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Barrio Restoration with Selina and Luna y Sol Cafe

Selina Barajas has deep roots in the city of South Tucson, and those roots along with a strong belief in community and economic development are driving her and her husband to open a coffee shop — Luna y Sol Cafe — in a 3,000-square-foot building. Barajas entered a Startup Tucson competition for businesses and won a $5,000 United Way Social Impact Award that was announced at the 2022 TENWEST Festival. Luna y Sol Cafe participated in United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona’s 24th Annual Days of Caring; the single largest community volunteer event in Arizona! Their project, Pouring Love into the Soil + Parking Lot of Luna y Sol Cafe was a collaborative effort. 

Selena’s Story in her words:
My name is Selina Barajas and I am a native Tucsonan alum from both Sunnyside and Tucson Unified School Districts and the University of Arizona. I hold a master’s degree in Urban Planning from UCLA and have years of experience advocating for social, cultural and economic development initiatives for the community. While in Los Angeles, I worked for both the nonprofit and government sector and enjoyed planning community building events with the Pico Neighborhood of Santa Monica and City of Inglewood. Now residing back here in my hometown with my family, I am working on various projects from transportation and mobility projects, such as the Move Tucson initiative and currently Tucson Norte-Sur and the Drexel Road Bridge Project, as well as working alongside Sunnyside Foundation’s Community Investment Fund; documenting the investment at El Pueblo Center, while exploring models and strategies for placekeeping efforts for the site.
Growing up in Tucson, I would see United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and different community events and seeing billboards throughout our city with the name.  I used to work at PRO Neighborhoods, which offered both small grants and technical assistance. We assisted groups working together to mobilize and build upon existing talents and resources within the community and collaborative partners included City of Tucson, Pima County, Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, and United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. This was one of my first opportunities to witness first hand the impact United Way has on our local community.  It was wonderful to see how holistic this foundation’s model is.

Last year, we entered a Startup Tucson competition for businesses and won a $5,000 United Way Social Impact Award that was announced at the TENWEST Festival. This award meant a great deal for us, our business and community because we are able to put the money back into the soil. South Tucson is in need for more green infrastructures such as trees, vegetation, shade and outdoor gathering places.  The Social Impact Award motivated us to reactivate the dirt lot and transform it into a green space; and get involved in United Way’s upcoming Days of Caring. Our project, Pouring Love into the Soil + Parking Lot of Luna y Sol Cafe will allow us to take the first big leap into directly investing back into the soil: planting trees and plants, cleaning the area and additional amenities. Once we are open to the public, we desire for Luna y Sol Cafe to be a multi-generational experience and of course, enjoying coffee underneath some shaded trees!

I would like to thank everyone supporting our journey! We cannot wait to serve quality coffee and to be a community hub in South Tucson soon! For us personally, owning our commercial building is unique, exciting and a dream come true. We understand that not everyone can have an opportunity like this and this aspect has been our biggest accomplishment to date. As a fourth generation Tucsonan, it has always been my desire to return back to the surrounding southside neighborhoods that helped pave my path and (re) invest in the community my roots are in. My grandparents and great- grandparents raised their families down the street from where our building is located and Luna y Sol Cafe reflects the deep love and admiration we have for South Tucson. We cannot wait for you to join us on our journey! Please stay connected and via social media @Lunaysolcafe