April 2015, by Britta Gustafson
Little Acorn Park, where the memorial of the 2001 car massacre is located. This park holds a special meaning to the Isla Vista community, commemorating the four innocent lives that were lost in the massacre. The memorial set here is a beautiful mosaic-covered stone depicting sunflowers, set at the edge of the park closest to where the incident took place. In front of the stone is a plaque citing a quote “Work for a clause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just to make your absence felt.”
Plaque set in front of the memorial. Author credit.
Memorial in the park. June 2010, by Britta Gustafson
This plaque is getting at something, it’s telling us to not do anything for personal gain, but to do everything for personal satisfaction, contentment, and your own well-being. Overall, the message I’m trying to convey is that this park is centered around positivity. We saw this when the Isla Vista community gathered around this park on the 10th anniversary of the massacre. The people who came to remember the tragedy in solidarity set up a candlelight vigil, members included Reverend Father Jon-Stephen Hedges of St. Athanasius Antiochian Orthodox Church. Father Hedges made the following statement that night, “Sadly, I did not know any of the children personally, but after the incident I have gotten to know the family members on a very personal and spiritual level.” It is the coming together of people within a community like this that builds a strong foundation of keeping the memory and message alive, they aren’t shaken by tragedies like this, but rather make the community stronger by uniting them all, empowering the community, even for people who didn’t know the victims. This is called collective memory.
Students and Isla Vista locals gather to remember the four victims. 
Collective memory is defined as the memory of a group of people, typically passed from one generation to the next, which is encapsulated by the stone in Little Acorn Park. Whenever we pass by it, it is basically asking us to remember the innocent people who lost their lives to a tragic event, and since the rock seems like it isn’t going to leave any time soon, I think the person who had it installed was adamant on having it stay there for generations to come to remind us as a community that we are strong, and we won’t be shaken by freak tragedies like this. We will all stand united as one, overcoming any future tragedies. When you walk through this park, you will think of happy thoughts, smiling at the sight of the dogs chasing each other around, your excitement will start building up as you get closer and closer to the beach you were headed to, you will remember how a community was able to overcome a tragedy through collective grieving, collective healing, and collective remembering. Have a blessed day folks, and remember, work for a clause, not for applause.
An entrance to the beach just a block away from the park. Continue reading