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The Raitt St. Chronicles: A Survivors Oral History Update – GCAC Collaboration with Santa Ana Public Library

The Raitt St. Chronicles: A Survivors Oral History is well underway, so we thought we would provide an update on this Grand Central Art Center collaborative project with the Santa Ana Public Library Teen Program.   GCAC Artist in Residence Jules Rochielle has been deeply involved with the development and progress of the project, along with Manny Escamilla and Cheryl Eberly of the Santa Ana Public Library,  California State University Fullerton partner American Studies Lecturer Sharon Sekhon (who also happens to be director of the Studio for Southern California History), with assistance from artist Christina Sanchez and California State University Long Beach student Michelle Lopez.

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Each week, the teens are meeting with the project team to discuss skill sets and approaches to the interviewing and recording of oral histories.   Last weeks meeting began with Sharon talking to the youth about the My Neighborhood photo essay challenge.   Each teen was handed a camera for which they will use over the course of the next few weeks to create photo documentation of their own neighborhood, from their individual perspectives.

Jules offered a content management workshop to the teens, as they work to develop a comprehensive website for the project that will document the ongoing activities and house interviews.

Here is a link to the website in progress:

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Manny Escamilla, from the Santa Ana Public Library History Room, then escorted the teens to the Southwest Senior Center to meet and interview Gonzalo Mendez Jr.  Gonzalo Mendez Jr. was one of the children involved in the Mendez v Westminster  case that overturned school segregation in CA. It also turns out that he grew up on Raitt St. and 3rd when Raitt St. was still known as Artesia. He shared his unique perspective on growing up in the neighborhood and watching it transform over time. The teens asked great questions and were fully engaged by Mr. Mendez’s stories, which will be documented in the full archive for this project.

Orange County Register reporter Ron Gonzales joined the teens for the conversation, we thought you might enjoy the article he wrote about the experience.   Here is a link to that article:

Barrio memories fuel oral-history project

Community impactful projects like this are made possible through the generous support of foundations, corporate sponsorships and the generosity of individuals who believe in the mission and purpose of such collaborative efforts.   To date, this collaboration with Santa Ana Public Library has be fortunate to receive support from a Cal Humanities 2013 Community Stories grant, but additional funding and in-kind support is needed to realize this project, as well as other projects in the works, to their fullest and most positive impactful outcomes.   The Raitt St. Chronicles: A Survivors Oral History has submitted to the Knight Foundation News Challenge for additional support, you can read the complete submission of the proposal through this link:

Santa Ana Neighborhood Civic Atlas: Connecting Citizens to Civic Engagement and Democratic Action – Knight Foundation News Challenge Proposal

Results of this project will manifest into a future exhibition project by Jules Rochielle, which will be schedule to take place at Grand Central Art Center.

If you share our passion, collaborative spirit and vision of our institutional mission, we would truly appreciate your generous support to realize such projects for the greater success of our community.

We’ve made it easy to DONATE NOW through our simple and secure online CSUF GCAC form:

To arrange corporate giving and in-kind support, please contact us directly by calling Grand Central Art Center (714) 567.7233.   Ask for Director/Chief Curator John Spiak.

All proceeds and in-kind support will directly benefit our activities, allowing Grand Central Art Center the opportunity to work with artists in developing more exhibitions, residencies, programs, events and lectures for our communities. As the projects develop, we will continue to keep you informed through email and blog postings, and provide you invitations to our exciting activities.