2014 Pushcart Prize Nominees by Cati Porter

For the first time, Inlandia is proud to announce that we have nominated the following works for this year’s Pushcart Prize Anthology, an annual anthology of works culled from little magazines and independent presses. Editors may nominate up to six works, and can be any combination of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and stand-alone excerpts from longer works published or scheduled to be published during the current calendar year. This year, we have nominated the following:

From Inlandia: A Literary Journey

Kathleen Alcala’s “La Otra”

Elisha Holt’s “Geology”

From Orangelandia: The Literature of Inland Citrus

Juan Delgado’s “Walter’s Orchid”

Casandra Lopez’s “Those Who Speak to Trees Remember”

Chad Sweeney’s “World”

From No Easy Way: Integrating Riverside Schools – A Victory for Community by Arthur L. Littleworth

Congratulations to all of our nominees!

And to all of our contributors, we wish we could nominate all of you!

For All Those Who Ask, What *is* Inlandia? by Cati Porter

Once again we are approaching that time of year when we give thanks for friends and family, take stock of what we have accomplished, and express appreciation for all those who have made it possible. So, thank you—we are all Inlandia.

A question I get asked regularly is, what is Inlandia? We have now been writing these columns for well over a year, and I don’t think we have ever addressed that directly here. Sure, you can make out who we are by the patchwork of topics covered here; what you see is what Inlandia is and does: many voices, all hailing from Inland Southern California, celebrating the region. But on the heels of what has been a banner week for Inlandia, I thought I would try to explain it in a little more detail.

The Inlandia Institute was established in 2007 as a partnership between the City of Riverside and Heyday, our co-publisher, after the publication of the anthology Inlandia: A Literary Journey through California’s Inland Empire. The idea was to found a literary and cultural center here in the Inland Empire that focused on the writers and readers of the region. Soon after, Inlandia moved into our own office, incorporating in 2009, and in 2012 Inlandia was granted non-profit status as a 501(c)(3).

Inlandia has five core programs: Children’s Creative Literacy, Adult Literary Professional Development, Publications—both with our co-publisher Heyday as well as a locally-produced independent imprint, Free Public Literary Events, and the Inlandia Literary Laureate. What does this translate to? Just this past year, Inlandia has:

– Served over 2000 children, including at-risk youth through The Women Wonder Writers program of the DA’s office, resulting in a collection of written work and a public reading and discussion; and in programs in Title 1 schools like Fremont Elementary, where we held a book discussion and gave all 200 fifth-graders and sixth-graders a free copy of Gayle Brandeis’ young adult novel, My Life with the Lincolns, thanks to a generous Rotary sponsorship.

– Served over 2400 adults through public outreach events like Celebrate Mount Rubidoux and the Mayor’s Celebration for Arts & Innovation, and by hosting free monthly author events during ArtsWalk at the Riverside Public Library, and writing workshops throughout Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, including a Family Legacy Writing Workshop at the Goeske Senior Center.

– Published: No Easy Way, the story of the integration of Riverside schools, by Arthur L. Littleworth, a chapter integral to Riverside history; Vital Signs by Inlandia Literary Laureate Juan Delgado and Tom McGovern, which went on to win an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation; and the Orangelandia anthology, which contains the fruit of Riverside’s citrus heritage. And launching this week, a new children’s chapter book, Tia’s Tamale Trouble, by Inlandia author and educator Julianna Maya Cruz.

Inlandia also undertakes special projects from time to time, like “Making Waves in Inlandia,” which chronicles the stories of the women’s environmental movement through oral histories and a very cool interactive component on our website, including a map of all the spaces saved by local environmental activists, and video interviews.

We also have two other interactive features on our website—a map that details the location of every Inland Empire site mentioned in our flagship Inlandia anthology (which, regrettably, is currently out of print—but we are working on a second edition! More about that in a future post). And, just this past week, with the publication of No Easy Way, we launched an interactive timeline, “Time Travel through Riverside’s School Integration History.”

Further, after the first of the year, we will be launching a six-part series of monthly public civic discussion forums featuring esteemed panelists and partner organizations, with the kickoff event at UCR’s Culver Center on January 31, 2015, at 1 pm.

One of the sound bites associated with Inlandia is, “celebrating the region in word, image, and sound.”

Planned projects include a new Adopt-a-School program which will bring literary arts education, taught by professionals in the field, to area schools; a Native American Voices conference at the Dorothy Ramon Center in Banning, featuring and celebrating indigenous peoples; a writing workshop at the Ontario Museum of History and Art celebrating black aviators in February, in honor of Black History Month. Not to mention our usual monthly Arts Walk series at the downtown Riverside Public Library and the free writing workshops held in six different cities throughout the region.

We are supported wholly through the generous donations of our members, supporters, and through grant funding from organizations like the City of Riverside, the Riverside Arts Council, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and Cal Humanities. But like any arts organization, we are constantly thinking of creative ways we can ensure continued funding while also making it fun for contributors. Last week, we participated in the county-wide Give BIG day of giving, and to all of those who helped us meet our goals, thank you!

We are also currently in the midst of a book fair fundraiser sponsored by Barnes & Noble. If you missed the kickoff event on Saturday November 22, which featured readings by notable locals Larry Eby, Isabel Flores, Stephanie Barbe Hammer, Julianna Cruz, and a flurry of contributors to the Orangelandia anthology, know that you can still participate through the end of the week by shopping online or in store (any Barnes & Noble anywhere, as long as you have Inlandia’s code: 11484482), through Black Friday. So if like most people at this time of year you are beginning to think about holiday gifts, give a gift to Inlandia when you shop at Barnes & Noble this Thanksgiving week.

From all of us at Inlandia, we give thanks for you this week, and every week, throughout the year.

KIDLANDIA: Come to the Museum by Julianna M. Cruz

I’m using my blog space to promote an event at our wonder-filled Mission Inn Museum. They are holding a Riverside author signing event, and I will be there to sign copies of my book, Dos Chiles, Two Chilies and my friend Cindi Niesinger will also be there to sign her new children’s book, Mouse Wedding at the Mission Inn Where’s Daddy? There are lots of other books by Riverside authors as well. I will have a sample copy of No Easy Way if you would like to look at it before ordering. All proceeds from sales will go to the Mission Inn Museum.

I hope to see everyone there!

Mission Inn Museum

1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Sunday, October 26, 2014

 

Thanks for all your support,

Julianna M. Cruz


Julianna M. Cruz is a teacher, an author, and an Inlandian.

Educating Our Children — And the Rest of Us, Too by Cati Porter

My weekday morning routine is always the same: the only variable in recent years has been where I drop them off – first it was both to Victoria, then Victoria and Gage, now Gage and Poly. Invariably, the car door slams as they hop out and disappear into the crowd. Our goodbyes are always some combination of affection and admonishment. I feel fortunate to have never had occasion to seriously question their safety or the quality of the education they are receiving.

After drop off, for years I have driven the same route downtown, taking Victoria Avenue around the bend and over the bridge where more kids on their way to Poly walk, past the Victoria Club and the arroyo, where rows of mostly bungalows line each side of the road. Just a bit farther down is the intersection of Cridge and Victoria. For years I had driven that route, past the stone-columned multi-hued cottages of Wall Manor, without any knowledge of the history of that plot of land. I only recently came to learn what once stood there – Lowell Elementary – and what its absence represents.

Early in the morning of September 7, 1965, Lowell School was set ablaze. No one has ever been charged, and likely no one ever will be, but it is almost certain that it was arson. And whether or not anyone knew it at the time, that fire served as the catalyst for monumental change.

Set back from Wall Manor, facing Cridge but with a Victoria address, is the St. James Restoration Tabernacle. Originally that building served as a kindergarten classroom for Lowell; now it’s the only remnant of that school still standing.

At the time, the Riverside Unified School District was growing, but as a result of housing covenants restricting where people of color could live, some schools, including Lowell, had become de facto segregated, which is to say, not purposefully but rather as a result of the fact that they were located in neighborhoods where minorities predominated as a result of these covenants. Even where those schools had to some degree been integrated, the opening of new schools in majority white neighborhoods had siphoned non-minority students away.

By the time of the fire, Lowell was populated primarily by African-American and Mexican-American students. Parents of students at both Lowell and Irving schools, the de facto segregated schools located in Riverside’s Eastside community, had decided that they wanted integration.

This fire occurred at the height of the Civil Rights movement, shortly after the Watts riots in Los Angeles. There was some fear that there could be more fires, and that the situation could unravel, but what happened instead was rather astonishing: the community came together, and the students were not just moved but carefully and thoughtfully placed, a few in each classroom throughout the district, so as to ensure not just desegregation but a true integration of these displaced children. Riverside Unified became the first large school district to voluntarily integrate, thanks to its strong and outspoken community leaders, and in particular, Arthur Littleworth, who sat as the chair of school board during this entire period, ensuring that the integration was implemented as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

In November, Poly High School will be unveiling a timeline dedicated to Mr. Littleworth’s life, and at the same time, Inlandia will be releasing his book, No Easy Way, which includes his personal reflections on that period as well as includes interviews with other important local figures who were there too, and details the struggles and events that led up to this voluntary and comparably peaceful integration. I say comparably, because, unlike in other parts of the country, there was no National Guard called in to escort the students, but that is not to say it wasn’t without strife. One of the many things that I learned in bringing this book into the world is that there were parents who objected to the integration, those who were present as the bus pulled up to Alcott Elementary, protesting and harassing the children as they tried simply to make their way to class, in a new school.

These days, children of all races and ethnicities attend these same schools. I don’t know whether or not it is something to be proud of, but my own sons have no clue about the concept of racially segregated schools, except in the abstract. It has never been any different during their lifetime. But now, at Poly, I have had to explain to my son who the theater is named after, and why. Why it is significant. What it stands for. And the struggle for equality in all things is far from over. And that even in a community like Riverside, there is a history that we have to overcome – as far back as the influence of the Ku Klux Klan in 1920s as a result of a nationwide revival—to the neo-Nazi resurgence in recent years, leading to community protests, and finally, the death of a local party leader by the hands of his own child.

When I moved to Riverside in 1994, I had no idea of the history here – and regrettably, so many still do not. But often, when I drop my children off at school, I try to reflect on what brought us here, what it means to be a part of this community, how grateful I am to all those that came before me, paving the way for all of our children’s futures, and how far we still have to go.