Worker cooperatives and entrepreneurs have gathered monthly over the last year to create a Community Market named El Mercadito Carrusel in Santa Ana. Its goal is to steward a growing base of worker cooperatives and local entrepreneurs, and create shared prosperity for Santa Ana residents in a way that is more equitable than current avenues allow.
For many of Santa Ana’s majority Latino residents, Santa Ana has been home since their arrival from their countries of origin. And while recent policies like the Sanctuary City Ordinance offer some protections, as a coordinator of El Mercadito Carrusel says, “the truth is if we got our green cards tomorrow, not much would change”. Santa Ana residents are still not earning nearly enough to afford quality housing, even in the recently subsidized affordable housing developments.
The idea for a community market surfaced as neighborhood residents and community serving organizations of the Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities Initiative (SABHC) searched for ways to combat growing housing costs and closing businesses in a rapidly gentrifying Santa Ana. “We have the right to remain in the City where we’ve raised our children,” says Carlos Melendez of SABHC’s Equity for All Workgroup. To ensure that “all families in Santa Ana thrive,” community members not only fight to preserve the City’s limited stock of available land, but they also advocate for Santa Ana residents’ businesses and organizations to work that land.
El Mercadito Carrusel will help create the much-needed infrastructure for a local economy that serves its residents. Community markets like this one are common in Latin American countries, where they offer resident with limited capital, an opportunity to start a business with less risks. In Santa Ana, this community market does the same, and will soon additionally support with cooperative curriculum, business planning and financing.
Visit El Mercadito Carrusel every second Saturday of the month for locally grown fruits and vegetables, jewelry and art, homemade breads and desserts, hand-made tortillas, reiki, and everything you need to live well. This mobile venture moves around several locations throughout the City for now. It is one of the reasons why it was named El Carrusel (the carrousel). But many will still make the connection to the iconic carrousel of La Calle Cuatro. That’s because El Mercadito Carrusel is a stand against the displacement of longtime residents and businesses, and a road towards prosperity—for we are here to stay, and we are here to thrive.