Is California Living Up To The Legacy?
Tuesday, May 4th, 2009
The inaugural conference in the Hidden Stories series, entitled “100 Years Since Allensworth: Is California Living Up To The Legacy?” was a smashing success. The conference was generously underwritten by lead sponsor Sempra Energy/Southern California Gas Company, as well as Nestle, Northrup Grummond and The National Trust for Historic Preservation. A heartfelt thank you also goes out to Susan Anderson, curator and the conference’s moderator, for her leadership. Nearly 100 participants attended, mainly from the greater Los Angeles area, but people also came from as far away as San Diego and Oakland.
The morning began with a rousing speech from the President of CSPF, Elizabeth Goldstein. Two outstanding presentations followed: a panel of three experts discussed the fascinating history of the Gold Rush, and then a second panel talked about recreation and beach culture in Southern California.
Highlights included the fascinating story of James Beckwourth, explorer extraordinaire; an account of the Monroe-Gooch family of Coloma, from whom Sutter’s Fort and Marshall’s gold discovery site were acquired and in a more modern vein, a great presentation on Bruce’s Beach and the history (and future) of African-American surfers. The audience was extremely engaged, with many questions and comments for the panelists.
Lunch was enlivened by the presence of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who introduced the keynote speaker, the Honorable Willie L. Brown. Mayor Brown riveted the entire group with a mesmerizing account of how Allensworth SHP came into existence and his role in that process.
The afternoon also offered many absorbing stories. The last panel, focused on San Diego-Old Town and downtown - were a particular focus. Highlights of this session included the story of Allen Light, a man of many professions, including hunter, explorer, mariner, hotel owner, and holder of a commission from the Mexican government designating him as “principal arbiter of the National Armada, assigned to the branch of Otter
The conference then broke into four groups: Media, Education, Parks, and Historic and Cultural Preservation. Each group was led by an expert in the field who volunteered his or her efforts. The groups were very engaged and generated many excellent ideas for projects and programs. The ideas brainstormed in these four groups are currently being studied for future action. The afternoon ended with an excellent speech from Director Ruth Coleman.
The beautiful new visitors center at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook served as the venue for that sevening’s reception. The view was stupendous, with all of Los Angeles spread out around the park. Excellent jazz music was provided by students from Washington Preparatory High School.
Many community members attended the reception, which was very generously hosted by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who presented congratulatory scrolls to California Department of Parks and Recreation, CSPF and several others.
A good time was had by all.