This morning I sang “I Think of a Dragon” (the anti-bulllying song Judy Fjell and I wrote, of which more soon) for the first staff meeting of the school year at Washington Elementary, where I volunteer one morning a week. It felt so good to see the familiar faces and be thoroughly welcomed back. And I met the new science teacher and already have an idea for a new song.
Last year one of the second grade teachers did a unit on unions with his class and I sang some union songs for them and told the story of the young mill-worker leading her unit out on strike from We Were There Too: Young people in U.S. history by Phil Hoose. This year he’ll do unions again and also plans a unit on the hippies. I’m trying to figure out how to help at this age level. I found the declaration of the original Diggers after whom the Haight-Ashbury Diggers were named, which would be great for fifth grade, but second? I’ll figure something out. Meanwhile, I’ll brush up on “The Yellow Submarine.” That’s one of the songs I used when I taught guitar one period a week as a sideline of being school librarian at Martin Luther King Jr. School (4-8 gr.) in Sausalito in 1967-9. “Little Boxes” would give older kids some idea of the conformity the hippies were rebelling against, but again, for second-graders?
After I took my ukulele home I walked up to the UC campus to join a little informational demonstration about the three hikers, all UC alums (as am I) who are being held in Iran after evidently taking a wrong turn on a hiking trail in the mountains in the relatively peaceful Kurdish part of Iraq and inadvertantly crossing the border into Iran. One can understand the Iranis being nervous about stray Americans, but these kids have been held for a month now without being able to communicate with their families. It made me think of the summer I was a counselor at the Marin County Camp Fire Girls camp, Kilowana, and got my campers lost every time I took them on a hike. Good thing there were no international borders nearby, though we did have an incident when one of the kids stepped in an underground hornets’ nest. Luckily nobody was allergic.
I like going up to campus now and then. I must have been taken there when I was a toddler and my mother was writing her dissertation. I do remember going to the campus art museum, the old brick one, with my class in elementary school. Then I was there as an undergraduate, ’52 to ’57, during which my mother came back to take music theory. I was there from ’63 to ’65 for library school. The campus has changed a lot: new buildings, new organizations (a gay fraternity, for instance) but there was still a guy ranting at Sather Gate. A different guy, but there always is one.
This is from 350, an organization publicizing the fact that we need to get down to 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere to prevent major damage from global warming. It’s land art of a migratory crane and 350, made with natural materials such as wild grass, nettles, and alder branches. Nestled in amongst the mountains in the backdrop is the Grewingk Glacier (Alaska), one of the many rapidly receding glaciers of the Harding. If all the world were as cool as this photo, we wouldn’t be in any trouble from climate change.
©2009 by Nancy Schimmel
Sather Gate at UC Berkeley, where I attended a demonstration today, also listened to some fine original a capella and  some ranting. The ranting sounded derivative.
Monday, August 31, 2009