Honoring César E. Chávez…
“The Solar Calendar is the kind of
memorial that César would have liked.”
We are honoring César Estrada Chávez with an ancient architectural form, a solar calendar. It represents an appropriate tribute to farm workers who have always lived by understanding the cycle of the seasons. There is nothing more basic to agriculture than the rhythm of the seasons, and nothing more basic to the seasons than a solar calendar.
A central architectural feature of the proposed design will be sculptural elements and educational activities that will honor four key virtues of Chávez. One of these virtues will be artistically interpreted in each of the four cardinal directions of the site. Each corresponds with ancient metaphorical meanings commonly associated with one of the four directions.
César Chávez & Labor:
As a labor leader and advocate of non-violent social action Chávez
brought a face, voice and hope to farm workers who labor in the
fields to put food on our tables. Chávez’ successes
include the founding of the first union for farm workers with Dolores
Huerta (The United Farm Workers of America), the signing of the
first agricultural worker agreements, passage of the Agricultural
Labor Relations Act, and advocating a ban on the use of “el
cortito,” the dreaded and crippling short-handled hoe. While
César’s social justice efforts are well known, less
known is his commitment to earth stewardship.
Chávez & The Environment:
Chávez consistently articulated both an environmental and social justice message. As early as the 1960’s, concerns about cancers and chemicals were a part of the United Farm Worker Union’s effort. His message was that there is probably no greater connection that we have with the earth than through the food that we eat. Yet those who work the earth, those who plant and harvest the food that sustains us, suffer some of the worst environmental abuse. In 2006, agriculture still remains one of the most hazardous occupations in the U.S.
Chávez & Non-Violence:
Guided by his own devout Catholic faith and inspired by Mohandas Gandhi, Chávez was spiritually attuned to the sanctity of all life. He was a vegetarian and fasted as a spiritual practice as well as for social protest. Paraphrasing him, he said that whether it be racism and economic deprival, or bull fighting and rodeo, they are all cut from the same fabric, violence.
Non-violent social action was to him, as it was for Gandhi, a form
of “moral jujitsu.” The concept describes the effect
of non-violence on the opposition. That is, to arm oneself with
righteousness by refusing to initiate violence against another being,
or to return the violence of another. And though such a moral stance
may result in one’s own physical injury or death, it will
help avoid the downward spiral to ever more violence and the degradation
CHAVEZ SPEAKS (mp3, 2.8 MB): A two-minute excerpt from a speech delivered to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco in 1984. The excerpt addresses the sins of growers with respect to environmental toxins. The speech covered the struggles and achievements of the United Farm Workers Union.
Biography (with photos)
Citywide Chávez Commemoration…
In 2001, the Chávez "Circle of Service" Commemoration
Committee was formed to engage school children and the community
in celebrating the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez:
The commemorative period was established to allow a number of activities to unfold in the city and to allow greater citizen participation