The second annual Beloved Community Isla Vista Conference will be held this Friday and Saturday at the I.V. Community Resource Building, providing residents with a celebration of the I.V. community through workshops and presentations.
The conference is dedicated to the six UC Santa Barbara students who passed away on May 23, 2014. This year, the event will also be dedicated to another cause of the conference’s choice, which has yet to be announced and will be publicized on Saturday.
The conference began in 2016 as a way to engage the public in a community-wide dialogue discussing Isla Vista’s history and healing process.
According to the Beloved Community website, the first conference was comprised of 30 workshops, presentations, art exhibitions and “other forms of engagement that showcased the people, the history, the ideas and the places that make up this beloved community.”
This year’s activities will focus on three “lenses” of the community: equity, inclusion and activism.
There will be an art exhibition that showcases murals found throughout I.V., a ceremony honoring the town’s roots and environment and a series of discussions about how to engage with the different communities in I.V.
Paola Dela Cruz, vice-chairperson of the I.V. Recreation & Park District, said the convention’s themes are the same as those discussed last year because they are still relevant today. The conference is designed to promote these key ideas and use activism as the vehicle of the change they encourage, she said.
“The three lenses … are a guidebook of how it is we want people to engage with each other, how we want people to have conversations and how we want people to live with each other in Isla Vista,” Dela Cruz said.
The concept of the “Beloved Community” was popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. According to King, the idea of a beloved community was an achievable goal that could be attained by a society committed to the philosophy and methods of nonviolence.
Dela Cruz said King’s interpretation of the beloved community resonated with many members of the event’s board committee and inspired the conference’s title.
Dela Cruz said while she cannot speak for the entire community’s needs, she wants to be a part of the group that facilitates such discussions about the future and improvement of I.V., as well as in larger communities.
“There are so many parts of our community that work really well; things that we are doing here that can be used on in the Santa Barbara County, California and even on the national level,” Dela Cruz said, referencing Isla Vista’s parks, the I.V. Food Co-op and the dedicated residents who work to improve the community.