COVID-19 prevention current priority for Isla Vista group
The Beloved Community of Isla Vista has launched a COVID-19 messaging and public service announcement campaign to provide helpful tips to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus among the Isla Vista and UCSB campus communities.
Large colorful signs are on display around Isla Vista sharing slogans like “Six Feet Apart But Together At Heart,” “I’m Staying Home For Those Who Can’t” and “Community Is Not Cancelled.”
To express appreciation for essential workers, signs are also placed outside businesses with the words, “Heroes Work Here.”
The Beloved Community Messaging Campaign began when the spread of COVID-19 became apparent and the group recognized the need to take action to protect the Isla Vista community, according to Rodney Gould, who works with UCSB Associated Students as Isla Vista community advisor.
“After two and a half months with less than five total cases, Isla Vista has seen a spike to 128 cases over the past month, prompting us to step up our efforts,” Mr. Gould told the News-Press. “We are expanding our mask distribution from four to 10 locations including restaurants, a bike shop and a hair salon.
“We are also implementing a mobile messaging campaign. In addition to distributing free masks and thermometers, the mobile van will display COVID-19 best practices messaging and reward those who are observed wearing masks and practicing social distancing with prizes.”
The signs in three languages — English, Spanish and Mandarin— on large sandwich boards are placed in the downtown area and at the four entry points to I.V.
“A series of radio public service announcements (PSAs) is airing on KCSB 91.9 FM, the student-led community radio station at UCSB, using a variety of student and community voices to deliver upbeat inspirational messages in English, Spanish and Mandarin. Some of the radio spots are also being used in videos that can be shared on social media,” said Mr. Gould.
He explained that Beloved Community of Isla Vista was formed in early 2016 when representatives from UCSB Associated Students, the Isla Vista business community, campus leaders and the community at large saw a need for community healing on the second anniversary of the May 23, 2014, Isla Vista tragedy that took the lives of six UCSB students.
“The Beloved Community is a term that was first coined by the philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce in the early 19th century. But it was Martin Luther King Jr. who developed it, and it became a common thread throughout his teachings about nonviolent protest and reconciliation,” said Mr. Gould.
Besides the pandemic message campaign, the group hosts annual events featuring community workshops, art exhibitions, critical conversations, community meals and other forms of engagement that showcase the people, history and culture in Isla Vista.
Among them was a session centered on the Chumash experience titled “Community Narratives in the Wake of Tragedy.” Presenters were Roberta Cordero, Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation; Aaron Jones, UCSB; Melissa Cohen, IV Food Coop; and Lisa Osborn, KCSB.
“Spoken Word,” a collaboration between the Beloved Community and UCSB MultiCultural Center, featured Sunni Patterson, a poet from New Orleans who performed at the Isla Vista Teen Center to an overflow audience of approximately 400 people.
“Common Table was a collaboration of the Beloved Community, Lois Capps Foundation and Isla Vista businesses. The 72-foot-long Common Table was set up and decorated by Beloved Community volunteers in People’s Park on the fifth anniversary of the May 23, 2014, tragedy,” said Mr. Gould.
“It was attended by families and students of all ages, long-term residents, members of the houseless community and local business owners. There was no agenda other than to break break bread and create a space for casual community dialog. Food and drink were provided by local restaurants and businesses.”
In collaboration with the Multicultural Fraternity at UCSB, the Beloved Community made the following pledge: “We the undersigned commit to changing the dominant, toxic culture that has become pervasive both within the Greek system at UCSB and in Isla Vista generally. Specifically, we are determined to address and ameliorate any instance of interpersonal violence, including, but not limited to, sexual assault, fighting, abusive or hateful language and hazing or initiation rituals which deteriorate, demean or destroy one’s humanity, as well as to challenge any paradigms which endorse or reinforce institutional racism, sexism, homophobia or gender bias.”
A 40-year resident of Isla Vista, where he raised two children, Mr. Gould
was general manager of the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District for seven years before his current position.
“I guess what resonates with me about the Beloved Community concept is the premise that it’s the spirit of nonviolence and love that can transform opponents into friends,” he said.
“Between the pandemic and institutional racism that is so prevalent in our society, I believe the work of the Beloved Community of Isla Vista is more relevant than ever.”