Thursday, September 29, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 31

Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on September 21st, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 30 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 30

Social justice nonprofit CAUSE hosts annual fundraiser in honor of community activist Carmen Ramirez

By Taylor O'Connor

Carmen Ramirez was a trailblazer in the social justice realm of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. She was the first Latina woman to be elected to Oxnard’s City Council, and the first Latina woman to serve on the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. 

She also helped Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) begin its environmental justice work in 2008 as the organization’s founding board president, said donor relations manager Stanley Tzankov. 

“She really reassured and led us into that direction when we were a fledgling, 5-year-old organization. We were already working on living wages and health care,” Tzankov said. “There was trepidation for limited resources, but she really led the charge to include environmental justice to our organization and that was really transformative and important to us.” 

Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy’s Raising Justice fundraiser is an opportunity for social justice activists to gather, share their missions, and show support for one another.

Sixteen years later, CAUSE continues to advocate for communities’ rights to a clean environment, outdoor access, and healthy neighborhoods, fighting a “legacy of environmental racism,” in working-class, immigrant communities, continuing Ramirez’s goals after she moved on to work in the public sector, he added. 

On Aug. 12, Ramirez was struck by a car and died two days before her 74th birthday. To recognize her accomplishments and celebrate her life, CAUSE will honor Ramirez at its 16th annual Raising Justice fundraiser, Tzankov said. 

“I think people attend for two reasons: I think people believe in our mission and they’ve seen our successes over the years, and I think they want to uplift and support that,” he said. “It’s support in terms of cultivating community to continue this work—whether you’re a donor, an allied organization, or a grassroots leader who helped shift direction of the work.” 

Attendees will have the opportunity to network and mingle with fellow guests before they are assigned to a dinner table, where they will later have a “conocimiento,” or facilitated introductions.

During dinner, a few keynote speakers will talk about this year’s accomplishments, a youth speaker will share about their work in Oxnard, and CAUSE’s founding executive will speak to Ramirez’s social justice work. There will also be a small place where people can put mementos, photos, or tokens, giving voice to her life and legacy, Tzankov said. 

“It’s daunting to encapsulate the life and legacy for somebody that was such a force for good,” he added. 

This year’s fundraiser returns on Oct. 6 at the Olivas Adobe Historic Park in Ventura after being on Zoom for three years. Tzankov said about 200 people working in the social justice world will attend to connect with one another and hear about each other’s community efforts. 

“It’s a broad cross section of our supporters—longtime supporters from the very beginning, but maybe new faces because it’s free. Because it’s a nice way to get to know what we’re about and the center of our work,” he said. “It’s a really nice way to see yourself as part of a broader community of people who care about social justice, environmental justice, and economic justice, and it can be really powerful,” he said. 

The Adobe Historic Park is located at 4200 Olivas Park Drive. Visit to donate or RSVP for the Raising Justice fundraiser. Direct questions to (805) 658-0810.


• On Sept. 16, Robert Bruce Elementary School students had their first chance to buy books from a new vending machine using tokens they earned for good behavior and reaching milestones. The vending machine is located in the school library, and the school used its site-designated budget to purchase the machine and the books inside as incentives for students. The “cost” per book is one token. The school librarian stocked the machine with high-interest, frequently checked-out books so students can own their favorites. Students earn tokens for being student of the month, hitting their reading targets, and being a good role model, among other goals.

• Central Coast Community Energy (CCCE) partnered with Santa Barbara County to further transportation electrification in the area, providing $242,000 for the installation of 22 new electric vehicle charging stations and the purchase of light-duty electric vehicles. The charging stations provide additional electricity sources for the 7,000 electric vehicle drivers in the county—and improve feasibility for many “would-be” electric vehicle drivers—helping reduce emissions and improve air quality.

Taylor O’Connor wrote this week’s Spotlight. She can be reached at

Weekly Poll
What are some of the priorities you want candidates to address this election?

Homelessness. Our state needs to address this growing issue and come up with creative solutions.
Mental health programs. We need more investments in programs to address staffing shortages and growing needs.
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Our state is beyond fixing and there's nothing we can do.

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