Sunday, August 1

Culture

Permanente Quarry: Life on the Rocks
Culture, Events

Permanente Quarry: Life on the Rocks

Financially beleaguered German mining company HeidelbergCement, owner of Silicon Valley's devastating Permanente Quarry, wants to expand and extend the mine's reclamation to 2060, after the company told county residents in 2012 that it would close the mine and reclaim the land by 2032. By Sharon Simonson SILICON VALLEY—Given that Santa Clara County Supervisors devoted fewer than ten minutes to the item, and considering that four of the five supervisors asked no questions, and understanding that the fifth’s questions were superficial and unrevealing—nothing about the unanimous vote during their virtual meeting on the afternoon of May 12 telegraphed significance. But for residents of Silicon Valley and the global German mining company HeidelbergCement, which owns the Permanente Quarry above...
Silicon Valley Home Girl
Culture, Demographics

Silicon Valley Home Girl

By Sharon Simonson Hometown. Homespun. Home run. Home cooking. Homecoming. Homestead. Homebound. Home girl. Phone home. Homeward. Homemade. Mi casa es su casa. Homey. Homeless. Is there home away from home? I’ve begun to clear the dust from behind the closed doors of my corona addled mind. I, like so many others, have gloried in the beauty of the spring, a beauty that people worldwide have viewed through vastly clearer air. You don’t have to be that thoughtful to see the unpleasant irony of such a vital display of re-birth amidst pandemic death. I’m going to make a prediction, though perhaps it is more fledgling hope: after three or four or however many months mostly in our homes, yards and neighborhoods, Americans are going to feel differently about caring for them. Yes, for some it wi...
Rebirth in Silicon Valley
Culture, Demographics

Rebirth in Silicon Valley

By Sharon Simonson If Peter Thiel wants to leave Silicon Valley, I say, “Peter, bon voyage.” If you don’t know who Peter Thiel is, this story is for you. (Peter Thiel is a very rich Hollywood venture capitalist.) According to Peter, Silicon Valley is done. It has become an echo chamber talking itself into oblivion. Dear Universe, Peter Thiel and his ilk are distant satellites that orbit the real Earth that is Silicon Valley. HBO’s Silicon Valley and the myopic coverage of the national news media reinforce his tunnel vision. But technologists such as Mr. Thiel are not the majority. Life in Silicon Valley is much bigger, much richer, much more complex and interesting than Peter Thiel or the intricacies of Facebook, Google, and Apple. Okay, okay, it’s true: tech companies ...
San José Pulitzer Winner Viet Thanh Nguyen: We Are What We Write
Culture, Demographics

San José Pulitzer Winner Viet Thanh Nguyen: We Are What We Write

By Sharon Simonson When seven-year-old Viet Thanh Nguyen arrived in San José with his parents and older brother in 1978 as a Vietnam War refugee, little did he know that his life’s next decade would form the basis of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel nearly forty years later. It was in the tiny downtown San José house at 759 S. 10th Street in the shadow of a freeway overpass that a robber would hold him and his parents at gunpoint when he was sixteen-years-old. It was in his parents’ New Saigon Mini Market on downtown San José’s East Santa Clara Street where his parents were shot one Christmas Eve. Thankfully, neither was injured seriously. “That ten-year period was marked by witnessing the intense sacrifice that my parents gave working as hard as they did in that store and experiencing...
Little Cesar Chavez Chapel in the Parking Lot
Culture, Demographics

Little Cesar Chavez Chapel in the Parking Lot

By Sharon Simonson Was this the right place? The National Historic Landmark dedicated a mere twelve months ago to Cesar Chavez, the most significant Latino leader in the United States in the twentieth century? Was this 2020 East San Antonio Street, San Jose, Silicon Valley? Was that the chapel building where the farm worker movement began? Where Chavez spent five early years, his spirit fired by Catholic faith and his mind by the community organizing talents of Saul Alinsky? Was that it, hemmed round by a trash-strewn parking lot in which desperate people had created huddled shelters? What the hell was going on? A bronze marker in front of the small tan building suggested it was the right place. I parked and got out. The little chapel, deconsecrated now and called McDonnell Hall, stoo...
President’s Visit Evokes Pleasure, Pain for Silicon Valley Vietnamese
Culture, Demographics

President’s Visit Evokes Pleasure, Pain for Silicon Valley Vietnamese

Did President Obama seek to hearten the Vietnamese people or to make sales for U.S. companies By Sharon Simonson Pride and hope, disdain and despair fought for mindshare in Silicon Valley’s Vietnamese-American community this week as President Barack Obama visited the Southeast Asian nation and announced the end to a 50-year arms embargo. The population’s youth and the legions of Vietnamese people who turned out for the president, some waiting for hours in the rain “to see a car pass by,” cheered Loc Van Vu, who founded San Jose’s Immigration Resettlement and Cultural Center in 1976. If the president is pivoting to Asia, the Vietnamese are pivoting back, he said: “It looked like the whole country is looking west to America, freedom and democracy. “Let the Vietnamese have weapo...
No Garden of Earthly Delights
Culture, Demographics

No Garden of Earthly Delights

By Sharon Simonson EAST SAN JOSE— Eleven years after the city and the Viet Heritage Society agreed to terms for the VHS to build the four-acre Vietnamese Heritage Gardens in San Jose’s Kelley Park, the city says that the unfinished project has become a health and safety hazard and that it must take control to finish the work. But directors of the Vietnamese community organization led by Dr. Ngai X. Nguyen are contesting the pullback. They say in a letter to City Manager Norberto Duenas that the city “has always had total control,” including selecting the project contractor in 2011, and has “under-funded” the effort by more than $1.5 million. They allege that the city foisted millions of dollars in infrastructure to prepare the property for development on the nonprofit while er...
U.S.-Born Son of Refugees Tests San Jose’s Appetite for Next-Gen Viet Leaders
Culture, Demographics

U.S.-Born Son of Refugees Tests San Jose’s Appetite for Next-Gen Viet Leaders

window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'UA-166654327-1'); By Sharon Simonson April 6, EAST SAN JOSE — In college, Lan Diep told people to call him Ethan. He is probably the whitest Vietnamese man I had ever met, or would meet, he tells me. He dresses in khaki pants, brown loafers and a Tattersall button-down collared shirt, tucked in, with belt. In the morning, he includes a dark sports coat. In his “real” life, Diep is a legal-aid attorney whose fluency in Vietnamese took him to Biloxi, Miss., after the April 2010 BP oil spill as a legal fellow at the Mississippi Center for Justice. (“I detest the billable hour,” he says.) A third of the fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico states — Texas, L...