You ever feel like you need to complete some kind of pilgrimage? Yeah, I usually don’t either, but since seeing my parents’ pics of their visit to Santa Paula, that pilgrimage thing started tugging at me. So, this past spring, while I was out in Ventura for Craftcation . . .
Wait what? What the heck is Craftcation? Why, it’s “a four day conference featuring industry professionals leading attendees in lectures on creative small business and teaching hands-on craft and food workshops,” but that is totally a subject for another post ;) Trust me, it deserves it’s own post. I mean come on, I was gone for four days and I was at a crafting conference! Yes, a crafting conference!
Anyhow, back to this pilgrimage thing. I figured since I had road tripped it out to Ventura with my comadre Dolores, it’d be a shame not to make the extra 15 minute drive out to Santa Paula. You must be thinking, “Out of all places, why a pilgrimage to Santa Paula, California?” That’s a fair question.
So, check it out. I am a sucker for old stuff – especially old buildings and little towns, and look at how beautiful and quaint this little train depot-turned-other-stuff is:
But really, that old building wasn’t the “it” thing I had to see there. The town has done a great job of making this train depot look awesome, and I like the info they have on display. It totally caters to my nerdy ways.
What really tugged at me within this permanent exhibit is that it includes a tribute to the farmworkers who played a critical role in the area’s growth.
As a kid, I used to visit Santa Paula quite a bit – with my parents to visit my great grandma, my aunt, and a few of my cousins. Warmer still to my heart are the memories of taking roadtrips with my grandma out there to visit family. I remember going with her to visit her friends, who I’m pretty sure lived out in the citrus groves. But, what does all of this have to do with farmworkers and this monument? (And by the way, don’t be disturbed by my use of “grandma” in lieu of “grandmother” – it’s personal preference and I always referred to her as “grandma” because it just feels warmer.)
Well, this has everything to do with my family history, or my heritage so to speak. Both my grandma and grandfather are acknowledged in The Santa Paula Farmworker Monument “dedicated to all present and past farmworkers and other agricultural workers from all ethnicities and diverse nationalities who continue to give of their labor to plant, tend, harvest, and distribute fruits and vegetables to our global human community.”
And as Dolores and I were looking for the critical piece of why I so desperately needed to see this display, we came across this:
Now, la comadre Dolores and I have super deep conversations about fulfilling life paths, embracing creative living, going against the grain, following your intuition, and . . . you guessed it: abundance. Ok, maybe you didn’t guess that, but now you know ;) The whole premise of going to Craftcation was to invest in myself to sit more solidly in a place and space where I could attract that abundance into my life. Don’t worry folks, I won’t go too deep here. All of that could be a series of conversations – or even a book. Ooh, spoiler alert? Hmm.
So, as I was out on this conference seeking abundance, it turns out the universe was reminding me that I descend from a rich heritage of abundance. Mind-blowing! To be seeking that abundance from the “outside” to find that I carry it with me as my heritage.
Back to the monument. Look at that beauty:
The beauty and simplicity of the stone and bronze gives it a very earthy feel, and I’m glad I got there just a tad past sunset because I love what they did with the lighting on the piece. Funny story, we actually got there before the sun had set, but we spent a good while looking for it. I think someone was looking out. I would have missed the lighting effects.
That text you see – those are the names of farmworkers who worked in the area. Real people whose labor, sweat, and sometimes blood and tears went into the land as they contributed immensely to the area’s history. Both sides of the monument are covered in these names.
And I can appreciate the symbolism of where they positioned the sun to represent working from sun up to sun down (or sunrise to sunset).
And here are the closeups of the names I was looking for – those names that beckoned for me to come and see for myself, to appreciate the beauty of their names forever carved into this beautifully done and dignified monument for others to absorb, see, feel, touch, gather, and breathe.
Some closeups of the life size bronze gente:
Representing both the men and the women:
Simple. Elegant. Powerful. Dignified. Pilgrimage complete. And, I have faith that the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
Oh, and some books on Santa Paula’s history, if you’re a curious nerd like me ;)