Do you love bicycles, history and art? Well the Santa Barbara Mural Bike Ride (mural ride) combined all that in one great community event hosted by SBBIKE.
As the newest team member and a proud Santa Barbareño, I organized and lead the first ever mural ride. On Saturday October 29, 2016, over 120 people attended the family friendly bike ride, traveling to six unique mural locations in downtown Santa Barbara learning about the history and meaning behind the murals by the artists who created them and community leaders who grew up with them too.
Providing a platform for youth and locals to speak was critical to the success of the event.
The ride’s goal was to give locals an opportunity to feel proud of their community and that our stories matter too.
There's a stigma when we tell new residents and tourists that we’re locals, as if we don’t fit the idea of what makes a local. And I don’t blame them. In the past two decades, a lot of SB locals have moved to Lompoc, Ventura and Oxnard, where the cost of housing is more affordable, but continue to commute to SB for work. Another factor is that more than 1/3 of Santa Barbara’s population are students, who get cycled every 4 years because of our higher education institutions. Also, SB has been a tourist destination for over a century.
Go on Google, type in the words “Santa Barbara Locals” and go to the images, and you’ll see what I mean as in proper media representation. To further emphasis the point, if you traveled to places like New York, Paris, Mexico City, Tokyo or Rome, wouldn't you want to do the Anthony Bourdain approach to experience the real cultural than a generic tourist plan?
That's the disparity I’m challenging with this ride.
Out of respect and honor, the first folks I spoke to was our local Chumash community, where we made the Syuxtun Story Circle the first location too.
We had several youth leaders from Just Communities , who grew up in Santa Barbara , to share stories of what it's like growing in Santa Barbara and their interpretations of the murals. For a few of them it was their first experience with public speaking, they were nervous at first, but after speaking felt a surge of empowerment to know that their voices were heard.
“It was a good feeling speaking to the community about murals. I got great feedback and it was an honor for me to represent the very first mural I participated in, which was in the same neighborhood I grew up in.”, said Danny Meza.
“The smiles from families riding together, youth and elders talking, English and Spanish speakers talking in spanglish. It was a dream come true to see our community together to celebrate local history.”, reflects the organizer.
Look out for our next Mural Ride on Saturday October 28, 2017!