editing, and more. The program is currently led by actress, director, choreographer, and producer María Torres-O'Connor.
Participants learn how to break down media messages, record their own stories, build strategic messaging & scriptwriting, learn video production, and more – all while gaining experience from closely working with professionals in the field of Media and Entertainment and earning a modest stipend. Registration for the Fall 2023 semester is now open!
Learn more and apply for the M.U.J.E.R. program here.
ECOLIBRIUM is a multi-disciplinary climate science literacy and environmental justice project by Loisaida, Inc. that studies, surveys, and analyzes environmental conditions at the hyper-local level with the goal of improving public health and quality of life for our neighborhood and continuous Lower Manhattan community.
ECOLIBRIUM has assembled a diverse, multigenerational team of local and national collaborators, college students, recent graduates, high school seniors, and professionals working in the fields of data science, architecture and engineering who all seek to improve public health and monitor environmental conditions in the Lower East Side (“Loisaida”) neighborhood. The project is funded through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Environmental Justice award.
Learn more about ECOLIBRIUM here.
The Loisaida Artist In Residence program (LAIR) is a platform for contemporary, emerging artists and cultural producers working in a variety of disciplines like: music, theater, performance art, poetry, dance, visual arts, creative writing, cultural research, and more. The residency program has a local focus, yet is international in scope. Selection criteria favors projects that explore/reflect a Latin sensibility, the challenges of our city, and engage Spanish or multi-lingual aspects. Adaptability has always been part of the immigrant ethos of the Lower East Side; thus there is a focus on artists working around questions/issues of connection, memory, community, change, displacement, mobilization, sovereignty and territoriality.
Our Spring 2023 artist-in-residence, Brianna N. Love, is a furniture, spatial, and material designer and researcher with a focus on sustainability. For her residency project, Daring Wood, Brianna is interested in developing a material made from sawdust that is both compostable or recyclable, and safe to use around the house. Her plan is to create various household objects from this material and test its limits.
Learn more and apply for the LAIR program here.
Since 1987, the Loisaida Festival has been the largest community celebration festival event in Lower Manhattan, and grows annually in size, excitement, and impact. Produced by Loisaida, Inc., founded in 1978, and one of the last remaining Puerto Rican community organizations in the neighborhood, the Loisaida Festival epitomizes over four decades of the struggle and success of the Puerto Rican/Nuyorican diaspora that settled in the Lower East Side as had thousands of immigrants and migrants over the 19th and 20th Century. This historic place – the Lower East Side – our ‘Loisaida,’ as poet, Bimbo Rivas, coined it in the 70’s, is still the ‘Gateway’ to America. It is a community that embraces diversity, welcomes difference, celebrates arts and culture, and preserves, in amber and performance, the voice of all that came through this LES portal to settle in this country.
The Loisaida Festival provides a platform to celebrate arts & culture through music, dance, arts, cuisine, and other cultural manifestations representative of the diverse ethnic groups and nationalities that make up the fabric of the neighborhood. It also serves as a vehicle to share information and spread awareness about local community and city-wide initiatives and resources as well as year-round community programming by Loisaida, Inc.
Learn more about the Loisaida Festival here.
We’re only able to do what we do because people want to help us do it. Please consider making a tax deductible donation today and support our efforts in creating engaging programming for audiences of all ages. Learn more about donating here.
1. Loisaida Center archives (Photographer: Marlis Momber)
2. Loisaida Center
3. Vic Casiano, Big Apple Photography, 2022
4. Vic Casiano, Big Apple Photography, 2022
5. Loisaida Center
6. Loisaida Center
7. Andre Cirilo, 2023