Isla Vista historian Carmen Lodise retired to a small coastal city in Mexico in 2005, but his heart has remained in the small coastal hamlet next door to UC Santa Barbara. From a 64-page pamphlet to a popular website collection, Lodise’s annals of I.V. have now led to the second edition of his Isla Vista: A Citizen’s History. The new edition contains a foreword from “homeboy Das Williams,” as Lodise said in an email chat, an edited version of which follows:
How’d you cover Isla Vista from afar? I wasn’t in touch as I had been for 30 years, so I recruited people close to the action and asked them to write nine new chapters for the book, among them about I.V. Food Co-op, the Youth Projects, the jugglers’ club, Frank Thompson’s brilliant analysis of the rise and fall of the redevelopment agency and the creation of the community center, and, of course, the establishment of a Community Services District as chronicled by its lead organizer, Jonathan Abboud.
The weirdness of the so-called Deltopia “riot” is a new chapter, the Rodger shootings of 2014, and Melinda Burns’s remarkable article about I.V.’s housing market being an investor’s “paradise.”
Much is written about the events in Isla Vista of 1969-70, but our book remains the only documentation of the community that rose out of the ashes of those few months. It’s also the only examination of the town’s unique institutional framework.
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Is coastal Mexico as fab as it sounds? I first discovered Barra de Navidad in 1968 — it’s a small fishing village in Jalisco — four years before I arrived in Isla Vista as a research assistant to Leslie A. White, the noted cultural anthropologist, who was in retirement teaching at UCSB. I had a 30-year career as a community organizer throughout the county but primarily in I.V., where I was elected to the Isla Vista Community Council in the fall of 1972.
I love Mexico and have lived and worked here for over 50 years. It’s a great backdrop for adventures and very affordable. I have hunkered down here for the past year to avoid COVID and am uncertain about its local prevalence — it’s the Third World after all.
I stay in touch with I.V. via online media from here, and I spent a month in town in 2019, visiting the Bagel Café almost daily.
The second edition of Isla Vista: A Citizen’s History is available at bookstores and through Amazon.