José Chuy Hernández, Mariachero and music instructor with ACTA program manager Russell Rodríguez before recording in the pop-up studio. Photo: Lily Kharrazi/ACTA
How do you create a portrait of a neighborhood and its people? What captures your sense of place? What is embedded in a soundscape, a memory, a story, or a song that make you feel that you belong?
ACTA visited the Mayfair district of East San Jose on March 19, working with our partner, The School of Arts & Culture, housed at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. The occasion is a year-long initiative known as Celebrate Mayfair, an effort by organizations and residents to create a new narrative for their under-resourced neighborhood. At the center of this effort is the central tenant that by connecting people to one another, changes towards better health, safety and urban blight can be addressed by the people who live there. It is also an important way to recognize the assets of a neighborhood instead characterizing it only through real and perceived deficits. The School of Arts and Culture plays a central role in this initiative, inviting residents through their shared local histories (where activist Cesar Chavez got his start), and their cultural expressions to engage in this effort and to enjoy their neighborhood.
A local hip hop crew entertains with feats of acrobatic surprise and improvisation, led by dancer Miles Caliboso. Photo: Lily Kharrazi/ACTA
It is with this aligned value and mission that ACTA has brought its Sounds of California program to the primarily Latino/a neighborhood of East San Jose. We are working on the local level to create a portrait of a neighborhood and its people through our sound recordings; Inviting residents to contribute their songs, stories, reflections, and voices to a tapestry of the neighborhood’s sonic signature is an opportunity to showcase the vitality of the neighborhood.
Today we’re presenting a new video produced by my colleague, ACTA program manager, Russell Rodríguez—a San Jose native son. Together, we captured a few generous and talented residents whose contributions provide a taste of the richness of what is possible. Our efforts will culminate in the summer, inviting and recording ‘cultural treasures’ from the neighborhood to celebrate their work with the community. Stay tuned for more updates and a new web presence to house and share this project with you.
For more information on the Sounds of California project, designed to explore California through the lens of migration and immigration, see the following links below from the ACTA archive. Our partners include the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Heritage Center, the Oakland Museum of California, and Radio Bilingüe.
- Reflecting on the Sounds of California by Russell Rodríguez (2016)
- Sounds of California: Engaging, Recording, and Archiving the State’s Soundscape by Amy Kitchener (2016)
- ACTA Co-Produces the Sounds of California at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (2016)
- Between the Symbols of the Nation: Two Weeks in D.C. with “Sounds of California” at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival by Lilly Kharrazi (2016)
- VIDEO: Sounds of California – Featured Artists in Dialogue (2016)