Santa Paula Times

Dr. Dora Crouch: Community/housing activist honored before move

April 25, 2008
Santa Paula City Council
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesDr. Dora P. Crouch is readying for a move to San Diego, but the community activist had some honors to accept from the City Council and the Ventura County Board of Supervisors before she leaves Santa Paula to relocate closer to family. Dora, a retired professor and Santa Paula resident since 1992, was lauded by the City Council at the April 21 meeting.“It’s certainly a pleasure to have you here,” Dr. Gabino Aguirre told the diminutive Dora - wearing tie-dyed slacks, pink shirt and teal jacket - before he presented a City Proclamation noting her longtime activism.Dora earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California Los Angeles with recognition. Employed as a university professor for schools such as the Universities of California in Los Angeles and Berkeley, California State Universities San Francisco and Long Beach, as well as Stanford and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Dora has authored numerous books and articles related to planning, architecture, archeology, engineering and geology.Dr. Aguirre said that Dora not only was a founder of the Ventura County Farm Worker Housing Task Force and the Santa Paula Farm Worker Housing Committee to study local housing issues, but she also led the first-ever Farm Worker Housing Summit in Ventura County, which now annually draws more than 300 participants to “brainstorm ways to build affordable housing for agricultural workers.”With the help of several friends and past members, Dora also spearheaded the renovation of the Ventura County League of Women Voters. Dora also served as a Blanchard Community Library trustee and served as the president of the Board.“These are remarkable achievements,” noted Dr. Aguirre. “I think you really put your stamp on Santa Paula and certain issues around the county. I appreciate the fact that you are a very compassionate woman... in these times it’s all about compassion, the haves and the have-nots,” as well as those not yet part of the “economic mainstream.” Dora is held as a “role model for myself,” and Dr. Aguirre said he hopes “someday to accomplish just a fraction of what you have done.”“I have enjoyed participation in democracy in Santa Paula,” said Dora. “We don’t always have to agree but we can find common ground.”City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz is a “world class city manager,” and Dora also complimented City Clerk Josie Herrera, noting their examples of leadership. “I will keep fine memories of Santa Paula... in almost 16 years I have not tired of the scenery nor the people,” as well as working on behalf of local residents and others throughout the county.The study of area farmworker housing issues overseen by Dora, “Too High A Price,” led to the revival of the Ventura County League of Women Voters, an effort Dora said included Santa Paulans Joyce Carlson and Marion Totheroh, among others.
“The years I spent on the library board were a great pleasure to me,” especially since she is an avid reader. Dora added that a highlight of her board involvement was working with Librarian Dan Robles and former Trustee Joanne Wright.Noting that she believes her accomplishments include highlighting the needs of those who need housing, Dora said it is “shameful that a rich society such as ours does not provide the housing that is needed. I’m happy that through my work, my analytical skills,” her housing efforts have been recognized and studied on the state level.“May God bless and inspire you all to continue your good work,” Dora told the Council.On April 22 the Board of Supervisors presented Dora with a proclamation noting that she has been a “tireless advocate for affordable, quality housing since the early 1970s,” and that upon retiring as a university professor she became a self-employed historian.“Dora’s passion for her vocation is evident throughout her five books and countless articles published on topics of city planning, architecture, and ancient and modern housing. It has been said that housing is truly Dora’s calling in life,” noted Supervisor Kathy Long, who referred to the honoree as “Dora the Explorer, because she has had a remarkable life... is constantly exploring” places and issues. “I think of Dora as the real champion for farm worker housing in our county,” as well as those needing low-income units.During the presentation it was noted that the League’s study of housing issues was presented to every City Council, except for Thousand Oaks, which declined due to meeting time constraints. “Dora raised our consciousness about the housing needs in our communities, to accommodate all workers,” said Long.While studying and during her time of research, Dora traveled throughout Europe as well as the Middle East; her “commitment to share her wisdom and knowledge has been a positive influence throughout the county,” Long noted. “She has been an educator and advocate for the community to recognize how affordable housing is necessary for the social, financial and economic stability of our community.”Dora, a poet and photographer whose work was the focus of a solo exhibit, has seven children and nine grandchildren. “Dora’s dedication and lifelong example of advocacy has helped dreams come true for many residents in Ventura County,” said Long.