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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 4:00 pm | Fair 55º

 
 
 
 

Jan Martinez Nominated for Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize for Beautifying Community

Jan Martinez, employee at Snips Beauty Shop at 701 E. North Ave., is the fifth nominee for the Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.

Jan Martinez
Jan Martinez

Martinez’s nomination is in recognition of her beautification — in addition to the women of Lompoc — of vacant, neglected spaces around town. Spaces full of litter, weeds and worse. Spaces that were eyesores. Spaces that detracted greatly from the image of Lompoc as a City of Arts and Flowers.

With the help of her partner, Dan Mally, Martinez has turned five dreary, weedy spaces into areas of charm and natural beauty. In May 2009, she looked at an area at 122 South H St. and decided that she could do something to get rid of an ugly spot in downtown Lompoc. Using only found or recycled materials and primarily drought-tolerant plants, she changed the space into a place of natural charm.

The second place she improved was in Art Alley under the mural of Indians and a desert sunset, near the stairs to the Odd Fellows building, using some cactus from her own yard and some scavenged railroad ties. Many Lompocans comment frequently on the third area, located on the northwest corner of Chestnut and North H. Prominent are the large tires, donated by Wayne’s Tires, and the little wooden truck, built by Mally, surrounded by plants donated by Red Barn nursery.

Martinez started the process of beautifying the area later known as the Pocket Park on South H Street. The city then contributed a fountain and benches. Martinez worked with city workers to outline planted areas with bricks.

Anyone waiting for the stoplight to change at Walnut and North H streets has doubtless noticed the change to the formerly vacant, neglected corner lot on the southeast corner.

“This was the most challenging,” Martinez declared.

It was just a big asphalt area, nothing else there. Mally built her two wooden planters, and she started planting. Help came along in the person of Vicky Anderson, who helped her plan and paint a brick walkway on the asphalt, and Terrill Cox, the owner of the lot, removed the old chain-link fence and provided a water hook-up.

“Gardens are always works in progress," she said. "And they are always changing. They need to change; they represent life, and life is always changing. You need to give yourself permission to change. That is very liberating.

“It’s all about beauty. When people look better, they feel better.”

Towns, too. So she makes it happen, one vacant lot at a time.

Does this have anything to do with peace? Wise men have thought so. Black Elk, a famous Indian chief, said, “There can never be peace between nations until there is first known that true peace which is within the souls of men [and women].”

Nominations for the Peace Prize can be made through Dec. 1 by contacting the Valley of the Flowers United Church of Christ at 805.733.3333 or by contacting Allie Kay Spaulding at [email protected]. The recognition ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Valley of the Flowers Church at 3346 Constellation in Vandenberg Village.

— Allie Kay Spaulding represents Valley of the Flowers Church.

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