Essay: Why I fight – battling the Delta tunnel is about the soul of my community

The Sacramento County town of Hood in the North Delta. Photograph by Scott Thomas Anderson

By Gia Moreno

I am a mother, an artist, an educator, and I’m tired. I’m tired of coming to these meetings. I’m tired of hearing people from all over the state from all walks of life pour their hearts out in defense of the Delta, I’m tired of being one of those people, and I’m tired of the nonchalant responses that we receive in return. Even though I have become mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted from the last few years of this literal life or death fight, I can’t and won’t stop fighting.

I don’t remember the first time that I ever saw Hood. I was two days old when I was brought home. For me Hood has always just been. I don’t consider Hood to just be my hometown. Hood is quite literally the core of my being. Every major life experience that I’ve had has either happened here or has been celebrated here. My family built this town into what it is today, and they have continued to thrive here. Both my mom and dad’s grandparents and parents came to Hood in the late 40’s and early 50’s. They took the tiny casitas built by Madison Barnes and the Hood Improvement Company and turned them into homes for multiple generations.

I grew up here surrounded by unconditional love and support. This is why I fight so hard. It’s not for business, the animals, the environment, or recreation. Even though those are all very important aspects of the Delta. I fight for Hood, because the residents are my family and those that aren’t related to me might as well be. Not everyone in town is able to take on state Department of Water Resources, the Metropolitan Water District and others that are trying to force this tunnel project on us, but I am. My biggest reason for fighting is a quote from my Abuelita. She said, “I won’t be around when this tunnel is finished, but you, and your dad, and the kids will be. You’ll have to deal with what happens after.”

The thought of her and the other elderly residents in town spending the rest of their lives watching everything they have ever known and all they have worked so hard for get destroyed breaks my heart.

Hood is more than just the buildings or the land. Hood is the people, the community and the legacy. Hood is the multiple generations of people that no matter how far they travel, call this place home. Hood is the hope that one day 7, 8, 9, even 10 generations of the same families will call this place home. Hood is the dream that Richland was, and that Madison Barnes had. Hood is the blood, sweat, tears and love that went into creating it. Hood is seeing your cousins during the holidays. It is the sound of basketballs bouncing and children laughing at the park. Hood is the smell of the annual Superbowl bonfire at the Chacon’s. It’s the sound of the big rigs honking at the kids as they make their way from the farms to the freeway in the summer. Hood is the feeling of the River touching your toes at “the Stairs,” the joy you get catching your first fish at “the Pump,” and a hug from your Abuelita when you come home to visit. Hood is so much more than the land that will be taken or the buildings that will be destroyed and abandoned if this project goes through.

Even if I didn’t have such a deep connection to this town, I would still help fight for it, because how can it be okay to wipe out an entire town for a project that will only benefit a select group of people? How can it be okay to force an entire town composed of mostly elderly, low-income, and marginalized people to move away? How can it be okay to destroy the ecosystem that is the Delta, and force future generations to suffer whatever the consequences of this project will be?

The costs and the losses from this project far outweigh any benefit that Hood, the Delta, California, the world, and the future could ever receive. So, even though I am tired of doing it, I am begging you to do what you can to stop this project and any future versions from happening. Save Hood. Save the Delta.

Gia Moreno is artist and multicultural educator who grew up in Hood, the town most directly threatened by the state’s proposed Delta Tunnel project.

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