Archive for May, 2010

Can the Redwood Boat Stay Afloat?

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

College of the Redwoods posted a loss of $33 million during the 2008-2009 fiscal year. With just under $5 million in from tuition, CR’s ability to stay afloat is beyond monetary sense. Furthermore, the continued expansion of the College’s campuses (now with six) reveal the board of trustees approach to business may be influenced by the strategies of the Chinese Emperor Zheng He. The numbers simply don’t add up. With over $30 million in salaries and employee benefits alone, it is surprising a business model such as this would ever foresee success.

It’s not over yet though as this approach has been going on for a while. CR is $33 million dollars in debt with listed assets of $45 million dollars. That is not a positive number or outlook for College of the Redwoods.

As we delve further into the financial forays of CR and look at the District’s official total employees of 543 and divide that into the $23,098,526 spent on salaries and we’re given $45,026 as the average salary of every employee at CR. Also, we must divide the $6,691,047 in employee benefits which yields $13,042 as the average employee benefit. Depending on your conception of wealth you may or may not think this is a fair amount of money. Comparably though, these teachers cannot be getting payed that well. 

A job description website claims “the 2004–05 school year the average salary for all college teachers was $51,800 per year. However, salaries varied widely by rank: instructors, for instance, averaged $39,899 per year, while assistant professors made $54,571 per year and full professors earned $91,548 per year.”

So it appears we have under payed the most important facet of the educational system. If the cost to pay the educators is not to blame then what is the issue that plagues CR’s treasure ship?

In 2007 the American Association of Community Colleges published a study titled “Funding Issues in U.S. Community Colleges: Findings From a 2007 Survey of the National State Directors of Community Colleges.” This study reveals much about the real issues facing not only College of the Redwoods but our entire national education system. The biggest worry in 2007 was lack of funding and the coming recession. Well, now post-sub-prime mortgage crisis, we can easily see this has remained a issue. One of the biggest current problems is lack of funding due to this recessive economy. This problem is further exacerbated by the strong competition for tax dollars between different educational levels and the harsh realization that most schools did not receive their entire allotted funds in 2007.

The report goes on to explain that increased tuition across the board has caused a massive influx of enrollment in the less expensive community college system. Already without funding, the school systems cannot handle the increased student load in a financially beneficial way. Even more defeating is the fact that we are in California, what is called a “mega state,” with fast growing high school graduation rates and state universities capping student population, community college is the only choice. Being a rural school we pop right in on number 11 of the problems facing community colleges regarding not only funding but lack of transportation, advertisement and organized local support. 

I’ll leave you with a quote for thought from the conclusion of the study:

“It may well be that linkages between state appropriations, state tuition policies, and state student aid funding policies are being overwhelmed by the dire need for revenue to avoid shortfalls in state budgets. As the high tuition and high aid model shows cracks, if not giant crevasses, the situation will require continued monitoring.”


Noah Cannon

An Alien in Blue Lake

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

A life long Monterey Bay resident has decided to mobilize her entire life and resettle within the Redwood Curtain. Every year thousands of people uproot their lives and move to Humboldt County. Today, I’m sitting down with one of these migratory folk in Blue Lake, California to discuss what historical routes brought her to reside in this lovely little town. At some point most (including myself) were alien to this magical redwood paradise but something about this place seems to diminish the importance of the past and heighten the joy of the present.

Annete Dani Nunez was born in a hospital in Santa Cruz, California(which is in it’s own county). But soon she was  home to Monterey County where she has lived the entirety of her life; not including the last two months. Growing up in Salinas Annete, who now goes as Dani, lived in a notorious gang environment. When growing up on the east side of Salinas it was “a tough life, you had to be careful, it was like the projects, you know.” This is where she lived until seventh grade and with “not a lot to do” Dani would usually go to Monterey or San Jose to have a good time and avoid gangs. When she moved about thirty miles north to Gilroy in middle school she found it a more pleasant environment. There were fewer gang issues and generally it had better weather.

Unfortunately, the positive venture in Gilroy was short lived. Dani moved out with her twenty-year-old sister at fifteen after finishing her freshman year in high school. Things at home were “no good” and Dani was back in Salinas. Upon return to Salinas, school was not near the top of the Dani’s priority list. Soon after moving, at fifteen, she met the father of her three children.

For two years Dani battled with the education system leaving high school and then leaving continuation high school. Dani and her new love Eric, then twenty-years-old, decided to get emancipated and get married under heavy suggestion from her boyfriend’s religious parents.

In March 1987, at the age of nineteen, Dani gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Shalynn Joanne Jacobsen. “After Shalynn it was every few years,” she had Matthew three years later and Holliane two after that. With Eric earning meager wages working in a fish store, it was most often up to Dani to bring home the bacon. And so the list of employment begins: She has worked as a courier, a house cleaner, a house wife, a caretaker of celebrity animals, a kennel worker, a house painter (interior, exterior and commercial), a Denny’s waitress and finally a Pampered Chef Party Coordinator. As Donna Summers says “She works hard for the money, so hard for it honey.”

As we fast forward to now the kids are all grown up. Dani and Eric divorced in 1997. Shalynn is a licensed cosmetologist working as a stylist in Arcata at Bloom Salon. Matthew is entering the Army at the end of June and Holliane is beginning her cosmetology apprenticeship around the same time. Up until a couple months ago Dani was still in Salinas when Shalynn began to nag her about moving up with her to Humboldt County. Dani agreed and decided it was time, “left it all behind – came up for a breath of fresh air, peace, tranquility and serenity –  and that’s what it is.”

The rescue mission took place on Dani’s birthday. March 4th, 2010, Dani’s daughter and daughter’s boyfriend beamed straight down from northern California to swoop Dani up and move her on out. All agreed that Salinas held nothing more for her and the time for change was now.

Her entire life condensed into a Volkswagen Passat and relocated within the veil of the Redwood Curtain.

First living in McKinleyville for about a month, Dani noted “it’s nice, but not as nice as Blue Lake.”

She found living by the ocean to be an amazing treat but was quickly coerced by the promise of warmer weather just a hop, skip and jump inland.

Now in Blue Lake, Dani says she loves everything about this place. The places to walk, the atmosphere and “the sun up here is completely different!” For the same rent she pays here; in Salinas one could only find a room at lowest end of the rent-ability spectrum. Beautiful Salinas, where “three-fifty will get you a room in a crack house.” She lives in a nice three bedroom Victorian with an enormous back yard near down town Blue Lake.

She lives with her daughter Shalynn right now and is beginning a completely raw diet admitting that “before living here I’d never have thought or known about a raw diet.” She has also decided to quit smoking after 30 years of struggling with addiction. What a change of scenery and sheer curative and positive culture shock Dani has experienced in her journey to little Blue Lake. From the violent streets of Salinas to a town that reminds her “of an old movie, like an old western town.” In Salinas going on a walk is an undesirable undertaking now she is enthused with the walking choices, “you can go for a walk to a bridge, a river, a pond, a water fall or a casino.”

Admittedly, for such a small town, Blue Lake is a happening place. Having just celebrated their one hundred year anniversary, the town is filled with opportunities including all those great walking destinations. With a small population just over a thousand Blue Lake boasts a ton of amenities including: bowling, Del Arte Theater, fishing, hiking, any sports field or court you can think of, community sport and a roller rink just to name a few!

Dani is in Humboldt now for good. Her daughter Holliane is moving up here in a couple of months and things have never been better. I think this is an indicator of the true power of this place. The true power of like-minded individuals co-creating their own reality which is Humboldt County. Behind this Redwood Curtain a hodgepodge of unique alien beings assimilate and congregate to cultivate a better place to live. Welcome, Annete Dani Nunez.


Noah Cannon

Kayaking on Big Lagoon

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

On a Sunday morning we set off for yet another adventure this time with the group of ASCR students. We take seven miles north of Trinidad to the Big Lagoon County Park to spend a day in the sun kayaking. As soon as we get there we begin to loosen up as a group, as we form a circle, introduce ourselves and our favorite stretches. Derek, our group leader from North Coast Adventure also leads us along a walk on the sand dunes  between the rough ocean and the glistening calm lake. It helps loosen us up and get us used to the area. Feeling the refreshing air off the waves we turn around and head back, its such perfect kayacking weather with the sun and soft breeze entering early afternoon.

With the help of Kayak Zac’s they get our kayak’s ready for us on shore.  In the meantime, we walk over to get our life jackets and paddles before we get ready to head out on our instructed tour. Next, Marcie our friendly instructor from Kayak Zac’s, showed us the basics of kayaking. Spreading out as a group she taught us the proper way to hold a paddle and how to paddle correctly. Marcie also showed us how to get in and out of a kayack the proper way. When it was time to launch and get in our kayak for the first time I was rather excited to get in the water.

Once we got off into the water it was hard to get used to the paddling at first, but then I felt the rythm coming along. Marcie would watch us every once in a while to see if we were doing it right. She would give us tips on what we still needed to work on, but encouraged us that comfort is the main thing. Its not entell you get in a kayak that you realize how relaxing kayaking is. Being so close to the water for my first time was rather awesome, the scenery as well, does not get any better while you are calm lake enjoying the sun. There was a time on our tour that we had to weave inbetween these bushes, but it was really gorgeous. A couple times my partner and I would crash into the branches, and other times we got to do the limbo underneath the branches. Midway though our tour, Marcie brought us to some land; a pretty serene quiet area, to take a break, stretch, while some took it upon themselves to jump in the water. With the warmest part of our day approaching we soon decided to head back. On the way back I noticed my arms didn’t hurt as much as before, also the current of the water was against us.

With the occasional spashes against the kayak, the water and fresh breeze was rather refreshing on the way back. Before we departed as a group, we circled up with Derek one last time to thank our fabulous instructor Marcie, say a few last words and to say goodbye to the others. Taking this tour for me was a highlight. Before this I had never thought I would get to experiance such a wonderful, relaxing, calming water sport. If you’re ever up for good scenery, and a enjoyable ride look no farther than kayaking on Big Lagoon!!!

Alison Baumeister

A Place I Call Heaven

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

The never ending smooth but powerful ringlets of water crash onto a soft, misted surface. Groups of silky, white, California gulls soar by almost gracing the salty cyan water, while the moist khaki colored sand rubs between my toes. Could you imagine a world with no beach? Where would the water go to meet the land? Without the calm, soothing, sandy surface, I would be left with no place to go and let my thoughts flow off into a salty breeze.

Murky tones of light grays and dark blues fills the cloudy sky. These gloomy but interesting stratocumulus clouds join together creating many different organic shapes. This watercolor that fills the sky contains many dreary strokes of indigo and charcoal which bled together generating an eerie backdrop. Sporadic breaks of lucent sky peek through the obscure clouds. The rays of light sweep down upon the mixed emerald green and royal blue water, which seem to go on forever in the distance. At certain points, a radiant stream of light would hit the water creating a sparkle effect like a billion of diamonds placed together. Catching a glimpse of this shimmer fills my body with a clear and tranquil sensation.

Continuing to swirl is the greenish blue water which creates a cylinder ring, and once this ring reaches its highest point it falls dramatically, pouring up towards the already dampened sandy shoreline. The never ending waves come flowing in one after the other, so quickly, that there is no time to spare in between. The waves remind me of a rolling pebble being pushed off a never ending cliff. They also provide a placid crashing sound that echoes off into the distance. More groups of soundless gulls glide by in the fresh ocean air. Some gulls appear to be playing tag with one another, as they zigzag in different directions past each other.

Cold, light brown sand lays all around me. The uncountable number of ruff sand grains join together which makes a bumpy texture that covers the shoreline. Farther away from the shoreline the sand piles up creating dunes. The surface of the dunes are uneven and look as if they were the curves of a camel’s back. On top of the dunes lay yellow green bundles of long European beach grass, which reminds me of porcupine spikes. The grassy hills move and flow when the thin salty breeze exhales over them. Watching the straw like grass sway back and forth in the wind brings a calm feeling over me. Every turn I take, serene nature engulfs me. To the side of me there is a painted outline of massive, towering, mountains. The distant mountains have a curvy but gentle profile. Out in the salty liquid, large, bulky rocks conglomerate together forming the North Jetty. Tumbling waves roll in hitting the tremendous wall that creates violent, mighty sprays of mists which shoots up twenty feet into the air.

A whole different kind of life encircles me while being at the beach. The calm, peaceful, surroundings can take all of my stressful feelings away, and in return, my body is given a whole new replenished feeling. From just sitting at the beach and being surrounded by all of the breath taking nature, I can relax, clear my head, and just enjoy the moment without having to worry about the stressfulness of reality. Taking the time to view all of the beautiful, complex, scenery I notice more specific details then I ever have before, and in that point in time, I recognized that these elements should not be taken for granted.

 Kristen Pinto