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Columnist Olivia Garcia

Several years ago, I was assigned to interview Dust Bowlers who recounted their family experiences of journeying West into California and making do in labor camps before later settling into communities, such as Lamont and Arvin.

Chronicling the oral histories and resilient realities of local Dust Bowlers was one of the most prized opportunities I had while working as a reporter in the newsroom back then. I was fortunate enough to interview a number of adults, including the well-known Earl Shelton of Lamont, and capture their childhood stories and perceptions of the Dust Bowl passage in history. I am reminded of such conversations these days with Cal State Bakersfield's plans to celebrate the 75th anniversary of John Steinbeck's novel, "The Grapes of Wrath."

CSUB and its School of Arts and Humanities have plenty of activities in store for us over the next several months.

As a kick-off, the school will hold a special reception 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, in the Dezember Reading Room of the Walter Stiern Library. The reception will welcome participants of "The Journey," a project of The National Steinbeck Center that began Oct. 4 and runs through Oct. 14, according to CSUB officials. The project follows the steps of The Grapes of Wrath's Joad family as they traveled along Route 66 through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to California in search of a better life. Members of the "The Journey" include artists, writers, and musicians intent on capturing the "the human experience of struggle and resilience-each charged with creating new work inspired by the journey," according to a CSUB press release. Interviews, artistic work and social media will be a part of the experience.

"The Grapes of Wrath is a classic novel that is really bigger than life and has taken on mythic proportions," said Dr. Richard Collins, Dean of the CSUB School of Arts and Humanities. "So what we'd like to do is celebrate the novel and all of its cultural legacy. We celebrate the art, the history and the memories. It's who we are, who we've become and who we might become."

I encourage you to attend this free, public event and become part of "The Journey." Free parking will be available in Lot D. Meanwhile, stay tuned on other upcoming Dust Bowl celebration events at the campus.

In other campus news, the Kegley Institute of Ethics will hold its first fall lecture at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 9, in the Dore Theatre. The lecture features Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, who will deliver a speech on "Doing Harm and Doing Good: Health Care Practices in the United States." The event is free and open to the public. Free parking will be available in lots A, B, and C.

CHILDREN AND ART: Looking for something to keep your child busy after school? The Bakersfield Museum of Art is offering its Art After-School program. The program runs on Tuesdays, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and is for children, ages six o 12. As part of the program, the students explore art projects inspired by current exhibitions at the museum, said Matt Munoz, BMOA marketing director. For the younger child, consider the Side by Side program, which happens every second Saturday and fourth Thursday of the month, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. It is designed for children between the ages of three to six, accompanied by an adult. My friend, Nancy Chaffin, has taken her two granddaughters to Side by Side and simply loves it. For more information about the either program, please visit

And get ready for the return of the Sugar Skull Making Workshop to be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17, also at the museum. Last year, more than 60 people attended, Munoz said. This is a neat and timely activity with Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations looming.

SHOOT FOR A CHANCE: For the avid shooting competitor, here is a charity event worth considering. "Shoot for a Chance" is a four-person team recreational shooting competition to be held 9 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 26 at the CHP 420 Club, located at 3910 Alfred Harrell Highway. "Teams will be challenged during several competitive pistol and shotgun courses" for top awards, said Randall Meyer who is organizing the event. Meyer owns Advanced Personal Protection, a professional firearms training company that teaches defensive handgun protection courses in Bakersfield. Registration for the four-person team is $200. However, monies raised will benefit the Valley Achievement Center, which serves autistic children and adults, and the Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation, which supports local law enforcement agencies, Meyer said. For more information, call Meyer at 340-4618 or email:

SCHOOL VIOLENCE: Mark your calendars for 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, when the Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation will host its annual fall luncheon featuring an expert who will discuss school violence. The luncheon will take place at the Stockdale Country Club and feature Dr. Kris Mohandie, a clinical, police, and forensic psychologist with more than 20 years of experience in the assessment and management of violent behavior. He is licensed as a psychologist in several states including California, Alaska, New York, and Nevada and board certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in police and public safety psychology.

Mohandie regularly consults on workplace violence, extreme violence, college and university and K-12 school violence, stalking, and threat cases in the private and public sector through his company, Operational Consulting International, Inc. His book, "School Violence Threat Management," is now in its second printing, and he regularly trains and consults to schools and universities throughout North America.

For tickets or other information, contact KCLEF board member Sofie Zimmermann at or 342-1532.

Olivia Garcia is editor of Bakersfield Life and BWell magazines and a columnist of The Bakersfield Californian. These are her opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian. Send her tips at