When I approached 31 women in the community about being featured in a special Women’s History Month series, most of the participants were happy to oblige but wanted to make sure of one thing: Had I asked Trini to participate?
Trini, or Maria Trinidad Rodriguez, is the co-founder of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore, the only trade bookstore in the northeast San Fernando Valley and, rest assured, she was the first person I asked to be a part of this series.
It goes without saying that Trini holds a special place in hearts of many northeast SFV residents. She brings to mind everything the series is about: passion, humility, strength. And the belief that once you recognize who you are and where you come from, then you’ve got all you need to face the world.
So today, on International Women’s Day, we honor one local woman who deserves international recognition for the lives she’s touched here in the San Fernando Valley and beyond.
Full name and age: Maria Trinidad Rodriguez, also known as Trini, 61
Your cause(s)/organization(s)/profession(s)/passion project(s):
Cause: I support the complete realignment of society’s resources to meet the needs and well-being of our global family and planet.
Organization: Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore is a Sylmar-based community space I helped co-found in 2001. It exists for the wholistic healing of our community through the arts, culture and literacy. We welcome everyone to connect with the many programs, books and experiences we offer.
Profession: I have been a bilingual elementary and adult education teacher, a writer and editor for a national immigrants’ rights newspaper, a court interpreter, scheduler for my author/lecturer husband Luis J. Rodriguez, and for the past 14 years, operations manager at Tia Chucha’s on a full-time volunteer basis.
Passion projects: To strive to learn, share, write, heal and artfully create the conditions, time and space for women to fully express their authentic selves, tap into ancestral knowledge, and live the lives we were born to lead. I am a water-pourer for a monthly women’s sweatlodge ceremony in Sylmar and I also facilitate talking circles.
Describe your role in the community.
I promote creative individual and collective healing.
Why do you choose to focus on the Valley and do the work that you do?
The northeast San Fernando Valley is my home. I feel the vast majority of the people in this area have tremendous capacities that have been historically underestimated and neglected. The work I do helps draw out and develop the inherent gifts of this diverse community. Individuals who are healthy in mind, body, and spirit are better able to imagine and create positive change.
Why is it important for women to share their passion with the community?
The creative and nurturing energy women carry is necessary at all levels and in all places. The more women share their experiences, perspectives and voices, the more the community is enriched in the process.
If you had one wish for the San Fernando Valley, what would it be?
My wish would be that the Valley would be respected and supported for the gem that it is.
Where can we find you online?
Trini wrote a poem in 2013 in honor of International Women’s Day, and she was kind enough to share it below.
I’ve been a woman
too long searching
for ways to escape this cocoon
to spread wings wide, no longer hide
my being, my heart, my life.
Aching to find my way home
to this body, through this voice
no more asking permission
to be me, know myself
be at one with destiny.
Today, International Women’s Day
in honor of women born before
in thanks to women here now
I offer a prayer, a divine mandala
color of freedoms and dreams.
Bless this awaited return
to the roots of our sacred knowing
that while our days are numbered
our presence will be counted
in courage bared, in love shared.
For when we stand, live out loud
rescue our trampled souls
we heal the spirit within
to humbly transform, to proudly say
I’ve been a woman.
Feature photo courtesy of tiachucha.org.