By Rachel Tennenbaum
In this Q&A we will explore an avenue not often taken in the world of news: getting cozy with the public. Once a week CHP will sit down with a member of the Santa Cruz community and ask them questions ranging from the amusing to the intimate. Because he’s not just the cable guy- he’s got a whole package of thoughts whirling around in his head, and we’d like to know what’s going on.
Meet Curtis Reliford, landscaper and founder of the Follow Your Heart Action Network, “a grassroots relief effort for victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita” (followyourheartactionnetwork.com). CHP found Reliford re-stenciling his truck a few hours before a benefit, readying himself for his next journey to Louisiana on Oct. 15.
What prompted you to start this organization?
I was born and raised in Louisiana. I’ve had family members lost [in the aftermath of the hurricane] and [I] didn’t like the way the government treated the rest.
What’s your favorite color?
Red. [At the time of this interview, Reliford was wearing a bright red, flannel shirt.]
What’s an animal you identify with?
I guess lion and eagle. I went on a vision quest [a Native American spiritual quest] and that’s what I found.
Do you have certain ideas, convictions or life philosophies that you hold to be true?
I believe in God, and that I’m being led by a spirit. I believe in the forces of Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, and Jesus.
Any advice to offer people?
The only advice that I have for anyone â€¦ I’m not perfect, and I’m not even close, but I’m striving to be the best person that I can be. I’m striving to be a person that carries the message of peace, love and compassion.
What are you afraid of?
The only thing I’m afraid of is losing my daughter â€¦ she is the one that started this whole thing [Follow Your Heart Action Network]. She believed in me when no one [else] in my life believed in me, and that was the first time I was touched that strongly. Her name is Teisha, she’s 10, but she told me when she was eight, “Dad, if anyone can do anything for these people, you can.”
Organic vegetables, beans, rice, peas, okra, sweet potatoes.
When do you feel the best? The most in-the-moment?
When I’m out there, driving across the desert [on the way to Louisiana] and we stop and sit around the campfire, and all the different nationalities are sitting there together with me, sitting in the circle. No prejudice, no judgment.
I don’t tell people my birthday. Just kidding, it’s August 14.