Murals express culture
Murals are about community and freedom of expression. In Watsonville, mural artist Jessica Evanjelista from the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County led Empower Watsonville, a youth-led group that focuses on expanding youth advocacy to implement more equitable policies, on a mural walk around town. The guided walking tour consisted mainly of Chicano murals in the Downtown Watsonville area. I was shocked about the stories behind these murals because I didn’t know about the discrimination many of these murals were seen as and the discrimination within the murals. As youth of color, it is truly mind-blowing how much racial discrimination and inequality still exist despite the constant demand for equality.
The murals in Watsonville are cultural landmarks of the people before us, they tell the stories of how the town was in the past. However, now it seems like we can’t express our culture because it is seen by others as bad. This mural walk really opened my eyes to the history of representing the story of a particular time and place. I’m seeing how these murals represent the struggles and triumphs of the Chicano movement.
As a daughter of immigrants, I enjoy seeing my culture and it being recognized for its authenticity. Speaking for myself, walking down the streets of Watsonville that I’ve traveled down many times, but this time it was different; this time I was captivated by all the different colors that create a vivid image of the power of the Chicano community and their influence within the community.
After walking for over three hours, I realized that many of the murals represented women of color that kept fighting for the rights of immigrant workers. This made me realize that I could not have been prouder to be a daughter of immigrants, but why is it so difficult to have others understand this is our culture and not box us in into labels?
These murals inspired the Empower Watsonville youth to create and design their own mural that now sits at 411 East Lake Ave., our newest PVPSA building. Our mural expresses a sense of belonging that is restored and developed through transforming our cohesive ideas into harmony. Our mural displays and represents the strength and beauty we all create and embrace being part of the Watsonville community.
Adriana Fernandez and Anahi Mendoza, Empower Watsonville Youth Advocates
Stairway to sprawl
Measure S was put on the ballot with a 4 to 3 vote by a divided Watsonville City Council. While the ballot measure promises wonderful things, read the language: Yes, extend the existing Urban Limit Line, “…with the exception of any property identified by the City Council…” Another 4 to 3 vote would break our farmland protection and make the Urban Limit Line meaningless. Subdivisions with single-family homes none of us can afford and parking lots for big box stores where fields of broccoli, lettuce and berries now grow will not make “a better Watsonville.”
Melissa McKinney, Watsonville
Hernandez serves the people
Felipe Hernandez works for the people of Watsonville. Felipe served his country in the army and then dedicated his career in service to the community as mayor, city council member, Cabrillo Trustee, Regional Transportation Commission participant, and more.
Felipe listens to the people. Prioritizing affordable housing and robust public transportation, protecting our valuable farmlands, and ensuring our children can grow up safely with access to equal opportunities are important concerns Felipe works on.
Prior to ballot Measure D in 2022, the Watsonville community expressed an overwhelming desire for public rail transit. Felipe is the only candidate for District 4 Supervisor that was willing to advocate for what people wanted before the overwhelming defeat of Greenway’s Measure D. Advocating for rail means the people of Watsonville will have easy access to Cabrillo, UCSC, and employment opportunities throughout the county without having to sit for hours in terrible traffic, giving families more time together.
Lani Faulkner, Live Oak