Best Community Space Orange County 2013 - El Centro Cultural de México
313 N. Birch St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
After years of wandering the proverbial desert, looking for a landlord who wouldn't kick them out by police or gentrifiers' request, El Centro Cultural de México has found a temporary space as they gather funds to finally buy a building. But despite finding resistance all these years . . . actually, it's because of this resistance El Centro has become one of the most influential finishing schools you've never heard of. From this space has emerged Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, the OC DREAM Team, Noche de Altares (the largest Dia de los Muertos festival in Orange County), Colectivo Tonantín, and organizers who have gone on to work for such local progressive heavyweights as Latino Health Access and Orange County Communites Organized for Responsible Development. When not functioning as a breeding ground for radicals, El Centro has continued to offer free community workshops, art and music lessons, and a vibrant open mic and film night. And just in case the po-po ever wants to get fresh, its self-defense classes are free of charge.