“I don’t want a single one of you to leave here tonight thinking you’ve done anything other than kick some serious butt this semester,” laughed Alex Zenner, the president of Roundhouse News and Review. She addressed the attentive crowd of 40 family, friends and local supporters gathered to celebrate the launch of Sierra College’s latest online intercultural news publication. “Tonight, we shared in ideas of what Roundhouse can become – a place for community, a place for voices of all kinds. I couldn’t be more proud of us.” Students on the founding editorial team shared knowing smiles, understanding our term developing Roundhouse, a collective brainchild, was coming to close.
“Yet, this is just the beginning,” I thought, gazing at the crowd. “Roundhouse is public now. The site doesn’t belong to just us anymore. It’s for everyone.” As Roundhouse’s Community Engagement and Communications Director, I connected the editorial team and the public through graphic design, in-person meetings, food and email. In short, my job was to listen to the stories, interests and values of Sierra community members.
The Old Auburn Cemetery is exactly what it sounds like; tucked between bustling streets and across from the train station, it houses hundred-year-old graves and tall, shadowing trees. I walk along the paths, thinking to myself that this look is what might attract random Auburn teenagers with nothing else to do to the spot. At least, it did for my friend and I, when we were in high school. I remember the summer air rustling leaves as we imagined ghosts behind our backs. Now, I’m making a return visit alone on a rainy day to investigate the grave of a person who seemed almost fictional. An engraving in the stone reads, “Fatally wounded in a gun duel with the law, July 11, 1859.” These words opened up to me the story of Rattlesnake Dick.
The broad, stone steps of the Sacramento State Capitol building were crowded with young people hoisting homemade signs into the air. The air rang with the sounds of protest: “No more coal! No more oil! Keep your carbon in the soil!” More than 200 voices chanted in unison, led by the abrasive, static crackle of a megaphone. A group of elementary aged children displayed a hand-painted banner that read “Kids Climate Strike” decorated with paint handprints. Another sign held by a teenage girl read “This planet is getting hotter than my imaginary boyfriend!”