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tv   Harriett Romo and William Dupont Bridging Cultures  CSPAN  June 27, 2022 4:57am-5:39am EDT

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so and maybe you can answer. more questions happy to thank thanks for coming. thank you. thank you for doing this. our moderator jack herrera who is a rights for texas monthly had a flat tire in kyle, texas and could not make it so we're gonna wing it. we do have copies of his questions. he sent in some really good questions. so we are going to respond to this question and unfortunately harriet and i are seasoned veterans. so we'll handle this we're ready to start so you commence good. well one of the things that jack said to start with was how did we get involved with the borderlands and to talk about her history with the border and i am not from the border, but i have lived in los angeles san
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diego and san antonio for many years and my doctoral research was on undocumented families who crossed the border with children because i was fascinated by the courage that it takes to do that and i wanted to know what the experience that the children were and some of my work experiences had been teaching and inner-city schools in los angeles. where a lot of the immigrant children came in. i also worked for a national origin desegregation center that sent me to border cities like calexico desert sands to try to help them start programs for english language learners, so i had a lot of fieldwork listen to a lot of stories of people who crossed the borders who lived on both sides of the borders and my family and i took a long trip with two young children stopping at all the border crossings or one time. so i love the borderlands. i love the mexican culture the latino culture the san antonio
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culture, and we wanted to write about it. so i'm william dupont and i'll start by saying that a projects like the one that harriet and i have completed take a lot of friends a lot of family a lot of support. and in our case a lot of co-authors, we edited their their work and we wrote chapters of our own we co-wrote a chapter and you know did all the introductions but it was a group effort and and it grew out of in part some interest that i developed in the borderlands region with help some from some colleagues at my university and they took me down there and were showing me around and i was fascinated because i love cultural heritage. i'm an architect and and i'm i love figuring out how places came to be the way they are so that you know, then i can understand and process it and as an architect i can then, you know know how to make design choices and decisions about how to save history how to respect
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heritage and that's what i became fascinated with and and so, you know, i'm not from texas either. i mean, i'm from connecticut and it's important to disclose your bias at the start of everything, you know. i i i'm not from here. i there's so much. i don't know so much. i'm always learning and so much i'm understanding but in my profession what i do is to study heritage and then help people identify what's important and value valuable about it. and so that became the focus of the book which grew out of a symposium that harry and i did together when was that in 2012? yeah, right. that's the director of the mexico center at utsa and that had me a lot of opportunities to do presentations in mexico bring scholars to the us we'd hosted a big conference on immigration and then some publications of perspectives of immigration from both sides of the border so bill with his interest in cultural
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preservation had participated in these these conferences and we got to talking about, you know, the lack of focus on the positive aspects of the border and the culture and heritage that people never hear about and any of your connecticut colleagues have never never heard about the border the positive things about the borderland. yeah when i go home the stories, i that i hear and the questions people ask me are astonishing in their stupidity really so but ignorance is just ignorance. yeah, that's what it is. and and thank you for the help on that. and so my fascination with with the heritage was something that i talked about with harriet and we decided to do one symposium it there was then another symposium that i was part of and and we gathered the authors together from that because we wanted different perspectives since there's no way to tell all
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the positive stories about the rich heritage of the borderlands without including many voices and and even in you know, our one book, which there's 10 total counting us. it's still cover it enough. it's just scratching it the surface of things but they're these positive stories about the value of heritage are what we really wanted to get into because things aren't being acknowledged respected understood in the way that they deserve to be and many of the publications that are out there and i'm a sociologist and i love what they do on immigration and politics and in political science, but the humanities are often left out and so most of the the chapters in this book are from scholars who look at the cultural heritage the history the anthropology the built environment of the borderlands to to make people understand the diversity and
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richness and complexity of the border areas. yeah, and we use the definition of the extended borderlands meaning it's you know, it's not just on one side of the borderline that we're we're saying area is really has no line. it extends all the way up to san antonio. we call this an extended border deep into mexico and the definition of of one of our colleagues at ut austin a medical paredes who talked about the folklore of the border talked about mexico afuela and mexico identro. you've got the mexican culture within mexico, but you've also got it outside of mexico and that's where we are in this borderland extends beyond the international dividing line. it's not a dividing line for the way that people live and think and talk and interact and have
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families. so yeah our moderator who's not here because it got a flat tire and you couldn't join us jack herrera had a list of questions and one of them was exactly what harry it's answering. well. it's interesting that you borderlands that has including areas that are not near the border and it's very important i think to do that because historically the border wasn't always where it is now and when we want to understand the context of a place and the heritage of a place you have to go back hundreds of years to understand all of what it is and how it came to be as it is now and so when you do that, then you start to notice all of the little things that are present that define the culture of a place and and it's not just concentrated on the border. it extends across a broad zone and then for the area of the river valley that we focused on we kind of stuck to the lower
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river valley from laredo down to brownsville matamoros because that's where there seem to be a concentration of activity and and heritage and and resources cultural resources. as well as natural, but the cultural resources that were concentrated in that zone where it became the topic the subject area defining the boundaries of what our books about. the most exciting research projects that i was able to do funded by the rockefeller foundation was to look at san antonio as a transnational community and it gave me the insights of how many people live, you know crossing the borders that they they have family members on both sides of the borders some of them have businesses on both sides of the borders, and it doesn't you don't have to have a legal citizenship to have these connections across the borders. so we you know, we expanded on that sense of the connection as
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far back into mexico is monterey, which has the long connection with san antonio economically people who came from monterey to san antonio during the revolution. i mean, there's such a rich history and culture. of the borderlands right here. yeah, and that the terms that harriet used were something that struck me as an outside observer going into the region people would speak as in terms of others who were maybe not present and they would say oh, well you need to talk to this other individual. he's on the other side. today and and or they would say see on this side today and and i was thinking what are they talking about? oh, they're talking about the river and they're not really talking about the border. they're talking about the river and which side of the river somebody happens to be on that day because there's just a flow of of cultural activity and families and and commerce and everything just back and forth and and that was just a natural
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phenomenon and it's changed. i mean since my first visit there are things it's the border situation has been altered a lot and we try to cover that in the book and in the sections for those have read it. you know what we're talking about. and for those of you haven't i hope you dive in and take a look because in all of our contributing authors, we should point out one of our contributing authors is here in the audience dr. ricardo romo who's covering the event and and another one is at a competing. i think john philip santos is at a running at the same time or he would have been here with us and we would have been with him but in their contributions like ricardo's contributions are about the art the mexican border artist and the way that the imagery of this trans nationalism in an extended borderland is expressed in many of the works of these artists because the memory doesn't leave you if you move away from the
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border, it's still there the borderlands living on an international border is a culture experience in itself. and the john philip santos talks about the family stories that were passed down are generations about ghost and myths and family histories on the border. so there's this rich intellectual and personal and family and neighborhood community stories associated with the borderlands that are authors have captured throughout the chapters and that's set up in context with frank de la teja who has the opening chapter about the the broad history of the spanish borderlands to try to put things in context and then the subsequent chapter is daniello who's writing from his perspective as an anthropologist and and talking about the native american history of the land and
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and the interaction with the first contact and and how the cultural transformations commence and i think that's one of the themes throughout the book is finding these enduring aspects. of human heritage that become the identity of the place that's connected to the place that binds people to the place. and so we we write a lot about culture cultural heritage and use the term cultural sustainability to define how to think of culture as something that we can choose to perpetuate that we can respect and understand and acknowledge and then make choices about those things that we value to retain because if books like this don't get written and and the contributing authors who wrote their chapters if those things don't get written then those stories in that heritage isn't
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understood and and it's omitted and then when it's omitted, it's just marginalized and ultimately erased and so if all of the discussion is only about these important aspects of a politics and we don't understand the heritage and the context of a place then that stuff starts to go away and when it goes away the identity goes away. so if you if a place and a people want to retain identity, it's necessary to understand it because if you don't understand it you don't define it then and what you value about it, then it's impossible to protect and perpetuate. so the yeah, go ahead harry. well the, you know dan jealous chapter on the indigenous cultures raises ideas about the long time heritage of all these different groups here in the borderlands and there are more than 55 different indigenous groups that have lived back and forth in these lands.
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not only the comanches apaches, kickapoo co we peck and who's remains are under the alamo and we don't hear those stories the contributions that they made to the you know, the existence of the people who were living in the missions and the agricultural techniques that they brought and here in texas, you know when it rains really hard almost any place you can go arrowheads will be available, you know that are uncovered by the the water running through the ranch lands or the gullies. and anybody who has to do new construction here you have to have some some people come in anthropologists come in archaeologists and look at the artifacts that are uncovered. so there's there's this rich history that again people don't know about the border and are not this is not what gets into the news, you know, the the news
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is publicizing these these kind of exciting and it will dangerous events about the border and that's not all that's there even though we do in the book acknowledge that there are changes going on because of some of the the dangerous situations with the narco traffic and the border but we try to put the border our border and our borderlands into the context of other borders and if you look at national borders international borders all around the world, you'll see conflicts over territory. you'll see contraband because if one country can't offer something the other one can and we experience that, you know during prohibition that people in the united states would go across the border to get alcohol when they couldn't get it in the united states immigration is going to occur whenever you have borders that are a different
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kinds of wealth where there are more jobs more opportunities in one versus another so our border is not that unique. in fact, we have a fairly peaceful border compared to many of the others even so the history of our borderlands does include conflict and the you know, that's the history that we learn in our schools is about mostly the conflicts and the the disagreements and we don't learn about how the people have managed to learn and and i live peacefully and cooperate over water and cooperate over helping people make their lives better by crossing the border. right in that confluence of cultures that exists here and in the borderlands region, it's not without contest or conflict, but historically there's as harriet was alluding to people who are
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just descendants of those who've come before and so i teach at the university and you know, we open a class at the beginning of the semester and you want the students to get to know each other in the graduate seminar. and so we usually begin by, you know, trying to understand we all are and that often includes where you from and and i usually now i phrase it as words you go to high school because that's just cleaner and easier to make it because when you say, where are you from it can open a big box of stories and that maybe the students don't want to get into on the first day and but back when i first started teaching i wasn't as smart and so i would just you know say with where are you from and one of the students said, well my family's from here. and and that's it. you know, that's i'm just from here. we've always been from here and she wasn't the spanish speaker. and that's just how she was raised and we include some stories that people, you know, the personal stories where they grew up going to the
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grandmother's house in nuevo laredo and the big family gatherings and how people came together and celebrated the christmas or other holidays and how that's changed when you see tanks in the in streets when you go down across the border and the grandmother that had to sell her house because of the vandalism that was occurring in the neighborhood. so we point out that that these changes are occurring and if you don't protect this rich cultural heritage, or don't think about the positive values there that these are going to be forgotten and it's it isn't a heritage that all of us benefit from and that the more of the country more of other countries need to know about and appreciate so in the chapter that i wrote it includes a lot about the san antonio missions, which are unesco world heritage site and in that site inscription, it's
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necessary to identify a outstanding universal value of the place in order to be inscribed on this very prestigious international list and that those values here in san antonio include living. heritage of people who are the descendants of those who built the missions and that's critically important because the descendants still live in san antonio. it's there heritage. they're the ones who built it and that gives them this designation this inscription. conveys some power now to the descendants. which i was happy to introduce to people to say, you know, you're part of the heritage and now the city has to protect you because there's also economic value to heritage people come to san antonio as an example to see world heritage to see the missions to understand these physical places like the alamo, but they also come to understand
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the authentic living heritage of a place the intangible aspects of heritage and and that's embodied in the people who reside in in the places nearby and if they're all displaced by the the rising economy then that heritage goes away. and so there's a strength then that comes with that's now conveyed to the descendants to be able to say. oh, this is my heritage and part of your economic value is related to me. and so that value is something that i can claim to say. i have standing i have more political power now through the recognition of heritage and the value of it for the economy of a place like, san antonio. and people forget that some of the indigenous people were architects of the beautiful missions that we have here and the she's telling us we have 20
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minutes. oh good. okay. we have we have several slides that show you some of the images from the book to get you interested in it that we want to be sure that we have time to show but we we also have a chapter. about that. i wrote about cultural citizenship and people who contribute to the you know to the well-being of a community even if they don't have official documents feel that they are citizens of that borderlands that they are people who are full members of this society here and sometimes we forget that it's not just a piece of paper that makes you feel that you are a part of that community and you are contributing to that community. so in so in that chapter, you know, i talk about the there are these important citizenship ceremonies that we have in san antonio and at the ceremonies they you know, alphabetize the
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countries of the origin of the new citizens, but they leave mexico to the very end because there's so many people from mexico who are becoming full official citizens in the united states, may be have nationality because mexico does recognize that people can still be a part of mexico and have the official documents there and have the official documents here as well. but again, the cultural citizens are full members of the society as well, even though they don't have the official. documented citizenship, right? so as you can see we cover a broad swath of topics. we want to leave you with some images that will give some description of and then have some time at the end for questions as well. so we're going to take i guess like 10 or 15 minutes to go through some images identify them and explain why they're important because you know while
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we're the book covers the the living heritage and the value. we also have the tangible remains which are very important and we got a grant from the conservation society of san antonio to help pay for extra. in the book, which was really great. so and i want to point out that this the cover is one of bill's own photographs and it brings up some of the interesting conversations. we had about cultural appropriation, you know, and and whose culture is is this in the borderlands. how do you determine? how to preserve someone's culture and who's culture it, is that you preserve. so these were interesting discussions that we had as we were talking about the intangible culture of the borderlands some of you may know this is the something the city of san antonio's office of historic preservation does called restored by light and they put images on the facades of the san antonio missions out
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of one one night each year. and and this one was just one of the scenes that i captured when they splash the texas flag across the face of one of the missions and you can see some of the people silhouetted in the foreground so might be some of you who are in that around and one of the visitors from illinois who was mexican origin came to my office at one point and we wrote about it in the book that she came during fiesta and she said she was appalled at the appropriation of her culture and we got into this long discussion about your culture. now, how do we determine who's culture? we're talking about in the borderlands and i think these are important questions when you're dealing with museums when you're dealing with restoration the important work that bill is doing with helping to identify them our missions as national world heritage sites. you know, what do you put in those missions to represent the borderlands culture?
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okay. so, let's see. all right, so this should be a map i think was generated by one of frank de la tejas a doctoral students and it just shows broadly the area of spanish borderlands to help people understand that the bord. it wasn't always where we expect it to be or see it now and until the mexican-american war and the treaty that resulted from it which transformed both countries in 1848 treaty of hidalgo. the this was you know all part of mexico for a long time. so the flags went up and down in san antonio and but the people stayed is, you know, one way to look at it as the border kept moving back and forth and different things happened. it was still the same people living in the same place. and this just focuses in on the region that we were looking at
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very specifically in the lower rio grande valley rio bravo and in particular there's a chapter on reynosa and daniel arreola's postgard collection where he's giving images of reynosa, which was a very very popular destination for the us tourists to go to beginning in prohibition and probably before and and it's there in the map and and nearby is mission, texas where this little la lomita chapel is located and it's a historic designation. that's that's there. yeah, come on it it's there for it's a relationship to the the historical developments around this area of the rio grande valley in the previous slide to show that the twin cities along the border all of us who live around here. we know that we have the cities that are very intertwined and all act as if they are one
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community. they're so economically socially intellectually historically intertwined. yeah. and these are some of the postcards that are shown in the book and they they show border crossings and and the physical bridges as well as the traffic and the in the square and rhinocer and in this one you can see the the bars and the the nightclubs and the bull fighting arena and the upper right? and and so these these border towns have a commerce and a trade i think of late which has been reduced and stymied by the current political situation, but that things are going to rebound. i mean it's it's really inevitable and we acknowledge the the tremendous economic ties between the cities across the
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borders laredo has tremendous amounts of economic activity going on with the trucking in the transportation there the maquila dora's on the mexican side at the border that is auto parts to be produced. into automobiles on the us side so the economic connection is their tremendously. yeah. one of the chapters is about quinceañeras and we in the chapter it talks about the religious and the family and the cultural aspects of this ceremony that has been transposed across the border with many of the young people today including the attorney who's on the news all the time jay henry whose daughter had this very elaborate quinceañera the next shot slide shows how these cultural traditions are adapted as young people change them. these are young women dressed in their quinceanera dresses and
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protesting legislation against sanctuary cities, which san antonio was one that would protect immigrants and not collaborate to report people in our city that might be needing help to arrange their their immigration status this is one of the slides that my husband ricardo romo took years ago at the casino homes the muralist here in san antonio represent the history of the border culture. this is pancho villa with pershing in his hand the muralist often go to the neighborhoods to ask them. what do you want portrayed about your history and your culture and they take great pride in these, you know, the the conflicts there, but the pancho villa got away from pershing so he had him in his hand. this is another artist. that is a border artist michael manchaca and he shows in.
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oh ricky young and that is okay. he shows in his images the the memories that he has his grandfather a great grandfather was a tamaura indian. and so this is one of the quran datas. his work is deep, you know, he digs into the wood and paints the the wood images that portray the mythology the cultural the borderlands economic and ecological settings. this is another borderlands artist on a fernandez and this could be anywhere in mexico are the us and you can see that people enjoy this kind of food and culture and style of living. this is our borderlands culture. and this again the wall has divided many of these areas that you know if are really not
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socially unculturally divided and it's created a lot of controversy the people in the borderlands were not really involved in whether they should have a wall or not. the economy is changing in the border jack one of jack. awareness questions to us was it's the voting patterns changing are they changing as well and the borderlands? are we going to have more republican latinos than democratic latinos, but the economy is changing as well the you know, the detention centers that are privately owned hire a lot of people in the borderlands the border patrols one of the biggest employers in the borderlands the economy of security is changing the atmosphere there, but people don't want the walls that that really divide people that as we've mentioned and try to emphasize in the border in the borderlands that are so
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interconnected both spiritually physically materially emotionally that these are very disruptive to the communities. so so we open for questions then. the slide of our beautiful river was missing in what happened? yeah, did it? okay. we had a slide the the rio grande with this borderland. did i somehow double click it or yeah, let's leave on that one. yeah the birding and the ecology that is there in the borderlands the beautiful vistas and this is what we want people to know. is there also it's not just the conflict. it's not the people are not divided over these kinds of issues and the need to preserve this cultural heritage of the borderland. yeah, so i grew up here at san antonio and i went to david
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crockett david elementary david. crocodile elementary school. there's a mic coming so that the thank you. if ricardo did you go to david crock? so i i went to david crockett elementary school, so and my grandparents they were born in mexico. here in 1910 on my father's side. my mother's side. they were here before then. we don't have relatives in mexico. and so imagine being a chicano six year old and you're in first grade and you hear the story of the alamo and you almost felt guilty about the the story and somehow there was no nuance to how it was told what i appreciate and i want to congratulate you on the scholarship and what you're adding to the to the how you're adding to the narrative because i think it goes not only to setting the record straight and telling the story as it is but also goes to a generation of children that are being raised
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that need to understand that there's no shame in their history. in fact, there's a there's everything but shame it's a magnificent story and it's evolving and by shedding light on the new what i call the nuances. on the story of the border and even when you start with that photograph of what was part of mexico in 17, whatever that was it gives it should give people pause and say well, you know that that's pretty incredible, but the these things aren't really being taught in many places and we have that challenge in texas right now. so by providing us with this new lens with which to process, how are what our history is all about. it's an it's a wonderful addition and i hope that schools begin to adapt adopt it and as they tell the story i have no problems with people being conservative or or liberal. i do have a problem when they want to deny that something
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actually occurred or how something actually occurred. so it's the facts that i want to bring shed light to and that's what you're doing. so congratulations on your terrific. thank you. oh one of one of the questions that our narrator had asked was you know, how would we confront stereotypes? what should we be doing to confront these stereotypes and and our response is to present the research to present the facts to there are numerous ways to counter these any of these stereotypes with the more positive real truths that that tell the story differently than what you might hear in, you know on the news are in the newspapers are by the politicians and i think that that's what we've tried to do in this book is to really bring together scholars from different disciplines because you can't have just one focused discipline explain the complexity and the
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the true cultural heritage value of this area. thank you other questions from anybody. yeah and one up first sorry and then second the woman with the face mask middle file. okay, so i kind of a question to like i guess push back a little bit on what you guys said on like academia and you guys are both probably white or white presenting. so you talked about like telling our stories because no one else will tell them or if they don't get told they won't be heard. so my question is why do you feel like you're the protectors of our stories versus creating a space in an audience to hear our stories so i identify as like mexican-american specifically the hyphen of mexican americans. i'm not really mexican. i'm i'm not really american so okay. well one i i understand and we are very much in accord with
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your ideas and the many of the contributors in our book are mexican-american and our our telling their own personal stories. and we just happen to love this culture and have experienced it ourselves. want to bring together the research and the people riding about it, and i think the story can be told from a lot of different perspectives sometimes an insider has one story and an outsider a different story, but it can still add to the richness and the the entice other people to find out more about the stories, but i agree and i think that there are so many latino art artists and and riders here in the book festival that are doing just that so it's we promote that with our students with our our own scholarship to try to include and mentor others who are going to do exactly what you're saying.
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and i'd add heritage belongs to the people who made it and i don't ever attempt to tell other people's stories. i observe them and then i i say, this is significant. this is important everybody to pay attention and so i would never have attempted to write a book like this on my own. it could only have been done with all the co-authors. so one more question we have 30 seconds. maybe thanks. that's a good one. yes, i live at the time in california silicon valley is a very diverse place made of a lot of indians a lot of asians and the last thing. these are the most progressive people in the area and the last thing they're focused on is culture. culture is not it's sort of a boat anger if you look at modernity and the needs of modernity if you look at organic
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systems and who survives and doesn't survive adaptation is the most important and culture often is antithesis to that and i like to hear you address. that sure. i can sum that up pretty quick a slow change beats fast change slow adaptation is better than a shock to the ecosystem of a fast change in historically if you look at over centuries and eons and when i look at heritage, i'm looking generally at like a 400 year window and trying to understand how a situation came to be the way it is over the past two centuries and as a designer, i'm thinking about how i want it to be two centuries from now, and so i'm thinking about the sustainability of the entire ecosystem and that necessarily does include music and food and beliefs and religion and traditions because people carry that forward with
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them or at least they want the opportunity to carry that forward. so it's a designer or a planner. i want to give them that opportunity. some value education and modernity and adaptation. stuck and culture that isn't rewarding them to the others are and that creates a problem with any society. there's tensions that they'll develop between those that are making it and not making it i can see it in silicon valley and there's divisions of cultural divisions of sorts really ethnic is that's a big ten. i think there's there's room for a lot of values to move forward in jack the moderator ask us to to talk about one of the areas of the borderlands that we were most fascinated with there are many of them but one that stands out to me is nazi manto and over
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in we're in the united states slavery was done away with much later than in mexico and so many of the slaves fled to mexico live there. we encountered in new skis a woman who is in her 90s. was african descent who spoke english in her church. they still sang the african spirituals. she spoke spanish. she spoke kickapoo as well. i mean she was maintaining culture, but she was also adapting to the environment that she was in but that cultural heritage is very important that she was maintaining i think we're out of time. so. thank you all for joining us.


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