Faces and Places: Hot August Nights at Greenhaven Estates

Hot August Nights Car Show on Friday, Aug. 22 featured classic cars and hot rods as well as an Elvis Impersonator who impressed visitors and residents with the rock star’s hits.


Shrinking Academic Gap from the Inside Out: Black Parallel School Board

Editor’s Note: This article is precursor to more discussion on education and the upcoming Nov. 11 election, in which, in East Sacramento, Ellen Cochrane is running against incumbent Jeff Cuneo.
Imagine a middle grade or high school student being suspended for dropping a pencil in class. Sounds ludicrous right? Yet, in the Sacramento County Unified School District, students are suspended literally at the drop of a hat. It’s called “willful defiance” and lays at the discretion of the teacher.
For African American students in the Sacramento school district this has been a reality they face alongside staggering dropout statistics. The Black Parallel School Board, a community organization, began to ask why—why was the education of African American students in a critical state.
Despite their efforts, the SCUSD had failed to meet target goals for “eliminating the achievement gap” for African American students. Out of frustration and a desire to empower, the BPSB was founded by Dr. Otis Scott, former Dean of Sacramento State and Carl Pinkston, former chair of the Education Committee. Together they began to close the academic chasm from the inside out by giving voice to the African American community.
Pinkston, a community organizer and passionate activist brought together parents, teachers, and students who were suffering poor achievement questioning them about the source of this dilemma. Where did the root of the African American academic obstacle stem? In addition, he worked with the NAACP utilizing their national research findings. Pinkston found “there was a reoccurring theme” parents in the district had not been taken serious when they went to the School Board with their concerns.
As if giving a spiel, parents were allotted a mere two-minute slot at district meetings. And to add injury to insult, their issues were never put on the agenda. Parental voices fell on deaf ears and the perpetuation of the academic gap continued.
The Black Parallel School Board did more than merely acknowledge the gravity of the situation for Black students they worked to form structural changes that would pave way for a more positive future. Permanent changes were set in place healing the crux and setting long term goals. Pinkston stressed, “We are not a coalition, we have long term vision.” Rather than complaining about the status quo the BPSB encouraged the community to be a force that makes valuable and lasting changes for their children.
One glaring difference between the Black Parallel School Board and other organizations that do similar work, is their array of representation. The BPSB is an assemblage of educators, parents, organizers, lawyers, politicians and students.
Pinkston explained that because of this they do not have to rely on “outside resources or think tanks” such as foundations for their research. They have the competency to do the work within the organization.
“We generate all of our own reports and they are specific to the area,” Pinkston continued. In other words, the research and programs they instigate are born out of the concerns unique to the Sacramento community.
Why parallel school board—the word itself embodies the ideology of the BPSB as they operate in conjunction with the district. Side by side in the trenches for educational freedom the Board Parallel School Board works for the betterment of African American students. Although their focus is on decreasing the achievement gap for African American students, they are advocates for all students being underserved regardless of race, creed, or color.
So what effect has the Black Parallel School Board had on students? Graduation rates are on the rise and teen leadership has grown. A group of trained teens called Zero Tolerance has spawned. These are high school students involved in state wide work; creating and signing of petitions that they have presented to the governor (in person), they have spoken at senate hearings, and at schools throughout the district. Rather than squabbling over educational injustice, the BPSB has provided a platform for young people to create effective reforms that will bridge communities and close those appalling academic gaps.
Because of their long range multi-pronged approach, successes have been like climbing a mountain one step at a time. Pinkston notes that “We have engaged more parents of color in the school site council. We have created an alternative budget as we know more about the local control funding providing more funding for those schools that need it the most. ” Pinkston explained that the idea of the district having more than one budget was revolutionary and that effective change takes patient persistence.
“Today about 90 percent of the people hindering change are gone as they were not curriculum leaders.” Pinkston claims. But persnickety hurdles still persist; shunting resources to schools with lower graduation rates has yet to happen. The issue of expulsion continues to be a huge component of the academic gap. The disparity between black student suspensions per year continues to be higher than other ethnicities with “will-full defiance” accounting for 30 percent of those expulsions. Out of that 30 percent to 45 percent are African American students.
Pinkston explains that the Black Parallel School Board is part of a network in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles that share information. The BPSB worked with the district on their policies around expulsion and “was able to get the process passed. We are now in the middle of implementation.” Pinkston explained. This “implementation” phase will require training janitors to principals in order to create a successful shift.
Like a wound that needs to heal from the inside out Pinkston emphasizes that “We approach problems like doctors we are not going to give you some medicine and send you home. We are going to take you to surgery.”
“We are not a quick fix. We have a lot of work still ahead of us. We are here to stay.”
For more information about the Black Parallel School Board or on how to get involved their website is www.blackparallelschoolboard.com They also have a fantastic Facebook page.

Cougar Stadium unveiled to the community with ribbon cutting ceremony

Cougar Stadium at John F. Kennedy High School was unveiled on Friday, Sept. 5 with a ribbon cutting ceremony just before the football games of the night began. Photo by Stephen Crowley

Cougar Stadium at John F. Kennedy High School was unveiled on Friday, Sept. 5 with a ribbon cutting ceremony just before the football games of the night began. Photo by Stephen Crowley

John F. Kennedy High School tested out the famous sports movie quote, “If you build it, they will come,” with the unveiling of their new $5.9 million track and field on Sept. 5 before the JV and varsity football games.

The old track and field was in such bad shape, Kennedy’s head football coach Matt Costa found it difficult to put the poor quality to words.

“It was so bad, there’s no way to describe it,” Costa said. “Imagine the worst football field you’ve ever seen – this field was worse than that.”

Kennedy opened up the field with a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by a 28-6 loss to Galt High School for the JV team and a 46-14 loss for varsity in front of a packed house.

The field was funded by the Measure R bond passed back in November, 2012 along with Measure Q to help renovate several schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District.

The new field is made from more than 7,000 recycled tires and is free from any harmful metals. Unlike a grass field, the AstroTurf GameDay Grass requires no watering and little maintenance. It has also been proven by the NFL Charities Foundation that it will help reduce ankle and knee joint injuries.

“We practiced on it once before the game and the players loved it,” Costa said. “It’s a much faster playing field, so we are getting used to that, but it’s a big improvement.”

Costa also said he believes the new field has attracted more high-quality players to his team than in previous years. Not only is it attracting players, but other students as fans.

Kennedy junior Nathanial Jeffrey spent the first two years of high school running around the old beat up track in PE and had never been to a Kennedy football game – until now.

“The old field was dirt, a lot of potholes with some grass,” Jeffrey said. “The track was dirt and when it rained, it had huge puddles we had to run around.”

When asked if he will be attending more games now that the track is state-of-the-art, Jeffrey said he believes so.

Carmen Amezcua, mother of Kennedy JV player and sophomore Daniel Hernandez, said she is also a fan of the new renovations.

“When they played out here before, it was raggedy-looking with big old mud piles when it rained,” Amezcua said. “They did a good job – I like it.”

On top of a new field and track, Kennedy also built new bleachers, a new concession stand and new bathrooms.

With new athletic facilities, the football program is getting a fresh start to a new era of Kennedy football. Coach Costa said he believes things are looking up.

“We have a better team this year, already with a win under our belt,” Costa said. “I believe we do well this year.”

On the Curbs

Like children just about everywhere in Sacramento and beyond, these kiddos got their pictures taken on the first day of school, which for most schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District was on Sept. 2. Photo courtesy of Sacramento City Unified School District

Like children just about everywhere in Sacramento and beyond, these kiddos got their pictures taken on the first day of school, which for most schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District was on Sept. 2. Photo courtesy of Sacramento City Unified School District

On your marks, get set, wait for it…. Sept. 2nd – AND, GO TO SCHOOL!

Mother nature was in full cooperation mode on the first day of school. She gifted us a soft cool breeze rustling through the trees and a dappled sunrise that created the absolutely perfect lighting for our Facebook posts. Yes indeed the posts on the news feeds were spewing Kodak moments for everyone to enjoy. Ha! Who here remembers the days when the first day of school meant Kodak, not Facebook? Time flies.

As the 8 a.m. first bell rang, the streets resembled a parade with parents, siblings, relatives, strollers, bikes, dogs, squirrels, stuffed animals, new back packs, new shoes, new pretty much everything, and smiles and skipping and you name it.

On our family’s short little jaunt, Alana and Anjali were excited to see Tyler, Kate, Brady, Ryan, and Natalie and a slough of others as we neared campus. The entire squadron’s hair was the cleanest and most well-kept I am sure I will see all year, except for maybe the official “picture day.”

Of course, the first days of school aren’t every child’s favorite, but we get through them together one way or the other. Thank God for teachers with their hearts in just the right spot – compassion, and coffee! And thank you to all our schools, and PTAs, who provided those three essentials to all.

Speaking of the benefits of coffee, have you cruised down to the Chocolate Fish lately? Located on 48th & Folsom (and 3rd & Q) The Fish is serving up a Nitro Infused Iced Coffee, get this… ON TAP. It’s being dubbed “The Morning Beer.” Pretty good stuff. They also bring the tap out to the East Sacramento Farmers’ Market.

Kudos, Kudos, and more Kudos to East Sacramento realtor Ann Vuletich Clark for organizing what is fast becoming another one of our community’s best features. The market opened in May, is growing in attendance, and is held every Saturday next to the Shepard Garden and Arts Center. Ann envisions the market to be a combination farmers’ market, community event, and a great gathering spot to begin a Saturday with your neighbors.

When you are at the market, you might want to take the time to chat it up with the vendors. They offer good cheer and interesting information about our Mother Earth and what really makes her happy – all ABSOLUTELY FREE OF CHARGE!

Mother Earth is certainly getting a bit of a grooming, and a once over from a legal point of view, over there at the McKinley Village site. The lawsuit filed against the city of Sacramento is still pending. The plaintiff, a group called East Sacramento Partnerships for a Livable City, alleges the city did not do an adequate job in assessing Mother Earth’s air quality, traffic congestion, and other issues at the site. The word on the street is that the trial is set to be heard in January by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley who also presides over the arena lawsuit.

As for the grading and construction work already being done at McKinley Village, rumor has it Judge Frawley told the developer that any work done before the trail is done at the developer’s own financial risk. If Frawley rules in favor of the plaintiff, a new environmental impact report would have to be done, and the city would have to vote again on the project. Stay tuned.

Japantown was a thriving community, just west of state Capitol

Sehei Ishimoto often sold his Sacramento area grown produce and eggs in the city’s Japantown, near the state Capitol.

Sehei Ishimoto often sold his Sacramento area grown produce and eggs in the city’s Japantown, near the state Capitol.

Editor’s Note: This is part two in a series regarding historic Asian districts of Sacramento.

During her recent interview with this publication, Rose (Ishimoto) Takata, who grew up in the historic Riverside area, referred to a now nonexistent community, west of the state Capitol, known as Japantown.
In sharing a memory about that community, Takata said, “Well, my dad (Sehei Ishimoto) used to take us there (to Japantown), because he had to sell his eggs and the crops that we grew. Well, of course, we had Chinese cabbage. We used to have what they call daikon – Japanese radish – and we used to do green onion. I’m sure we had cucumber and stuff, too. But, mainly, we took whatever we had to the Japanese market in Japantown. I would say (that market was located in) the main part (of Japantown), somewhere around (today’s Capitol Mall), somewhere around 3rd (Street).”
Sacramento’s Japantown, which was basically located within an area bounded by 2nd, 5th, L and O streets, began to take form in the late 19th century.
An essay, entitled “A Portrait of Sacramento’s Japanese Community,” by Cheryl Lynn Cole, notes: “It is not known for certain when the first Japanese arrived in Sacramento. Probably several passed through the city in 1868 while on their way to the Gold Hill Silk Colony, located between Coloma and modern Highway 50. And possibly some of them returned to reside in the city when that colony collapsed a few years later.”
A 1910 federal immigration commission report regarding “Japanese and other immigrant races in the Pacific Coast and Rocky Mountain states” notes: “The Japanese population of Sacramento is estimated to have been 12 in 1883 and 100 in 1893. According to the census, it was 337 in 1900. In June 1909, it was estimated at 1,000. About 700 of these Japanese were connected with business enterprises and professions or were unoccupied members of the families of persons thus gainfully employed. Some 300 were employed as porters in saloons, clubs and other places conducted by white persons, as domestics or as general ‘help’ in the city. The 1,000 just mentioned is the estimated number of the Japanese ‘settled’ or regularly residing there.”
The report also refers to a “floating population, which ranged from 200 to 2,500 Japanese people. The latter number was mentioned to have been the result of Japanese who gathered in the city during the last two weeks of August before they headed to work at nearby hop fields.
Sacramento was noted in the 1910 report to have been an important distribution point for Japanese laborers for the then past 20 years.
And in regard to early living accommodations for Japanese in Sacramento, the report states that Japanese laborers discovered that they were not welcomed in “white boardinghouses” in the city, and that that they did not find Chinese conducted lodging houses to be suitable to their standards.
The reactionary measure for these Japanese was for them to operate their own boarding and lodging houses.
In 1891, Sacramento became home to two Japanese operated hotels and a Japanese run lodging house. Several other similar places were operating in the city by the mid-1890s.
Sacramento’s Japanese population continued to expand and evolve with businesses and residential establishments, and their downtown community grew to become recognized as Japantown.
An example of the early growth in Japanese businesses in Sacramento is the expansion in the number of Japanese goods stores. The first of those stores opened in 1893 and by 1909, there were 12 such stores in the capital city.
Sacramento became home to its first Japanese bathhouse in 1891 and its first barbershop and restaurant serving Japanese and American food two years later. By 1909, Sacramento was home to 26 Japanese run barbershops, and 36 Japanese operated restaurants, 28 of which were located in Japantown.
In living up to its name, Japantown was certainly like a town, as it would grow to include many more establishments, including banks, grocery stores, fish markets, drugstores, tailor shops, shoe repair shops, laundries, furnishings stores, employment agencies, book and stationery stores, photography studios, a newspaper, printing shops, bicycle shops, churches and even a motion picture theater.
The first Japanese run grocery store in Japantown was in operation as early as 1893, and by 1909, 12 such businesses were operating in the area.
The 1910 federal immigration commission report refers to Japantown as the “Japanese quarter,” and mentions that most of the city’s Japanese lived and worked within that area.
“It is evident that (Sacramento’s Japanese) are closely colonized,” the report noted.
In addition to their success in the Sacramento area, local Japanese also experienced hardships related to discrimination.
For instance, the Webb-Haney Act, which was more commonly known as the California Alien Land Law of 1913, prohibited people who were not American citizens or not eligible for citizenship from owning agricultural land. The law, which was mainly directed toward Japanese, also banned such people from leasing the same property for more than three years.
Local Japanese were later targeted in the Johnson-Reid Act – aka the Immigration Act of 1924 – which, among other things, halted Japanese immigration to America. The law was enacted on May 26, 1924.
Undoubtedly, a great tragedy in the lives of Sacramento’s Japanese occurred as a result of the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942.
The presidential approval of this order, which occurred following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, allowed for the assembly, evacuation and relocation of more than 100,000 men, women and children of Japanese ancestry residing on the West Coast.
In regard to the removal of Sacramento’s Japanese from the capital city, a related article from the initial portion of that event appeared on the front page of The Sacramento Bee on Wednesday, May 13, 1942.
In describing the scene on that day, The Bee reported the following: “Carrying only their personal effects, large numbers of Japanese families, including tiny babies and gray haired oldsters, began gathering in front of the (Memorial) Auditorium shortly before 8 a.m. today. There they boarded buses for the short trip to camp.
“Streets were blocked off near the loading areas on I Street, between Fifteenth and Sixteenth streets, and on Fifteenth Street, between I and J streets, so that the evacuation could be carried on in an orderly manner.”
Following the war, many Japanese, who had resided in Sacramento’s Japantown, returned to that area and discovered that it had become occupied by others who had filled the vacancy created by their internment.
Available housing in that area, as well as throughout the city, was scarce following the war, and some local Japanese resorted to temporarily residing at the old Camp Walerga, where they had been detained before heading to the Tule Lake internment camp, near the Oregon border.
Eventually, the once thriving “Japanese quarter” made a partial comeback only to be eliminated again in the 1960s, this time in the name of redevelopment through the creation of Capitol Mall.


It’s show time! Tahoe Park pub theater to have debut movie next week

Jackie Nadile, owner of Public House Theater, has worked tirelessly with her husband Alan Lee to get the new pub theater ready for opening night, which is set for Friday, Sept. 26. Photo by Monica Stark

Jackie Nadile, owner of Public House Theater, has worked tirelessly with her husband Alan Lee to get the new pub theater ready for opening night, which is set for Friday, Sept. 26. Photo by Monica Stark

Editor’s Note: An upcoming issue of the East Sacramento News will feature, in more depth, the new Tahoe Park pub theater, Public House Theater. A previous story can be read by searching for “pub theater” on our website, www.valcomnews.com

A transformation of the Tahoe Food Market on 14th Avenue is complete. Just last March, the inside was a bit of a disaster area with wet plaster drying over large holes in the walls. There were bars on the windows. Just last week, Jackie Nadile the visionary and business owner of the latest incarnation of the space, called the East Sacramento News with exciting news. “We’re just about to open. It’s looking like next week.”
Sure enough, the place looks good to go. Upon arrival to 5440 14th Ave., Jackie opens the doors to what she and her husband Alan Lee have named, Public House Theater. Rows of old Del Paso Theatre chairs, obtained from Alan’s boss, line the inside as red curtains border a large movie screen. Also in the seating area is a comfortable couch and the kind of recliners you just sink into.
Behind the seating area, in a separate room, is the bar, which features beer from West Sacramento micro-brew, Bike Dog (whose owner, like Jackie, is a Tahoe Park resident.) Jackie said she hosted a private party for friends there last weekend who really enjoyed the beer from Bike Dog.
Whereas most movie theaters charge a lot for popcorn and soda pop to recoup the costs of proceeds lost from ticket sales to the movie companies, Nadile said she’s hoping to keep the prices down. With regular menu items such as sandwiches, paninis and pizza, Public House Theater will also offer specials from time-to-time from local restaurants, including sushi night with sake and fare from Kansai Ramen & Sushi House (2992 65th St.,Ste. 288).
Jackie said if she can find Easy Rider on Blue-Ray she will show that opening night, Friday, Sept. 26 and from opening day on, she plans on keeping the theater open for Monday Night Football games, as well as movie nights Friday and Saturday and Sunday matinee. Food and drink will be served in a laid back atmosphere. All showings will be free for the first three weeks. To start, only snacks, beer, and wine will be served. Sandwiches and pizzas will be soon.


Crime up 50%: East Sacramento residents hear from authorities on safety issues

During the crime and safety meeting sponsored by the City of Sacramento at the Clunie Center Wednesday, Aug. 27, Glen Faulkner, a Pocket area resident and Sacramento Police Executive Lieutenant for East Area Command, told the standing room only crowd that his data indicates the past 90-day period included a total of 70 reported car and home break ins compared to 35 last year.

Not a good sign.

Evidence that indicates a perception that crimes are on the increase in our area may not simply be the result of something like the increase in popularity of Nextdoor.com.

The good news is that due to good community engagement, and new innovative police practices, reported crime overall in Sacramento is down. Large turnouts at community meetings such as this one give Faulkner hope that more progress can be made.

A couple of years ago, the Sacramento Police Department employed 804 officers. After the severe recession that number dipped to a low of 620, a number that has since been slowly climbing. What this means to the police is that an activated well-trained citizenry working closely with the police department is absolutely critical to our safety.

A citizenry that knows how to spot trouble, and what to do when they suspect something is not right, can help reduce crime possibly more than any other factor, says Faulkner. Therefore, one of the police department’s biggest requests is for individuals to join a neighborhood watch and regularly attend neighborhood association meetings where officers often directly assist and inform the public.

Faulkner, and other officers, stayed long after the meeting was over to offer helpful tidbits to concerned neighbors letting them know that using the words “I suspect someone is casing our street” versus “there is a strange person on our street” can make the difference between meaningful police intervention as opposed to virtually no action.

The event was moderated by Council Member Steve Cohn who did a good job ensuring time was well managed in a one-hour presentation that included open Q&A along with public safety updates from Faulkner, parks safety updates from rangers Joe Cushing and Robert Conroy, and neighborhood watch and Nextdoor.com police liaison Jena Swafford. Also in attendance was Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan and candidates Jeff Harris and Cyril Shaw who are both running to replace Cohn.

Jena Swafford helped inform us about trainings the department officers our communities, how the police use Nextdoor.com, and the robust amount of resources available on the www.sacpd.org website. Growing in popularity are home surveillance cameras which connect to home computers and which can now be registered to the police department on their website to allow the police to directly review any incidents caught on camera. Newsletters, a calendar of events, educational videos, and subscription to daily activity reports are also available on the site.

Cushing and Conroy fielded tough questions from the audience about the homeless problem we face. In fact, earlier that day Cushing had spent 10 1/2 hours helping to relocate many of the homeless. He explained that both the police and the park rangers share jurisdiction of the parks. The rangers are also suffering from budget cuts. Often Cushing has only one ranger on patrol to cover 250 parks throughout the city.

Cushing and Conroy confirmed what some in the audience expressed particular concern with – “the revolving door” and its associated expenses. It is a term used to describe when someone, often homeless and in need of help, is booked on a minor charge and then released four hours later only to be re-booked again and again. Officers directly involved say it does, indeed, exist.

As pointed out in prior East Sacramento News coverage the issue of homelessness and its associated challenges (economic and social) is a growing concern – one that has severely impacted not only Sacramento, but other communities throughout the nation.

Rather than simply tossing up one’s arms and resigning to the belief that there is nothing really that can be done about these problems, models of intervention involving the police are proving that such thinking is convenient, but simply not true.

Large cities, even in highly conservative populations such as San Antonio, provide examples of models of care that dramatically improve outcomes while at the same time saving tens of millions of dollars each year.

Faulkner’s newly promoted partner in the police department, Darryl Brian, explained that he is a U.S. military veteran who was stationed in Germany. He has seen many of his close friends struggle with serious issues only to end up homeless and on the street. Faulkner and Brian are now being mandated by their superiors to direct more attention to these models.

Working with Sacramento Steps Forward, a non-government organization, various agencies such as law enforcement, mental health, homeless, addiction, veteran’s affairs, medical health etc. are creating effective “wraparound” services to help ensure that issues such as The Revolving Door change into Doors of Opportunity for those needing help.

Those readers wishing to find out more about our police and safety in our neighborhoods are invited to meet at Starbucks on 38th and J Street with East Sacramento area Lt. Alisa Buckley Thursday Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. The meeting was set up by Eastsacpetpal.com owner Leanne Mack.

The Pocket Watch: Pocket Martial Arts school lifts students to national prominence

Matthew Pimentel, a Pocket resident, won first place in his division for sparring at the USA Taekwondo 2014 National Championship at the San Jose Convention Center earlier this year. Photo courtesy

Matthew Pimentel, a Pocket resident, won first place in his division for sparring at the USA Taekwondo 2014 National Championship at the San Jose Convention Center earlier this year. Photo courtesy

Ever watch the rain hit a window, and the individual drops weave their paths as they drip down the glass? Sometimes, those droplets can be inches apart, and, yet, they manage to find each other, join forces, and pick up speed and strength as a single unit. I know there’s some sort of scientific explanation for this attraction, although I can’t explain it, and I don’t even know what it’s called.

I’ve come to believe that the same principle exists with humans. I’ve seen it occur time and again, generally in the stories told to me of people doing great things here in the Greenhaven/Pocket area. Good people traveling their independent paths somehow find each other and help one another to become great or to do great things. At the confluence is usually a pretty compelling story, the best vantage point for which is the view from the satellite, where you can best see the paths come together.

I was afforded this view, as I learned about the remarkable achievements of Matthew Pimentel in the world of martial arts, Taekwondo, specifically. A recent graduate of John F. Kennedy High School, where he was a standout as a runner in Cross Country and Track, Matthew became exposed to Taekwondo through his little brother, whom he began to watch take lessons at the newly opened school, “iYa Taekwondo”, here in the Pocket. To be completely accurate, “iYa” wasn’t exactly newly opened. The school had existed in limited exposure for a couple of years prior, due to its original location, in a classroom at the former Lisbon Elementary School, and, later, as its enrollment grew, in the school’s cafeteria. When the school was compelled to find more expansive digs, Xai Lor, its co-founder, was able to secure a more commercially prominent home for the school in a small mall on Greenhaven Drive.

So, on one hand, we had Matthew, already a fairly accomplished athlete in his own right, being a good big brother, accompanying his younger sibling to Taekwondo lessons in the absence of their father, who was now permanently living hundreds of miles away in Southern California. “I felt that I should be there to support my little brother,” explains Matthew. “The things they do in class are challenging. He needed me to be there with him.”

On the other hand, we have Xai Lor, “Miss Xai”, as she is known as the school’s co-founder and instructor, and to whom Matthew’s caring and consistent presence had not gone unnoticed. Xai had taken her first Taekwondo class as an elective during her freshman year in college at Sacramento State and was immediately hooked. Although the ensuing few years found her completing her education, getting married, giving birth to three children, and enjoying a successful career as a paralegal, she only stopped taking Taekwondo intermittently, to accommodate the births and care of her children.

When the decision was made for Xai to leave her career in law in favor of becoming a stay-at-home mom, the opportunity to teach Taekwondo at her daughter’s school soon presented itself. “We started in a 900-square-foot classroom,” she recalls. The popularity of her instruction soon gained predictable momentum, and her school within a school was soon transferred to the 3000-square-foot multipurpose room on campus. “It began to occur to me that this could become a viable career for me,” she says, and, last year, she moved her Taekwondo school, now known as iYa Taekwondo—named for the phonetic kiai, the short yell emitted by practitioners of the art that expresses the energy involved in a movement—to its present location on Greenhaven Drive.

Xai took notice of Matthew, who seemed always to be in attendance at his brother’s classes, and something compelled her to approach Matthew to suggest that he join the school as well. “I was a little surprised,” Matthew remembers, “I went home and thought about it. I knew that Taekwondo is really big around the world. People use it to defend themselves, but it also teaches discipline, and that’s a good thing for people my age and younger. I’ve always watched martial arts movies. I’ve always loved those movies, and I’ve always been interested in all of the martial arts. The more I thought about it, I decided that, yes, I want to try Taekwondo.” And so, Miss Xai and iYa found itself with a new student.

After a single lesson, Matthew was convinced he’d made a great decision. Like his instructor when she was back in college, he was instantly hooked. I thought, “Whoa! It feels so good! It made me feel better, free! And, another thing, I met a lot of new people, younger students and older students, and they felt like a family really quick.” That feeling of family seems to be a recurring theme with everyone who is involved in classes at iYa. “We go through a lot together,” explains Miss Xai. “We kick and punch each other, yes, but we encourage and love each other, too—you can’t get any closer than that! There is a feeling of mutual respect and support among the students that’s a little difficult to explain.”

When the opportunity came up for Matthew to compete in the State Championships at the Fresno Convention Center in April, Miss Xai encouraged Matthew, now a Green Belt, to participate. “I was a little hesitant” says Matthew, “but my fellow students were really supportive. They pulled me through and gave me the confidence to do it.” Despite Matthew’s reluctance, he emerged from the competition with a 1st Place in Sparring, and a 2nd Place in Poomsae, or “Forms”. Nationals were slated for May. “I was a little shocked by my success in Fresno,” he beams, “But I said, ‘I’ve got to do this!’ and I signed up.”

Nearly 5,000 athletes registered to compete for gold medals in the USA Taekwondo 2014 National Championship at the San Jose Convention Center, Sunday morning, July 6, 2014, in San Jose, Calif. And Matthew was one of them. When he left that day, he had earned the official National Championship in Sparring in his division, and he also came in 3rd in Forms. “Please mention this in whatever you write,” he asks. “I would not have made it this far without my teammates from iYa. We push each other and support each other. It means everything to me. And Miss Xai gave me the confidence and motivation that I needed to carry me through this. I couldn’t have done this without these people.”

You get the feeling that’s it’s a little more than the great instruction at iYa that propels students like Matthew Pimentel to do great things out in the world. There’s more to it than that. Gaps are being filled in the lives of the students, and Xai Lor has clearly received as much as she’s given, as well. iYa has become the confluence where all these individual streams have come together to form one great river. It’s carrying all of these valuable principles that are taught at the school—things like courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, indomitable spirit, and victory—and headed out into society. Here’s hoping that it can bring some kind of balance in a world gone crazy.

“The Pocket Watch” appears in every issue of the Pocket News. Jeff Dominguez can be reached at jeff.dominguez@yahoo.com

Janey Way Memories #129: Torremolinos

I discharged from the U.S. Army in Europe during April of 1971. After that, I travelled through Austria, Yugoslavia and Italy with my friend Jeff Lucas. Then we had to return to West Germany in July so Jeff could go back to the Pennsylvania to interview for a teaching position.

After arriving back in Germany, we sold our car and I bought a train ticket for Barcelona, Spain. I left Germany the next day, and when I arrived in Barcelona, I went straight to a camp ground called the Laughing Whale. It sat right on a beautiful section of Mediterranean beach and teamed with European travelers.

Once there, I pitched my tent and went right down to the beach. There, nestled on the sand, were three Australian guys I had met in Venice, Italy. They were very happy to recognize a fellow traveler so I sat down next to them and struck up a conversation.

They had been in Barcelona for about a week and were planning to travel up to Pamplona in the north of Spain for famous “running of the bulls.” They asked me if I wanted to come along. I said yes, and two days later, off we went.

We went to Pamplona, ran with the bulls, and partied for about three straight days before heading off for Torremolinos on the southwestern coast of Spain in an area called Costa del Sol (the sun coast).

We arrived there three days later, and took up residence in a camp ground located next to a resort with a high rise hotel, restaurant, bar and massive swimming pool.

We went right down to the hotel to check out the scene. It was crawling with European travelers, mostly young women, there on summer holiday. We had discovered paradise.

We took up a strategic location in the bar, ordered beer, and checked out the action by the pool. I noticed immediately that a group of guys were sitting near the pool, playing guitars and attracting a crowd. So I pulled my harmonicas out of my pocket and went down to join them.

Once there, I blew a few notes and figured out they were playing traditional blues songs in the key of A. Then, I started accompanying them with my harmonica. After finishing an instrumental song, they asked me if I would sing a song. I said yes, and told them to play “Little Red Rooster” in the key of A. It went great. They liked my singing and my harmonica playing, and I hung out with them the rest of the day. I already loved Torremolinos.

I ended the day with an attractive young French girl named Lucianne. Life was good.

I spent several weeks with the Australians in Torremolinos. We went to a bull fight, featuring the famous matador, El Cordoba. We travelled up the coast to Malaga, where we spent an afternoon in a Bodega drinking fortified wine and eating tapas, mostly fresh sea food.

I had a fabulous time there. It was the perfect time and place for a young American man to be in that wonderful sea coast city. Now it’s just another incredible Janey Way memory.

California Indian Heritage Center: A partnership between state and tribes

The future California Indian Heritage Center will be located on this property, along the Sacramento River in West Sacramento. Photo courtesy of California State Parks

The future California Indian Heritage Center will be located on this property, along the Sacramento River in West Sacramento. Photo courtesy of California State Parks

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series about the future California Indian Heritage Center.

The future California Indian Heritage Center in West Sacramento, as explained in the first article of this series, is on course to open in less than a decade. The center will replace the California State Indian Museum, which opened on the grounds of Sutter’s Fort in 1940.
In commenting about the initial phase of the project, Dana Jones, district superintendent of the Capital District for California State Parks, said that the closure of the present museum and the movement of its collection to the initial portion of the future center “will definitely happen in less than 10 years.” And she added, “The full build-out of the new project is more than 10 years (away from its completion).”
Curtis Park resident Larry Myers, who serves as president of the California Indian Heritage Center Foundation, described the future center as a “necessary” place.
“It’s necessary (to build the center),” said Myers, who is a member of the Pinoleville Pomo Nation, a federally recognized tribe of the Pomo people in Mendocino County. “It’s something very vital. It’s something that the Indian community needs, that the citizens of California need. I think it’s something that can be just really great, and I think the Indians of California really deserve something like this.”
Myers, who moved to Sacramento from the Mendocino County city of Ukiah (where his tribe conducts its business) 35 years ago, spoke with much enthusiasm regarding the partnership that has been formed between the state and California Indian tribes, in regard to the future center, which will be located across from Discovery Park, overlooking the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers.
“What we anticipate is the tribes are going to be the leaders in what the (center’s) designs are going to look like, what needs to be displayed and how its going to be displayed,” Myers said. “So, it’s not going to be up to me or the State Parks to say this is what we’re going to display at this time. The tribes, they know their history and they know what’s important to them, so they can say this is important to be displayed right now and we want to make changing exhibits. Obviously, there are going to be a lot more displays than what is currently in the state Indian Museum.

The site of the future Indian center is outlined in yellow in this aerial photograph. Photo courtesy of California State Parks

The site of the future Indian center is outlined in yellow in this aerial photograph. Photo courtesy of California State Parks

“That’s what makes this partnership so unique is it’s state parks’ property, and state parks is going to play a big role in it, but it’s (the tribes’) culture and it’s their heritage and it’s important that they are the driving force behind the story that is told.
“What state parks is excited about is the ability to create this new idea of a partnership and allow the people whose culture it is to be able to tell their story. I think we’re kind of creating a new future for partnerships in state parks.”
Myers said that there have been many efforts to encourage more California Indian tribe members to become involved with the project.
“We need people that want to preserve (their history),” Myers said. “You need people that are interested in their culture, and want to preserve it and want to share it. We need them involved in what we do and how we do it. And, right now I think and feel we (will not) get excitement until we start to build. I think the community is going to be sort of sitting there watching. For the last 25 years or so, I’ve been involved in trying to get this thing completed and working at it and talking to people. There have been efforts in the past to try to (get more people involved). The community has got to the point of (wondering), ‘Well, maybe it will happen, maybe not.’ (A) just wait and see kind of thing.”
Although it was reported by this publication on April 15, 2010 that the new center had been scheduled to open during the summer of 2016, Ileana Maestas, environmental coordinator for the capital district and former curator of the Indian museum, assures the community that the extension for the opening of the museum simply comes with the territory of establishing a new museum.
“Well, I think (people are) kind of holding their breaths, because this project has been going on so long,” Maestas said. “Everybody has the same question, ‘Why is this taking so long?’ I totally understand that. But it’s not a project that’s been passive by any means. Coming from someone who worked in the museum world, to get a museum off the ground, it takes time, and I think it has taken extra time, because of the whole state process. When I look at some of the other major museums that have been created, they take time.”