The Relevancy & History Project includes ongoing partnerships and a model of collaborative research aimed to include the voices of diverse communities whose histories are often not represented in traditional libraries, archives, and museums. Community meetings were held to invite residents and regional historical organizations to shape the project, participate in events, and share stories of citrus.
At one meeting, for instance, members of Riverside’s Temple Beth El recounted the uses of citron or etrog during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Riverside growers stepped in to provide the fruit to Europeans when crops failed in Palestine. At another meeting, long-term Eastside and Casa Blanca residents reminisced about learning to swim in the Gage Canal, and cooling off there during citrus harvests. Relatives of John B. Adams talked about their grandfather’s journey from slavery in the Carolinas to working as a free man in California on “Lucky” Baldwin’s San Gabriel ranch, where he worked to bud citrus trees. They remembered his fond stories of working with “Old Lady” Tibbets–Eliza Tibbets, who planted Riverside’s first navel orange trees in 1873.
Participants agreed that the diversity of people who helped shape the region through their knowledge, labor, and community building ought to be individually and collectively acknowledged. Their ideas are helping shape plans for exhibitions, installations, and public programs at the park.
If you are interested in participating in community meetings, festivals at the Citrus State Historic Park, or have a story to share, please write to us at RHCitrusPark@gmail.com.