Volume XIII, Issue 21: December 11, 2015

The Rotary Club of Arcata Sunrise will not meet on December 25th or January 1st. Please join us for our first meeting of 2016 on January 8th!

Coming Distractions … 
Dec 18RISE EVENT – Enjoy the music of the Living Rooms (with Sunriser Bob Johnson on bass) at Chapala Cafe.
Jan 10SWOT PROJECT – Manila Community Resource Center renovation – 1 to 5 pm
Jan 23 – Adopt-A-Highway – 9:30 to 11:30 am – meet at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center
Feb 6 – RISE EVENT – AHS College & Career Center Pancake Breakfast – D Street Neighborhood Center
Mar 12 – Our Spring Fundraiser at the Arcata Community Center 
Apr 8-9 – District Training Assembly – Ukiah Fairgrounds
May 6-8 – District 5130 Conference – Marriott Napa Valley Resort & Spa
May 29-June 1 – Rotary International Conference in Seoul, South Korea 

Sunriser Shorts 

  • President Howard showed several photos from the Foster Family Dinner that took place on December 3rd. We had a great turnout – of Rotarians, Rotaractors, other volunteers, and of foster children and their families, along with the great people who help them throughout the year. It was a lot of fun.
  • Our annual election was held last Friday, and there were no shocking upsets. Terri Clark was named Director of Club Service, Maggie Kraft will be our new Director of International Service, and Steve McHaney will be our Director of New Generations (Youth Service). Barbara Browning will be the Vice President of the RCAS Foundation. All terms will begin July 1, 2016.

Sophia’s Stories 
Our Exchange Student, Sophia Waern-Bugge, told us last week that she is settling in – going to school and visiting with friends. “I really feel like I belong here now,” she said. “Christmastime is coming up, and it’s really exciting. It’s the first Christmas without my family, which is weird.”

She went to Sacramento for Thanksgiving with Julie Vaissade-Elcock and her family. “And we spent Black Friday shopping at the mall,” she noted. It was a really nice visit, and very filling. 

Vocational Service Award
Jessica McKnight presented our first Vocational Service Award of President Howard’s year last week. The award is presented to a member of the community who is not a Rotarian, but who embodies the ideals of Service Above Self and other Rotary values. 

The recipient was Shannon Dawson, who owns and operates Little Learners Preschool.  Shannon earned her bachelors degree in Childhood Development at Humboldt State University. In 2008, she won the Economic Fuel competition, which allowed her to implement her business model – to open the preschool, which has since expanded to three locations. 

Sunriser Dan Johnson nominated Shannon for the award, saying that “she provides needed service in a loving

Jessica McKnight and Shannon Dawson

environment. She is one hell of a person, and I am honored to know her and to be able to call her my friend”. He noted that Shannon understands that preschool costs can be difficult for many families, and she works to accommodate their financial situations. She encourages her employees to complete their own educations, and she allows flexibility in their hours so they can attend classes. 

Jessica heard from Sunriser Tomas Chavez:  

As the parent of a three-year old, I can say that most of my friends have their toddlers at Little Learners. All of them absolutely love the school. The all feel that the school goes “above and beyond”. And their children are well-prepared to enter the public schools after studying at Little Learners.

Sunriser Romi Hitchcock Tinseth was hired to teach a communication class for Shannon’s teachers, and she had this to say: 

I only met Shannon one day, but her level of commitment to her team, their families, and the children and families they serve is clearly all consuming! She gives everything to
assuring that her multiple school sites offer the most student-centered, educationally rich, safe, and inclusive environment as is possible. She respects and honors the diverse needs of her staff and supports them in educationally and personally as much as possible, so they in turn can provide every child and family in the Little Learners community a personalized and enriching experience. In the one day I spent with Shannon and her team, I was inspired by their love for the children, their commitment to supporting each other, and their creative and open-minded willingness to consider ways to improve the strength of their team and the education they provide.

As part of the award, our Club made Shannon a Paul Harris Fellow and we made a donation in her name to the Arcata High School College and Career Center. We will make a second donation in her name to a nonprofit organization of Shannon’s choosing. Congratulations, Shannon!

Reviving the Wiyot Language
Friday’s Featured Speaker was Lynnika Butler, who has been the Language Program Manager for the Wiyot Tribe since 2008. She was originally from Arkansas, and she lived in Japan before returning to the U.S. to earn her doctorate in Linguistics from the University of Arizona.

Lynnika began by reminding us of the historic range of the Wiyot people. Their home extended from north of Baduwa’t (the Mad River) to south of Wiya’t (the Eel River). The area surrounded Humboldt and Arcata Bays (known to the Wiyot as Wigi).

Lynnika Butler

She said that, unlike some of the other Native American tribes in the area, the Wiyots do not have any living members who are fluent in Soulatluk, the Wiyot language; the last died in the 1960s. Lynnika said that the goal of her program is to revive the language. They are in the process of digitizing audio recordings made by those last fluent speakers. There are over 14 hours of audio, including word lists as well as narrative texts. These recordings allow us to hear the sound of the language.

These sources are supplemented by a large body of written materials – field notes, word lists, lists of names, stories, and narratives. This documentation was collected over nearly 70 years, from 1889 to 1957. Much of it is hand-written, often using special symbols to permit researchers to reconstruct pronounciations and verbal nuances. Lynnika noted that each linguist had strengths and weaknesses. Where one might be more accurate phonetically, another may have been a more consistent speller.

Lynnika said that her job is to make this information useable by the community, allowing them to learn Soulatluk words for various objects or places. She enters the digitized recordings into a database, which allows the user to search for a word or phrase, then read it as he or she hears it.

Among the names Lynnika shared were these:

  • Vutsuwitk Da’l, which means “where the ashes stay” was what the Wiyots called modern-day Fortuna. This refers to a story of a young woman who was killed in the area.
  • Raqlhirilh Hulumou’lilh was the name for the Humboldt Hill area, and it means “Wolf’s home”.
  • Guroush Da’lhvalhuli’ is now known as Devil’s Gate – the rocks south of Cape Mendocino. This means “where Curlew was blown through”, which refers to a story about the hero Curlew. He saved the people from starvation, but was killed upon his return when he was blown against these rocks. 
  • The Arcata area was formerly known as Goudi’ni, which means “over in the woods”.
  • Da’boudurous was the Wiyot name for Lindsay Creek. The term means “there are Brodiaea bulbs”.
  • Da’guchwayawik means “the land is curved”, which appropriately describes Trinidad.
  • Weitchpec was called Duklouwalilh, or “rivers meet”. 
  • The Little River was known as Plhut Gasamuli’, or “as far as the rocks come”.

Some places are believed to have been named by the Wiyots after their contact with those of European descent. For example, their term for Fort Humboldt is Jouwuchguri’, which means “lying with legs drawn up”. Lynnika said that this may refer to the Native Americans rounded up by soldiers and held captive at the fort. And a few of the names are still in use. The Malel Dunes area is in part derived from a Soulatluk word meaning “his house”.

Recognizing Alyson Hunter
Bryan Plumley told us all about Alyson Hunter last week. She was born in Upland, California, and her family included four kids and lots of dogs and cats. Bryan said, “It sounds like she had an awesome childhood.” Her mother was a dental hygienist, and her father was a city planner.

Since she was raised in Southern California, when it came time to look for a college, she figured that Humboldt State was about as far away as she could go (without paying out-of-state tuition). HSU was the only college she applied to, and Bryan noted, “She must have been so stoked when the letter came!”  

Alyson survived the culture shock and stuck it out at HSU. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography and Social Science, and stayed – for 26 years and counting. Her initial goal in college was to become a high school Social Studies teacher. When Alyson thought about how she was as a high school student, she realized that that path might be rather difficult. 

After graduating, she worked a number of jobs, including stints as a camp counselor and a barista. It took a while, but in 1997, she finally landed a position with the Humboldt County Planning Department, where she worked for 11 years. She then tried out private consulting, but that proved stressful, so she went to work for CalTrans. As Bryan put it, “She went from working for herself to working for the largest land developer in the state.” She soon realized that CalTrans is not the best situation for someone determined to make a difference in the world. 

Now, Alyson works for the City of Arcata as a City Planner. Her boss, Larry Oetker, told Bryan that Alyson is “soft, quiet, and unassuming”. Bryan was not sure whether Larry was talking about the right person …

One of the projects Alyson is currently keeping an eye on is a proposal by an out-of-town developer to build 4 four-story building with 240 units for student housing. It’s not technically a partnership with HSU, but the developer is coordinating with the school. Buildings of that size are not the norm in our community, so some adjustments and compromises are likely coming. 

Alyson works a lot, but she also volunteers a lot, in addition to Rotary. She is on a few boards, including that of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and she has served as a Big Sister for over five years.