Thursday, October 14, 2010

La Tierra Mia

Let's just say that when I was in elementary school, I never went on a field trip like the one I chaperoned last week:

For the record, I never did so during high school or college, either.

This was a field trip planned for college students that our group of elementary school kids was allowed to crash. I had ties to both groups, win-win.

It wasn't just about the Amigos Car Club, although they were wickedly awesome. This was a visit to Barrio Logan to check out the stunningly awesome murals of Chicano Park.

We had a walking tour of the murals, but first we were treated to riveting tales of junkyard rats and songs about revolution by Chunky Sanchez.

Chunky told us a short history of the park, and about  how after many homes and neighborhoods were unceremoniously displaced for the building of a major freeway and then a big blue bridge, the community was left dissected by a big ugly eyesore of pillars.

The people of Logan Heights were somewhat placated by the promise that a park would be created amidst the tangle of those pillars, and so when earth moving equipment showed up at the site in 1970, everyone thought that the park project was getting underway.

Imagine the community's surprise when they learned that the construction crew was actually there to prepare the land for a new highway patrol sub-station!

No bueno.

A group of students activists mobilized a revolution. This was the last straw.

Marco Anguiano explains: "Women, men, children, activists, students, residents, the youth, the elderly and entire families gathered at the construction site. At day's end, two to three hundred people had congregated. They evicted the construction crew and seized the land. 

Solis, a Brown Beret, as well as a student, commandeered a bulldozer and ignited and gunned its engine. He begin flattening the land while others planted cactus, plants and trees. The people begin to build a park. Long time barrio residents...brought tortillas, rice, beans and tamales to feed the rebels"

For twelve days, the park was occupied by people from all walks of life who cleared and planted on the land. In the end, an agreement was reached that gave the land back to the Chicano community.

And the park was developed with grass and playgrounds and picnic tables, basketball courts and cactus gardens and a lovely central kiosk where the stories could be told and retold.

And on those pillars, once a glaring and offensive reminder of the intrusion that had been so callously infringed upon a lively community, the story is told again.

 and again

and again.

The murals are amazing, huge and encompassing. What struck me most on the day we toured with the elementary school kids were the eyes depicted in these stories. The eyes reveal such determination, strength, and defiance.

kind of reminded me of


We've all got stories, we all hear stories.

At what point do we lay our eyes on that last straw?

We're wise to keep our eyes wide open.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh Chunky Sanchez. How I would love to have heard him sing his tales.

What a great field trip, Jacquie. I'd love to check out Chicano Park, especially if Los Amigos were there.

Love those cool murals.

Nice one, sistah!

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I love this Jacquie!

I've attened Chicano Park Day; it's in April every year -- lots of good music and art and energy. Never met Chunky though. (My loss, no doubt)

Those muruals are amazing, and seem such a natural extension of Mexican muralism.

I miss Mexico. And absolutely no plans to visit soon. Sigh.

We'll have to have a Margarita Friday soon... Ellie, where ARE you??


PS You boy is so stunning!

Hsin-Yi said...

That is so awesome. I really love the story about how they took over the land and started planting their park. It's nice when the little guys win!

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LanciaTrendVisions said...

In Barrio Logan works the graphic designer Ron Miriello. He embarked on a collective work involving craftsmen with great artistic style. He started from globe shape, a calming huge metaphor, a collection of connections, between people, molecules, ideas. Let's travel around the World in 100 globe!