Cheers to Chicano Culture
Erika and Eunice invite you into their soulful conversation with San Diegan brewery owner and economic-development expert David Favela. They explore how cultural representation can unlock the power of design at any scale, from our neighborhoods to the beers we drink. They identify key ingredients for authentic design excellence and remind you that “you are cool.”
“Chicano or Chicana is a chosen identity of some Mexican Americans in the United States. The term became widely used during the Chicano Movement of the 1960s by many Mexican Americans to express a political stance founded on pride in a shared cultural, ethnic, and community identity.”
- “Is It Hispanic, Chicano/Chicana, Latino/Latina, or Latinx?,” GENIAL Summit, Exploratorium, 2017
“The term Chicano itself sort of came to mean not only Mexican American, but really, like, it was a term for a politically empowered one, you know, kind of radical.”
- Adrian Florido, “You Say Chicano, I Say …” Code Switch, NPR
“ Originally wealthier Mexican Americans used the term as a pejorative, a way to describe Mexican Americans of lower social standing (likely with some racial overtones). But it wasn’t until the outbreak of the civil rights movement in the 1960s that the term ‘Chicano’ became popular. Students walked out in protest at public schools from Crystal City, Texas, to East Los Angeles.”
- Roque Planas, “Chicano: What Does the Word Mean and Where Does It Come From?,” Huffington Post, 2012
Over the last century, this San Diego neighborhood has transformed to reflect economic, zoning, and environmental changes.
- A brief history of the Chicano Park takeover by the Stewards of Chicano Park.
- A 2003 EPA Case Study on Barrio Logan, documenting community history and environmental challenges and successes.
- The City of San Diego 2011 Barrio Logan Historical Resources Survey shares archival research, data analysis, and historical context, including some great maps!.
- A 2012 EPA Case Study focuses on smart growth and how Barrio Logan is exemplary in encouraging community and stakeholder collaboration.
- In 2021, 93.5 percent of brewery owners in the United States were white, while 2.2 percent are Hispanic, Latinx, or of Spanish origin. (Brewers Association)
- In 2018, 85.5 percent of craft-beer drinkers were white, while 68.7 percent of the U.S. population (over 21) were white. (Brewers Association)
- Craft-beer consumption is associated with higher socioeconomic indicators such as race, income, and education. (Tremblay and Tremblay 2009 and 2011; Florida 2012)
A 2014 Journal of Neuroscience article shows a direct link between the region of the brain responsible for taste memory and the area responsible for encoding the time and place we experienced the taste.
Ratatouille Pepino Moment” Recipes:
Eunice Wong: Inhabit is a show about power, the power, the power of design.
[“Hasta la Proxima” by Little Island Leap / Epidemic Sound starts.]
Erika Eitland: Welcome to inhabit we have missed you and welcome to Summer Jam. I’m Dr. Erika Eitland. Eunice. Hello, so wonderful to have you.
Eunice Wong: Hello. Hello.
Erika Eitland: I am joined by the fabulous Eunice Wong. And we have created some short, fabulous episodes this summer to nourish your soul and curiosity.
Eunice Wong: So we’re gonna do that by introducing you to our good friend David Favela. Way back in April, Erika and I presented the research that we’ve been doing together at the National Planning Conference in San Diego. It was about public health and public space design. And after two years of working together, this was actually the first time we met.
Erika Eitland: We knew we were at the right conference because they were hosting a brewery tour. So, like the good nerds that we are, we went for some beer to foster our intellectual pursuits. Little did we know, David Favela was leading this tour.
Eunice Wong: So, we asked David, would you sit down with us? Would you tell us about this brewery you started with your family? And you know, what have you been up to in this neighborhood of Barrio Logan? After that conversation, we really understood what equitable development requires and how anyone can be part of defining design excellence.
Erika Eitland: And let’s be clear. David is design excellence. He’s a James Beard Award semifinalist! Food culture is design culture. Alright, well, now that I got that on my system, where are we headed?
Eunice Wong: So, a quick roadmap of what each episode in this series is going to do. First, just like Border X, we’re going to invite you in. We want to lift your spirits, so your internal spirits, but you know, enjoy a little spirit on the side, toasting with champagne, cheersing with friends after work. That’s the vibe.
Erika Eitland: If our first episode is an invitation, then our second episode is about the hard work. It’s about what it takes to embed and engage in a community in the design process.
Eunice Wong: And lastly, in our third episode, we’re going to talk about how Border X catalyzed change and how we measure that impact. Don’t worry, this is still Inhabit. So, we’ll share a little bit of history, stats…. But this is Summer Jam, so it’s going to be about connecting with new friends and old.
[“Hasta la Proxima” ends.]
Erika Eitland: This is Summer Jam.
David Favela: My name is David Favela. I’m the CEO of Border X Brewing. We’re currently sitting in the back beer garden of Border X Brewing here in beautiful Barrio Logan. It’s a nice sunny, windy day—
Erika Eitland: It’s the best Tuesday I’ve had in a long time, it’s important to realize—
Erika Eitland:Yes. This is where our story starts. A quick love fest for this neighborhood, Barrio Logan, which is in San Diego. And during the first half of the 20th century, Barrio Logan becomes this historic and symbolic center of the San Diego Chicano community, and— Eunice, you are Canadian, so I will explain—
Eunice Wong: Yeah, break it down
Erika Eitland: Break it down. So Chicano or Chicana is a chosen identity of someone who is Mexican American in the United States. And the term became widely used during the Chicano movement by many Mexican Americans who wanted to express their pride in this cultural, ethnic community identity. Over the course of the ’30s and ’40s, this neighborhood is flourishing. You’ve got theaters, social clubs, dentists, like, you have all of these different services available and the community is thriving and then the 1950s happen and then, Eunice, explain to me what zoning laws are because this sounds bad.
Eunice Wong: So, zoning laws are essentially a way to determine land use. So, you can talk about what uses are permitted in certain areas. It can talk about height, it could talk about the form. So, you see in the 1950s and into the ’60s, the city of San Diego revises the zoning laws in Barrio Logan to allow kind of a broader list of uses—
Erika Eitland: OK.
Eunice Wong: Not just residential uses—to trigger industries like canneries and tanneries to encroach on the community. So, what does this look like on the ground? Essentially, you got junkyards next to schools and homes. And into the ’60s, this kind of pattern of urban renewal continues to happen. So not only do you have a lot of these laws that were restricting or loosening some of the use, but also physical large infrastructure that comes in and completely divides that community. So that relocates residents, displaces families. And by 1979, the population of Barrio Logan actually shrinks from 20,000 down to 5,000.
Erika Eitland: This makes a lot more sense. I found this old EPA article and it said that there was 3 million pounds of toxic pollutants being emitted by those industries.
Eunice Wong: Wow.
Erika Eitland: And I was like how did that get there? You know, Barrio Logan, children experience asthma incidence twice the national average. And yet today, what’s interesting is EPA also released a new case study showing that it’s exemplary of smart growth principles such as encouraging community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions. David is so important to us because the parallels to the design process and the built environment is so clear to us that we had to share it with all of you…
David Favela: …here in beautiful Barrio Logan. We’ve got a barrio bird flying up above us, I’m sure chasing somebody. But here in the beer garden, we have peace and tranquility, we have an unusual unlikely combination of really a place that’s safe and comfortable and inviting in the middle of a neighborhood that hasn’t necessarily been considered that in a long, long time. So, it’s a very interesting kind of contrast and juxtaposition of two very different kinds of experiences. And I think that’s what surprises people when they come to Barrio Logan, and specifically, when they come to Border X.
Eunice Wong: So, what David is starting to illustrate for us here is his unique experience that he brings to the craft beer industry. And I use the word “unique”, because not only is he creating a space that is safe, comfortable, inviting in the way he’s described it. He’s also an example of carving out that space for him and his community in an industry where he’s actually the minority. Speaking of juxtaposition, as he’s brought it up, we have the juxtaposition in the data as well. So listen to this Erika, in 2021, according to the Brewers Association, 93.5% of brewery owners in the United States are White, 2.2% are of Hispanic Latinx or of Spanish origin.
Erika Eitland: 2.2%!
Eunice Wong: Yes! 2.2%.
Erika Eitland: Holy cow, OK.
Eunice Wong: So that’s just ownership. But when we get to beer drinkers in 2018, 85.5%, of craft beer drinkers were White. Compare that to the US stat, only 68.7% of the US over 21 population are White. So, you see this, kind of, disproportionate story about access to beer, but also about visibility, and how much the Latinx or Hispanic population is actually invited to that conversation to begin with. So, we really see David plugging in this gap for not just the community, but kind of the industry as a whole.
Erika Eitland: Well, and that’s interesting, because even in looking at like, recent census numbers, that Chicano identity is still very strong in Barrio Logan. So, you have a really young population, meaning you have beer drinkers available and accessible to you. And then 85% of them are Hispanic, but more specifically 82%, identifying as Mexican. So this relationship with history, who gets access, who owns these businesses, I think is really telling…
David Favela: We realized early on that a lot of these homes were built early on in the 1910s 1920s. And just literally don’t have room for family get togethers. And so we’ve become in a way that that living room for the community. And so I think again, yes, we serve beer, yes, we serve food. But there is something more that we feed that like to without sounding presumptuous, we feed people’s souls.
Erika Eitland: Like the other day when I had this, this pepino beer that you have, and I took a sip, and luckily, I was amongst professionals that I didn’t start crying, because like, that is the thing is that when we talk about culture and design, like that, is even the flavors that we get to consume. And so, I think it’s, it’s the space, but it’s also like, every element of Border X is bringing back celebrating this community. And that is so powerful.
David Favela: It is. And you know, I didn’t realize that aspect you just talked about, because I had been in high tech world and in the suburbs for 22 years working at Hewlett Packard. And I came here for an art show once and I remember feeling something very deep in my heart, my soul, I guess, is a way of describing it, where I saw people of color, doing really cool things, creating art, holding events, you know, I was just like, wow, I never realized that there was a part of me that wasn’t really being expressed or touched on anymore. You know, as an executive at HP, I created a facade for myself that you have to as a professional to survive and thrive in that environment.
Erika Eitland: Definitely.
David Favela: But there was a part of me that said, Yeah, but you haven’t fed your soul at all, you know. And I think that’s what people feel when they come here. And we speak their language, literally. From naming the beers.
Erika Eitland: Yeah.
David Favela: And the food and the art and the events that we hold. People look at that, and they see themselves. They recognize themselves and they go, Wow, it’s really cool. I’m cool. Our culture is cool. And we don’t get told that enough.
Erika Eitland: “Our culture is cool!”
Eunice Wong: I know! [Laughter.]
Erika Eitland: “We don’t get told that enough”. I don’t think anybody’s ever been like, “Listen, you Bengali halfsie, you are cool”.
Eunice Wong: I needed to hear that. Yeah. I really love this little piece that David just shared about embracing culture. Sometimes we spend a lot of time admiring, you know, other things and other places. We look to other countries for what is design excellence. You know, we apply international standards that someone else created as what we call “best practices”. But just like the way that David talks about like, “Hey, we’re cool too”. There is art and design. There’s even stronger art and design when you incorporate culture, and not just any culture, but culture that resonates with community, you know, something that’s recognizable familiar and representative and can really feel the way David talks about this. It’s like a little warm hug.
Erika Eitland: Yeah, one thing you and I’ve talked about a lot is, How do we get to that? At the beginning of the show, we said Summer Jam was going to be about nourishing the soul and curiosity. And if our listeners will just indulge me for a minute, I want to linger on what we mean by “nourish.” I don’t mean a snack. I mean, a full delicious meal cooked by your grandmother that gets to the heart of culture and designing for equity. We’re gonna go beyond “design intent” and “process” to on-the-ground impact that takes the dirty work. And I— Just from a research perspective, I think it’s sometimes so easy to dismiss, quote-unquote “feeling” as just qualitative, subjective data. But I know you and I could not disagree more about this. You and I’ve often gone back to one of our favorite movies, Pixar’s Ratatouille—
Eunice Wong: Yeeeeesss.
Erika Eitland: And, you know, the idea that anyone can cook, including Remy, the rat, who would like to be a French chef, uhh he’s a rat. So that’s problematic. But when I think about what David is talking about, it’s about all of us having this ratatouille moment where we get to embrace the food, we get to embrace those who create the food. And you know, there’s this great scene where he gets to eat a strawberry. You know, this scene.
Eunice Wong: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Erika Eitland: And it’s fireworks, fireworks, fireworks. And then he has a piece of cheese. And it’s like, mmm yes, this cheese! And then he eats both simultaneously…
Eunice Wong: Magical!
Erika Eitland: and it’s just an explosion of like experience. And I think this is really what is happening when you bring culture to the design of something like beers.
David Favela: …and we’re sitting around the table looking at each other drinking Irish reds and Scottish stouts and this and that, and we’re like, the hell are we doing? This is like, we don’t know anything. We’re not we weren’t raised in that cultural context. We don’t have any ratatouille moments of experiencing these beers. Are they good? Can I learn to like them? Absolutely. But they’re not connecting in a meaningful way to who we were. And I remember we made a very profound decision. This is right when we opened, right before we opened, and my nephew walked away. And we said, look, we’re gonna make Mexican inspired craft beer, because we’re Mexican. And at least we can be good at that.
Erika Eitland: Yeah, yeah, I love it.
David Favela: And so, but we still that was strategic. It wasn’t tactical, it’s like, okay, so what does that mean? So, I credit…
Erika Eitland: Challenge accepted.
David Favela: Challenge accepted! So, my nephew went off and came, we met back up in about three weeks. And he brought this little keg and he started serving us in the meeting. And it was this beautiful ruby red beer with almost, it was so red that the foam was like pink. You know, I’m like, I’ve never seen a beer like that and he’s not saying anything, and we’re drinking it. And the hibiscus and the tanginess. And we’re like, this is agua de jamaica, which is a very traditional Mexican drink. And I’m like, this is us. This is us.
Erika Eitland: And it’s a saison.
David Favela: Yeah.
Erika Eitland: Which is a lovely, like farmhouse brew.
David Favela: And yeah, totally all of that.
Erika Eitland: It’s just like mmm!
David Favela: and that beer, that fateful beer was the decision and became our top seller for like the first two to three years. And then we built on it by adding more chocolate golden style. The bambino, which you enjoyed so much, I will eat this chocolate. But you know, so that’s how we arrived at kind of making that strategic decision. I think though, once we started pouring the beer and allowing our customers to experience it, I realized something very profound, that, again, organic, not consciously choosing it. But in a way we tend to be as a minority, person of color. There’s a term called “colonialist mind” or “colonialist mindset”, where we are told what is good.
Erika Eitland: Yeah.
David Favela: well, what’s the best cuisine in the world French, of course, no debate. And so there’s this whole series of ideas and concepts of where we think of in terms of excellence and best in class. And I think when we decided to focus on our own culture and tell the story of our flavors and our experiences, and we put it on the same pedestal, as all these other cultures out there. In a way, we were decolonializing our minds and saying, we matter, our tastebuds matter, our traditions and culture matter. And, and we think other people might enjoy it, too. And I think it’s had this really profound experience when our customers come in, and they’re like, I grew up drinking abuelita’s chocolate or Oh, my God, I can’t believe this horchata is so good, or, and we’re having those ratatouille moments because we’re connecting nostalgically, but also kind of spiritually with, again, the same theme. “You are cool”. The things you grew up with are cool, no matter what your socioeconomic standpoint, we’re celebrating the humble, we’re celebrating the every day. And I think we don’t do that enough. And I think as people, it stunts our personal growth when we can celebrate ourselves, or our families or those things that make us uniquely who we are…
Eunice Wong: Yeah, so this feeling here that David describes that people get when drinking his beer, and you know, by the way, I love an IPA. [Laughter]
Erika Eitland: Oh my god. [Laughter]
Eunice Wong: If we apply it to design, whether it be you know, buildings, a parks, the sidewalks, this is human emotion that we strive to achieve as designers, right? We want what we’re calling now these “ratatouille moments” in design, making people feel like, you know, they’re cool, they’re accepted, they’re safe. I think Design Excellence for so long has been from one type of perspective. So I was really moved by the way that David intentionally wanted to break that pattern. And instead of being a chameleon, which I think both of us could relate to, he’s really trying to pave a new path. And he’s so clearly articulating his goals for not just, how his beer tastes, but the larger impact on the community.
Erika Eitland: Right, and who he gets to invite into this space.
Eunice Wong: Exactly.
Erika Eitland: When I think of a ratatouille moment, it’s actually what we were trying to achieve in the first season of Inhabit, that is the public health intervention. A ratatouille moment is the public health intervention.
Eunice Wong: Yes!
Erika Eitland: But you know, as we round out this episode, I think we have to acknowledge that this work isn’t easy. Both you and I know this, especially for people of color, it can be terrifying to step up, or even step out. As people with diverse identities, I think this last clip was really healing for both of us.
David Favela: No, and I think this is going a little bit profound. And hopefully, well, it’s not thin ice, but I think, you know, being a person of color that in a certain way we’re traumatized, you know. I know I’ve had my experiences growing up, where I suddenly was reminded, I’m not, I’m different. And even though I felt like I was just American, I knew that it wasn’t always the case. And when you come into a place like you said, that one the beers are award winning, recognized James Beard Award, it’s like, it’s excellence.
Erika Eitland: It’s Excellence
David Favela: And you’re like, that’s, that’s me, too. That’s my culture. And then when we put artwork, which is also excellence, or like, oh, yeah, that’s, they’re talking about me, this is my culture. Then, you hear the sound of the music and Spanish because we tried to play local music in Spanish and oh, that’s so freaking cool. And, and in a way, it’s, it’s healing.
Erika Eitland: Oh, it’s really healing.
David Favela: So, you were talking earlier? Like, what’s the secret to kind of, become more self-aware more? More fully yourself
Erika Eitland: …and courageous. Yeah/
David Favela: and courageous, is like being inspired by the way others dressed the way others act, the way the artists make their artwork, the musicians make it. And they’re in that same process of becoming fully themselves through their art and their music, and our beer. And I think it, just kind of, I think it is inspiring.
[“Barbershop Cocktails” by Alexandra Woodward / Epidemic Sound fades in.]
[“Barbershop Cocktails” gets louder.]
Erika Eitland: Inhabit is a production of Perkins&Will. I’m Erika Eitland.
Eunice Wong: And I’m Eunice Wong. Check out our show page at inhabit.perkinswill.com for the show notes, music, and links to all the resources and references we mention. Follow us on insta @perkinswill
Erika Eitland: This scrappy team is led by Dr. Lauren Neefe, our executive producer who also edits the show. Shout out to Julio Brenes for the illustrations you see on our website. Music courtesy of Epidemic Sound.
Eunice Wong: A special thanks to David Favela for inviting us in with open arms to Border X Brewing and sharing his inspiring story with all of us.
Erika Eitland: This work would not be possible without our all-star advisory board: Casey Jones, Paul Kulig, Yehia Madkour, Angela Miller, Rachel Rose, Kimberly Seigel, and Gautam Sundaram. Stay tuned—it’s only getting better from here.
[“Barbershop Cocktails” gets louder and then fades out.]
Perkins &Will chorus: People Places Power Design Change Now
[Sound ID: Snap echoes into an empty space.]