Our annual project at Monarch School in San Diego has taken various forms over the years. One year we focussed on personal documentaries, another year we made a short film about farming called "A Day In the Fields". For the past two years we have partnered with History teacher Jeffra Becknell and focussed on the stories within walking distance of the school - in the neighborhood of Barrio Logan.
Within Barrio Logan is Chicano Park, a place where art and activism come together. The murals of Chicano Park adorn the columns supporting the Coronado Bridge. The park was founded in 1970 following a community uprising demanding the land be given back to the people of Barrio Logan. The murals reflect the cultural history of the people indigenous to the land, before there was a bridge, before there were national borders. The murals also reflect the Chicano Movement, which was a civil rights movement empowering people of Mexican descent who live in southern California.
The park itself is a focus of community pride, and a positive example of civil rights in action. The students at Monarch School had the opportunity to meet one of the original activist/artists, Mario Torero (below), who participated in the neighborhood uprising and painted some of the murals. Mario kindly met with the Monarch students and agreed to a series of interviews in the park. The Monarch students produced a series of stories about Chicano Park as part of their World Story Exchange history project.