This weekend is going to be busy-in a good way. Two famous Ventura County festivals are held this Saturday and Sunday. I’ll attend both of them since I’ve had a long association with the non-profit groups, but even if I didn’t have that association I’d still attend because both contribute all profits to social justice causes that I believe make a difference.
The Rebozo (Shawl) Festival is a cultural event, where the rebozo (shawl) is the centerpiece highlighting Mexican heritage. It’s a colorful garden party of women wearing sundresses, garden hats, and a wide variety of shawls and men who don guayabera‘s and Panama hats to enjoy a three hour brunch with Mariachi music. Besides the food, clothing and music the main impetus for the festival is to raise money for community non-profits that serve youth and families. This ranges from foster after care, arts education, mentoring, and counseling services.
I’ll also work with the National Latino Peace Officer Association at the California Strawberry Festival, an event that draws 40,000 people into our city. There are strawberries galore, they’re everywhere from drinks to desserts. The group of law enforcement people I work with are dedicated on the job and off the job. All proceeds from two days of working concession booths go to a scholarship fund awarded to high school and community college kids.
After 28 years working within prison walls I’ve accumulated a few theories on what keeps youth out of juvenile halls, jails, and prisons. We could go into the nature versus nuture (innate qualities versus personal experiences) debate about criminality, but there is no clear cut winner.
I’m not speaking as a sociologist, however that is my university degree, but my personal and professional experiences lead me to say that there are a few things that help youth stay out of the criminal justice system: Mentoring, education, and employment.
Who would have thought that shawls and strawberries could be so powerful.