December 18, 2013
A native Samoan son returns to his roots
By Shirley Beaman
Those who follow American Football may know that there is a disproportionately high percentage of Samoan football players in the NFL. American Samoa is a U.S. territory, and its government is under the supervision of the United States Navy. Samoa does not have a written constitution, however they do have a House of Representatives, styled after their American counterparts.
Prior to this year, Ren Beck had never been to Samoa, homeland of the biological father he has never met. Raised in Marin by his mother and stepfather, Beck says he wanted to visit Samoa, “to know more about my family history. I never got the chance to know my biological father, so to get a chance to meet his father and know our family history was something I could not pass up.”
Beck took advantage of his summer break this year by going on a two-week vacation to Samoa. From a traditional kava ceremony, to hiking the treacherous trail up to world renowned author Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave sight, to experiencing some of the most beautiful geography in the South Pacific, he says Savai’i is breathtakingly beautiful and he packed a lot of living into his trip.
Beck was surprised how difficult it was to get to where he was going. Beck and his five cousins flew 13 hours to Auckland, New Zealand, spent 12 hours there on a layover, then caught another four-hour flight to Apia, Western Samoa. Among many other interesting things, Beck learned that his paternal grandfather grew up in Western Samoa, holds a fa’amatai, or chiefly title, for two villages near Apia, and was instrumental in founding the St. Joseph University in Western Samoa. He also got to meet his grandfather’s brother, Albert Wendt, who is a “famous writer of Samoan culture and stories.”
“I was curious to find out who I was, where my family came from, what role they played in this foreign country, and to get to know my grandfather, the patriarch of our family,” Beck said. Regarding his relationship with the biological father he’s never met, he added, “I never met my father but have gotten to know all his siblings. He has never felt ready to meet me because he has his own family now. In fact I learned that he sort of cut himself off from his extended family because I was meeting them for the first time and I assume he felt they sided with me instead of waiting for him to be ready to meet his long lost son.”
Beck says the trip was a sort of self discovery for him. “I have always had this feeling that if you can’t learn who you are through your family, that the next best thing is to go where they are from…Upon landing in Apia I immediately felt welcomed by the sight of other Polynesian people around me.”
This was one of the things he thought about as he retraced the steep and difficult journey his ancestors took when they carried the deceased body of author Robert Louis Stevenson up to his final resting place on Mount Vaea. The trail zigzags up the side of a mountain, where the path gets “so narrow at one point, you have to use a rope to pull yourself up a dusty portion where there is no sure footing.” With 74 percent humidity and 84 degree weather added to the equation, it’s a testament to the physical strength and indomitable will of the Samoan people who carried a 200 pound casket on their backs, even before there was a trail.
”It’s amazing how things were done in those times,” Beck said.
The Polynesian cultures of the South Pacific are steeped in deep rooted tradition and ceremony, some aspects of which have significance that is centuries old. The kava ceremony is an example of this. This is a tradition that the Samoans share with most of their Polynesian neighbors, like the Fijians and Tongans. Kava has served an important role in maintaining and expressing the social organization and material culture of Polynesian peoples. A kava ceremony is done for several reasons. One of its purposes can be to welcome a visitor. In Ren Beck’s case, it’s to welcome a son who is coming home for the first time.
October 4, 2013
Single mom balances school and work
By Rachel Mouton
Being a single parent and a full-time student is not easy. There is so much juggling required. At times, it’s overwhelming. I have three boys – a 7-year old, a 2-year old and a 6-month-old. I’m also a full-time student here. I work two part-time jobs on and off campus. In a way, I’m lucky. I have my own place, a car to get to and from work, my oldest is in school, and I’ve got daycare for my two youngest. But sometimes it’s hard to keep up with bills when there is only one income. I made the decision to attend College of Marin to better myself and get my degree for the sake of my children. I felt I needed something behind my name to separate me from people who are willing to work $8-an-hour jobs without a degree.
I always remind my oldest son, “If you start something, finish it!” Now I’m officially enrolled in school, and I’m excited as ever to finish. It’s a fresh start.
Since I am a single mother I have been provided with resources on campus to help me further my education and career at College of Marin. I know at times not everything will run smoothly, but the people that have been helping me, from teachers to counselors to students, have become my support system. The staff are friendly and make me feel welcome and good about myself. They make me feel like I can achieve, and I know that I will.
I found out about a program on campus called Extended Opportunity Programs and Services. It provides resources to help me and others through college. I’m lucky to have access to this resource because my two jobs alone can’t even buy the books that I need for this semester, and that’s where EOPS steps in. EOPS also helps me with transportation costs, childcare, tutoring and so much more. All I had to do was apply.
As a single mother juggling school, work, and children, I have been trying to stay on top of things. I write a to-do list every week and schedule time to spend with my children, doing homework and other activities. Everyone is in bed no later than 8:30 and then I have some time to myself to clean and do homework. At first it was hard balancing school and home life. I would have to leave classes early to pick up my youngest two from daycare because I was only entitled to so many hours. But I’m getting everything on a smooth path and excited for the current and coming semesters.
I’m happy for the opportunity to go back to school and experience a new campus. This is my second go around with college and being a single parent. I am not going to let this opportunity pass me up. I’m willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to finally accomplish my goal, not only for myself, but for my children. I thank my counselors for helping me with my educational plan, because before coming back to school I felt discouraged and unsure of myself. Now I feel confident and like I can achieve anything. Besides being solely a scholastic student at COM, I’m hoping to try out for the woman’s basketball team in the coming semesters.
Being at the College of Marin and being productive has helped me to do better as both a person and a parent. I’m looking forward to my continuing education, and to the better life that it promises.
September 20, 2013
The benefits of globalizing education:
Why international students are a hot commodity in today’s higher education landscape
By Brady Meyring
The construction and renovation of campus structures is not the only recent building project at College of Marin. Since 2011, Director of International Education Dr. Jason Lau has led the effort to establish a vibrant and strong international student program at the college. “We are growing and improving” he comments. “‘If you build it, they will come.’”
Globalization is oft-maligned on U.S. campuses, however, the American higher education system has benefited from a massive and continuing influx of international students. In the mid-1950s there were around just 35,000 international students in the U.S. By 2012, that number was up to 764,495.
International students are a hot commodity into today’s higher education landscape. Financially, these students support the institution’s bottom line by paying out-of-state tuition and, frequently, additional fees. More importantly though, their perspectives in the classroom and cultural contributions to college life are viewed as essential to a 21st century education.
College of Marin is no exception in recognizing the benefits of boosting international student enrollment. In Spring 2013, around 100 international students attended either the Intensive English Program (IEP) in Indian Valley or credit classes in Kentfield. This number represents 5% of the total student population and according to Dr. Lau, in 5 years “we probably will double, if not triple, in size.”
International students are attracted to COM for many of the same reasons as local students. Typically, smaller classes, a more intimate campus experience and cheaper tuition. On the other hand, community colleges are less recognized abroad and most offer no on-campus housing, a significant hurdle for students relocating from overseas. In 2012, only 11% of all university-level international students in the U.S. were enrolled in community colleges.
How can schools like College of Marin compete with larger four-year institutions with well-established international programs, more facilities and larger budgets? One answer is support services and social activities for students. International students may be attracted to the quality of a college’s programs but they also want to feel connected and supported while they are here. Under the direction of Dr. Lau, himself a former international student from Hong Kong, COM is seeking to develop initiatives to achieve these objectives. “Our goal is to create a home away from home for our international students so they feel safe and are able to enjoy and engage both inside and outside the classroom.”
The international friendship program matches international students with a local family willing to share a monthly activity with a student. This program requires a minimal commitment from the “host” family but can give an international student a one-of-a-kind insider look at American life and customs.
Another program set to begin running soon is the conversation partners program. Currently, students seeking one-on-one peer language exchange use a bulletin board located next to the tutoring center to make connections. The new program will be coordinated by the International Education Office and should run much more efficiently. Students are asked to commit to one semester of meeting weekly for an hour of informal language and cultural exchange.
The first steps in forming a friendship between an American and an international student can be especially tricky. However, making the effort can greatly impact the overall experience of an international student. “It is important for our international students to get engaged and actively participate in school and local activities.” remarks Dr. Lau. “Really, this is the only way to get to know the school and meet new friends.” The International Society Club is a social organization designed to facilitate this process and is open to all students. Those who join can expect to develop new friendships while hiking on Mt. Tam, playing volleyball or frisbee golf, watching movies and participating in internationally-focused events.
Marin County is a beautiful, safe area close to some of the most appealing transfer possibilities in the nation. Moreover, the only other destination for international students in the county is Dominican University. With sustained vision and effort, COM has the potential to become, sooner rather than later, the North Bay’s hub for international students. In the process, valuable global competency will be added to the education of all students.
May 13, 2013
From Marin to the Boston Ballet and back
By Austin Bodek
When I was seven years old I decided that I wanted to be a ballerina. I begged and pleaded to my parents for ballet lessons, and one day I got just that. When the music began, I felt every cell in my body buzz with excitement. Although I was only a small child, I knew in that moment I had discovered my passion, and that I would do anything to become a professional ballet dancer.
So for the next 12 years, while my friends went to movies and parties, I trained 6-7 days a week on blistered toes so that I could achieve my dream. After one year of high school, I decided it was in my best interest to enroll in the independent study program at Independence High in order to fully dedicate my time to training at the San Francisco Ballet School.
I rushed through my school classes, with little regard to grades or the thought of college. With envious eyes, I watched my friends socialize and enjoy the ‘high school experience’. I didn’t go to my senior prom because of a performance the next day, and my graduation was nothing more than a diploma in the mail.
But the rush of adrenaline from thousands of eyes watching me dance, and the standing ovations received after months of practice, made my sacrifices feel trivial, and my hard work worthwhile. My perseverance paid off when I turned 19 and was offered a professional ballet job with The Boston Ballet, which accepts 1-10 dancers out of thousands who audition per year. I packed my life up, said my farewells and headed to Boston, Massachusetts.
I arrived in Boston at the end of summer 2009 to sign my one-year contract and start working. Having been born and raised in California, I was in for a harsh awakening as to what a real winter felt like. As the leaves began to fall, a cold wind picked up, and my schedule became busier and busier as our production of the Nutcracker grew closer. A typical day began with a warm up class, where the teacher gave exercises that became increasingly difficult as the class progressed. Dancers would start out holding a bar, and eventually move to the center of the room. Once class was over, we were ready to start a six-hour day of rehearsals, where we learned numerous ballets, and rehearsed these dances over and over until they were ready to be performed.
The female dancers wear Pointe shoes for almost the entire day. Pointe shoes create a magical effect as the dancer goes on her tiptoes. What many people outside of the ballet world don’t know is the irony of the shoe. It looks so effortless and graceful, yet can be utterly agonizing for the dancer. After wrapping your toes with toe tape, similar to a boxer wrapping his hands before a match, the shoes stays on the foot for many hours. At the end of the day I would take my Pointe shoes off, only to find purple swollen feet covered with blisters.
By the time I was ready for bed, my entire body would throb, crying out with exhaustion. The athletic requirement that a ballet job entails is the same as for any other professional athlete. Ronald Smith, a University of Washington psychology professor and lead author of a new study published in the current issue of the journal Anxiety, Stress and Coping, said that the injury rate for ballet dancers over an eight-month period was 61 percent.
This is comparable to the rates found in other studies for athletes in collision sports such as football and wrestling. Smith said, “Ballet is physically grueling and the act that other dancers are competing with them adds to the physical stress. They often perform hurt and are afraid someone will take their place… the level of precision required is comparable to that of an Olympic gymnast.”
With such a demanding schedule, keeping your body healthy and injury free is crucial. To aid its dancers, Boston Ballet provides healthcare, access to unlimited physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage. On the top floor of the ballet building, a gym and physical therapy room allowed the dancers to have easy access to equipment.
After performing 42 shows of Nutcracker in November and December, my body was beat, and I was ready for a break. Our last show was on New Years Eve and then we were given a two-week layoff to see family, and heal our battered bodies. Coming home to California from freezing cold Boston made me truly appreciate how wonderful Marin County is. I missed the hills, the hikes, and especially Sol Food. Like a fish that feels trapped in his own tank, I had done everything in my power to get out of Marin. It wasn’t until I was out of the water that I could appreciate where I had been.
After resting for what felt like a millisecond, it was time to head back to Boston to prepare for our upcoming ballet season that would span over the next five grueling months.
My second year with the Boston Ballet progressed in a similar manner to the previous year. It wasn’t until the final months of the season that things went terribly wrong. I was given a huge opportunity to go on a five-week summer tour with the company to Spain. Barcelona, Madrid and Granada are just a few of the locations where I would be performing. While practicing a dance, I spun around and jumped in the air. As soon as I landed, I heard a crack, and fell to the floor in agony. I knew right away that it was serious. I found out later the same day that I had fractured my heel bone, and it would take at least 10 weeks to heal. Completely heartbroken, I realized that I would not get to tour Spain.
It wasn’t until I was back in Marin that I realized breaking my foot might have been a blessing in disguise. I had been involved with ballet for basically my entire life, and I had never allowed myself to do anything besides dance. I felt this surge of desire to go to college, to learn how to play the piano, and to have time to socialize. I knew I wanted to achieve so much, but I felt like ballet defined me, and without it I didn’t know who I was. As frightening as it was to leave ballet, I knew that by opening myself to opportunities, I would discover a whole new me.
It’s been almost two years since I left ballet, and I have created a completely new life. I decided to go to college, and now study Communications at College of Marin. I have taken up bartending in the San Francisco at the bar KT’s, which has allowed me the opportunity to meet vast amounts of interesting people. Most importantly, I have learned that I am not defined by my job. What you do should be an extension of who you are, but should not confine you.
May 13, 2013
German student adjusts to life as a Tiburon au pair
By Lea Steinmann
November 9th. Here I am, finally. Landed at San Francisco Airport, overwhelmed and excited and in the United States, “The land of unlimited possibilities.”
I am Lea Steinmann, an 18 year-old au pair living and working in Tiburon for the past six months. After graduating from a German High School last summer, I was ready for something new, something completely life-changing. Travelling, improving my English, getting to know a totally new culture and becoming more independent. Led by those aims, I was ready to spend a year abroad.
My journey started with leaving my hometown Babenhausen. It’s a small city near Frankfurt, situated right in the heart of Germany. Saying goodbye to my friends and family was a lot harder than I thought it would be. However, receiving a warm and hearty welcome from my host family in the States made it much easier to let go.
My new family consists of my single-host dad David, who works as an attorney and his two little sweetie-pies Sonya, 9, and Anya, 5. I feel they’re more like a couple of princesses than little girls. Both are already accustomed to a privileged lifestyle, one that is totally at odds with my own childhood.
Settling down as an au pair in Tiburon is certainly not something to complain about. Some of its many perks include an iPhone, an American Express credit card, a 2770 square foot dream house with an amazing view of the bay area to go with it. Not to mention driving a BMW X6 and first class flights to Mexico and to Dave‘s second house in Hawaii during spring break and in summer.
It seems like a perfect life, right? Some days it certainly is, however it is a real job and definitely no bowl of cherries.
For most Americans, the international expression “au pair” is not immediately recognizable. Most people refer to us as just nannies, but it is much more than that. They’re a live-in childcare provider and a full-time part of the family. Regulations by the US-government mandate that au pairs are required to be between 18-26 years old and have childcare experience totalling over 200 hours. There is a maximum of 45 hours work per week for a salary of about 200 dollars. Usual duties include getting the kids ready for school, preparing breakfast and lunch, picking them up from school, doing after-school activities, helping with homework, eating dinner together and bringing them to bed.
Au pairs come from a number of various countries: France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Australia just to name a few! The 17.000 au pairs who currently work in the U.S. aren’t only just female. According to the Wall Street Journal “10% of au pairs are male”.
Besides their work duties, every au pair has to earn 6 credits at a college to fulfill their visa requirements. A lot of Marin County au pairs go to College of Marin, because it provides the most affordable solution for them. Unfortunately, the host family’s financial support of $500 for education is not enough to cover the costs of most normal credit classes at COM. Luckily, there is still the option of attending community education. But the variety of classes is much less, which is an issue that should be discussed and improved.
Karin Nordqvist , 20, has lived in Marin County for the past nine months. “Finding out about myself and my aims for the future was my main intention in spending a year as a Swedish au pair in the US.“, she says. “On the other hand, I learned hot to think critically about different lifestyles and cultural traditions. My host family is very conservative in their behavior which is completely opposite to my democratic views.” Another Swedish au pair, Lana Hassan, 21, took surfing classes at COM last fall, “I came to and love Marin County, because the Bay Area is a great place to go surfing. Doing this as a College course was awesome,” she said. “People always think that being an au pair means relaxing and having a lot of free time. They have no idea at all, how hard this job can be and that you need a lot of patience and energy for that.”
When au pairs actually have free hours or days, most of them save their money to travel through the country. On a single free day, they visit cultural sights, go to the movies or to restaurants. Typical American young adult activities. The main gathering point for a lot of Marin County au pairs is undoubtedly the cheesecake factory. Look out the next time you go to any of these kinds of spots, more than likely you will find a table full of au pairs!
I know that when I return to Germany I won’t be living in the wealthy world I am in right now. This makes me want to enjoy this experience even more. Though living here in America with a host family might just be for one or two years, it creates a bond and relationship to those people that will surely endure for many years to come.
Looking back on the past six months I’ve spent here already, the life of an au pair definitely includes a lot of ups and downs. In the beginning I found myself in something of a honey-moon phase, very excited about this new lifestyle. But that excitement was quickly tempered by a profound homesickness. Struggling with two car accidents within two weeks was by far the most nerve-wracking moment here.
But the strong bond to my new friends and host family keeps me from buying a plane ticket back home. It’s those moments when I hear the girls say, “Please don’t leave us,” or my first dream in English or a little girl asking me, “Are you her mum?” after walking hand in hand out of the gym with Anya, that has made my quality time in the States unforgettable so far.
No matter what happens during this year, regardless of stress or exhaustion, it will have been a pleasure and a whole lot of fun. Whether trying to do well in College courses or even just navigating our way through the United States and everyday life, Karin, Lana and I totally agree on one point: “This is the most exciting year of our lives!”
May 13, 2013
Former student killed four years ago in Iraq
By Echo Times Staff
The 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq came and went in March, without much attention. Neither the media nor politicians appeared very interested in revisiting what has been described as one of the biggest intelligence blunders and most expensive wars in U.S. military history.
Although the Iraq War may not be on many people’s minds these days, its impact continues to be felt by thousands of families throughout the U.S. and Iraq.
Ask Susan and Robert Velloza of Inverness, who lost their only child, Jake, four years ago this month. They visit the Olema Cemetery every May 2, the date their son was killed. Jake is buried there with other members of his family who led full lives.
On an early Sunday morning in May 2009, a woman in a military uniform knocked at their door. She was accompanied by a minister from their local church. Bob and Susan said they knew right then that something was very wrong.
They had been watching TV before the visit, and had seen on the news that Jake’s friend and fellow soldier Jeremiah McCleery had been killed. Jake’s fiancée Danielle called and said she hadn’t heard from Jake yet.
The casualty officer informed them that their son, Jake, 22, and McCleery had both been shot and killed by two Iraqi gunmen while on patrol in Mosul, 225 miles north of Baghdad.
“They opened the door a crack and started shooting,” Jake’s grandfather, Richard Velloza, told ABC News. “[The gunmen] shot two dead, three were wounded, and one of them was our grandson.”
The attackers were apprehended and later discovered to be members of the Iraqi police. Jake was the second person from Marin to be killed in the war.
Susan Velloza, who declined to be interviewed because of the emotional toll this time of year brings, indicated that the family was still struggling with Jake’s loss.
Operation Iraqi Freedom started on March 20, 2003. It was supposed to be a quick and bloodless campaign, but six years later Americans were still dying in Iraq. Jake was one of them.
His family is one of almost 4,500 American families who lost a husband, wife, son or daughter in the war. The young men and women who lost their lives are only part of the story. For many, the war continues at home. For the dozens of vets committing suicide every day. For the bereaved. For the 100,000 injured. The 300,000 with PTSD. And for their families, friends and caregivers.
Jake, a former College of Marin student, was a gifted athlete who pitched for the Mariners and studied photography here. Born in June 1986, in Santa Rosa, he grew up in Inverness and attended West Marin Elementary School in Point Reyes Station. Even as a youngster, Jake stood out as an athlete. At Tomales High School, he excelled in football, baseball and track, following in his father Robert’s footsteps.
As a defensive back, wingback, kick returner and kicker in football, Jake made friends with everyone on the team. This included his close friend Sean Pipkin.
“Jake and I played opposite-side defensive ends. I can still remember looking over at him, he looked at me and we just smiled at each other and we knew what to do on the next play. We were just hammering the other team and ended up making Tomales High School history shattering the school’s quarterback sack record that particular game,” said Pipkin about the match against a San Francisco high school team. The Tomales Braves later won the 2002 North Coast Section Class B championship with an 8-4 record.
“That was a great moment that we as team all shared equally with Jake, and none of us will ever forget it,” Pipkin said. While on the varsity baseball team, Jake, a left-hander, pitched and played center fielder. He was not only known for his outstanding speed, but his team spirit and passion for the game.
“He was very fast and athletic. He was a great teammate and a great friend,” Pipkin said. “He had known since before graduating high school that he was going to join the Army to fight for me, you, and our country. He was a natural-born leader.”
Pipkin was both proud and supportive of his friend’s decision to go to war.
“Of course I was worried, but I also knew Jake and how strong and fast he was. I knew there was a great possibility of him getting hurt or killed in action, but I always put that in the back of my mind.” Pipkin said, “I thought no way. Not Jake. He can dodge any weapon the enemy uses against him.”
Pipkin’s younger brother informed him of Jake’s death.
“I was completely devastated and still thought it wasn’t true until the day of his service when I saw his lifeless body in that casket.”
COM’s baseball coach Steve Berringer met Jake during the Fall 2005 practice season. He remembers Jake’s gift as an outfielder and a first baseman. Berringer didn’t get to know him as well as he would have liked to, and the last time they met was when Jake came to his neighborhood while doing work with the Marin County Water District. He remembered that Jake always seemed cheery.
Coach Berringer found out about Jake’s death by reading the newspaper.
“He was a happy young man,” Berringer recalled. “Always a pleasure to be around.”
Jay Borodic, a University of Puget Sound graduate with a degree in International Political Economy, grew up in West Marin with Jake and played on the same teams throughout school.
Borodic described Jake as a “gear head.” While in high school, Jake had built a motorbike which he rode all over West Marin.
Being a long-time friend, Borodic knew that Jake would eventually join the Army. Jake told him he wanted to be the first among their friends to have a career, and to start a family.
Borodic recieved news of Jake’s death from a friend during his last week of college finals. He was caught totally off-guard.
While politically against the war in Iraq, Borodic doesn’t blame the military for what happened. On the contrary, he says he has great respect for the armed forces.
Susan Velloza said she planned to visit her son’s grave on May 2nd, the fourth anniversary of Jake’s death.
Jake’s family and friends know the impact of war. It’s not something they’re likely to forget.
May 13, 2013
Analysis: Five years of campus construction
By Dale Robertson
These photos of the new College of Marin Kentfield campus buildings are the result of the Measure C that passed with a 60% vote in 2004, and a five year long photo journalism project by a disabled sophomore student. As the spring 2013 semester ends, people are familiarizing themselves with the large brand-new Math Science Medical building.
Why would anyone in their right mind, spend five years with no pay, wheelchair-bound and challenged with numerous medical conditions, yet photographically documenting the College of Marin measure C construction project. A very serious person reveled with the relentless passion of any amateur shutterbug! Taking photographs and video footage before, in between and after classes, in every possible spare second of his time capturing the moments of this ongoing renovation project at the College of Marin Kentfield campus.
I ask myself that question all the time. Why do I do this? My name is Dale Robertson, and this is my story.
In 2004 the news came to Marin County communities the College of Marin had received a $249.5 million dollar fund through Measure C to undergo construction of several new buildings at the Kentfield and Indian Valley campus. At the time, I was well into finishing almost all of my architecture classes at the Kentfield campus. Being very fascinated about the process of ‘out with the old and in with the new’, I started taking pictures of this process.
Ironically, at the time, professor Georgie Goldberg, a state licensed architect, asked all of the advanced design students, myself being one of them “to design and build a model of what we think the new fine arts building should look like.”
Her direction to us suggested a strong emphasis not to “worry about how much it cost because, the sky is the limit.”
The first thing I did to start my design process, as any architectural design person would do, was some serious ground research. I interviewed students, professors, maintenance personnel and faculty to see just what they would really like to see incorporated into new architecture proposed for the College of Marin Kentfield campus. The responses were overwhelming. Art professor Tron Bykle teaches printmaking and life drawing classes, and said, “I want to see a bigger workspace for all of the printers and my students in my printing class.”
In my design, I gave the professors an extra 20 feet in both directions, increasing the size of the existing classroom they had worked in for so many decades. Sadly, the new fine arts building had very little to offer for Tron and some of the other professors and instructors who were hopeful in gaining the extra space they were all rooting for.
Fine arts office manager Olga Borissova said, “I want to see more office space for the professors in our new Fine Arts Building.”
The office count went from 10 rooms in the original building to six very small rooms shared by as many as six people, in what looks like a walk-in closet space office hardly big enough to hold a desk with one chair, let alone students with parents and one professor.
Former college of Marin student David Quinnly said he would like to have seen “a larger art gallery in order for all the students to show their pottery work at once during a complete semester.”
To understand the process of how architecture takes place from print to the actual construction of the building, you have to be there to see it. So I chose not only to be there, but to also learn the process of demolition, excavation and handling of materials to affect the building of a new structure.
But as the economy went over the cliff in 2008, I saw my architectural future going over with it. Architectural engineer and personal friend, the late Mario Compi, who had inspired me to take courses in architecture back in early 2000, the late Mario Compi, said to me: “Dale! You should find another profession fast. The architectural business is going to take a hard hit, in its architectural hiring jobs market in the coming years.”
And he was right. Armed with this sad information bestowed upon me by a mentor of great architectural talent, I immediately switch to film-making as a major in communications. Film is something I’ve always loved to do my whole life. I remembered a story from my drafting professor at the College of Marin, the late Mark Gorrell, who made a film about the Salk Institute, in La Jolla, California as it was being built. He described to his experience of the joy to be able to photo-document and film the event of such a great architectural accomplishment by none other than one famous architect, known as Lewis Louis Kahn.
Mark explained to me, ”being an architect and engineer is a great thing, however to be able to photo-document the final results of one’s work in itself is the most rewarding endeavor. Because, you will find yourself paying more detailed attention to the actual structure, its beauty and its form in its entirety, admiring the completed work.”
It is been seven years since Mark told me that story about the film the made of the Salk Institute. I remember in 2009, the event in front college of Marin Kentfield campus. When everybody showed up to celebrate the breaking of the ground to signify the new fine arts building would be underway. I was there with my cameras. I have literally thousands of pictures and untold hours of video footage. All of the work I’ve done will be donated to the College of Marin archive, once I’ve finished making my pseudo-random time lapse documentary of the construction of the newer buildings for the college of Marin.
The summer of 2013 is upon us. I have already started filming the demise of Harlem center’s beautiful trees that once stood there. I also have to wonder where COM will hold its next student Film Festival without our Olney Hall. The Emeritus Center, perhaps?