Selina Barajas works as a Program Collaborator with the Nuestras Raíces, opens a new window team for the Tucson Festival of Books, opens a new window. She is a fourth generation Tucsonan and a graduate from both Cholla High Magnet School and the University of Arizona. She holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning from UCLA and has extensive experience in projects managing cultural, and economic development initiatives. Selina's work in Tucson includes the 12th Avenue Street Improvement Project, Proposition 407 Bicycle Boulevard's on Tucson's south side, and the City of Tucson's Move Tucson Transportation and Mobility Initiative. In addition to her equitable community development work, she is the founder of Mi Reina Mobile Boutique, opens a new window, which is a mobile clothing business and curated online space that features original clothing and inspires women to shine like queens from the inside, out!
Promoting and supporting local businesses, creatives and makers, especially those who traditionally are undervalued is a top priority for Selina. As a Program Collaborator, she looks forward to connecting with the community in a creative way. In her free time, you can catch Selina cruising the streets of Tucson reimagining vacant spaces, visiting the libraries, and admiring local murals, all with a cafecito in hand!
We were happy to sit down with Selina to learn more about the work she's doing at the Library.
What are you most excited for at the Tucson Festival of Books?
I am super excited to attend this year’s festival in person and listen to the panels. I am also excited to bring my family, my parents, husband and daughters with me to the festival because it will be their first time.
What goes into choosing an author for the festival?
Lots of brainstorming and researching! I also asked the book club I belong to, Words Rising, opens a new window for some input and our local librarians what authors and genres they want to see this year.
Who are your favorite authors that have been involved in the festival?
Local author Lydia Otero, opens a new window and I sat down in 2020, literally the day when we heard of COVID-19 shutting down the festival. We were enjoying a cup of coffee and discussing possible questions for the panel that I was going to moderate. I loved their book, “In the Shadows of the Freeway: Growing Up Brown & Queer,” and we had plenty to discuss (and still do).
Who or what inspires you?
My family inspires me to wake up and keep going. The community; the street views and movement; how our generation keeps going. I love to witness and experience the power of connection; if it's between organizations, family members or the synergy of a street; or a book!
What do you wish that more people knew about the library?
I wish others, especially families and children, knew how cool and resourceful the libraries are. Some of our favorite things to do besides check out books are: participate in the Grab n Go Art/Craft Activities, play games on the computer and get some snacks on our way out. We also love how friendly and helpful the Nuestras staff are to the entire community. It is the staff who have shared these opportunities with my family and me.
Do you have a favorite library memory or experience?
Yes, when I was a child, my mom took me to the Valencia Library, opens a new window to listen to Linda Ronstadt read to a group for ‘Love of Reading.’ The room was filled with both children and adults, all so excited to hear this native Tucsonan star and most successful artists of her generation read. I remember looking back at my mom because she was one of the people so eager to listen to Linda Ronstadt and my mom was starstruck. I do not remember exactly what she read; but I remember the size of the book which was a huge novel and children going up to Linda wanting to touch her jewelry. Linda Ronstadt kept reading and was friendly with both children and adults in the room.
What are your favorite books?
My ultimate favorite book that I have re-read multiple times is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It doesn’t matter where I am at in life; it always resonates and reminds me of the path I am on. There was a period of my life, after my college years, that I did not read as much as I wanted. Most recently, I now belong to a local book club, Words Rising Book Club. This book club helped motivate me to keep reading and it is awesome to discuss the book and sometimes connect with the authors. Some of the favorite ones we have read are: Music to my Years by Cristela Alonzo, I Am Diosa by Christine Gutierrez and Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. As a mama of two little ones, I also love and collect the Lil' Libros book series by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein. Not only do I love the themes behind each book but moreover, I love how these books came to be and the backstory behind the two moms who did not let their dream crash. They were turned down by so many publishers and were told countless times that "Latinas do not read to their children," and rather than believing this narrative, they took it upon themselves and with the help of the community to make it happen. Now, these books are selling off shelves across stores, including here in Tucson!