Heritage Museum of Orange County
Welcome to the stories here. Podcast what are things that we still do today. That families did a hundred years ago but just technology has changed or an advancement in this is change and so i think from our standpoint will really try to do. Is we really try to make that connection to the past here at the museum. And how really kind of how it connects with you to eight. Four history isn't to readings wayne parker with the stories. Podcast talking today. Remotely with kevin cabrera. Who's executive director of the heritage museum of orange county. You may be surprised to learn how much this museum reflects. Much of the nation's history and culture will hear stories of orange county of course in southern california the cultures that are native to that area in here perhaps a little career advice and the importance of mr ebi and how this story can affect all of us. So you're thinking who in the world is mr ebi. Well he's one example of all those teachers who inspired and encouraged to students to pursue their interest in this case. That student was kevin kevin. Thanks for being with us today. Could you start by giving an introduction to the museum and what people can expect on a visit. Were located on twelve acres of property half of our properties. What we call our cultural plaza. Which means that. We have our historic houses We have citrus groves we have rose gardens. We have blacksmith shop. we have a replica. Dobie home so that's makes a part of our And then just within open space in trees and other things amendment. We have our what we call. Our nature preserve our gospel swamp. Which is the other half of our property Which is exactly what it is. The nature preserve so we have To wetlands We have walking trails So you can walk the trails and walk the wetlands and walk the space and learn about plant habitats to learn about wildlife habitat And then on the far end of our property We actually have a two acre produce farm so we actually grow some heirloom varieties of crops. That were here locally on during our boom agricultural period of orange county But then what we've also done is to really connect Our community on to to their spaces and their places origin. We actually have what we call a seed library so we have We grow crops from around the world's on that have been brought to us by community members and and they kind of share those stories of what they remember growing up in what they remember eating growing in their home countries had and it kinda just highest back into their place and and space here in orange county today. That's kevin cabrera executive director of the heritage museum of orange county. And this is wayne parker of the stories here. Podcast kevin of describe the museum is. It's kind of a nature area. Also there's a. It's a bit of a refuge for people in the area. Could you tell us about that. The museum is is more of a like an outdoors. A venue in. So what we've done is we've really incorporated into our brown's a lot more interpretation of the history of the city and history of the county to provide a more much much rich enriching experience for the visitors. So you know some of the things that we've been doing is we've been doing some cultural murals around the around the sites We've been offer we offer more. We offer on grounds tours in nature hikes. And so i think a particular comments that has been made to our staff into myself is that you can be hammered history fan or you can be a fan of urban agriculture or you can be a a particularly interested in nature and preservation or or maybe just an art and you know comments that we receive. Is that when you come to the heritage museum. You actually get a little bit of everything. He had a tasted everything. You can see art and how it reflects to our history and culture. You can see the historic buildings preservation of the pass You can About rat life and wildlife. And how you know. There's this kind of relationship between humans and animals and plants and what it means for us to be able to protect these environments and then you can also have this This connection to food and on how food is very important to bring people together But it's also a necessity necessity to our life. So i think the comments that were received as the that people get a little bit of a taste everything and really connects with them in that regard. And as i understand it. A lot of your program is geared toward youth. His is that right a few years ago. We started a program for a summer program for high school youth. And it's a we call the program a peop- the people's history of orange county and we really explore people of color Just the general Growth the county in and the idea of various people in immigration and migration coming into the space in hand for them to get to chance to explore and learn about he stories. It made it more enriching for them. And i think the biggest thing that we as educators in museums need to do is we really need to connect with the next generation the the our our younger generations and and i took early in history where students and and people on youth are necessarily seeing themselves taught in the history lessons or seeing themselves as portrayed as important figures. This was very important to them that they they were now kind of deeply connected to the stories of ancestors Within their community. That's kevin cabrera speaking with us remotely from his office where he's the executive director of the heritage museum of orange county and this is wayne parker of the stories here. Podcast kevin. Thanks for sharing those stories about young people who visted and gotten involved with the museum. I'm curious about your interest in history. Since i understand it started at an early age. Also could you tell us about yourself and how you came to the museum. How honestly i feel like it happened by luck. My background is in history I ve always had a passion and a love for history understanding people places and events and how how those things have have shapes the world around us so since from a very young age i loved history. I had a very great Excellent on us history teacher in high school on his name was mr ebi. He really just made his class just religious kind of stamps. This idea that i loved history. He was a great teacher of things. I've learned about people who studied history or learn history. Or you wanna teach history. It's really good to be come histories all about storytelling. So you can be. You can be a very good storyteller. You can capture your audience and how i got out the herod. How i got to the heritage museum was actually when i was working for the city I was doing a program during the summer for youth in we would actually do these little history projects and one of the projects that we were tasked to do was actually come to the museum heritage museum and we were going to do a project with staff and it turned out that the project that we were going to do. We're going to help. Builds a replica. Adobe home and that was going to be used for the the museums A third grade Rancho program that connects directly to the rancho period of california. And so we spent a summer in. We actually handmade adobe bricks dry out in the sun and a and we had an awesome time and obviously the the dobie home that we built being used today and then after that i went back to the city i was still doing work with the city and then i randomly got an email. Maybe about six months later from the director saying. Are you interested in working here. We need help with our programs and so my schedule worked out. Well where i moved in. I came into the museum. I was working at the museum in the mornings. And then i would go to the city in the afternoons and then i was going to school at eight and And then i work my way up. So i went from during a volunteer project to program. Staff and then i moved into our archival on collections and assisting with duration of some smaller exhibits and in developing partnerships to develop larger exhibits and then It's almost five years ago. Five years now on when our predecessor resigned our board of directors tap needs to become the interim executive director. And then i spent six months interim and then i moved into director executive director and So you know it's i. I feel lucky that i was happened to be here. I i met that professor. That is that opened my eyes to what history can do. You know the internship at the city. And i just felt like all those just kind of blend in and and i felt like i was lucky but also there is a lot of hard work along the way. That's kevin cabrera speaking remotely from the heritage museum of orange county. He's the executive director and we're talking about his background in his career and kevin. I love hearing this from people that i talked to. And i want to ask you the question when you were back in mr abbas class in high school or even younger and if someone had told you then you'd be in this position today how surprise would you have been on a scale of one to ten with ten. Being the most surprised. I would probably say a nine or can. I wouldn't have thought that i could make it. I wouldn't have thought that i could. I can make it to that level and while if that person would have known like your history person that you could do that. I think there was It was a lot of maybe other factors that probably would play into my might thinking about. Obviously my parents are immigrants into this country. My parents immigrated from mexico. We grew up. You know struggling as a family on one of six kids. I didn't necessarily have any exposure to museums at all my during my life. So it's not something that i would have ever saw not not really experienced so i think if someone would have told me that i would say attend because it was not that was really on my radar like i would have never thought that museum would have been his face as a career. It's so interesting to me. Because the people that i talked to for the stories here podcast i find a lot of them are surprised that they end up with what they're doing. And yet it was something that was was really near and dear to them. It turns out all along. Okay so you gave it a nine or a ten on the scale of ten. And if you had been a mr abbas class in the surprise that you would have felt saying what you you're doing today what would mr ebi say up to see what you're up to these days and being executive director of this museum. Well i laugh. Because i actually still stay in contact with mr heavy. He's come by the museum many times to visit. We have lunch together. And he says he's so proud of me while it's a great story about that continuing relationship that you have with him. Now you're on the other side and you're a teacher of all of these people who are coming to the museum and maybe other interactions that you have. What's your advice to them about history about museums. Or maybe just about life in general. What thoughts do you share with them. Yeah i think my advice. And i get a chance to speak to a lot of youth and a lot of students in college students. I was actually at my alma mater. You know this past monday speaking to college students. And so i i have an opportunity to speak to quite a few people from their young to even college age and i would say that i believe within student. I think kids since students know what their interests are. And an i would say really start to look at what you're interested in if you are interested in history than pickup books or you know. Look at look through podcasts. Store youtube videos of of these topics and themes that. You're interested in. I i tell a lot of people that A lot of youth and students that you know one of the things that we don't do as a society a lot anymore. We don't read and i tell and i liked i liked. I try to encourage on youth that. Hey if you're really interested in heart than read books apart or if you're really interested in science read books about science you know we all have that that up something that. We're really intrigued by so followed out. And there's so much you can learn about that specific area and for my standpoint. I didn't necessarily have that encouragement or have that as a child. So so i would i. That's where i suggest the other thing. That i would suggest as well in any i really encourage and it's not something that i encourage but it's also something that i do because i think it's very valuable is i encourage youth and people that come across to to find mentors. Mentored high still have mentors today. High mentor quite a few youth. And i think it's very very valuable. I think people need help in whether it's school or just personal lines or anything like that. And i think the value of a mentor is so incredible. And so it's something that i've kind of embedded in my you know my own philosophy and i think it's having someone that you can talk to that is successful. That is that is making an impact in the community. It's so it's so it's a firm europe you're actually seeing this on a specially when it comes to people of color. I think when people of color they don't see a people of influence that look like them. It makes it harder to dream the possibilities searching for my standpoint. That's very true as well because there is very. There's a huge lack of diversity within the museum field. And so for me being latino and being an executive director. That's there's no other museum in orange county that's act and so you know do research humping that you're interested in and find a mentor couple mentors. That's what those are things. That i would that i would encourage. We're speaking today. Was kevin cabrera is executive director of the heritage museum of orange county. This is wayne parker of the stories here. Podcast and you can get more information about the museum and heritage museum. Oc dot org and you can also listen to other episodes of this podcast at stories here dot com or on your favorite podcast so kevin few could tell us more about the museum known about the place that has been important to so many people. Yeah so we have two historic homes on site. We have the kellogg house and then we have the mad house. On the nag kellogg couches built in eighteen. Ninety eight and the house is built in eighteen. Nine hundred eighty nine so You know we We try to have the visitors. Having experience of how life would have been during the eighteen ninety s when they go home but then it's also so much more so we say you know we have these eighteen ninety eight to eighty ninety s beautiful victorian homes and And knows where basically those are. Those are the centerpieces of the newseum on those homes. Obviously we preserve the family histories We preserve the homes Which i would say that historic preservation. You know more. Probably more specifically on the west coast. His is not necessarily huge priority. When you go when you go back to the east coast visit cities on the east coast. People are a little bit more aware and a little bit more fame bellevue. I believe historic preservation in the east the west coast. It's a little bit rare so So we share stories of the families. We actually have archives collections of the families as well And so yeah we say you know the the the museum you have this on you you you literally get a chance to step back into time especially when you walk onto twelve acres. There's a lot to see. You're talking about the value of all these different cultures communicating with one another. And certainly the big story of this country and of california is immigration. You've said that your parents were immigrants. Does your family situation going up in that. you think. Help you tell those stories as you talk to people yes definitely I definitely think that that kind of personal experience in knowing my parents have stories coming here and understanding that You know my parents experiences one kind of unique experience to maybe themselves just to in overall maybe kind of experience immigration from people of mexico. I believe that You know all people who eventually immigrated into the united states during ready to an area they have these stories in there is a shared experience their shared their shared experiences in the senate. And i think when we understand that there are shared experiences in in on in experience when things like this occur that it actually gives us a he keeper understanding of ourselves an appreciation for other people that we are not familiar with and and actually connects them. There's a connection so for example We were talking to our when we were doing the interviews and talking with our vietnamese elders. The students myself. We made a lot of connections to it means culture to mexican culture and if it wasn't for us having these conversations really actually getting down and sitting down and spending time with These these elders. These folks community members neighbors actually We would have. We would have had never known and so like one example within that. Is you know the They were they were sharing. How there's a celebration That do The they do memorials for family members. Who have passed away and they kind of build these little altars in their homes to members of their families who passed away And the first thing that the students thought of for like hey. This is the same thing that we do. For what else we do. The same exact thing and so for them they're like it just gave them the value and appreciation for other people. Say how we are. Not so very different. We are super unique in our own culture in our own ways. But we're also very similar. And we're continuing our discussion kevin cabrera. Who's the executive director of the heritage museum of orange county kevin. You've been talking about all these cultural things. I know you also have a focus on sort of hands on things. And i was hoping to come down and learn how to be a blacksmith. But i guess that's gotta be a delayed a little bit based on something that happened here. That is correct but we actually had a fully functioning blacksmith shop on sites. We teach lacks machine classes the gills and then we also all of our elementary programs which i'm run from kindergarten to fifth grade We can also add the blacksmith component to that program. Yes for a fourth of july. Two o'clock in the morning the fire. The the blacksmith shop actually caught fire and burned down and so the entire for for the entire shop was burnt. So that's bump in the road. We are obviously currently working with insurance to get everything hopefully back in running as soon as we can. but that's also a a beloved dump. Space within the newseum people don't necessarily get get to smell coal-burning anymore and nc the fire in the origin and actually get to learn that trade and and that trade even though it's not how it was hundred years ago hundred twenty years ago. Where you know blacksmiths. Were joined things to the commute for the community that were very necessary so like making a a a butter knife that you have to use. While that's not hobby see were blacksmiths or doing today. There'd be more creative. With the the skill blacksmith him And so you see how something like blacks mccain has a ball from being something that was very necessary for community for the likelihood of a community to now being a creative space where you can create things that people are going to enjoy and there's going to be one of a kind hello. This is wayne parker with the stories. Podcast continuing my conversation with kevin cabrera. Who's executive director of the heritage museum of orange county and kevin like to ask. Now what would we have seen five or six hundred years ago at that location. Oh i love that you mentioned that. So yeah five hundred. Five hundred seventy years ago What's really unique about the museum is. We're located really adjacent to the river. The santa ana river which is the the major water source You know kind of that kind of to orange county so it comes all the way from the san bernardino mountains and that river flows oddly down to the beach to the ocean essentially and so Five hundred six hundred years ago The space that will we are currently but then also not just what we are currently. But we're heritage museum and santa ana would have been we would have a it would have been the space of The us binga village. So i'll spell it out. He a. s. b. e. n. g. main b. e. n. g. Bus think village which was Are indigenous communities are indigenous gabriella. No or a tunga community are native americans. They typically have their villages right adjacent or close by Own water source would have been the san river So are are indigenous communities. Would there was. There was a bustling village which we like to see would have been basically the museum. Grounds are on and probably a little bit extending as well. That would have been kind of the site and then just a whole lot of native plants. you know oak trees wild wild Bunnies and Hawks and als- so a lot of just kind of a native of native wildlife handgun on plants. You know A trees probably a bunch of tooley in sycamore and arroyo willow and meal fat and a bunch of native plants with larger mammals. Not necessarily i would. Obviously you have a a bog. Cats There might have been some mountain. Lions bears You would have coyotes and things of that nature. so i'd probably say like the large larger mammal moore. I those it goes mammals up arms and then if you would have gone like thousands or hundreds of millions of years ago in orange county would have been actually out of the ocean. So you have like wales. Things have any interest. There's a whole nother organization here in orange county. That kind of on is a stewards of all archaeology on artifacts and phones. That are more like the natural history. This is wayne parker with the stories. Here podcast talking today. Remotely with kevin cabrera. Who's executive director of the heritage museum of orange county kevin. I really appreciate your time. And i wanted to ask you about in my discussions with people for the stories here. Podcast i think a lot about the power of place and i'm curious if that's something you think about an and if so what it might mean to you any person who comes here than they get that power place would. It needs to them. And i think that's why we're we're really really trying to expand everything that we do here because it allows an opportunity for someone to find it. And maybe this space and i think from the standpoint of what our staff does and everyone who's involved with heritage museum the power place here are the sense of place here at heritage museum really connecting each and every one of us and i think that's why we've been so successful kevin. Thank you for your time today. What a wonderful conversation and also our thanks to the staff. Volunteers government officials and guests who make the heritage museum such an important place to experience and a nod also to the native peoples in animals who occupied that land. Long before us. You can learn more about the museum at heritage museum dot org. This is wayne parker. You can hear other episodes at stories. Here dot com or on your favorite podcasts service. Thank you for listening.