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Racial Borderlands: Suburban Plantation Culture and 'Rancho California (por favor)'
Unformatted Document Text:  Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.15 indication that many levels of the bureaucracy would now have to consider forces and interests beyond their own. La Cosecha Nuestra media provided a basic image-sound catalyst for community formation- -one that continues to be used in migrant health education--as well as electronic representations that unsettled the status quo positions of some elected officials and social service "experts." Distribution of the tape Amor Vegetal: Our Harvest involved focus groups that showed that tensions over bureaucratic ownership were less important than how interactivity gave even local residents outside of the garden community the opportunity for identification. A series of responses by teenage viewers in the Migrant Education Project repeatedly connected the opportunity to garden with memories of their villages in Oaxaca, and with how and why parents were doing this to prepare their children for acculturation in the United States (Focus Group With Migrant Ed. Youth, May 24, 1998). They also raised the spectre of day-to-day discrimination faced by Oaxaquenos--currently occupying the lowest "caste" strata in North county--in local schools. Most striking, however, was the way that harvesting became a repeated trope for ethnic identity. 25 Migrant youth focus group members also consistently saw the tape not as a celebration of bounded, racial essentialism, but as an ethnic indigenous strategy open to all viewers. "There is no difference--Everyone should feel like indigenous." ("No hay differencia--Que todos se sientan indigenas.") This project made me think differently about media “interactivity"—a term much bandied about by advocates of digital and new media access. Interactivity here was not just about web surfing or virtual networking, it involved instead social intervention, community formation, and real- world networking. Much of South Escondido was, after all, a world without PCs or phone hookups for modems. Yet everyone had access to a VCR. Because of their competencies as television viewers, these gardeners knew how to claim tangible, on-camera, identities. It is indeed simply a waste of time for alternative media proponents to harden differences between analog and digital, “old media” and “new media,” as the commercial trade press must do (Caldwell 2000). Given vast disparities in income and access in real-world communities, interactivity should never be reduced to

Authors: Caldwell, John.
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Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.15
indication that many levels of the bureaucracy would now have to consider forces and interests
beyond their own.
La Cosecha Nuestra media provided a basic image-sound catalyst for community formation-
-one that continues to be used in migrant health education--as well as electronic representations
that unsettled the status quo positions of some elected officials and social service "experts."
Distribution of the tape Amor Vegetal: Our Harvest involved focus groups that showed that tensions
over bureaucratic ownership were less important than how interactivity gave even local residents
outside of the garden community the opportunity for identification. A series of responses by
teenage viewers in the Migrant Education Project repeatedly connected the opportunity to garden
with memories of their villages in Oaxaca, and with how and why parents were doing this to prepare
their children for acculturation in the United States (Focus Group With Migrant Ed. Youth, May 24,
1998). They also raised the spectre of day-to-day discrimination faced by Oaxaquenos--currently
occupying the lowest "caste" strata in North county--in local schools. Most striking, however, was
the way that harvesting became a repeated trope for ethnic identity.
25
Migrant youth focus group
members also consistently saw the tape not as a celebration of bounded, racial essentialism, but as
an ethnic indigenous strategy open to all viewers. "There is no difference--Everyone should feel like
indigenous." ("No hay differencia--Que todos se sientan indigenas.")
This project made me think differently about media “interactivity"—a term much bandied
about by advocates of digital and new media access. Interactivity here was not just about web
surfing or virtual networking, it involved instead social intervention, community formation, and real-
world networking. Much of South Escondido was, after all, a world without PCs or phone hookups
for modems. Yet everyone had access to a VCR. Because of their competencies as television
viewers, these gardeners knew how to claim tangible, on-camera, identities. It is indeed simply a
waste of time for alternative media proponents to harden differences between analog and digital,
“old media” and “new media,” as the commercial trade press must do (Caldwell 2000). Given vast
disparities in income and access in real-world communities, interactivity should never be reduced to


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