Upward Bound supports students over the summer

by Hector Arzate
Flapjack staff

While many have argued that Trump’s policy agenda could negatively affect the lives of all Americans, the Center for American Progress found that his budget would harm employment, health, education, housing, and safety services for most rural communities, small towns, and tribal nations. It’s likely that a cut to these services would have an immediate impact on the local community in Humboldt.

As one of the oldest TRIO programs in the state of California, Upward Bound at HSU has served six different high schools in the local area of Humboldt and Trinity County for almost 50 years, including Arcata High School, Hoopa Valley High School and Trinity High School.

Leo Canez, the Academic Coordinator of Upward Bound at HSU, outlined what students are able to do during their pre-college experience.

“We have the summer academy, a residential experience here at Humboldt State University,” Canez said. “About 35 students live in the residential dorms for five weeks, beginning at the end of June and going all the way until the end of July. They study Shakespeare for their literature course, they have a composition course, a math course and this year they’re studying entomology for their science course. They also have different electives offered. This year we have Greek and Latin origins, street art, self defense and acroyoga.”

Although the proposal’s name is meant to signal change for greatness, some would argue that a 15 percent cut to the Dept. of Education is a far cry from prosperity. The aptly named “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” outlines budget cuts to several U.S departments for the fiscal year of 2018, including the Dept. of Education.

The Council for Opportunity in Education estimates that the proposed budget cut would result in a $92 million or 10 percent decrease in funding for TRIO for the fiscal year of 2018-2019, which would effectively eliminate services like Upward Bound for nearly 83,000 students.

While it certainly has an emphasis on the academics, UB tries to create a more well rounded experience for students to have fun, while learning how to be responsible scholars.

“With this program, we have a lot of social activities on the other side of the academics,” Canez said. “We go camping on the Klamath River, we have a masquerade ball, ice cream social, casino night, all these different activities on the weekends and the evenings because they’re here the entire time. So they have to balance, if there’s a swim night happening but they also have homework, they have to take care of it first.”

Harrel Deshazier, psychology major, and former Upward Bound resident mentor, found that he was able to provide multiple sources of support for his students and be a part of rewarding experience for both himself and his students.

“We’re not just doing academic stuff,” Deshazier said. “I’ve never done that many things in a summer, ever in my life. We went camping, on picnics, we went to Oregon for the Shakespeare festival. It was so great because all of them were into it… It just goes to show that underrepresented populations really have so much ability, it’s just the access.”

In order to prepare disadvantaged students, UB aims to bridge the gap that first generation students students have to deal with before arriving as college freshmen.

“They come from families that are low income and neither parent has a four year degree,” Canez said. “So they’re low income, first generation and there aren’t very many resources out there at these schools to provide students with information that they need for things like A-G requirements, SAT/ACT prep, making sure that they choose the right classes, and manage their time. I think that’s one of the biggest things, students being able to manage their time, especially when you come from communities where the kids have a lot of adult responsibilities.”

As a local student at Hoopa Valley High School and alumnus of the TRIO program, Canez always had a natural sense of curiosity and want to learn, but didn’t really value education.

“If it wasn’t for Upward Bound I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Canez said. “My mom finished the sixth grade before she stopped going to school and my father almost finished high school but he had to go to Vietnam. He didn’t finish school, he actually went into the military. They didn’t really excel in school and I didn’t have role models within my own home. As I grew up, they split up and between my third grade year to my freshman year in high school I went to 18 different schools. My goal was to drop out my sophomore year and become a mechanic, that’s all that I saw for myself and my future. I didn’t have anybody in my family who went to college or had any kind of experience with it, so I didn’t think that it was an option for me.”

Despite all impediments along the way, however, Canez began to value learning even more and found that there were more options than he could ever imagine.

“After my freshman year, I was living with a cousin in a laundry room,” Canez said. “I had a thin, little mattress on the floor where they moved the washer and dryer out and the roof would be leaking. When the Upward Bound staff came to my school and said I had to take classes, it wasn’t a big deal for me because I liked learning. But the kicker for me was that I would have a bed, three meals a day, and all I had to do was some school work over the summer and it would be a safe place to be. So that was a no brainer for me.”

While Canez’s story is unique, it’s a similar story that many students from a first generation, low-income background who come through the UB program share.

“We have the saying that, ‘UB lets you be you,’” Canez said. “It allows you for the first time to truly be who are and that’s what this program is all about… You’re surrounded by adults who want to help you realize your dream and we’ll do everything we can to help you figure out what that is. The entire staff, from the mentors to teachers to the administrative staff, we find out what seed is there in each one of our students’ heart and help it flourish.”


Stephen Gieder — local cannabis event organizer and business visionary

Stephen Gieder

By Monica Robinson

Flapjack staff

After a troubling incident a year and a half ago Stephen Gieder intervened an unbalanced fight in the back alley of the Plaza in Arcata, California. While walking away, after believing he had verbally resolved the altercation, Gieder was attacked and struck down. He said there were at least 15 witnesses nearby and not one person checked in or offered to help.

Gieder was disturbed when he saw how disconnected people have become from one another and wanted to help elicit change. Gieder gave a good ol’ Facebook rant and set up a meeting at the Jambalaya in Arcata. To his surprise 35 people showed up.

“He wants everyone to be involved, keep people connected and rise the vibration,” says Sasha Miksis, 33, Gieder’s friend and co-worker.

The first two meetings identified problems and came up with solutions. The CPP started Street Clean Up on Fridays, which expanded to free yoga on the plaza Saturdays and the Plaza Play Group for kids on Sundays. The safety task force, created by the city of Arcata, deals with the same issues and works in conjunction with CPP.

Gieder was born on Oct. 27, 1976. and grew up in Pennsylvania, where he attended Williamson Trade School and studied horticulture and landscape design. After graduating and spending a year in Colorado, Gieder realized he wanted to be a part of the cannabis industry. Gieder drove across country towards Humboldt County and stopped near Lake Tahoe. While visiting Tahoe he went out for coffee and donuts and came back an hour and a half later with a job. Three years later, while walking his dog, he stumbled across Stan “the man” and Steve Muller opening a hydroponic shop in 1998.

As a graduate in Horticulture and Landscape design, Gieder would sit in the shop and consult the store owners when it first opened. At the time people didn’t really understand the science of it, but he had the knowledge and background to help people.

“Some people’s minds work scientifically; my mind works horticulturally,” Gieder says. This experience inspired Gieder to start his own horticulture supply store in Humboldt County.

Gieder started Northcoast Horticulture Supply in 2002. NHS sells cultivation supplies to indoor and outdoor farmers in Humboldt County at its four retail locations in Fortuna, Eureka, Arcata and McKinleyville.

In order to get the best product and deliver it at the lowest possible price, Gieder started Humboldt Wholesale, a nationwide manufacturer and distributor of specialty garden supplies. This allowed him to import from Holland the finest production nutrient line in the world, House & Garden.

“Steve’s a doer,” Ken Hamik, 59, Gieder’s business partner, says. Hamik wants to write a book on him called “Gieder Done.” Gieder embodies visions more than most people.

“Steve is where the rubber meets the sky,” Hamik said. “He starts and finishes things.”

After nearly a decade of being the sole distributor of House and Garden in the United States, Gieder purchased the company and moved manufacturing of the nutrient line to Arcata, California.

Gieder has always taken pride in building the local economy and continues to do so by employing over 100 individuals. For the 15 year anniversary of NHS, Gieder hosted an employee party the Arcata Theatre Lounge with live music and free food.

“He really does care about all of them, their family life and what’s happening at home,” Miksis said.

“You know that saying Kevin Bacon is six degrees of separation from everyone? I call Steve one degree,” Hamik said. Gieder’s fundamental businesses in Humboldt have enabled him to meet so many people here.

“Everyone knows Steve and Steve knows everyone for the most part,” Hamik explains. As a creative yielding local entrepreneur and cannabis advocate, Gieder began the consulting firm Humboldt Green.

Hamik describes Humboldt Green as one the most unusual businesses he’s ever worked for. “It’s a very difficult animal to describe to somebody,” Hamik said. It’s an event producing and community organization; a type of economic ecosystem trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together. Everywhere from cannabis infused yoga, Humboldt’s Om lead by Miksis to the Hummingbird Healing Center a dispensary reopening in McKinleyville lead by Hamik and Gieder.

Gieder has put together a highly qualified consulting team developing a new standard for cultivation which exceeds anything that exists right now. Humboldt Green looks after the environment, livable wages and makes sure people have good jobs. In a way it is like an incubator for people who don’t know what they want to do but leave with a more crystallized vision for themselves or their business.

With 11 years under its belt, Humboldt Green Week continues to bring people together for events that enrich the community. Thousands of dollars in donations continue to support local Non-Profit Organizations. The importance of education through art, music and gardening events is very important to Gieder and his crew.

Gieder stresses that Green Week gives people a moment to get away from daily distractions and enjoy doing good for the environment while having the chance to connect with the community they are helping build. Miksis explains that folks are riding this cannabis culture’s wave into mainstream living. Gieder wants everyone to come along and succeed rather than be on top.

“He genuinely cares,” she says.

More fixes needed for HSU student housing insecurity

By Maddy Harvey
Flapjack staff

College can be one of the most stressful time in a person’s life due to all the deadlines, classes, debt, and everything in between. However, many students have another thing to add to the stress of college, and that’s being homeless.

Cynthia Paredes, a former HSU student, was homeless for a few months her second year attributed this experience to her eventual decision to leave HSU and go back home and transfer.

“My mental health was at it’s worst when I was going through this,” Paredes said, “I was completely empty and didn’t know who I was. I couldn’t be happy in Humboldt anymore. I go to school in SoCal now and I’ve been working on myself and am doing so much better.”

Humboldt State University has quite a bit of a homeless student problem. In fact, 15 percent of students surveyed at HSU have reported to have experienced housing insecurity, according to a report done by Jennifer Macguire of HSU.

This number is concerning considering that the rate of homeless students in the CSU system, that spans 23 universities, averages about 10 percent, as reported by a detailed report on homeless students in the CSU system by Rashida Crutchfield from CSU Long Beach.

Homelessness can have an influence on a  student’s mental well being that can negatively impact how they perform in school and their ability to focus due to increased feelings of anxiety, depression, and other distressing disorders, according to a study done by the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research.

HSU has taken some steps to address the issue and offer some help to students, including hosting housing nights where students can become familiar with how to go about places up for rent and how to fill out the applications, but many agree that there is always more that can be done.

Chanté Catt of the Homeless Student Advocate Alliance, a group on campus that works with and for homeless students, has some simple advice for the school on what they can do about the crisis.

“Quit enrolling people and not matching the available housing to the area,” Catt said, “This is the biggest issue.”

Unfortunately, HSU has not been too responsive to this since they continue to admit a greater number students that they cannot fully support, and has led to a “housing lottery” and long waitlist being used the last couple years since there isn’t enough supply for the demand.

HSU housing administrators were contacted multiple times to respond to these criticism but did not offer comments.

“Honestly I don’t know much of what they’re doing, but I’m sure they know the problem is up in the air,” Catt said, “Individual staff, faculty and professors are helping in many ways and are very supportive.”

For Paredes they didn’t seem to do much when she was put on the waitlist for housing, and didn’t offer her much information on what her situation would be until the school year had already begun.

“They eventually put me in this, like, big room where they put new transfers and overflow housing in the Hill, and they didn’t even give me that option until a week or so into the semester when I had been crashing on the small couch in my friend’s dorm since I had no place else to go,” Paredes said.

On top of that the housing they do offer on campus can be too expensive for many, which is the major reason so many non-freshman students choose to live off campus, even when that can become a greater hassle since the housing market in Arcata is so competitive, and the rent for off campus places just keeps getting raised as well.

Kira Hudson, a graduating senior has been homeless for quite a while and has just accepted that this has become a part of her life.

“They just kept raising my rent and I couldn’t do it anymore and I just became so frustrated,” Hudson said, “I finally just moved out of where I was and ended up living in my car for a few months and now I’m just staying with some friends.”

Hudson’s experience is a great example of how the community members here are so willing to help out their neighbors, but also shows the greater issue of the area taking advantage of the student population and charging them so much for housing and getting away with it because they need a roof over our heads and don’t want to have to travel too far from campus.

This community based effort is something that Humboldt is known for, and it’s really great, since sometimes the only thing that can be done in the moment is to just to help out your neighbor.

It should also be noted that the students have more power than they know to make a change and demand better resources and options, there is strength in numbers.

“It’s up to the students to make the changes. That’s what really matters,” Catt said.


Navigating white spaces in Humboldt County as a person of color

By Alyssa Anaya
Flapjack staff

During her first semester at HSU, Vanessa Cota, a 20-year-old political science major, had a frightening encounter at Don’s Donuts in downtown Arcata.

“A guy approached me and asked where I was from and said SoCal and kept telling me to go back where I came from,” she said. “I lost sense of what I was going to do. He threw a glass bottle at my feet.”

Cota’s story is not an isolated incident. Racism is alive and well in Humboldt County, where 77.1% of the population are white, 17.6% are Latinx, and 13.3% are black or African American. This leaves people of color to navigate white spaces, and that is a space that feels not always safe for minorities.

At last week’s Arcata City Council meeting, only a few days after the fatal stabbing of Josiah Lawson, a 19-year-old HSU student and leader of Brothers United, racism in the county was brought up for discussion.

“We cannot continue to ignore the systemic and cultural racism that exists in our community,” said Arcata’s vice-mayor Sofia Pereira. “While we can say we’ve been working on issues of equity in our community, we as a community failed [murder victim] Josiah [Lawson] and other students of color, who have stated over and over that they do not feel safe and welcomed here.”

HSU sociology lecturer Lora Bristow defines racism as simply the systematic oppression of a group based on “what we call” race.

“[This] advantages the dominant group (white folks in the U.S.) and disadvantages and harms other groups,” Bristow said. “ It has multiple levels–individual, ideological and cultural, and institutional, and can be overt/explicit or covert/subtle/even unconscious.”

In Arcata, a college town, racism here isn’t so avert, said 23-year-old Sociology major Danielle Dickerson.

“Arcata is a small town that is becoming more diverse and that makes some white folks uncomfortable,” Dickerson said. “It’s whether or not they are willing to accept that.”

Dickerson also brought attention to HSU’s graduation pledge and how it addresses a so called social and environmental justice.

“For who? Where do people of color lie in the discussion?” she said. “It’s bleaching. Watered down. Paradoxical.”

Dickerson said that language is very problematic.

“There needs to be a change of behavior,” she said. “White people need to be held responsible.”

As Bristow explained, racism can be both subtle and even unconscious. Cota said that she sometimes feels that her professors and colleagues come off as microaggressive.

“Sometimes I will say something and it’s kind of brushed off,” Cota said. “But when a white student says almost the same thing, everyone praises it.”

Racism is not just about minorities, it also calls attention to white folks.

“Racism is immense in its effect, in all layers of our lives.  For people of color, it creates diminished life chances, while it simultaneously increases the life chances of white folks.  Although as a system of power it seeks to dehumanize folks of color, I think it dehumanizes white folks.” said Bristow. “ How can we be good in our souls if we hate others, if we benefit from harm that is done to others and do not work to end that harm?”

Of course, there is no all ending, over night, happy ending when it comes to something as heavy as racism. However, there are ways that it can be combatted.

“There needs to be more accountability, safer spaces, and actually acknowledging gender, and race. Not leaving anyone out of decision making,” Dickerson said. “We need to redefine ally. You can’t just simply agree with the ideologies, you need to be action oriented. People are allies in theory, but they need to put that into praxis,” said Dickerson. “When you have a platform you need to use it.”

“We just had that march for science and it was full of white people. After the recent passing of Josiah [Lawson] we did not see many of these “allies.” They came to the vigils but didn’t show up to the courthouse to show support. Where are the allies?”

Cota agreed and added, “White folks need to not be so defensive. It happened, accept it. Ask what you can do to fix it. Check other white people. It is exhausting being a person of color and trying to educate white people who don’t want to listen to me.”

“At the individual level, we need to have conversations with each other–and white folks need to really listen to people of color.  White folks need to talk with other white folks, to work towards a collective anti-racist white identity,” said Bristow. “At the ideological/cultural level, we need to really examine ideas, images, beliefs–everything–and question where they come from, how they are connected with racism as a system of power.”

Racism has been a system structured at the roots of this nation and it shows at the institutional level.

“We need to see how racism may be operating in our schools, political groups, churches, workplaces, all the social institutions we interact with in our lives,” said Bristow.  “And then work for policies and practices that support racial justice. We need to do the same at the national and global level.”


African Storyteller draws crowd into Arcata Playhouse

By Bailey Tennery
Flapjack staff

Once upon a time laughter filled the Arcata Playhouse on April 4, as a Grammy-nominated storyteller Diane Ferlatte, 72, acted out lively characters from one of her stories. The audience sat and listened quietly during the beginning, but throughout the end the audience became incorporated in the story by singing along or clapping when given instructions to.

Ferlatte believes that personal narratives as well as folktales can be used to help cross cultural understanding, and hopes her audiences grasps the message she is sending.

“It gives me the opportunity to pass on history, especially folk history, culture, and values, in the most traditional and effective way,” said Ferlatte. “Good stories can serve as excellent examples and teaching tools in the area of character development.”

Ferlatte’s mother was poor. She was a maid all her life cleaning and washing for Europeans.

“She was happy,”said Ferlatte. “Sometimes when you’re poor it doesn’t take long for the whole bottom to fall out.”

The Street Sweeper was Ferlatte favorite story she told that night. It was about a poor farmer who left his family to get a job in the city. The farmer swept the streets and kept his money in the shop of a jeweler. After five years the jeweler refused to return the money.

“No one wants to do business with a man who wants to steal from the poorest of the poor,” said Ferlatte. “You’re not rich by what you possess your rich by how you can do without. Those who know enough is enough will always have enough.”

Ferlatte believes that African culture storytelling is not a spectator sport in comparison to European culture. She appreciates audience interactions.

“I was once invited to tell stories at a brunch, their faces were stone, arms crossed, legs crossed, eyes crossed, no face,” said Ferlatte. “When I finished they roared and gave me a standing ovation, but I thought why didn’t they show me a sign.”

A high school psychology and history teacher Ana Farina, 34, received a master’s degree in education from the University of San Francisco. Farina full-heartedly believes in the art of storytelling.

“Storytelling is an invaluable tool that I use to help my students remember things,” said Farina. “It enables me to attach emotion to a concept or historical event in a way that a textbook never can.”

The part Ferlatte loves most about storytelling, is that when a person has a dark day a simple story can make them feel better.

“When we tell stories, especially personal stories where we open ourselves up to whoever is listening, there is often for the listener a value to be learned,” said Ferlatte. “There is also encouragement to be gained, knowing that others before them have conquered fears and challenges similar to their own.”

Before Ferlatte became a storyteller held an office job. The idea to change careers sparked when she adopted a four-year-old boy named Joey, with her husband Tom. The boy was glued to the television, she dedicated herself to breaking him from it.

A private school 5th grader, Kayla Fiedler, gave her full attention during the performance and expressed her thoughts about Ferlatte’s act.

“I liked how she used sound effects and sign language,” said Fiedler. “I also liked how she used her own life references in her stories.”

David Ferney, 54, has been in the world of theater for 40 years and has performed in 20 different countries. Ferlatte’s performance was a part of the Playhouse’s Family Fun Series which was sponsored by Kokatat Watersports Wear, Holly Yashi Jewelry and Wildberries Marketplace.

“We bring the schools here to the Playhouse instead of us going to them, to their schools,” said Ferney. “We do this so that they gain experience in theater and that they become exposed to the performers, and when they become older they come back to the theater.”

Erik Pearson a native Pennsylvanian, adds music to Ferlatte stories. Pearson studied music at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. According to him, there is no rehearsal before performances with Ferlatte.

“It is organic, most of it is listening and having an idea of how to respond to fit the story she is telling,” said Pearson. “She used to have another musician, but he moved away before she was about to perform at the Hollywood Bowl an outdoor amphitheater in LA.”

According to Ferlatte stories are a mirror, meaning that they teach us a lot about ourselves. There are many reasons why she tells stories, one of them is to educate other cultures.

“I like to tell stories to teach people about my culture,” said Ferlatte. “Other cultures have been telling our stories for long enough, it’s time that people hear our stories from our culture.”