Thursday, July 13, 2023

Return of the ED Blog!

Has it really been seven years since the last post here? As the newest Executive Director, it feels like the perfect time to revive this blog with some much needed updates! 

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Laura DeAngelis and I have been a resident of Boulder Creek since April of 2013. I stepped into the role of ED this past January, just after the New Year and amidst the worst winter storms I have ever experienced in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In fact, the first day I was scheduled to report to the Museum, there were two big landslides on my property - one of which completely blocked the driveway. So instead of starting my first day at the Museum, I was shoveling mud off the driveway at home. 

Becoming Executive Director has been a huge learning experience for me. Prior to the San Lorenzo Valley Museum, I worked as a Studio Artist Educator for the San Jose Museum of Art, taught photography at Mills College in Oakland and worked several years as a Customer Service Representative for Bay Photo Lab in Scotts Valley. During the past six months, I've connected more with our local community than I have in the ten years that I've lived here -  and it has been incredibly rewarding. The San Lorenzo Valley Museum has so much to offer and I'm thrilled to be part of an organization that educates on the indigenous peoples of the area in addition to early settler history. One of the projects I'm most excited to complete is a native plant garden at the Grace Gallery that will serve as an outdoor exhibition and opportunity to learn about the first peoples and their early practices. My hope is that we can begin to cultivate volunteer landscaping practices that honor indigenous lessons in tending to the land and living in reciprocity with the natural world.

This past June, we held our first in-person Fundraising Dinner & Auction at Scopazzi's since 2019 - and it was a great success! This was my first time planning a fundraiser and the road leading to the event was not a smooth one. However, it was truly a pleasure to communicate with local business and feel supported by our wonderful community. While drafting solicitation letters and receiving donations, I had the unique opportunity to visit the sites of local business who have supported the Museum for several years. (This might have been my favorite part of the process!) We received over 60 live and silent auction donations this year from local businesses, artisans and Museum supporters and were able to raise over 6k for the auction alone. Ronnie Trubek graciously volunteered to be our MC for the night and she was such a pleasure to have on board for this event. To top things off, we had our very own Lynda Phillips (previous SLV Museum ED) as our auctioneer for the night, who did a fabulous job. I am so grateful to Ronnie and Lynda for all of their hard work and support. It was really amazing to see the whole event come together and I can't thank the volunteers and local community enough for their kindness and generosity. 

The day after our Fundraising Dinner & Auction, we received one of our newest acquisitions: A historic Steam Donkey that had been abandoned deep in the forest of the Santa Cruz Mountains. This acquisition has been a dream come true for the San Lorenzo Valley Museum, as it was first sought after in 2014 when a donation request letter was written to the land owner from our ED at the time, Lynda Phillips. This year, the land owner was kind enough to meet us at the Museum to discuss the significance of the artifact and it's relevance to the early logging industry in the San Lorenzo Valley. You an imagine our excitement when he graciously agreed to donate the Steam Donkey to the Museum! With the help of local logging expert, Bruce Baker, we were able to gather a team of professionals to relocate the Steam Donkey on June 23rd, 2023. The operation took over 10 hours and it was a tremendous effort by all parties involved. The Steam Donkey now rests at the entrance to the Museum at our Boulder Creek location - the perfect home for this important piece of San Lorenzo Valley history.  

Until next time, friends.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

40 Years and Counting!

I can't believe that the San Lorenzo Valley Historical Society is 40 years old as far as a federally recognized non profit goes.  In fact, the essence of what the original group wanted to create happened several years earlier - back into the 1960's.  There were some starts and stops, efforts that didn't work out as planned, patience, determination, and faith all leading up to where the Historical Society and the San Lorenzo Valley Museum is today - 40 + years later.  Today, those original founders and members would be very proud of the growth and depth that the Society has experienced in every area of the organization.   In 2006 the SLV Museum celebrated the 100th birthday of the historic church building that houses the Museum with a 'Centennial Celebration' at the Johnson Farm up Two Bar Road north of Boulder Creek. 

This year we are borrowing some of the activities and 'flavor' we had at that celebration for a 'Heritage Day' event being held on Sat, May 21st between 12 - 4 pm on the Museum grounds.  We are adding some different demonstrations this time around, like a blacksmith demonstrating how a forge is used to make utensils and tools out of iron.  Also wool spinning, cheese making, wood carving, and lumbering such as shingle, shake, and grapestake.  Not sure the difference?  Stop by and step back 100 years to see how our early settlers lived.

I enjoyed the previous celebration at the Johnson Farm very much, but am looking forward to this celebration even more!  Having it on the Museum grounds is definitely a plus and it will let everyone have the opportunity to visit the Museum and experience the latest exhibit, 'Big Basin Auto Tree: One Tree, Many Stories', our permanent exhibits, and the 1902 panoramic photos of Boulder Creek showing horse-drawn wagons by the railroad yard and horse-drawn buggies in front of businesses on Highway 9.  I'm looking forward to watching parents enjoy playing some of the old fashioned games with their children, taking photos of them in settlers clothes, and kneading dough to make bread (no pre-packaged bread back then). 

Lastly, I'm overwhelmed by the number of volunteers who are eager to show our community, especially the children, what life was like for their grandparents when they were children.  They are working hard to provide an experience that all ages will remember for years to come.  I can't thank our volunteers enough for their dedication and commitment in making this day of celebration a special one.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

2016 - Lots to Get Excited About!

So far this new year of 2016 has been filled with so many new changes I feel like I don't know which way to look first!  Our great traveling exhibit about California civil rights has been packed up and has left the museum.  Our next exhibit is one we are co-sponsoring with Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History is the 'Big Basin Auto Tree: One Tree, Many Stories'.   It has been on display there, but has been packed up and will be opening at the SLV Museum on Sat, April 9th with an opening reception for the community from 2 - 4 pm.  This fascinating exhibit will display  the curator's, historian Frank Perry, collection of Auto Tree photos and postcards for over 30 years as well as some never-shown before gems.  We will be having an activity area for visitors both young and old alike.  We are also planning a talk later in the year about viewing our beloved redwoods from a different perspective - as architecture. 

I was all ready to join our fellow hikers on Sun, April 3rd for a history hike at Quail Hollow Ranch along the trails going back to a time before the Ohlones.  However, I had a conflict and was very disappointed to miss it.  Our group of hikers quickly reached its maximum of 25, but I have continued to be receiving calls from those interested in joining the hike.  Good news - We are talking with the Quail Hollow Ranch park interpreter to schedule a second hike.  Date and time to be scheduled, but I will definitely not miss this one.

If you haven't volunteered for a non profit you might not be aware that non profits watch the monetary donations they receive very closely and become very very good at stretching those funds.  An example is our office area which has been furnished with donated desks, file cabinets (both letter and legal so both sizes of folders are needed), bookcases, and storage cabinets.  Dented, drawers not quite sliding smoothly, sometimes a needed strong yank to open - you get the idea.  Our IT infrastructure was even worse.  Our PCs all ran different versions of Office, they were connected together in a line so it was very slow trying to look at and work on a file located on a different PC from the one you were on.  Printers were slow and no color - color was achieved by using colored paper.  We held a Fund-IT Campaign last year and through the generosity of our supporters and using other non profits to help stretch our monetary donations we now have a completely new and current PC infrastructure on a true network file server.  We went through Tech Soup to order newer versions of our software applications.  We were even lucky to have newer office furniture donated by a business vacating their office building so new modular desks, lateral file cabinets, and tall storage cabinets.  We also now have a color printer and portable scanner.  I'll be able to do more in-house printing and look more professional at the same time!

As a non profit we do not make a product and sell it to bring in our revenue.  We depend on our supporters through becoming members and renewing each year, sponsoring an exhibit on a subject they are excited about, visitors who appreciate that we do NOT charge to enter the San Lorenzo Valley Museum, but keep our doors open to anyone who enjoys history and our museum.  We submit grants (and have been successful more times than not), and operate a bookstore.  The word 'non profit' does not mean we work in the 'red' - if we did the IRS would take away our tax exempt status.  Non profit means we need to be fiscally responsible with monetary funds given to us so that we can pay our bills and any funds left over goes into fulfilling our mission, which is' to gather and share the history of the San Lorenzo Valley'.    We DO NOT use excess funds on excessive salaries, leasing a car, taking trips with family and friends, or buying expensive meals and materials.  We believe we have a duty and obligation to be the caretakers of our church building and all the artifacts in the Collection so in another 100 years the San Lorenzo Valley community can enjoy and treasure them as we have.  Thank you to everyone who has supported the San Lorenzo Valley Museum in a monetary way.  It is greatly appreciated.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

July and we are having fun!

It has been awhile since my last post, but don't think I've been taking it easy.  We hosted narrow and standard gauge railroad author, historian, and lecturer Bruce MacGregor, who shared the history of the narrow gauge railroad's birth in our valley and how it impacted the type and growth of businesses, changed the lives of people who decided to make San Lorenzo Valley their home, and made our valley a tourist destination by providing a fast and easy way to visit.  What a great time in historic Park Hall in Ben Lomond.  We were lucky to get copies of just published 'Santa Cruz Trains' by author Derek Whaley, who pushed through our order so we could have his book on hand.  I sold out of every copy and had to handle pre-sales.  Now our bookstore is well stocked with 'Santa Cruz Trains' for a gift or train enthusiast.

Our annual Dinner and Auction Fundraiser was lots of fun thanks to our hard-working and creative volunteers who handled the silent and live auctions.  Auctioneer 5th District Supervisor Bruce McPherson kept things lively and lots of fun, especially with the Chardonnay sailing trip, whale watching, 1-day survival class, and two night stay at luxurious Costanoa on the north coast that received lots of bids.  Bid cards popping up all over and friendly challenges back and forth made it a memorable night for everyone.

As I was starting to promote our next historical talk about Pogonip I was asked what Pogonip stood for.  I've heard different explanations of this  unusual name, but never anything definite.  This will be just one question addressed at our upcoming historical talk on Sun, July 26th.  We will be having two speakers sharing the long (going back to the Native Americans) and very diverse (auto camp, women's polo, lime kilns) history.  This is a story that most people think they know, but really don't.  I myself am eager to learn more about this area so close to our valley.  Bring your questions and expand your knowledge about our local history.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bear With Us exhibit opening

What a great afternoon!  Sun, Feb 15th saw the museum filled with families checking out our latest exhibit about the history and stories of the black and grizzly bears that lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains and surrounding area from the 1700's to the present.  I had a great time pointing out the 'bear cave' to the children for them to crawl into - right in the middle of the museum, but their own private space with pillows to sit on, books, a mat, and a lantern.  Even a bear puppet to play with and have peak out of the cave!  I enjoyed welcoming many of our members who support the museum and attend every exhibit opening, bringing friends and spreading the word to stop by and visit.  We had two new memberships and book sales from the opening.  I talked with people who were interested in learning not only about bears, but also about the overall environment, the other animals that lived with the bears and provided a varied diet to the settlers making a life in San Lorenzo Valley.  People were reading the information panels, comparing their hand to the varied sizes of bear paws, and checking out the different animal traps from the museum's collection.  I had fun talking with so many visitors and hearing their feedback.  I also appreciated the many sponsors of this fun and educational exhibit.   They are listed on our website.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Volunteers make things happen

As Executive Director I am either completely responsible for some tasks or share the responsibility for other tasks, such as a committee member.  My success depends on volunteers who help me in every area that I am responsible for.  From my experience volunteers get involved with an organization for the following reasons: 1)because they like the feeling of giving back to their local community, 2) they feel the organization does good work and contributes to the quality of life of their local community, 3) they are curious about an organization and want to learn more about it on a more intimate level, 4) or they know someone who is already involved on some level with that organization and always speaks very positivity about it.  The bottom line is that volunteers volunteer for a wide range of reasons and the organization couldn't function without a foundation of volunteers with a broad range of skills and experience. 

At the San Lorenzo  Valley Museum we are in the need of volunteers.  I need help in the office with data entering of volunteer hours, sending out membership renewals, tracking bookstore sales, placing event announcements in the various media community calendars, distributing flyers around SLV, and just filing and answering the phone.  I keep getting told that it is easy to find volunteers, but what I have found out in the many years I have been an ED is that everyone loves to help AT an event, but few have time in their busy schedules to commit to a consistent schedule of 2 - 4 hours once or twice a week, 4 hours twice a month, etc.  I can provide training and assign a specific tasks IF I know a volunteer will be at the museum on a specific day for a certain length of time. Also, I am flexible with schedules.

I know that from people driving by the museum it seems like a tranquil place, nothing much happening.  What they don't see is how busy the museum is with working on a new exhibit opening, upcoming events, handling website transactions, data entering of membership renewals and donations information, getting mailings out, visitors stopping by, and a phone that is always ringing.   However, it is fun, rewarding, an eye-opener into our local history, and a feeling of satisfaction knowing you are giving back to YOUR community.  IF this sounds like something you want to get involved with, give me a call or email.  You'll find both on the website.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Successful BC Pizza & Pub Community Night

Wow! What a great night.  The community night sponsored by BC Pizza & Pub owner Justin Acton was packed with SLV locals supporting the SLV Museum.  Many ended up picking up their pizza + other goodies, like myself because of a husband who had knee surgery, and missed our own Lisa Robinson retelling the history of the building.  I'm told that everyone there really enjoyed the short, but very informative, history talk accompanying all the wonderful photos.  I've already heard from one person who was in a Nutcracker performance on the Dolan Theatre stage and used to sit in the projection booth to watch movies.  We have such a great history in our valley and each town, each building tells a story.

I was at the funeral service of Boulder Creek local Emily Ann Locatelli Cress last Monday at St. Micheal's church.  I saw so many people from different sections of our community, but theirs and Emily's paths crossed and left an impression.  She worked her entire life at Johnnie's Market starting when she was 14?.  She started working for Johnnie Montineri and then two more owners.  The changes she saw in the town, community, valley over her 80+ years. 

Another loss just a few days later was Boulder Creek local Jack Kuehl who was a local building contractor, BC Fire District Commissioner, and involved in many areas of our community.  His was a quite service at his home with just a few very close friends.

When we lose our friends we have a hole in our community that can never be quite filled because each one of us is unique.  We give something special to our 'community mix'.  When we volunteer we give back and engage with those who also chose to live in this area.  Those who pass on will be missed in many ways for a long time.