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Racial Borderlands: Suburban Plantation Culture and 'Rancho California (por favor)'
Unformatted Document Text:  Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.14 thinking notion of service. La Cosecha Nuestra, after all, provided a handy mechanism whereby people--in the words of the Vice-Mayor at both the ground-breaking and first harvest celebrations-- could "help themselves." But the idea of publicly promoting images of this specific community-- comprised of people of color, farmworkers, and immigrants--also flew directly in the face of a newly elected city council intent on selling an image of the city as a bastion of country clubs and comfortable suburban living. At several meetings and events I was repeatedly asked if the production, once completed, could be used to promote the image of the city; both to the council and to those outside of the city. Having spent almost two months interviewing and filming in homes and garden plots, I knew that the City Council had no idea about how alienated they were from these neighborhoods. Working mothers talking about diebetes and concerns over the childhood lures of local fast-food businesses would never serve the interests of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce. Nor would the endless images of people of color in the production comfort Council members intent on transforming Escondido--once considered a sleeply farmtown in the country-- into the kind of classic elegance afforded other "North County" enclaves like La Costa, Carlsbad, and Rancho Santa Fe. Race was a particularly sensitive issue in the aftermatch of the contentious Prop 187 controversy. While protection against immigrant "hordes" animated conservative forces in the county and state, community Cosesha Nuestra showcased a Mexican and Central American population actively involved in the life of a city. The Council and the Chamber of Commerce were simply in denial. 24 The problem at root was that we took the opinions and insights of a large number of community members on the ground seriously. Dispersing the authority to "reflect" and teach in this way unsettles even those committed to the long fight to provide resources to the neighborhoods. But doing so seemed even more important given this contact and contestation. The city was seeing people it had never seen before. NGO’s confronted other groups with overlapping objectives and ideals. And everyone was having to deal with the sheer presence of newly empowered constituents. The arm-twisting I was feeling during the production process was probably an

Authors: Caldwell, John.
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Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.14
thinking notion of service. La Cosecha Nuestra, after all, provided a handy mechanism whereby
people--in the words of the Vice-Mayor at both the ground-breaking and first harvest celebrations--
could "help themselves." But the idea of publicly promoting images of this specific community--
comprised of people of color, farmworkers, and immigrants--also flew directly in the face of a newly
elected city council intent on selling an image of the city as a bastion of country clubs and
comfortable suburban living. At several meetings and events I was repeatedly asked if the
production, once completed, could be used to promote the image of the city; both to the council and
to those outside of the city. Having spent almost two months interviewing and filming in homes and
garden plots, I knew that the City Council had no idea about how alienated they were from these
neighborhoods. Working mothers talking about diebetes and concerns over the childhood lures of
local fast-food businesses would never serve the interests of the Escondido Chamber of
Commerce. Nor would the endless images of people of color in the production comfort Council
members intent on transforming Escondido--once considered a sleeply farmtown in the country--
into the kind of classic elegance afforded other "North County" enclaves like La Costa, Carlsbad,
and Rancho Santa Fe. Race was a particularly sensitive issue in the aftermatch of the contentious
Prop 187 controversy. While protection against immigrant "hordes" animated conservative forces in
the county and state, community Cosesha Nuestra showcased a Mexican and Central American
population actively involved in the life of a city. The Council and the Chamber of Commerce were
simply in denial.
24
The problem at root was that we took the opinions and insights of a large number of
community members on the ground seriously. Dispersing the authority to "reflect" and teach in this
way unsettles even those committed to the long fight to provide resources to the neighborhoods.
But doing so seemed even more important given this contact and contestation. The city was seeing
people it had never seen before. NGO’s confronted other groups with overlapping objectives and
ideals. And everyone was having to deal with the sheer presence of newly empowered
constituents. The arm-twisting I was feeling during the production process was probably an


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