This weekend, i am san fernando celebrates its third anniversary, just as Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore rings in 13 years of culture and social media giant Twitter adds another candle to its birthday cake. I don’t think it’s mere coincidence (the Twitter thing is kind of random but I was trying to keep the power of three going) that Sylmar’s beloved cultural center and San Fernando’s humble blog share the same date of birth. After all, though the two are seemingly different — one a physical store and event space, the other an online entity — both hold a special place for the residents of the northeast San Fernando Valley.
Trini Rodriguez, operations director for Tia Chuca’s, published the excerpt below in a letter on the TC website:
Over the years Tia Chucha’s has been blessed with many people who have cared for her, shared their talents, and opened their hearts to make possible an abundance of offerings in arts and culture, books and healing. These servings of empowerment and love, worth and growth, have taught her many things, so that in her space others now learn to tap into their strength, spirit, authenticity and freedom. This is how it should be. This is why Tia Chucha’s exists.
In the same respect, the power of community makes i am san fernando all that it is. Like Trini said, the abundance of arts, culture, words and healing offered by everyday residents equal empowerment and love, worth and growth. Through these servings, not only do those who visit i am san fernando find an avenue to tap in to their strength, spirit and authenticity, but I as a writer, community member, mujer and person gain strength, identity and value.
Trini’s words harks back to something I wrote when i am sf celebrated its first year:
The beauty of i am san fernando, to me anyway, is that it puts a finger on something intangible and makes it real. You see, back when I was on the East Coast and tried to explain what this blog would be about, I wasn’t very good at articulating the concept….Mainly it didn’t resonate with people out there because they weren’t from here. i am san fernando is so much more than events, eats, local finds, etc. It’s more because collectively these posts add up to one thing: value. Value in an area that is consistently written off, in people who aren’t recognized, in a community you know has done much for your personhood but they can’t understand.
…in later discovering how much of my world perspective had been informed by such a small small area, it became clear that i am san fernando had to happen. Because if I attributed so much to this part of the Valley, I knew others found meaning in it and would want to see that value affirmed…Sometimes you can’t quite put your finger on something, but you know it’s there. There’s a sense of place, strength and beauty in finally seeing your community recognized.
And so, in a year when I find myself increasingly drawn to the TC family, I celebrate in solidarity because places like Tia Chucha’s and websites like i am san fernando are ground-level movements with high-level implications.
If year one for i am san fernando was about beginnings and discovery, year two about growth, year three about innovation, then let year four be a mix of those things together with the stability and power of community “floreando nuestro camino.”
Join me in celebration at Tia Chucha’s this Saturday, March 22, so I can personally thank you for the support, love and beauty you’ve brought to the blog. Tia Chucha’s 13th anniversary, “Flowering Our Journey — Floreando Nuestro Camino” takes place at 13197 Gladstone Ave. in Sylmar, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. I will be vending women’s tank tops after 12:30 p.m. Get more details by visiting the event listing.
Thank you to Sweetness Cupcakes & Cakes for donating the cupcakes (and edible San Fernando trees!) shown in the feature image.