Tue07222014

News

Q&A with Anne Wojcicki: 23andMe founder, local resident discusses Los Altos investments

Q&A with Anne Wojcicki: 23andMe founder, local resident discusses Los Altos investments


Anne Wojcicki

For the past several years, Anne Wojcicki (Wo-JIT-skee) has been quietly involved in efforts to spruce up downtown Los Altos. She and her husband, Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin, helped form Passerelle Investment Co., which own...

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Schools

Foothill fall registration opens Monday

Local residents interested in earning a specialized career certificate, associate degree or updated job skills can enroll beginning Monday when Foothill College opens fall registration.

In addition to its continuing-education courses, the college pr...

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Community

Sports

Stewart accepts job as baseball coach at Los Altos High

Stewart accepts job as baseball coach at Los Altos High


Los Altos High administrators offered Gabe Stewart the job of head baseball coach at Los Altos High even before he could apply for it.

“They approached me – they wanted an on-campus coach,” said Stewart, an AP History teacher at ...

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Comment

A good start – now follow through: Editorial

The recent announcement of a five-year agreement between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School is welcome relief for the entire community. After years of dispute and litigation, the pact is nothing short of a minor miracle.

Among t...

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Business

In the business of fostering business

In the business of fostering business


took over as Los Altos’ new economic development coordinator in May after spending the past two years working as city assistant planner. Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier

Sierra Davis is wearing a slightly different hat these days as a Los Altos cit...

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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

GORDON E. BRANDT

GORDON E. BRANDT

In May of 2014, Gordon E. Brandt passed away after a one and one half year battle with Lymphoma. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family.

Gordon was born in Los Angeles, CA on July 13, 1930. He graduated from Fremont High School in 19...

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Travel

British Columbia: Richmond, Steveston, Victoria hold surprises

British Columbia: Richmond, Steveston, Victoria hold surprises


Courtesy of Tourism Richmond
Shops, restaurants and museums dot the boardwalk in British Columbia’s Steveston, a great site for strolling.

Picturesque British Columbia has long been on our bucket list, and we recently fulfilled that dream.

We...

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Stepping Out

LA Youth Theatre, LA Stage Company join forces for 'Oz'

LA Youth Theatre, LA Stage Company join forces for 'Oz'


Joyce Goldschmid/Special to the Town Crier
The cast of “The Wizard of Oz” includes, clockwise from top left, Dana Levy (as Tinman), Rebecca Krieger (Cowardly Lion), Sarah Traina (Scarecrow) and Osher Fein (Dorothy).

Los Altos Youth Theatre and L...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford students study religion through campus artifacts

The inscriptions inside Memorial Church, the death mask of Jane Stanford and the nod to the Egyptian ankh symbol formed by Palm Drive and the Stanford Oval all have one thing in common: Each was a topic of discussion for the students enrolled in a un...

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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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