• Barrio's Living Library

MSC: Idalmi Rivera


In our continued efforts to tell our own stories and evaluate our impact, we have started using the Most Significant Change Framework. We implemented this framework in 2021 and in the first year we identified four domains of impact: personal transformation, leadership development, business/entrepreneur development, and community building.


Idalmi Rivera's story is one of the stories selected from the first round. Her story highlights the personal transformation domain. You can listen to the whole story in the audio file above.


Note: This is part of Barrio Alegría’s Most Significant Change process. The stories in this series share the stories of individuals in our community and the changes they perceive in their lives by being a part of Barrio. The interviews are designed to be heard so that the listener hears the story directly from the storyteller. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers and may contain errors. This transcript has been edited for clarity.


Daniel: Welcome to spending time with Daniel. My name is Daniel Egusquiza, and I am here with Idalmi Rivera. Idalmi, how are you doing?


Idalmi: I'm doing great!


Daniel: Wow, not just good. Great. That's perfect. That's how we like it. You put the Alegría in Barrio Alegría. So can you tell me how you got involved with Barrio and what your current involvement is?


Idalmi: Well, right after I graduated high school, a project I've done right out of it kind of blew up a little bit in the City of Redding. And I think either you, Daniel, or Valois reached out to me to invite me to like a BANCo lunch and that's where I first met you. And then, after that, I don't know how I got more and more involved. I feel like that's how Barrio works- you just start with one thing and then you see more things you like and keep getting involved. So I think I got involved with Storytelling Through Dance, the alleyway concerts, some art workshops in the city, and in the LDC [Leadership Development Cohort] program, which is the one that I'm still running strong with. I think that's my involvement with Barrio right now is LDC. And the project we're doing with Barrio’s micro-lending program.


Daniel: Yeah. So you illustrated a children's book?


Idalmi: Yeah, The Ugly Christmas Tree.


Daniel: Yeah. So you illustrated that book. And then you appeared on the newspaper and then I remember cutting that story up from the newspaper and giving it to Val and saying, “Hey, get me a meeting with this person.” And then the rest is history.


Idalmi: That's how it all started.


Daniel: Val is really good at making things happen. So she, like went out of her way and found you. I think the first thing she did was like Facebook you, and then she sent a message and then you're like, “Oh, hi.” I feel like one day, you know, we're gonna be looking back at the moments that define Barrio, and there's a there's a picture of you, Goldy Ghuman and Val at the old Barrio on 19th Street, you know? And that was a picture for the ages man.


You mentioned that right now you are part of the LDC cohort, and you're like, doing a whole lot of different projects. What do you think is the most significant change in your quality of life since you started working with Barrio?


Idalmi: Well, I think I've grown a lot since I graduated high school related to Barrio, outside of Barrio altogether, and what that looks like is that I learned what my boundaries look like better. I have a better grasp what no means, and when to say no and when to take care of my own mental health, you know, and control that people-pleasing side of me. So I've definitely gotten a better grasp of that. Whereas when I first started with Barrio. I was saying yes to everything because I didn't know how to say no. And what I respect about Barrio was just that it's always a welcomed space to be able to say no. I had a lot of practice in Barrio.


Daniel: That's what I was gonna say. You get a lot of practice.


Idalmi: Yeah, but it was good practice, and I love that everybody in Barrio respected boundaries.


Daniel: Was that something that you think you were used to doing, like you were used to saying yes while you were in school? Or was that like something that you learned as a family value? Like you always help?


Idalmi: Well, I feel like it might be a combination of never saying no to parents, that family dynamic, or just obedience, “obey, because you have to”. And also the part of me that I didn't exactly find myself in a lot of conflictingnsituations, I never had the practice to be able to solve a conflict or say no. I was never put in a position until after high school. Within Barrio and all that.


Daniel: So what you're saying is that Barrio helped you rebel against your family values? Is that what you're saying?


Idalmi: No, I just, I think with through Barrio, I gained a lot more experience. I can network with more people, make more connections, meet different types of people, put myself in new situations, where I was able to practice. Even now, picking up different things.


Daniel: Got it. Is there a specific story that you remember where you were like, “You know what, I'm gonna go ahead and say no to this.” Like, is there a story that illustrates that change?


Idalmi: Let me think which one, which one?


Daniel: Probably something that has to do with me where I remember me saying, “Yo, Idalmi, we need this.” And you're like, “I mean…”, and then you hoping that I would say, “All right, it's okay. Don't do it.” And then I would stay with you until you were like, “uh. I guess.” And then I was like, “Okay, great!” And then I would move on. I couldn't take no. And then I remember like a couple of years later, you were like, “No, I'm not interested in this anymore.”


Idalmi: I did'nt say it like that, no.


Daniel: No, I think it was probably a little bit nicer than that. But you were like, “yeah, no, I'm okay.”


Idalmi: I don't have an exact moment. I'm trying to think. It might have been Storytelling Through Dance. Maybe a specific moment within that was when you asked if I wanted to act? It was like, “oh, like there's somebody who was needed to be acting and stuff.” And I kind of feel bad saying no, but at the same time, I just, I just wasn't comfortable. I knew I'd be putting a lot more work on myself. And had to put a lot more pressure where it wasn't needed. So I was like, Okay, I can't. I know, at the beginning, though, like before, I was definitely still learning how to say no, it was a lot more like. “hmm uhh, no. because.” Over explaining, yeah, so I've come a long way since then.


Daniel: Yeah, it really has really has. That's such a great story. And it's kind of different, because people usually say, oh, yeah, I've grown so much. You know, like I've been, I've learned to like, step out of my comfort zone. And I've learned to like flourish and say yes to things. And you're like, I kind of just learned to say no.


Idalmi: I mean, I think there's value in both senses because like knowing when to rein it in, you know? Yeah, Barrio definitely did do that to where I was able to put myself out of my comfort zone as well. So I had a little bit of it.


Daniel: And you do it in such a graceful way. I think that when you say no, it's like, deep. I think that people know that. You would say yes, if you really could but it is also that you don't want to let people down by promising something you can't do.


Idalmi: Yeah, exactly. And I think y'all can sense the guilt. When I say no.


Daniel: What about like, doing the podcast? Was that something that you wish you had said no to? Was that stepping too outside of your comfort zone? Or was that something that you look back and you're like, “hell yeah, I wanted to do it, so I did it.”


Idalmi: Well, it was definitely a huge leap. And I was excited to be able to do something like that. And I'm glad that we have had that experience together and we were able to figure it out. And I can say that we did this. I'm super, like critical for like the work that I do, right? So I definitely look at past projects like the podcast, and I'm like, “Oh, I could have done this better and that better.” But I'm so proud that I was able to experience it and go through with it. Yeah, but be honest, I think we weren't able to take it all the way to the end for end where Ibeth and I were publishing it. But thankfully, you have people to do that.


Daniel: Listen, one of the reasons why Barrio exists is because, in the beginning, I was doing Storytelling Through Dance by myself. And I was doing a horrible job at it. And because of that, Arleny one day came and grabbed that clipboard from my hands and said, “No, I'm gonna make sure that this is done in a good way.” But if I had not been this way…


Idalmi: She said you look like you need help


Daniel: Yeah, no, I had not been messing up. She would have never offered to help. And if she had never offered to help, Barrio wouldn't exist.


Idalmi: Yeah, she is the powerhouse of the organization.


Daniel: She is more of a powerhouse than I am. I just make things look good because I am so bad.


Idalmi: I feel like you're the main base of creativity and ideation, and then Arleny is the one who helps you like…


Daniel: implementation


Idalmi: …organize it for you.


Daniel: Why is this quality, this this change, important to you?


Idalmi: Because it's important to every aspect of my life. Like, with any relationship I have, any connection I make. It's everywhere. You know, it affects everything. If I can say no and respect my own boundaries, and other people can respect it as well, then I'm leading myself up to success where I'm not going to be super stressed, or I'm not gonna chew more than I can eat. For that reason, I think it's important to be with that balance.


Daniel: That's also good. You made this you made this so easy and make it sound so great. Idalmi, thank you so much for doing this interview.


Idalmi: Yeah, thank you for having me.




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