A hometown bounty in an uncertain time

by John Pixley

 

That was some election! In the days leading up to it, it felt like Y2K. I called it Y2K.2.

Remember Y2K, when nobody knew for sure if all our computers and devices would switch over to the year 2000 or if they would revert to 1900 or even 1000? There were warnings from institutions and agencies, and everyone was wondering—if not afraid—whether everything would go out of whack at 12 a.m on January 1, 2000. Some stocked up on food and other goods, in case things got really crazy—or worse.

The 2016 presidential election will no doubt be remembered much more than Y2K. Rather than a technological quirk that tickled our fears and left us red-faced, this twisty, vitriolic campaign and election and its jolting outcome said volumes about American politics and society.

It was not just the race (or, really, fight) between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and their supporters. There were also all those propositions on California’s ballot.

There were 17 statewide propositions. That doesn’t include Measure G, the school bond initiative on the ballot here in Claremont. At least there weren’t five or six more like in Los Angeles. Or 22 more—was it 22?—like in San Francisco. And, yes, there have been 17 or more statewide propositions on 30 different ballots in the last century. There was one ballot, in 1914, with 48 statewide propositions. But 17 propositions—18 here in Claremont—is an awful lot.

And all of this on top of the Trump/Hillary contest.

Thank goodness for the voter video project. For those who took advantage of this online resource, it was a real salve, a little bit of straightforward sanity, in the confusing, stressful campaign. Make that 17 little bits of straightforward sanity. Seventeen three-minute bits to be exact.

Sponsored by the Rose Institute at Claremont McKenna College, the voter video project was a series of short videos available online. In each, a student explained a proposition in an objective, even-handed manner. Several students took part, each appearing in two or three videos, and each video followed the same format, starting with an explanation of what the measure was and what it would do, then a run-down of the pros and cons and concluding with a list of who was for and who was against the measure and online links for more information.

Easy-peasy, as a friend would say. These videos made things much easier when there was that huge, heavy, scary official voter guide (it had a record-setting 224 pages, for goodness sake!) and all those articles and ads and telephone calls. Not to mention all the Hillary/Trump sniping and quipping. There was always more information we could look at if we wanted to delve deeper.

The voter video project was a valuable resource for those of us who took advantage of it during this stressful time. And it was from right here in Claremont, from one of the Colleges in this case.

This was just one undertaking in Claremont that makes life more fulfilling and rewarding. Just look at some of the projects going on in our schools, enabled with grants through the Claremont Educational Foundation.

• Claremont Heritage will expand its third grade local history program, beginning by visiting every third grade classroom with an education trunk full of interactive visuals and continuing with a bus tour of Claremont landmarks.

• The Claremont Museum of Art, through its AfterARTS program, will train Claremont High School students to develop and run monthly after-school art-making workshops at each of Claremont’s seven elementary schools.

• The Inland Valley Repertory Theatre will engage seventh and eighth graders at El Roble in reader’s theater, allowing novice students to interact with literary texts and build relationships with performing artists, first through the program and then as audience members at the Candlelight Pavilion spring production of Little Women, the Musical.

• In partnership with the WorkAbility Program at the high school, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden’s Grow Our Future program provides worksite training for high school students with disabilities, giving them experience that will help them when they transition from school into the workforce.

• Jean Merrill’s third grade students at Chaparral School will extend their collaborative work in creating a play with Claremont High School students focusing on local history through the lens of letters sent home by college students. The play will be presented to all third-grade students in the district.  

• A student-designed renovation will be implemented in the 600 quad at the high school, employing curricular standards from math, language arts and science to make the space more environmentally friendly, easier for disabled students to navigate and more aesthetically pleasing.

• Students at El Roble will demonstrate their understanding of the American Revolution by developing a puppet show—independently researching and producing a script and working in collaborative groups to create puppets of historic figures. The scripts, focusing on eight important events, will be filmed using green screen and iMovie.

• With guidance from multidisciplinary artist and writer Gustavo Alberto Garcia Vava, sixth grade students at Mountain View School will write and produce their own films exploring social, historic and cultural elements of their curriculum. The films will be shown at a special year-end Mountain View Film Festival.

 

This is a bounty of enrichment and enlightenment and much to be thankful for in this harvest season—and all the more so in a time of tumult and uncertainty, to say the least.

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