M. Rosalind Sagara

Riverside, California

Award Type: American Express Aspire Award: Recognizing Emerging Leaders in Preservation

In 1885, Riverside, California’s Chinatown had 450 permanent residents and served as the base for as many as 2,500 migrant workers providing skilled-labor to the burgeoning citrus industry. Over the ensuing decades, however, the town’s population fell dramatically, and by 1943 only one resident remained. In the mid-1970s, a fire destroyed the area’s remaining above ground buildings, turning Chinatown into an archeological site.

Today, M. Rosalind Sagara is leading the grassroots effort to ensure that this vital component of Riverside’s history is preserved. As chair of the Save Our Chinatown Committee, Sagara excels at joining the group’s efforts with those of other local organizations, finding commonalities and building community connections. She draws on her past experiences as a community organizer and filmmaker to cultivate a strong network that has engaged local students and created a new generation of preservationists. In the spring of 2012, the Save Our Chinatown Committee’s hard work paid off when a Calif. court invalidated the City of Riverside’s approval of a development that would have destroyed Chinatown.

As the group moves forward with planning for the future of this National Register site, Sagara is taking on a new challenge – this semester, she began pursuing a Masters degree in Heritage Conservation.

“The passion, dedication and creative leadership that Rosalind Sagara brings to the preservation of Riverside’s Chinatown is truly an inspiration,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  “We are fortunate to have this dynamic young advocate in the field of preservation.”