Oral Histories

Interview of Brian Biery

Director of community organizing at the Flintridge Center, a Pasadena-based organization providing programming and services for the formerly incarcerated and those most susceptible to heading towards the path of violence and incarceration.
Narratives of Justice:Criminal Justice Activism in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Community History
Community Activism
Biographical Note:
Director of community organizing at the Flintridge Center, a Pasadena-based organization providing programming and services for the formerly incarcerated and those most susceptible to heading towards the path of violence and incarceration.
Aoki, Kyoko
Biery, Brian
Place Conducted:
Flintridge Center in Pasadena, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Kyoko Aoki, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; MLIS, UCLA Department of Information Studies. She has advocated for the human and civil rights of incarcerated people in Ohio and California through involvement with student, grassroots, and community groups as well as in the legal field. She also processed the Arts-in-Corrections (AIC) Artwork and Records archival collection at the UCLA Young Research Library Special Collections and conducted a series of oral history interviews with participants in the AIC program, which she donated to the Center for Oral History Research.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Biery was then given an opportunity to review the transcript but made no corrections or additions.
2.6 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The Narratives of Justice oral history series documents issues related to the criminal justice system in California through interviews with a variety of people who seek to reform that system. It includes interviews with individuals who provide services to at-risk youth; individuals engaged in community-based reentry services for people leaving prisons and jails; and activists in other areas related to criminal justice reform.
The last twelve minutes of the audio recording of session two was recorded as a separate sound file, then converted from an MP3 file to a WAV format file, and then added to the end of the initial session two recording. The last twelve minutes of the session two transcript does not include timestamps.
Born in Pasadena, CA–-Paternal grandparents move from Minnesota to Pasadena in early 1920s-–Parents separate when Biery is seven years-old--Spends a lot of time with grandparents-–Growing up in a middle-class community in Pasadena--Federal court-ordered desegregation of the public schools in Pasadena, 5th grade, early 1970s--Racial diversity in middle and high schools--Exposure to both diverse community and nature as part of the Boy Scouts--Parents' occupations--Effect of desegregation on Pasadena neighborhoods --Personal reaction to changing school and different student body--Boy Scout activities, lessons learned, and community service--High schools years--Navigating college applications--College years in Santa Barbara--First jobs out of college teaching high school and college sports--Serves in Peace Corp in Guatemala as a youth development volunteer--Returns to Pasadena--Teaches middle and high school Spanish--Attends graduate school to study Spanish--Works to support human rights in Latin America--Return to Pasadena--Works as outreach worker and community organizer with Pasadena's Neighborhood Connections office--Changes in Pasadena from time growing up there--Pasadena's history of community organizing and activism-- Seeing Pasadena as a microcosm of the state and the country and creating a model for change.
History of City of Pasadena's Neighborhood Connections Office and activities and its work with other cities--Challenges of neighborhood organizing and examples of positive neighborhood connections--Biery is drawn to Flintridge Center's goal of working with a few neighborhoods and a specific segment of the population--Applies and is offered a job--Description of Flintridge project to reduce gang activity, youth violence, and child abuse and neglect--Shifting focus from capacity building to direct services and programs for disenfranchised neighborhoods--History of violence in Pasadena from the 1980s to 2000--Following a spike in homicides in 2007, City of Pasadena establishes youth development and violence prevention committee--Flintridge becomes institutional home for violence prevention and youth development and develops Vision 20/20 Initiative--Description of Flintridge programs, including Apprenticeship Preparation Program, which creates career pathways for youth and young adults who have had challenges in their lives--Moral and public safety imperative to provide opportunities for formerly incarcerated people--Merit continuum, an effort to reduce recidivism by providing continual service from education-based incarceration program to reintegration services--Challenges faced by individuals coming out of jails and prisons--Pasadena as a microcosm of California--Effort to develop systems around violence prevention, youth development, and formerly incarcerated reintegration and reentry, as well as career pathways in Pasadena--Replication of the program and its use as a model around the country.