Mixtec Bus Tour of Ormond Beach April 6, 2019

By Gary L. Harbour: April 6, 2019, a coalition of media and community stakeholders sponsored a Mixtec community bus tour of Ormond Beach in Oxnard California. The event was made possible by the Coastal Conservancy in partnership with the Mixtec Indigenous Community Organizing Project (MICOP), the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) and the Nature Conservancy representative Sandy Close of Ethnic Media Services.org, a San Francisco Study Center Project.

The tour began with a school bus filled with Mixtec community members, sponsors and stakeholders being transported to Ormond Beach in Oxnard. Various media representatives FM 99One FM, KJBU-LP, rhythmofthecoast.com, and others followed. Once there, community stakeholder briefing began sharing their purpose with those assembled.

Walter Fuller, the conservator for Ormond Beach began greeting guests and discussing the precious wildlife in the area. He cautioned that there are rattle snakes in the area as well. Walter explained that Ormond Beach is a very special bird sanctuary. There are about two-hundred different species in the area. The next guest was Cynthia Hartley, a biologist of Ventura Audubon Society, who discussed some of the special birds in the area. She searches for protected birds, their nests, and the progress they are making in the area. Cynthia labeled Ormond as a “wild beach” that used to be an “off roading beach”, with sport drivers causing severe damage to the land.

Arcenio Lopez (MICOP) discussed the Mixtec involvement in today’s event as being important to the indigenous population. They are being encouraged to come to the beach and reconnect with the land. The Mixtec people are very close to nature as part of their Mexican culture. There is wildlife at Ormond Beach and the Mixtec people can and should be more involved and allowed to contribute input of how the area should be developed as access is broadened. To this effort, they are being made more aware of this beautiful beach in their community.

Mark Hedin, an associate of Sandy Close with Ethnic Media Services felt that the need for expanding usage of the Ormond Beach area is vital to the ethnic community members in the area. The Mixtec people according to Mr. Hedin compose about 70% of the local Oxnard community, yet they rarely are made aware of the wonderful resources that are right in their own local beach. Their opportunity for involvement should be shared with the larger community. Taylor Samuelson with the Coastal Conservancy, State of California, focused on restoring and preserving the California coast and improving public access to it. The Conservancy has been involved in the restoration of Ormond beach for years and is devoted to the public access plan. Today’s event is designed to bring attention to how the community has been cut off from access to the beach, and how to develop community friendly access to restrooms and other facilities.

Miguel Ramos, with Nature Conservancy are here as partners in the Ormond Beach Restoration and access plan. It involves the City of Oxnard, State Conservancy, Coastal Conservancy and some of the others who are trying to develop access for the community. Also, according to Miguel “super fund sites” have ruined much of the land, which has disallowed access. Today’s focus is on healing the remnants of oil and polluted water that has damaged what is arguably the most diverse bird sanctuary in Southern California.

Vincent Kinch of Ventura Audubon is here taking pictures and getting ideas on what Ormond Beach is all about and how special this place is. He’s been coming here for fifteen years, doing biological research on various bird species. Coming here helps you find your inner voice and relaxation. Javier Garcia is an interpreter for the Mixtec community. They want to become involved in renovating the beach, wetlands and surrounding areas by getting involved and by waking up the people that want more access to the area, preserving the land and using it wisely.

Sandy Close has had the opportunity of meeting Don Montgomery and his wife and is very excited about the radio station 99One FM. “Today is very historic, bringing members of the Mixtec community in Oxnard who represent 70% of the Hispanic population in this city, for the first time, to see the ocean, the coastline, the wetlands, where the birds are nesting… to see the last wild pure beach on the coast of California. It is in danger of being polluted, but could be such a beautiful public access beach for the entire community. So, the environmental organization called the State Coastal Conservancy wanted very much for the ethnic media to come and report the story of the Mixtec Bus Tour. It was very important that each of the outlets serving the communities of color of the city be here today, and I’m very appreciative of having this radio station participate. What will it mean, what’s the future, to have the City Council here from the leaders of the Mixtec community that they have a stake in restoring the coast, and that they want a voice at the table and that they want to be engaged because they see the great value it will have for them in the future. That’s the point of today”.        

Carmen Ramirez, Mayor ProTem, “The City of Oxnard is here because we want people to get to know that the beach is there, it’s a rare beautiful treasure. There are many opportunities here for healthier living, recreation, science, we’re so lucky. Many of the low-income folk, Spanish speaking folk don’t know about it. So, the kids and the adults that we took there today were just awe struck… and that’s just what we want. We want awe”. Stakes for the Mixtec people, Ormond restoration vision and environment were discussed, followed by a delicious lunch for all in attendance.

Captions.1.attendees 2.Cynthia Hartley, Walter fuller, Audubon member 3-6 attendees 7. Sandy Close 8. MICOP stakeholder 9-10 attendees 11-12 (same as 1.) 13. Signs 14. Power plant 15 (same as 1) 16-18 sign 19. Wetlands 20.Miguel Ramos & Taylor Samuelson 21. Ducks 22. Sign w/ birds 23. Mixtec Community on bus 24-27 polluted land 28.(LR)Marciela Morales, Cynthia Huntly, Peter Dixon, Arcineo Lopez, Chris Kroll, Carmen Ramírez (Mayor Pro tem), Vianay Lopez, Gabby Basua

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