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News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Hidden Villa summer camps preserve legacy of social justice


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Hidden Villa camper Lily Ballow, 11, cleans the pigpen, one of her daily farm chores.

When the metal gates of Hidden Villa swing open to campers each summer, eager youth descend on the 1,600-acre campus in Los Altos Hills for an experience that plants the seeds of social justice.

Those social-justice roots run deep: Hidden Villa pioneered the first multiracial camp in the U.S. in 1945. Frank and Josephine Duveneck developed the summer-camp program with an eye to promoting multicultural social activism and environmental education.

The Duveneck family purchased Hidden Villa in 1924, aspiring to create an environment that transcended cultural, racial, social and economic barriers. They provided an example by condemning racism and providing safe refuge for Jews fleeing the Nazis and Japanese-Americans returning from internment camps.

“What (the Duvenecks) were doing while building community was also allowing these kids to have shared experiences with one another,” said Daniel Chmielewski, Hidden Villa community programs manager.

Long-standing tradition

Hidden Villa continues to uphold its original mission by hosting summer-camp participants from many different backgrounds.

According to camp director Nikki Bryant, approximately half of all campers receive scholarships, a gift that allows youth from diverse neighborhoods across the Bay Area to venture to the farm’s rural environs for a day, a week or even longer. The Town Crier Holiday Fund supports Hidden Villa and its camp scholarships.

The camp environment allows young people to discover themselves and experience personal growth through reflection and goal setting.

“It’s really a nonjudgmental place where you can be yourself,” said 17-year-old Steffan Salas of Menlo Park, who completed his second year of counselor training at Hidden Villa this summer.

Salas, like many of the older campers at Hidden Villa, has found a family among the counselors and campers he’s met and plans to pay it forward as a counselor next year.

With an 80 percent retention rate, it is not uncommon for youth to spend 11 or 12 summers at Hidden Villa before assuming leadership roles.

Seth “Simba” Simas returned to Hidden Villa after earning his teaching credential four years ago and currently serves as program head for residential and backpacking camps at Hidden Villa. As a former camper, he committed himself to the experience not only to boost his skills as a youth worker, but also to instill values that encourage campers to care about the world around them.

Simas’ impact on campers is evident in the ways they translate the social and environmental values learned at camp into action. One camper, Simas said, contacted a Subway representative to request that the sandwich chain buy locally grown produce for its franchise locations.

Deeper meaning

The Hidden Villa camp experience goes beyond hiking and toasting marshmallows. Residential camp participants immerse themselves in a sustainable community and are accountable for shaping their own experiences.

Activities center on five key areas: the Duveneck Legacy; Race and Class; Gender, Sexuality and Family; the Environment; and Farm and Food. Older youth are assigned chores like milking goats and gardening. Opportunities for reflection are built into the daily schedule.

For younger participants accustomed to living in urban enclaves, farm work and encounters with nature prove enlightening. But the most critical and enduring element of camp, according to Bryant, is the building of relationships and the meaningful conversations that follow.

“What this summer camp does in particular is let people connect to people – the opportunity to talk with one another, resolve conflict and be confident in what you do,” she said.

Bryant said building and coordinating the right team of program leaders and counselors for the summer camp programs – ranging from day camps for elementary-school-aged children to multiday backpacking hikes through the Santa Cruz Mountains for teenagers – is akin to directing an orchestra. Although some of the camps’ successes are linked to months and years of planning and training, it’s the passion of dedicated counselors that makes it a transformational experience, she added.

“We work with staff to teach them how to be educators so that they can facilitate these conversations on weighty topics,” said Bryant, noting that many parents observe that their children return from camp with a more mature and confident perspective on the world.

Bryant believes that when you connect with youth at their level, it sparks their curiosity and triggers critical thinking in a way that can lead to success later in life.

“That circle of giving is what makes peace in our world,” she said. “And that is ultimately what we’re trying to do – bring about peace, to educate people to think about this world and ask questions.”

For more information, call 949-8850 or visit hiddenvilla.org.


Hidden Villa Summer Camps - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

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