Wallace Stegner Centennial: NY Times Takes Notice

The New York Times commemorated the centennial of Wallace Stegner’s birth with an opinion piece by Timothy Egan which focused on the Times’ condescending treatment toward Stegner and other “western” writers.  Mr. Egan writes, in part:

Were Stegner around this week to blow out the 100 candles on his birthday cake, it’s likely he would still be mad at the East Coast Media Conspiracy, and by that he meant this newspaper.

“It was the New York Times that broke his heart,” said Nancy Packer, a retired professor of English at Stanford, who knew Stegner well in the time he nurtured writers from Ken Kesey to Larry McMurtry here on the Farm, as the university is known.

Stegner won the National Book Award for “The Spectator Bird,” which the Times never reviewed. He also won a Pulitzer for his best-loved novel, “Angle of Repose,” which the paper only noticed after the award, and then with a sniff.

Even in anointing him the dean of Western writers, the Times couldn’t get his name right, calling him “William” Stegner. He died in 1993 at the age of 84.

Living and writing in the West, Stegner wrote, left him with the feeling that “I gradually receded over the horizon and disappeared.”

The fact that a writer of Stegner’s stature felt ghettoized with the dreaded tag of “regional author” raises the question of whether our national literature is too tightly controlled by the so-called cultural elite – those people who talk to each other in some mythic Manhattan echo chamber.

–Frank Gruber

“The Utopian Impulse in California Culture” – Blog post by Peter Richardson

In his blog, Peter Richardson, who teaches California culture at San Francisco State University, writes, “Without really thinking about it, I started exploring a new aspect of the main theme in my San Francisco State class–the utopian impulse in California culture.”  He continues:

My exploration started with the film “Humboldt County,” which I finally saw on DVD a few weeks ago. It’s about an emotionally shut down medical student in Los Angeles who reconnects with the world after he stumbles upon an alternative (read: pot-growing) scene in Northern California. No need to rehearse the plot details here, but the people he meets are deeply ambivalent about the utopian–or is it dystopian?–community they’ve created.

More at the blog.

For me, I can’t hear the words “utopia” and “California” without thinking about William Alexander McClung’s book, Landscapes of Desire: Anglo Mythologies of Los Angeles, in which Prof. McClung describes how the conflict between utopian dreams and arcadian dreams has defined so much of the culture in L.A.; I suspect the mythologies also have currency in other parts of the state. –Frank Gruber

What is California Studies? Answers from the California Studies Association

A new page has been posted on the California Studies Association’s website addressing the question, “What is California Studies.”  The page includes links to various reports about California Studies, including the foundational 1998 report on California Studies in the State University system , by Jeff Lustig.

On the webpage, Prof. Richard Walker writes, in part:

The problem is no more or less than the study of, say, ‘The United States’ or ‘France’. These are places, but they are taken as givens because they are nation-states. No one doubts that there is good reason to study them. California is only a subnational state & region. Yet some regions, like the American South, have a long and distinguished tradition of historiography and regional studies, without being national states. Why can’t California?

Selling Southern California to Anglos: an Article and a New Book

The topic of how, beginning in the 1870s and 1880s, southern California was marketed to Anglo immigrants has been treated in a recent article and a new book.

The article, “Not just a Golden State: Three Anglo ‘Rushes’ in the Making of Southern California, 1880-1920,” by Glen Gendzel, assistant professor of history at San José State University, appears in the current (Winter 2008-09, Vol. 90, No. 4) issue of Southern California Quarterly, published by the Historical Society of Southern California.

The book is Paradise Promoted: the Booster Campaign that Created Los Angeles, 1870-1930, by Tom Zimmerman, published by Angel City Press of Santa Monica (2008).

In his article, Prof. Gendzel makes the point that while the Gold Rush in northern California is typically viewed as California’s “foundational event,” southern California was settled by well-to-do Anglo immigrants who came in three “rushes” of their own: the “health rush,” the “land rush,” and the “orange rush.”  These booms were not only bigger than the Gold Rush, but they also resulted in the the south becoming the larger population center, with important impacts on culture and demographics as well.

Tom Zimmerman has based his lavishly illustrated book in large part on his own collection of ephemera from the era of boosterism, starting in 1870.  While the book, as its publishers say, may be a “must for every Southern California-lover’s coffee table,” Mr. Zimmerman has also written an extensive text (and helpfully explanatory captions for the illustrations) in which he describes not only the history of but also the techniques used in the various promotional campaigns that actualized the three “rushes” identified by Prof. Gendzel.  By extending the scope of his book through the 1920s, Mr. Zimmerman also identified a fourth rush, namely one focusing on industry, or, rather, “clean industry,” as promoted by the L.A. Chamber of Commerce.  Mr. Zimmerman also carries his narrative into the 1930s, when the Depression caused the local establishment to stop recruiting immigrants and led to the rise of labor and other social movements.

The only quibble I might raise about both the article and the book, is that neither mentions the impact of the oil industry in the region during the era studied.  Southern California was, after all, one of the world’s largest producers of oil in the early 20th century.  I suspect that the roughneck image of the oil industry does not jibe well with Prof. Gendzel’s argument about the impact of genteel, middle-class immigration, nor the promotion of clean industry that Mr. Zimmerman describes.

But having said that, both works are informative, and in the case of Mr. Zimmerman’s book, the pictures really are worth putting on a coffee table.

I also want to mention that I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Mr. Zimmerman on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009, sponsored by the Santa Monica Conservancy.

–Frank Gruber

One Tract Mind: Installation Artwork by Gerald Clarke, Jr., at the Gorman Museum

The C.N. Gorman Museum at UC-Davis is currently exhibiting an installation artwork by Gerald Clarke, Jr., entitled, “One Tract Mind,” which deals with the building of tract housing throughout Southern California.  From the museum’s website:

About the Exhibition:

“One Tract Mind” is a mixed media exhibition that examines the building of tract housing throughout Southern California and its effect upon native communities. Water rights, the environment and the preservation of sacred sites continue to be issues that find the State and California’s Indigenous People in opposition. Conflicting ideas of progress, quality of life and individual rights seem to be at the center of these interactions.
The exhibition will feature both video and photographic work, a sculptural installation and other assorted materials.

About the Artist:

Gerald Clarke Jr. was born in Hemet, California in 1967. He is a member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians and lives on the Cahuilla Indian Reservation near Palm Springs. Clarke earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in painting and sculpture and graduated with honors from the University of Central Arkansas. In 1991, he entered the graduate program at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas and received his M.A. degree in 1992 and his M.F.A. degree in 1994. Clarke then spent the following ten years teaching art on the community college and university level. In 2003, he left his teaching position at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma to return home to the reservation following his father’s death. Today, he and his wife Stacy own and operate a small storage business, help run his family’s cattle ranch and Clarke teaches art classes at Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, California. In January 2008, he was elected to the Tribal Council of the Cahuilla Band of Indians. In addition, he has devoted himself to learning the traditional Bird Singing of the Cahuilla people and to further his knowledge of Cahuilla culture. He states, “through art, I can come to an understanding of myself, my community and the world around me”.

The exhibition will continue until March 13, 2009.

New Journal Announcement: California Journal of Politics and Policy

In what constitutes a landmark in the study of California, the Berkeley Electronic Press and the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, have announced the launch of a new electronic journal, California Journal of Politics and Policy, the first academic journal devoted to California.

The journal’s first issue offers immediate analysis on key debates in redistricting, the state budget, Proposition 11, and California demographics.

From the new journal’s website:

A bellwether and testing ground for emerging trends in policy and political developments, California’s politics reverberate around the world. California Journal of Politics and Policy is the only journal devoted to this unique state, publishing peer-reviewed research and commentary on state and local government, electoral politics, and policy formation and implementation, in California and in relation to national and international developments. Edited by leading experts James Q. Wilson (Pepperdine University), Jack Citrin (University of California, Berkeley), and Bruce E. Cain (University of California Washington Center), California Journal of Politics and Policy will appeal to scholars, practitioners, journalists, policymakers, officeholders, and anyone needing to understand the newest directions in state politics and policy.

The editors of the journal are

James Q. Wilson
Pepperdine University

Jack Citrin
University of California, Berkeley

Bruce E. Cain
University of California, Berkeley

Jerry Lubenow
University of California, Berkeley

The table of contents of the first issue is the following:


Reflections on “Redistricting and Legislative Partisanship”

Eric McGhee of the Public Policy Institute of California discusses the do’s and don’ts of redistricting reform.

Redistricting Reform Could Save California from Itself

Matthew Jarvis of Cal State Fullerton suggests that good redistricting reforms could help solve California’s budget woes.

Redistricting Reform Will Not Solve California’s Budget Crisis

Justin Buchler of Case Western disagrees, and argues against redistricting reform as the answer to California’s budget crisis.

How Geopolitics Cleaved California’s Republicans and United Its Democrats

Thad Kousser of UC San Diego explains the new mosaic of blue and red districts.


Tony Quinn of the California Target Book and Darry Sragow of USC each offer their take on Proposition 11.

Proposition 11 – What Will It Do?

Tony Quinn

Proposition 11 – What It Will Do

Darry Sragow

Origins of a Stalemate

Tony Quinn of the California Target Book then turns to the historical decisions that have led California to today’s budget stalemate.

Book Reviews

Sorting It Out: Review of The Big Sort

Bruce Cain of the UC Washington Center reviews The Big Sort, a new book by Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing.

Call for a New California Constitution: The California Constitutional Convention Summit, Feb. 24

The Bay Area Council, in partnership with the Courage Campaign, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, and the New America Foundation, has called for a “summit” to consider the possibilities of calling a new Constitutional Convention for California.

The California Constitutional Convention Summit will take place Tues., Feb. 24, 2009 , 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.

From the website:

We believe California’s system of government is fundamentally broken. Our prisons overflow, our water system teeters on collapse, our once proud schools are criminally poor, our financing system is bankrupt, our democracy produces ideologically-extreme legislators that can pass neither budget nor reforms, and we have no recourse in the system to right these wrongs.

Drastic times call for drastic measures.

For more information contact Melanie Paulos at the Bay Area Council: 415.946.8725 or mpaulos@bayareacouncil.org.

Silicon Valley Green Economic Development

BELOW, you will find our preliminary organizing principles and research questions into the project on the Silicon Valley green economy. CLICK here for more information about this project at the Center for Community Innovation and the Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley.


* Research Questions

* Bibliography

* Webography


aaronwilcher AT gmail DOT com (Aaron Wilcher, MCP student researcher)

smontero AT berkekey DOT edu (Sergio Montero, MCP student researcher)

Research Questions: Silicon Valley’s Economic History and Innovation Assets

Social Networks (see Saxenian, Castells, Rhee, and Joint Ventures annual reports)
–leadership organizations and associations (Joint Ventures, SV Leadership Group [formerly Manufacturing Group]), American Leadership Forum
–industry associations (see Saxenian, 1994)
–neighborhood associations
–community organizing groups (People Acting in Community Together PACT)
–labor groups: South Bay Labor Council and Working Partnerships
–nonprofit and volunteer associations

* Industrial Development (Saxenian, 2 books; see also Walker, Rhee, and Benner; Castells, Pincetl)
–How did flex-spec evolve and diversify? Where does the Valley stand in relation to broader national and international materialist developments in industrial production practices: social networks, spinoffs, flexible employment? With what cities does it share economic-industrial development practices? (see O’Mara’s current work: Bangalore, Shenzhen, Silicon Valley)

Labor Markets (see Benner, Zlolniski, Pitti, Alarcon, and Saxenian)
–evolution of flex spec and polarized income-wealth distribution
–migration patterns international and domestic-regional
–visa labor markets and illicit markets
–industrial relations: while high tech emerged unorganized, Working Partnerships has led some innovative policy initiatives and been a power broker in the Valley

Geographic Factors (Spatial Political Economy) (see O’Mara, Matthews, Winner, Findlay, Pitti, Trounstein and Christensen, Rhee, esp. Ch. 4; in general, see Pincetl; see land use reports from the SVLG and Joint Ventures annual reports)
–Political economy of land use
–Stanford’s networks and the political economy of “cities of knowledge”
–in the context of the rise of the Sunbelt
–evolution of economic development factors
–Identify political regimes and their impact on land use and economic development (see especially Trounstein and Christensen; Rhee, Walker 2002, O’Mara)

Economic Development and Regulatory Contexts (Pincetl, Saxenian, O’Mara)
–crossover with political economy of landuse and development, but specifically, how did city and state policy affect the economic development climate?
–“good business climate”?
–What kinds of policies lay the groundwork for “green economic development”?
–with whom has the Silicon Valley competed and with whom is it now competing (see O’Mara’s current work: Bangalore, Shenzhen, Silicon Valley)
–How have/will regional consumer practices influenced/been influenced by

Environmental History (see David Pellow, Pincetl, Walker)
–the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition; Superfund sites
–how has the interaction of EJ, environmentalists, federal cleanup, and business corrections and abuses affected the political economic context for developing a green economy?

Education Institutional Framework (see Saxenian, O’Mara, Walker, 2002; Findlay)
–community colleges, state colleges and research universities, Stanford
–How were these institutions both power brokers in the political economy of land use, but also engines for economic development with employment-education agreements?

Finance Capital (see Saxenian, Castells)
–how did VC evolve and what did its presence do for the evolution of the Valley
–Can we place this VC market in the context of other global knowledge cities? How might these relationships change? How do these investment patterns model other places? Who are the players and what are their portfolios? Are the major finance brokers betting on other places? If so, how?


Adams, Stephen B. “Regionalism in Stanford’s Contribution to the Rise of Silicon Valley.” Enterprise Soc 4, no. 3 (September 1, 2003): 521-543.

Alarcon, Rafael Guadalupe. “The migrants of the Information Age: Foreign-born engineers and scientists and regional development in Silicon Valley.” Dissertation, Dept. of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1998.

Arbuckle, Clyde. Clyde Arbuckle’s history of San José : the culmination of a lifetime of research. San José: Smith & McKay Printing Co., 1986.

Beers, D. Blue Sky Dream: A memoir of America’s Fall From Grace. New York: Doubleday, 1996.

Benner, Chris. Staircases or Treadmills?: Labor Market Intermediaries and Economic Opportunity in a Changing Economy. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2007.

—. Work in the New Economy: Flexible Labor Markets in Silicon Valley. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2002.

Berlin, Leslie. The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley. Oxford University Press, USA, 2006.

Brook, James. Resisting the virtual life: the culture and politics of information. San Francisco  ;Monroe  OR: City Lights, 1995.

Brown, John Seely, and Paul Duguid. The Social Life of Information. 1st ed. Harvard Business School Press, 2002.

Canty DJ. “At Home In San-Jose + Architect-Directed Redevelopment Program Transforms The Center Of California 3rd Largest City.” Architectural Record 178, no. 10 (September 1990): 132 -137.

Canty, Donald J. “At Home in San Jose.” Architectural Record 178, no. 10 (September 1990): 132.

Castells, Manuel. The Rise of the Network Society (New Edition). 2nd ed. Wiley-Blackwell, 2000.

Christensen, Terry, and Tom Hogen-esch. Local Politics: A Practical Guide To Governing At The Grassroots. 2nd ed. M.E. Sharpe, 2006.

Claiborne, J. “Rebuilding Downtown San Jose: A Redevelopment Success Story.” Places 15, no. 2 (Winter 2003): 4-11.

Cornford, D. Working People of California. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1995.

Cronon, William. Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past. W. W. Norton & Company, 1994.

Egan, Timothy, and Timothy P. Egan. Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West. Vintage, 1999.

English-Lueck, J. A. “Silicon Valley reinvents the company town.” Futures 32, no. 8 (October 2000): 759-766.

Findlay, Jonathan. Magic Lands: Western Cityscapes and American Culture After 1940. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: Univeristy of California Press, 1992.

Hackworth, Jason. The Neoliberal City: Governance, Ideology, and Development in American Urbanism. 1st ed. Cornell University Press, 2006.

Hall, Peter. Cities in Civilization. Pantheon, 1998.

Hall, Tim, and Phil Hubbard. “The entrepreneurial city: new urban politics, new urban geographies?.” Progress in Human Geography 20, no. 2 (June 1, 1996): 153-174.

Hansen, D. The New Alchemists.

Hayes, Dennis. Behind the silicon curtain: the seductions of work in a lonely era. Boston  MA: South End Press, 1989.

Hossfeld, K. “Why Arent High-Tech Workers Organized?: Lessons in Gender, Race, and Nationality from Silicon Valley.” In Working People of California, 405-432. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1995.

Jackson, Kenneth T. Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. Oxford University Press, USA, 1987.

Jiménez, Francisco. Ethnic community builders: Mexican Americans in search of justice and power : the struggle for citizenship rights in San José, California. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2007.

Kriken,  J. “Lessons from downtown San Jose.” Places-A Forum Of Environmental Design 15, no. 2 (WIN 2003): 30-31.

Lessig, Lawrence. The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World. Vintage, 2002.

Lewis, Michael. The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story. Penguin (Non-Classics), 2001.

Logan, John R. “Logan on Molotch and Molotch on Logan: Notes on the Growth Machine-Toward a Comparative Political Economy of Place.” The American Journal of Sociology 82, no. 2 (September 1976): 349-352.

Markusen, A. The Rise of the Gunbelt.

Matthews, Glenna. Silicon Valley, Women, and the California Dream: Gender, Class, and Opportunity in the Twentieth Century. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2003.

Matthews, Glenna Christine. A California Middletown: The Social History of San José in the Depression, Dissertation, Dept. of History, Stanford University, 1976.

Molotch, Harvey. “The City as a Growth Machine: Toward a Political Economy of Place.” The American Journal of Sociology 82, no. 2 (September 1976): 309-332.

Nguyen, Vu-Bang. “Vietnamese-American Community Outreaching: West Evergreen in San Jose, California,” 2004. Berkeley Library Catalog.

O’Mara, Margaret Pugh. Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Park, Lisa Sun-Hee, and David N Pellow. “Racial Formation, Environmental Racism, and the Emergence of Silicon Valley.” Ethnicities 4, no. 3 (September 2004): 403-424.

Pellow, David, and Lisa Park. The Silicon Valley of Dreams: Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy. NYU Press, 2002.

Pincetl, Stephanie Sabine. Transforming California: A Political History of Land Use and Development. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Pitti, S.J. The Devil in Silicon Valley: Northern California, Race, and Mexican Americans. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Rawls, James and Walter Bean. California: An Interpretive History. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill, 1998.

Reisner, Marc. Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition. Revised. Penguin (Non-Classics), 1993.

Rhee, Nari. “Searching for working class politics: Labor, community and urban power in Silicon Valley.” Dissertation, Dept. of Geography, University of California, Berkeley, 2007.

Saxenian, A. Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 1994.

—. The New Argonauts: Regional Advantage in a Global Economy. Harvard University Press, 2007.

Scott, A.J. Technopolis: High-Technology Industry and Regional Development in Southern California. Berkeley; Los Angeles; Oxford: University of California Press, 1993.

Self, Robert O. American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland. Princeton University Press, 2005.

Shih, Johanna. “Circumventing Discrimination: Gender and Ethnic Strategies in Silicon Valley.” Gender & Society 20, no. 2 (April 2006): 177-206.

Siegel, Lenny, and John Markoff. The high cost of high tech: The dark side of the chip. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

Stanford Environmental Law Society. San Jose: Sprawling City; a Report on Land Use Policies and Practices in San Jose, California. Stanford, Calif., 1971.

Trounstine, Philip and Terry Christensen. Movers and shakers : the study of community power. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982.

Turner, Fred. From Counterculture to Cyberculture. Stanford University Press, 2006.

Langdon Winner. “Silicon Valley Mystery House.” In Michael Sorkin, ed. Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space. 1st ed. New York: Hill and Wang, 1992.

Walker, Richard A. The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area. University of Washington Press, 2008.

—. Silicon City: The Evolution of an Electronics Mecca. Unpublished manuscript, 2002.

White, Richard. “It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own”: A New History of the American West. University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.

Zlolniski, Christian. Janitors, Street Vendors, and Activists: The Lives of Mexican Immigrants in Silicon Valley. 1st ed. University of California Press, 2006.


Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Communities

Building Partnerships USA

BVN San Jose 1975-2006

b l a n c a ~ a l v a r a d o

California Redevelopment Association

Central Valley Partnership

CJTC — The Center for Justice, Tolerance and Community


Conference Program SJSU Immigration Conference

Opportunity Fund

Enter the World of Eichler Design

green planning facilitation education

Institute for the Study of Social Change (ISSC) UC Berkeley

Interview with Ted Smith SV Toxics Book

Joint Ventures: The Index of Silicon Valley

Knowledge Cities

Leadership Institute | Urban Habitat

Manuel Pastor Presentations in pdf

Margaret O’Mara – Home

Mysteries of the Region Knowledge Dynamics in the SV Paul Duguid

Oanh Ha won a 2003 award for reporting on Mayfair

Professor Langdon Winner – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Resources : SV Modern | Celebrating the Silicon Valley’s Mid-Century Past

San Jose Redevelopment Agency

San Jose Underbelly Cool historic al photos

Santa Clara County Archives – County Clerk-Recorder (DEP)

SiLiCoN vAlLeY dE-bUg

Silicon Valley Community Foundation – Publications & Research

Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits

Silicon Valley History

Silicon Valley History

Silicon Valley History Online

Silicon Valley Local History Resources

Silicon Valley Online: Silicon Valley Economic Development Alliance

Silicon Valley Prospector: Economic Development Available sites, buildings, demographics, businesses and GIS mapping–

Silicon Valley Workforce Investment Network, connecting job seekers and businesses.

SJSU Communiversity

Somos Mayfair

Sourisseau Academy

South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council

Stanford Silicon Valley Archives

Sustainable Silicon Valley

SVTC: Silicon Valley Toxic Tour

The Regional Advantage of the Silicon Valley and Its History

Thrive Alliance of San Mateo County Nonprofits

Transweb – Mineta Transportation Institute

UC berkeley Labor Center Leadership Schools

UCB Guides to City & Regional Planning Research

University of Minnesota Syllabus on Silicon Valley History

Working Partnerships USA

Working Partnerships USA Reports