“Rushing Water, Rising Dreams: How the Arts are Transforming a Community,” a book by California State University, Northridge Chicana/o studies professor Denise Sandoval and Luis Rodriguez have received a bronze medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY).
The awards, launched in 1996, are designed to bring increased recognition to deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers. Sandoval’s book received the bronze medal in the multicultural, nonfiction adult book category.
“Rushing Water, Rising Dreams” explores the impact of 20 years of lack of neighborhood cultural spaces adversely affected struggling families and communities. It also examines how the independent bookstore Tia Chucha’s in the northeast San Fernando Valley–the second largest community of Mexicans and Central Americans in the United States–inspired a cultural awakening and revival of the economy and community spirit. A documentary was also created to accompany the book.
“This is the first book that places the focus on the northeast San Fernando Valley and allows the people of those communities to speak their stories—their truths,” said Sandoval. “There are many books that document the history of the San Fernando Valley, but many of them focus on the west side of the Valley, the more affluent and well known side, areas like Northridge, Encino and Sherman Oaks. There are also many books on Chicano/Latino history in Los Angeles (heavily focused on East Los Angeles/Boyle Heights, which is understandable given the early roots of the city of Los Angeles). But what’s missing are the histories of the Chicano/Mexican/Latino communities in the northeast San Fernando Valley.
“The goal of the book was to show how when a community is given resources, like education and other things that are often overlooked, how resilient they can be, and how positively the arts can affect the revitalization and healing of the people within the community,” she continued.
Bernice Haber, a CSUN Friends of the Library board member, hailed the book, saying, “What makes this story so unique is that it is distinctive to the northeast San Fernando Valley.”
Sandoval and Rodriguez’s project was funded by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s Cultivate/Create Initiative, along with donations from individuals and families for a project that will help push forward ongoing support for Tia Chucha’s extensive programming, workshops, events and festivals.
Sandoval and Rodriguez, were able to match $10,000 from the arts commission with donations through in an IndieGoGo online campaign, from several community events and through talks and presentations made around the country by Rodriguez.
Tia Chucha’s Cultivate/Create team included Tia Chucha board members Dolores Villanueva and David R. Diaz, development director Ruben Guevara, and grants/technical assistant Walter P.
“It’s an honor to receive this award, and a dream come true to have been able to work on this amazing project,” said Sandoval.
Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore is the only multi-arts cultural space and trade bookstore in the northeast San Fernando Valley with workshops in the visual arts, Mexican dance, music (including Son Jarocho Mexican musical tradition), writing, theater and puppetry, among others. They also present film screening nights, open mics, author readings, art exhibits, healing workshops, indigenous cosmology and community dialogues. They host the only annual outdoor literacy, arts and performance festival in the San Fernando Valley, with the assistance of L.A. City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, called “Celebrating Words: Written, Performed & Sung.”