The History Relevancy Project Launches at Founding Day!

by Heidi Ortloff

History Relevancy project team members Nora Kassner, Heidi Ortloff, Ashely Baker, Yahjaira Cea, and Paola Dela Cruz. Photo by Heido Ortloff.

The History and Relevancy Pilot Project unveiled their first outreach effort during the Founding Day Festival at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park on April 29, 2017.  This project is a collaboration between UC Santa Barbara, California State Parks, and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP). Together, we hope to explore the topics of migration and immigration, while also building on the park’s relationship with the surrounding community.

UC Santa Barbara Student Yahjaira Cea assisting SBTHP Board President Teraese Chin with her story. Photo by Heidi Ortloff.

On Founding Day, project staff invited visitors to share their families’ immigration stories and learn more about the pilot project. Throughout the event, visitors recorded their family stories, while UC Santa Barbara students plotted their histories on a large world map. We were able to capture the family stories of several Presidio descendants who had ancestors that traveled from Spain, to Mexico, and finally to Santa Barbara. Participants related various reasons for their family’s arrival to the Santa Barbara region, from escaping bad weather, to religious persecution, economic opportunities, and avoiding war.

UC Santa Barbara student Yahjaira Cea felt a strong sense of community after listening to various visitors’ stories noting that, “The growth of the map throughout the day expressed the beautifully diverse community that makes Santa Barbara [what it is] today.”

We hope to continue exploring the importance of immigration in our community with further outreach efforts later this year and we thank everyone who participated at our Founding Day booth on April 29.

Heidi Ortloff is an interpreter with California State Parks assigned to El Presidio SHP.

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