history

Bruce Robinson, KRCB

 

  American involvement in Viet Nam was gearing up 50 years ago, and programs to recall that history are likewise increasing now. At Sonoma State yesterday, that included a series of “teach-ins” that reviewed some of the opposition to that war—and the others that have followed it.

  It was a matter of conscience for many young men to submit to the draft while also opposing it, recalls activist Lee Swenson. These non-violent actions, taken voluntarily by draftees who could have used other resources to avoid conscription, gave moral weight to their stance.

  What do Socrates, Leonardo Da Vinci and Albert Einstein have in common? They were all early advocates for the use of solar energy.

  Over the centuries, many innovative uses have been developed for simple solar devices, notes John Perlin, author of Let It Shine, the 6000 year story of Solar Energy.

 It is Women’s History Month again, as it has been every March since 1988. But the roots of that national observation reach back even further, to 1977, when they first sprouted here in Sonoma County.

  Exactly 100 years ago, San Francisco played host to a spectacular international event, an opulent World’s Fair now documented in a newly published illustrated history.

  Author and historian Laura Ackley grew interested in the PPIE while studying environmental design at the University of California in 1987. She has since collected many photographs, documents and artifacts from the 1915 event. So she has some clear ideas about where she would begin, if given a change to go back in time to attend the Exhibition.

Local Potato Variety Stages Comeback from near Extinction

Dec 23, 2014
Danielle Venton/KRCB

The Bodega red potato was once a mainstay of life in the North Bay. But, after years of neglect, the heirloom spud nearly died out before being rescued by food historians. Today, the Bodega red is once again a thriving commercial success. A survey of farmers suggested that around 30,000 pounds of Bodega reds were grown for consumption this year. 

Community Organizing

Dec 17, 2014

Begun just 80-odd years ago, Community Organizing has changed with the times, as Sebastopol sociology professor emeritus David Walls documents in his new book on the subject.    

   With its broad perspective, Walls’ Community Organizing is able to speak to a diverse audience.  But as the author explains, that wasn’t exactly the original plan for either him or the publisher.

  Fifty years ago, when local citizens rose up to oppose plans for a nuclear power plant at Bodega Bay, music was an important part of the protests. Cotati resident and Trad Jazz trumpeter and bandleader Lu Waters composed and recorded “Blues over Bodega” to call attention to the issue, but it was singer Barbara Dane who gave voice to the song. She’s making a special return appearance to Santa Rosa tonight, in connection with the current exhibit at the Sonoma County Museum, which is titled Hole in the Head: The Battle for Bodega Bay and the Birth of the Environmental Movement.

Laura Johnston Kohl

  It’s been 36 years since more than 900 people died at Jonestown, a remote outpost in the South American country of Guyana. But for one former People’s Temple member, the memories remain raw.

  Today, Johnston Kohl says she sees the People's Temple differently than she did at the time, but also from a broader perspective than most.

  Back in 1974, the little west Marin town of Bolinas started its own community newspaper, The Bolinas Hearsay News. Remarkably, it’s still going, but now the paper’s full 40 year history is collected and on display at the town’s museum. The exhibit opened over the past weekend.

Early editions of the Bolinas Hearsay News were handwritten or drawn, but today the paper is published online. You’ll find a link to their digital archives on their website, as well.

  In the 81 years since Prohibition ended, winemaking in California and the United States has made a remarkable recovery. In fact, says documentarian Carla De Luca Worfolk, the long dry years actually set the stage for those gains.

   In researching the various ways that California’s grape growers were able to circumvent the restrictions imposed by Prohibition, filmmaker Carla De Luca Worfolk says she was most impressed to learn about the production and distribution of what were known as “wine bricks.”

Sonoma County Museum

  Today it looks like a placid pond, but 50 years ago the deep hole at the base of Bodega Head was the focus of a battle that helped galvanize modern environmentalism.

  The crucial moment in the fight against the nuclear facility came when noted seismologist, Pierre St. Amand  was able to visit the site and report back to the US Department of the Interior. Doris Sloan clearly remembers the day she escorted St. Amand to that pivotal visit.

 

Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  Long before Sebastopol was a town, it was home to indigenous Pomo tribes for many generations. That history is explored and recognized in a series of Pomo–related events during October, the town’s fifth annual Pomo Honoring Month.

There will be a reception at the Sebastopol Historical museum on Saturday, September 27 from 1-4 pm to kick off this year’s Pomo Horning Month events. You can find a complete list of those activities  here.

  The 4th annual Heirloom Expo got underway at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds yesterday. KRCB News Director Bruce Robinson paid a visit and talked with one of the event’s co-founders.

The 4th annual Heirloom Expo continues through tomorrow. You can find a full schedule of events here.

  The public rationale for Congressional authorization of America’s entry into the Viet Nam War has since been discredited as misleading or worse. But a local serviceman who was in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 says that even then, he saw classified documents that belied the official account.

While the motives surrounding the Aug.2, 1964 “incident” involving the two American destroyers in the Tonkin Gulf may never be fully known, there is no dispute that some sort of exchange took place. But as Fred Ptucha explains, the same cannot be said of what happened two days later.

Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  The boy pianist from Peanuts gave Schroeder Hall its name, but the intimate new concert space at the Green Music Center is more notably the new home of a remarkable and historic pipe organ.

Opus 9 is a baroque organ, in the style of instruments three centuries older. That’s not a factor in its size, says Sonoma Bach Music Director Bob Worth—it’s descriptive of the sound it produces.

Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  History and art have shared an awkward co-existence within the Sonoma County Museum in downtown Santa Rosa. Now each subject area will soon be getting a separate space in side-by-side facilities at the current site.

The most colorful and infamous stage coach robber in California history, made his name—at least partially--in Sonoma County. But it was his poetry as much as his stylish crimes that made “Black Bart” a household name. And an unknown fate has helped keep his legend alive.

  In the late 19th century, Sonoma County was fertile ground for aspiring utopian communities. Some were short-lived, but others endured quite a bit longer, although only relics remain from any of them today. Still, it’s an interesting facet of our local history, one that is examined in an exhibit at the Healdsburg Museum that has nearly run its course. 

This is the exhibit’s final week; the museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11-4 each day.

Fort Ross Foundation

  It may the most unusual historical celebration in the North Bay each year—that’s the annual Cultural Heritage Day at Fort Ross on the northern Sonoma County coast. It comes around again tomorrow, so here’s a peek at what you’ll find there.

Robin Joy Wellman ha’s been working out at Fort Ross for 24 years now—so she’s got some history of her own at the park there. The event runs from 10-6 on Saturday and you'll find a compelte schedule of activities here.

  A 4,000 year-old art form is alive and well in a Santa Rosa Orthodox church. In this story from the KRCB archives, the North Bay Report visited an artist who was applying that ancient technique to a contemporary building in Santa Rosa, in December, 2005.

Anyone with pictures from the past in Marin County is being invited to share them—just long enough to be scanned—for inclusion in a forthcoming photo-history book.

Bruce Robinson, talking with Jean Zerrudo from the Marin History Museum. Those photo scanning sessions are coming up later this month (see schedule below),  and you can find the submission guidelines and other details here.

  History unfolds slowly, so a good way to review it is to also move slowly. That’s what the annual all-day walk, hosted by the Sonoma County Historical Society, is all about. But to fully enjoy it, you’ll need to prepare. 

 Jeff Tobes will be leading the Sonoma County Historical Society's 10th annual 25 mile walk on June 7th. Read all about the event and sign up here.

Old and more recent events in local history are strands in a brand new mystery novel based on the Sonoma coast, as a pair of frequent visitors from the Midwest set their art-themed novel there. 

  Having two authors share a single, first-person narrative voice can be a tricky balance. Michael Hinden says he and his wife, Besty Draine, manage it by trading off regularly, and through a "non-aggression pact" regarding each other's editorial choices.

Zeitgeist Films

  History cites the Galapagos Islands as a key inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the remote island group west of Ecuador has other, more provocative and mysterious chapters in its own history. One of the strangest, from the 1930s, is revealed in the new documentary film, The Galapagos Affair:  Satan Came to Eden.

The Galapagos Affair opens tonight in  at the Rialto Cinema Sebastopol, with the  filmmakers present for an after-screening Q & A session. You can see the trailer for the film below.

  It may be April Fool’s Day today, but the full celebration of the occasion happens on Saturday, when Occidental holds its 10th annual Fool’s Parade. It’s a long-standing tradition, and one that has an appropriately colorful history. So, here, with a recap of that foolish past, is KRCB’s Bruce Robinson.

For more event details, click here.

The San Francisco of past decades can still be seen in rare archival film footage, but it’s left up to the audience to identify and comment on what they are seeing, in a featured program making a return appearance at this weekend’s Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. Bruce Robinson offers a preview.

Some scenes that film archivist Rick Prelinger has found show locations that have long since been swallowed by progress. He cites one memorable example, shot in a now-vanished San Francisco cemetery.

  The most visible and enduring images of the Occupy protests were the communities of tents that sprang up in public spaces across the county, including the lawn outside Santa Rosa’s City Hall.  Whether by design or out of necessity, those encampments were part of a much longer history of outdoor protests in America, as we’re about to hear.

University of Colorado history professor Phoebe Young will be speaking at Sonoma State Friday at noon on “The Occupy Movement, Outdoor Politics and the History of American Camping.” More details here.

 You may be surprised to know that back in 1864, Sonoma County was the only county in California that did not support Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election. Santa Rosa was solidly behind the Confederacy, while Petaluma and Healdsburg were deeply divided. Some local history of that era is on display now at the Healdsburg Museum.

The exhibit, “Sonoma County and the Civil War,” currently on display at the Healdsburg Museum through May 4. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11-4, and admission is free.

Sonoma County Museum

The Sonoma County Museum offers exhibits of both fine art and local history, and in the latter category, they have just announced an unusual new addition to their permanent collection. Bruce Robinson gets us a bit of a preview.

Further details from the Museum's announcement of the acquisition:

Between the missions and the ranchos, northern California was a male-dominated realm in the 1870s. But it is from the accounts of a handful of women there that we get an inside picture of what day-to-day life then was really like.

We have these detailed accounts of life in early northern California thanks to the vision of a single man, says Santa Clara University History professor Robert Senkewicz. Fortunately, his vision was unusually inclusive for its time.

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