'Milagro film showcases fight against outsorcing

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'Milagro' film showcases fight against outsourcing
Posted Dec. 3, 2007

As one of the activities in “The Big Read” program conducted by the city of Pomona, the film “The Milagro Beanfield War” was featured on Nov. 29 in the Cal Poly Pomona Downtown Center.

Adhering to the Hispanic theme of this year’s book, “Bless Me, Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya, “The Milagro Beanfield War” was set in rural New Mexico and filmed in the 1980s.

The film depicts the inner turmoil of a small town named Milagro as investors start to take an interest in the land.

“I think this is an important movie for all types of issues,” Enrique Ochoa, the Weglyn endowed chair said.

Directed by Robert Redford the film highlights the negative effects of outsourcing in a town where the majority of the citizens do not want things to change and clutter the sanctity of their culture.

The conflict begins when a man in the town decides to simply use the water, which is technically owned by the rich outsiders, to plant a bean field on his deceased father’s land. Subsequently the investors want that piece of land.

Something as simple as a bean field outrages the investors because they know this act is just the beginning of the community’s backlash.

As the film progresses the citizens make it known that these investors would not take over their land without a fight. The investors promised employment for the citizens with their new development, but the people of Milagro did not want labor jobs serving the new settlers.

“I like the way community resistance can overcome,” Ochoa said.

He had previously seen the film and approved the viewing of it in the Downtown Center particularly because of the message it sends about holding on to culture instead of chasing money.

“The Big Read” program is designed to unify the city of Pomona through reading and to increase reading in areas that do not generally read. The City of Pomona, Pomona Public Library and the Pomona Unified School District collaborated in order to successfully push the agenda.

“We really tried to pick something that would value the community,” Lisa Nashua, the director of development at the Cal Poly Pomona College of Letters Arts and Social Science.

“The Big Read” program chose the Hispanic culture and the book “Bless Me, Ultima” because they felt the community would be able to relate to the book ethnically. They have run reading groups at other community centers with the help of Pitzer and Cal Poly students.

“What brings the community together is culture,” Ochoa said.

Culture was the one commonality for the citizens of Milagro, and it looks like “The Big Read” program is trying to do the same thing for the city of Pomona.

Jordan can be reached at jlitke@ulv.edu.