Skip to content

Andromeda Brooks (top left), Jonny Perez (top right), Menbere Aklilu (bottom left), and Najari Smith (bottom right) are four of Richmonds "Agents of Change" working to improve Richmond's community. (Photo by Brittany Kirstin)

Agents of Change: Scenes of a city in motion

on December 4, 2015

Editor’s Note:

Old opinions about Richmond often seem to be set in stone, but at least some of the worst may be on the way out.

That’s what we tried to document in “Agents of Change,” a series of photographs and feature stories by Richmond Confidential’s Brittany Kirstin, a photojournalism student at the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Kirstin profiled some of Richmond’s most notable residents—a young boxer, a bicycle shop owner, an urban farmer and a restaurant owner. The series was built around the idea that a single person can have a definitive impact, and a few individuals together can change a community.

Our subjects share a drive to make a difference. Each person used unique talents to bring about a stronger community.

Boxer Jonny Perez, a 21-year old Richmond native, serves as a role model for other young people with his drive to succeed.

Bike shop owner Najari Smith brought his passion for bicycles to the cause of building civic pride. He views bicycles as a vehicle for social interaction; teaching math, science and self-worth while truing wheels with Richmond youth in his Rich City Rides shop.

Andromeda Brooks took a derelict lot next to her house and turned it into a thriving urban farm in the heart of Richmond. Her Happy Lot Farm and Garden has transformed her neighborhood, and her monthly volunteer days are educating people about their food and the work that goes into growing it.

Our series concludes with a profile of Menbere Aklilu, owner of the restaurant Salute E Vita. She hosts a yearly Thanksgiving meal for low-income families and homeless veterans from around the Bay Area. Guests enjoy a beautiful sit-down dinner service with white tablecloths, flowers on every table, and care packages with daily essentials. She also funds the tuition for several students attending the Northern Lights school in Oakland and the Girls Academy in Richmond.

We hope you enjoyed our series—and will be inspired to find your own way to become an “Agent of Change.”


  1. Tek Sandoval on December 7, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    Love all your stories about people who make Richmond great. Lived here for thirteen years now and see that it is outstanding individuals who are making this city a better place to live. Thank you Richmond confidential for all your great work.Te amo!

Richmond Confidential welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Richmond Confidential assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Card image cap
Richmond Confidential

Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

Please send news tips to

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top