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American Stories: The American Dream

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With Independence Day occurring at a tumultuous time marked by a global pandemic and a national crisis over racial injustice, Climate gave local contributors carte blanche to write their perspectives on what makes America special. We will be publishing our contributors’ American Stories now through July 4. Keep an eye out for these unique and personal pieces.

I was born in San Francisco in 1966, my mother was born in Mexico City and my father in San Francisco, as his father was the Consul General of Mexico there. My mother’s American dream was to become an American citizen, be a mom and become a nurse. She accomplished it all. My father’s dream was to serve his country, have a family, buy a home and be able to provide for his family. He accomplished that.

I did not grow up learning about the American dream from my parents, relatives or from my teachers. It was my love for American history that drove my American dreams, no matter how often they changed.

My father wanted me to be to be a UPS driver; he thought it was a great company to work for and they were union, which provided long-term job security. To him that was the American dream he wanted for me. It wasn’t until I was around my mid-20’s that I picked up an old history book sitting on a shelf and started reading the Declaration of Independence. And there it was, right in front of me: “All men are created equal, with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” A picture of a painting on the opposite side of the page depicted the signing of the document.

The American dream for me was not about owning a house with a white-picket fence, it wasn’t about security and it wasn’t following what my father hoped I would do. It was about my inalienable right to pursue my own dreams, no matter how crazy they were, how many there were, how short-lived some were or how often they beat me down. When you find others along the way who share those same dreams, and you help one another pursue them, it just makes those dreams even more worthwhile to go after. Just like it was for the country’s founders 244 years ago.

So, I continue to add to my collection of dreams and continue to be proud to be living in a country that does not limit me in pursuing as many dreams as I want, for as long as I am able to pursue them. God Bless America.

Ernie Schmidt, 53, has had a lifelong love of the theater and became the general manager of Fox Theatre Properties in January. He and his wife Gina have been Redwood City residents since 2001.

Perspectives:

The Vote

The ties that bind us still

The Lucky Generation

Arrival Stories

The generosity of angels

The American Dream

The opportunity to do better

The great American songbook

Americas can-do attitude

Freedom

The Kaleidoscope

The American Military

An American lens

American unity

Half Moon Bay, Pacifica to close beaches for July 4 weekend

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‘Unacceptable’ behavior prompts Half Moon Bay to reopen beach parking lots, restrooms

The cities of Half Moon Bay and Pacifica will close all city beaches and their parking facilities for the holiday weekend to reduce crowds that can spread COVID-19. The beaches will reopen Monday morning.

Half Moon Bay will also close a portion of the Coastal Trail between Seymour Bridge and Kelly Avenue during that period. In Pacific, The Coastal Trail, Mori Point hiking trails, Beach Boulevard Promenade, and Pacifica Pier will remain open.

The cities say the weekend closures follow guidance by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who ordered vehicular access at all state beaches be closed during the Fourth of July weekend in the counties of San Mateo, Marin, Monterey, Orange, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma. No parking facilities are available to the public and parking on roadways is prohibited.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office will have additional staff conducting fireworks and DUI enforcement and who will be present at all closed beaches ad coastal trail sections, according to Half Moon Bay officials.

“If the potential crowds here are similar to previous holiday crowds we’ve seen, this kind of action is necessary for the protection of public health and safety,” Half Moon Bay Mayor Adam Eisen said.

A spike in COVID-19 cases in the state has also prompted Gov. Newsom to order 19 counties on the state’s  monitoring list to keep closed indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and cardrooms for at least the next three weeks. San Mateo County is not currently on the state’s monitoring list.

American Stories: the opportunity to do better

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With Independence Day occurring at a tumultuous time marked by a global pandemic and a national crisis over racial injustice, Climate gave local contributors carte blanche to write their perspectives on what makes America special. We will be publishing our contributors’ American Stories now through July 4. Keep an eye out for these unique and personal pieces.

One of my earliest memories was listening to my mother talk about the ashrams, temples, and farms that littered her homeland. I hated those stories when I was young because I felt like this country had way more to offer. But it is our culture, the beauty that my parents had let go of in search of opportunity. My parents immigrated from southern India in 1999, and since then, they’ve given this nation everything they could.

My mother is a dentist, and my father helps her manage the practice. I never realized their sacrifice until they told me just how much they had to give up. They had to give up their citizenship, their family, their friends, their dignity in many cases, and even their country. They did this to reap the benefits of this country for themselves and my sister and me.

The hungry nights and the tight budgets that they had to suffer through for the first few years in the U.S. all paid off, and now we have the privilege of being able to live here with relative comfort. This country may be deeply flawed and even continues to disappoint, anger, sadden us frequently, but it still the land that I was born and raised in, and it is the country that I will help mend.

We have had so many opportunities to leave this country and have a much better life overseas with the wealth that we were, fortunately, able to accumulate, yet we stayed. Even amidst the numerous threats of deportation, or just my mom threatening to send me to India because I was not behaving, we still stayed. To me, that’s what makes America great. We can live in a country that shows close to no love to us, yet still contribute to it so that it may love us back. Hopefully, in the future, we will be loved back, but in the meantime, we will be working to make it better for everyone.

Jay Tipirneni, 17, is co-editor-in-chief of the Raven Report newsmagazine and will be a senior at Sequoia High School in the fall. The son of Srinivas Tipirneni and Siva Cherukuri, Jay and his family live in Redwood City.

Perspectives:

The Vote

The ties that bind us still

The Lucky Generation

Arrival Stories

The generosity of angels

The American Dream

The opportunity to do better

The great American songbook

Americas can-do attitude

Freedom

The Kaleidoscope

The American Military

An American lens

American unity

 

American Stories: The great American songbook

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With Independence Day occurring at a tumultuous time marked by a global pandemic and a national crisis over racial injustice, Climate gave local contributors carte blanche to write their perspectives on what makes America special. We will be publishing our contributors’ American Stories now through July 4. Keep an eye out for these unique and personal pieces.

I remember the precise moment I fell in love with jazz. It was on an evening in 1962, in the summer of an unforgettable pennant race between the Giants and the Dodgers. I was seven years old, lying in bed and listening not (as usual) to the ballgame but instead to the Dave Brubeck Quartet, whose captivating new sounds wafted from my parents’ stereo in the living room.

The tune was, “Gone with the Wind.” Paul Desmond’s alto saxophone solo was quick as Maury Wills and smooth as Willie Mays. And then there was Brubeck’s piano playing – simple yet seductive melodies, contrasted with bulging, thumping chords that seemed to fill the whole house. Who could sleep?

My parents’ record collection was vast and varied. As the years went by, I discovered Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, the Delta Rhythm Boys, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra and Tyree Glenn, as well as Broadway musicals and the big bands of Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. I listened to my share of the Beatles and the Beach Boys, but in high school it was Buddy Rich who really took me downtown.

My mother had played in a dance band during her own high-school years, and our piano bench was stuffed with yellowing, wrinkled sheet music from the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s. As I studied piano in my adolescence and early teens, I began sneaking away from Bach fugues and Mozart sonatas, and cozying up to the likes of “Deep Purple,” “Stardust” and “Manhattan Serenade” – all while my mother shouted from the kitchen, “Practice your lesson!”

As much as the tremendous performers, it was the powerful vortex of the songs that sucked me in. The melodies were alluring and, more often than not, the lyrics were smart, especially when written by Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart or Dorothy Fields. But most of all, it was the harmonies that were intoxicating. I dug into the music the way a mechanically inclined kid would take apart a vacuum cleaner. Later, in college, music theory would become the one class I never skipped.

Upon graduation, I started playing jazz piano at night after working my day job as a writer. For 10 dollars I acquired an illegal “fake book.” It contained just melodies and basic chords, with the musician expected to fill in the ornamentations and deeper harmonies – in other words, to “fake it.” It was like a glittering, jangling charm bracelet, crowded with such baubles as, “I Got Rhythm,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Georgia On My Mind.” As I played through the book at bars and parties, I began to realize the incredible richness of American popular song, which captured the nation’s experience with everything from kisses and cocktails to lynchings and wars.

And that’s the thing. The Great American Songbook – the collection of hit tunes from around 1920 to 1970 – is about us: Americans, with all our myths, dreams and flaws. It is an immensely well-crafted chronicle of a fascinating, often-conflicted people at a particular time. It is classic, too, in that its melodies and stories are not just endearing, but also enduring. Jazz, and especially the Songbook, is among America’s great gifts to the world. And for me, it is the source of a longstanding romance that I know will never come to an end.

A regular contributor to Climate, Scott Dailey teaches piano and clarinet and leads his own jazz group.

American Stories: America’s can-do attitude

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With Independence Day occurring at a tumultuous time marked by a global pandemic and a national crisis over racial injustice, Climate gave local contributors carte blanche to write their perspectives on what makes America special. We will be publishing our contributors’ American Stories now through July 4. Keep an eye out for these unique and personal pieces.

Ever since our nation‘s founding, part of the character of Americans includes the strength to stand with broad shoulders during times of challenge. We quickly assess the situation and do what we can do.

The year 2020 has brought a crisis for our modern age: a truly global health epidemic. Covid-19 is causing everyone to adjust our behavior patterns to meet the challenges of this crisis.

Unfortunately, to control the spread of the virus, it has been necessary to avoid public activities for over three months (so far). The impact of this on wage- earning and paying the rent and feeding our families has been staggering. Also, small businesses are scrambling to stay afloat and to bring back their employees, so that everyone can return to earning their living.

Fortunately, in addition to neighbors helping neighbors, there are many groups across America rising to meet the challenge. They are fighting for the families and seniors in our neighborhoods. One example in our community of people with these broad shoulders is our city and county leaders who are working long hours to coordinate the delivery of relief funding and services to folks in need. They are helping our neighbors who are in trouble, and also helping small businesses to get back on their feet.

Another part of delivering relief to the public is getting the word out about how to access relief services. Our cities’ Chambers of Commerce are dedicated to that and have been very effective. They are organizing and publicizing all of these relief services in collaboration with elected officials: food delivery to families in need, rent relief and eviction-protection, childcare resources, health services, housing and utilities assistance, financial relief and resources to help small businesses, and publicizing volunteer opportunities and ways to donate to these efforts.

It takes a special type of person during a major crisis to stand tall and help those in need. Fortunately, America is full of such good people: Those who love their neighbors. Those who work hard to help local businesses get back to normal. Those who stand tall, with broad shoulders, to pitch in and help their neighbors to weather this crisis.

It’s those people, with their can-do attitude, who make our country so exceptional.

Clem Molony is a 75-year-old community volunteer focusing on youth academic support, transit-oriented housing development, and environmental sustainability.

San Mateo County supes ask employers to offer telecommuting

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San Mateo County supervisors encourage employers to offer telecommuting

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution Tuesday encouraging employers in the county to allow employees to work from home in order to benefit air quality.

Telecommuting that has occurred amid the COVID-19 pandemic has meant less car pollution and traffic congestion and improved air quality, according to the resolution. Supervisor David Canepa notes getting cars off the road also combats sea level rise.

At the request of Board President Warren Slocum, the county will look into ways to provide incentives to local employers to encourage telecommuting.

To view the full resolution, click here.

PHS/SPCA: Kittens discovered in fire engine truck compartment

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PHS/SPCA: Kittens found living fire engine truck compartment

Five kittens found living inside the hose compartment of a fire engine truck at a Foster City training facility were safely rescued, the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS/SPCA) announced Monday.

The PHS/SPCA received a call from the San Mateo Consolidated Fire Department about the kittens discovered at the fire academy in Foster City.

“With the ability of fire department staff, we were able to safely rescue all five of the little kittens from the engine,” PHS/SPCA spokesperson Buffy Martin Tarbox said.

The kittens, estimated to be about three to four weeks old, were taken to the PHS/SPCA for evaluation and treatment. Until they’re old enough for adoption, they’ll be placed in a foster home with a PHS/SPCA volunteer.

“The mom was no where to be found, and it was unsafe to leave the kittens tucked in the hoses of a fire truck engine,” Tarbox said. “The kittens appear to be in good health, and it’s a miracle they were found before the truck was used for fire safety training courses.”

The PHS/SPCA rescues more than 5,700 animals in a year.

Photos credited to PHS/SPCA

American Stories: Freedom

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With Independence Day occurring at a tumultuous time marked by a global pandemic and a national crisis over racial injustice, Climate gave local contributors carte blanche to write their perspectives on what makes America special. We will be publishing our contributors’ American Stories now through July 4. Keep an eye out for these unique and personal pieces.

Only on the last hour of the last day of the first week of June, when the school doors opened for the last time and a summer without end beckoned, did the oppression lift. That’s why I say, in retrospect, that I was nine years old when I last felt freedom.

This is how we celebrated liberty: Baseball in a weedy lot. Night hikes in woods. Tree forts. Lightning. Stars. Transistor radios. Dogs. A grassfire. Fistfights. Bicycle thefts, thieved and thieving. Lost glasses. Lost teeth. A broken arm. A diabetic coma.

We did not exercise our civil liberties wisely. Submission to authority became a necessary survival strategy.

This is how government exerted its authority: Interference in foreign governments, forced busing, race warfare, Vietnam, domestic riots, Kent State, Watergate, Presidential crimes, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and persistent, institutionalized racism.

Authority did not exercise its prerogatives wisely.

Founding documents declare America free, but the first, the Declaration of Independence, uses the term only four times, most importantly once where it declares King George “unfit to be the ruler of a free people.” Three times it advances the rights of “free states.”

It declares not freedom for all, only that “all men are created equal,” entitled to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” When they said “men” arguably they meant only men.

The Constitution says “free” once, establishing representation for “free Persons;” “others” valued at three-fifths a person.

“Freedom” appears twice in the Bill of Rights but only to establish freedom of the press, the people to assemble and petition the government.

The country did go to war for freedom, once. One hundred years after the founding, Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, advanced a new definition at Gettysburg when he said, “This nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that the government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

But of all great American political figures none elevated “freedom” more than the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. He rode the Freedom Train. He led the Freedom March. He pleaded for it, he spoke it, he thundered it from a thousand pulpits. Millions of black Americans thundered back.

Freedom, it turns out, is the gift of slavery, the struggle against its ever-living consequence. It’s the tortured plea of black America, today the shared cry of many colors.

May it come to all, someday, equally.

Don Shoecraft has had careers in journalism, communications and book-writing. He’s now free to play golf and volunteer, one of which he does well.

Perspectives:

The Vote

The ties that bind us still

The Lucky Generation

Arrival Stories

The generosity of angels

The American Dream

The opportunity to do better

The great American songbook

Americas can-do attitude

Freedom

The Kaleidoscope

The American Military

An American lens

American unity

American Stories: “The Kaleidoscope”

in Community/Featured/Headline by

With Independence Day occurring at a tumultuous time marked by a global pandemic and a national crisis over racial injustice, Climate gave local contributors carte blanche to write their perspectives on what makes America special. We will be publishing our contributors’ American Stories now through July 4. Keep an eye out for these unique and personal pieces.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, where my favorite summer activities included chasing after ice cream trucks and watching fireworks light up the night sky. I loved to lose myself, mesmerized by an ever-changing kaleidoscope. This was my childhood America—bright, carefree and so full of joy.

I left LA for the Bay Area to attend college and start my career teaching kids in public schools. Serving the community was an important way for me to give back. My parents had immigrated here for the promise of a better future. I wanted to mirror that intention and provide the same for others. After all, wasn’t this part of America, the land of opportunities?

Last night, I opened the window to let in the cool summer breeze. I could hear some kids outside laughing and playing games. “China!! China!! China!! BOOOOO!!!”—Wait … am I hearing this right? Yes. This is also my reality in America, a country built in part on discrimination and racism, an extraordinary country tainted by ignorance and complicity.

What makes America special is right now. I set down the kaleidoscope, no longer needing it to imagine America’s beauty. I can see this country as it is, without distortion. People are standing together to help this country become what it was always meant to be, for everyone, free.

Linda Li of Redwood City is a teacher whose parents came to the United States from China by way of Vietnam.

More perspectives:

The Vote

The ties that bind us still

The Lucky Generation

Arrival Stories

The generosity of angels

The American Dream

The opportunity to do better

The great American songbook

Americas can-do attitude

Freedom

The Kaleidoscope

San Mateo to expand downtown outdoor dining program

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Another block on B Street in San Mateo — from 1st to 2nd streets — will soon be closed off to vehicular traffic to allow for outdoor dining after the city reported early success in the program. Some city councilmembers are suggesting the downtown street closures become a seasonal or permanent feature.

On June 19, the city closed B Street from 2nd to 3rd streets to vehicular traffic, and additionally closed one lane of B Street from 1st Street to Baldwin Avenue, to provide outdoor space for dining. The plan aims to boost economic opportunities for the city’s restaurants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic health order.

The B Street block between 1st and 2nd streets wasn’t initially closed as part of the program due to a lack of support from businesses on the block. But since closures have occurred on adjacent blocks, some of those businesses are now in support of closing 1st to 2nd, according to city staff. Also, having one block open to vehicular traffic in between two blocks that have closures is causing a confusing traffic pattern and a potential safety issue, the city said.

Thus far, the city reports that the outdoor dining program has been a success. Deputy Mayor Eric Rodriguez said he’s twice dined outdoors, enjoyed the experience and is thrilled the program will now run continuously along three blocks of B Street. Kids played in the street as adults dined, he said.

“We felt safe, we had fun,” Rodriguez said.

The street closures are set to run through Oct. 19 or until the COVID-19 public health emergency ends and restaurants can return to full capacity indoor service. Rodriguez and Councilmember Amourence Lee raised questions as to whether the city could make the program permanent or seasonal. Either is possible although a permanent closure would require a more involved process, Assistant City Manager Kathy Kleinbaum said.

“If you haven’t or plan to [dine outdoors downtown], I really would encourage you to think about how this adds to our downtown and think about how we might be able to think of something more permanent when the crisis subsides,” Rodriguez said.

Photo: B Street between 2nd and 3rd streets, courtesy of City of San Mateo

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