Do you ever wish you could get a do-over on your elementary school field trips now that you actually care about the information being taught? I am so lucky because as part of our first class for Leadership Redding on Culture and History I had the opportunity to do just that.
I was born here in Redding and lived here until graduating from Shasta High in 1987. And yes, I have to confess at the time I took my elementary field trip to Old Shasta and learned about our area history, that I may have been (gasp!) less interested in what Judge Eaton had to say and more interested in well, whatever else there was to be interested in.
But after leaving Redding for 18 years and now having made the choice to return to this community to work and raise my family, I was really looking forward to the history lesson. Learning more about Redding, our past and our present, and being part of the future is the main reason I signed up for Leadership Redding.
Our day started out at the Redding Rancheria. (Another confession: I’ve only been to the casino once 11 years ago and really had little knowledge of what has been going on with them). The Rancheria sponsored our day and treated us like royal guests. Most fascinating for me, though, was hearing the history of the Native Americans in our region, what they have been through and what they are accomplishing.
We watched a great video (it can be viewed on their website at redding-rancheria.com/tribal-documentary.php) and learned what amazing, positive changes they have made in the last 20 years. Not only are they making a difference within their tribal community, they are a positive force in the entire community of Shasta County -– giving funds to support many local events and organizations working toward positive change.
Next we received some Redding history. Did you know that people use to travel up the Sacramento River on steamers and disembarked in Red Bluff? I didn’t. Most of us know that Redding grew from mining (gold and copper being the biggest) and lumber. But did you know that we were a contender for a state university, but Chico beat us out way back when? Imagine how different things would be.
Next we heard presentations from Amelia Delatorre Ward on Latino/Hispanic culture, Officer Bounpon Kongkeoviman on Laotian culture, and Rhonda Nechanicky on African American culture and what it’s like to live in our community as a minority. Does it cross your mind often that most the people you connect with on a daily basis in our community are Caucasian? It was fascinating, informative and eye-opening to hear what these speakers had to say about our community culture and how they make it work with their own identities.
After lunch we took a trip out to Old Shasta and met at the Masonic Lodge for more local history. Did you know that Shasta Union Elementary School is the oldest continuous elementary school in the state? I didn’t. Did you know that Old Shasta has the only designated art gallery within the California State Park System with over 300 works of art? I didn’t. I heard a lot I didn’t already know.
The story of our day would not be complete without mentioning our tour guide, Lori Martin, who showed us the Litsch Family Store and a Catholic cemetery being restored. I wish I had a fraction of the enthusiasm this woman has! She absolutely loves our history and is a wealth of knowledge.
“You guys want to hear something?” she would say to us, followed by a fascinating story of how women used to dress, or how they made a spittoon that helped curb the spread of “consumption” (better known now as tuberculosis), or how many of the medicines back in the day contained laxatives as their main ingredient! Each story was entertaining and informational.
She would finish each of these stories, her eyes sparkling and with a big smile, saying, “Isn’t that sooo interesting?” Lori, you are a true gem to Shasta County and yes, it was sooo interesting –- especially the way you tell it!
Another great day, another great experience and another confirmation of how lucky we are to live in this wonderful community. Each experience amazes me at how many people care and take time to make our community a better place. They are being the change they wish to see in the world.
For more information on Leadership Redding, visit leadershipredding.com.
Lara Wells Osborn is a Redding native. After traveling and working around the world she has returned to Redding with her husband and three children. She is a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Westside. She can be reached at 530-276-3026 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org