It’s been now about a month that the former meeting place of Cesar Chavez and his followers was honored as a Historic National Landmark. Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Chapel in San Jose, before it became know as McDonnell Hall, was essential for the San Jose United Farm Workers movement during the 1950s and 1960s. It supported local migrant workers with basic services and a space for organisational meetings.
Cesar Chavez was introduced to Father McDonnell in 1952. McDonnell was a big influence on Chavez and started educating him on nonviolence and social justice teaching using the examples of Gandhi and St. Francis.
When McDonnell opened his parish in East San Jose it was still known as Sal Si Puedes [or “Get Out If You Can”]. In 1972 Chavez and Dolores Huerta came up with the revised phrase: Sí se puede, which Obama used in his campaign as ‘Yes, we can!”
The city of San Jose’smemorial walk for Cesar Chavez from 2009 lists the McDonnell Hall, but also includes other places such as Chavez house and school.
February is black history month. A good way to educate yourself on an aspect of black history is the current exhibit of the Oakland Museum of California: All power to the people: Black Panthers at 50.
Until February 26th this will show original documents of the panthers, never seen photos, and the cultural component of the movement.
It was surprising to me that the movement was composed by 2/3 of woman, who also held leadership positions. In an early draft of their program it showed that they thought about a basic income, which is a much discussed topic all around the world right now.
When I visited on Super Bowl Sunday I hoped to be there pretty much by myself. Due to this highly popular exhibit and the fact that on every first Sunday of the month the entry is free (they ask for donations), I had to wait for about half an hour in line.
Besides the Black Panther exhibit I also saw: Out of the box: The rise of sneaker culture. I never thought that sneakers could be so interesting! The story of Carl Lewis’s shoes or a sole making Obama prints is very cool.
To complete my visit I went to see the Gallery of California history exhibit. Very well organized time periods of Californian history. What struck me was the timeliness of their showing of the Mexican border and the last piece of the exhibit some food for thought about the Dakota Native Americans.
There are also the art and science exhibits that I did not have time to visit.
February 19th, also known as the Day of Remembrance, marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 which led to the forced incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese descent, two-thirds of whom were American citizens.
To learn about the incarceration, the Japanese American Museum of San Jose put together an extensive exhibit, not only detailing the different camps, but also showing a rebuild of a living quarter of Tule Lake.
This museum presents the history of Japanese Americans from the gold rush to the resettlement. I was led through the exhibit by Abe, who was an excellent tour guide and very knowledgeable. For only $5 (seniors and students pay $3) this interesting museum about Japanese American history should be on everyone’s must-see-in-San-Jose list.
Will you remember?
Japanese American Museum of San Jose
535 N 5th St, San Jose, CA 95112
Opening hours are: Thursday through Sunday, 12 – 4 pm
February 19th, Day of Remembrance
5:30 p.m – 7:30 p.m This year under the theme: Stand up to Hate San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin 640 North Fifth Street San Jose, CA 95112
Or like Aziz Ansari put it in last weeks SNL Monologue: “[…]if you look at our country’s history, change doesn’t come from presidents. Change comes from large groups of angry people. And if Day 1 is any indication, you are part of the largest group of angry people I have ever seen.”
The new exhibit at the Los Altos History Museum is called: Seaweed, Salmon and Manzanita Cider. Until April 16, 2017 you can learn how the Native Americans prepared their food and valued their relationship with nature.
Right at the beginning they offer some recipes to take home. I came back with inspirations on Rose Hip or Elderberry Syrup and how to cook Salmon on Redwood Sticks.
Thanks to a wonderful volunteer, I was also shown around the J. Gilbert Smith House.
The upstairs is currently home of the Raggedy Ann and Andy exhibit. The whole home has been outfitted with things from the early 1900s. The cupboards are stuffed with the packaging of this time. The sleeping quarters are upstairs, with toys and cloth to imagine the life of the former inhabitants.
You can find the permanent exhibit: Crown of the Peninsula back in the museum on the second floor. This shows the usage of the land from the Ohlone Indians, to the Mexicans, to the early American settlers and orchard growers. What makes this collection most appealing for little children is the First St. model railroad or the signs that invite ‘Try us on’ or ‘Open me’.
We went to Calistoga as kind of a pre-Christmas treat. One thing I know is that I have to come back! First, I did not get to try out the famous mud bath, (maybe I wasn’t ready for it?), the wine tasting rooms looked cosy and the lunch we had at the Culinary Institute was divine!
The migration path of the monarch butterflies is quite amazing. They are the only insects that migrate to places that are 3,000 miles away. From October to January the monarchs visit the Bay Area. Last week I namedArdenwood, the historic farm in Fremont, as one of the places you can see monarchs.
Another special place to see them is the Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz. They created a boardwalk for people to observe and learn about the butterflies. For some reason the clusters are at Lighthouse Field State Beach, two miles away from the Natural Bridge State Beach.
In an eucalyptus tree hundreds of them bundle together and warm each other. They look like brown leaves, but when it gets warmer they start flying off. The monarchs need a temperature of over 55F to be able to fly.
Some monarchs live for only four to six weeks, while others live six to eight months and have to fly really far to escape the cold weather. What is amazing is that the fourth generation returns to the places the first generation came from.
They have cute signs in front of the coops and stalls to teach and engage the little ones about the animals inhabiting them. There are a few varieties of chicken, little piggies and some unusual birds. This is a great place to bird watch, over 99 different species have been recorded. A Guide to the Birds of Ardenwood Historic Farm
During the winter month, from December to mid-February monarch butterflies overwinter here. In the summer they offer tractor rides and the train operates between the Ardenwood station and the Deer Park station. You can also see an original Victorian garden and visit the Patterson Victorian house.
There is a lot to see and to do, especially for little kids.
Entry fee is between $3 and $6, for special events $8.
Stanford is famous for their large Rodin collection. In fact the bronze collection with over 200 pieces is amongst the largest in the world. Two of the best known sculptures are ‘The Gates of Hell’ and ‘The Thinker’. You can admire them inside and outside the Cantor Arts Center. They also offer docent lead tours Wednesdays at 2 pm, Saturdays at 11:30 am, and Sundays at 3 pm, rain or shine. Meet in the main lobby. Learn more
A different display of art is the New Guinea Sculpture Garden. As a modern / tribal collaboration project they mixed traditional stories with modern ideas. When they learned about the famous Rodin sculptures one of the artist proclaimed: ‘”I can do this – even better!’ Their versions of ‘The Gates of Hell” and ‘The Thinker’ can be found among a multitude of other sculptures.
Which is the better version will be in the eye of the beholder. If you are willing to judge or explore you can find the garden on the corner of Lomita and Santa Teresa. They also do a tour every third Sunday at 2 pm.