Evolution of Green: Environmental Activism in the Santa Clara Valley

Evolution of Green: Environmental Activism in the Santa Clara Valley

Evolution of Green will share the stories of those individuals and groups whose experiences have shaped the evolving narrative of our environmental story…

March 13-September 22
The History Museum

Don't Give a hoot! Don't PolluteEnvironmental Activism, in its many forms, has played a critical role in our Santa Clara Valley history.  This complex movement to create a sustainable environment has been fostered by grassroots agencies as well as a multitude of organizations, from farmers and nature conservation groups to high-tech companies and universities. These groups, despite their varying missions, play an important role in developing, supporting or promoting sustainability solutions. Evolution of Green will share the stories of those individuals and groups whose experiences have  shaped the evolving narrative of our environmental story while also engaging visitors in the ongoing need and desire for community-fostered awareness and change.

Our changing attitudes about the environment and our need to address crucial environmental challenges in our region have influenced our landscape development, public policy, and our community awareness of the human impact on nature. The popularization of ecological ideas and activism has also given citizens the power to create community-based responses to these issues. This exhibition will serve as a platform for engaging and educating museum visitors about the network of local groups like the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, Green Belt Alliance, and The Committee for Green Foothills. Organizations that advocate for environmentally sustainable practices while addressing community needs, creating new forums for information exchange, and mapping new routes for urban development.

Evolution of Green will use interactive models, historical narrative, environmental soundscapes, and other media to interpret this history and explore proposed future steps for environmental activism.

Public Programs Include:

» History:inFOCUS lecture: A lecture and conversation with Richard Walker, author of The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area.
» Family Farm-to-table event: The Museums of Los Gatos will partner with the Community Alliance for Family Farmers, the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, and local farms to host a day of activities and tastings promoting sustainable agriculture and open space preservation.

Shaped By Water: Past, Present and Future

Shaped by Water: Past, Present & Future

August 1-December 30, 2012

Shaped by Water image no dates

Shaped by Water: Past, Present & Future is a traveling exhibition created by the Los Altos History Museum in 2011. The History Museum of Los Gatos will host the exhibition from August 1st through December 31st, 2012.

“Shaped by Water – Past, Present & Future” inspires a deep connection to this precious
and essential resource through indoor and outdoor exhibits that incorporate artifacts,
stories, photographs, maps and artwork by San Francisco Bay Area–based artists. The media exhibition Water, Water Everywhere: Paean to a Vanishing Resource, a film exploration of water issues, will also be featured throughout the duration of the exhibit. Films not included in the exhibit will be featured at our September 27th film screening event.

The story of water in this region is told from a historical perspective beginning with the
indigenous tribal people up to modern day through a comprehensive and interactive exhibition experience. It underscores how each period in our local history has been characterized by a changing relationship between humans and water. For example, the tribal people had an intimate relationship to water and moved around in response to the wet and dry seasons. This historical period is showcased in a native landscape and shelter
installation that documents how water supported their life needs while they lived near creeks and the bay. A special sound station will feature three recorded tribal stories about water.

New immigrants to Santa Clara Valley brought dramatic changes in water usage and management beginning with the Spanish missionaries who built small rock dams on creeks, and irrigation ditches. The Mexicans further transformed the watershed through their ranching practices. Later, immigrants from the eastern United States brought even more significant changes during the Gold Rush with the proliferation of agriculture and
digging of wells. The exhibition highlights this period with an interactive model of a groundwater artesian well along with panels describing the environmental impacts of the Spanish expeditions, Mexican ranchos, and the Gold Rush.

As our region entered the era known as the “Valley of Hearts Delight,” windmills and water tanks dotted the landscape and the rapid depletion of groundwater made a more organized water infrastructure necessary. Conserving local surface water in reservoirs was one of the major accomplishments of this time. Among the highlights visitors can view documenting this period are original film footage of the Santa Clara Valley 1937
flood, as well as panels with historic dam building photographs and charts showing the dramatic drops in groundwater levels due to the pumping of water for thirsty farms.

The post-World War II boom brought even larger water infrastructure projects. The massive state and federal water projects and water treatment facilities transformed the availability and use of water. As the population of the Santa Clara Valley grew in the
post-World War II boom, the Valley went from being completely self-sufficient using local water to 50-100 percent reliant on imported water. The “business” of water and water companies became necessary to help manage community water needs and conservation efforts.

Current consumption patterns can be explored in exhibits that uncover the amount of water needed to produce our foods to current and future trends in local water consumption. An outdoor display will show visitors in actual gallons how much water they use on a daily basis. Interactive maps will be displayed where at a push of a button visitors can find out where their water comes from, as well as locate local reservoirs. Environmental concerns such as pollution of groundwater and surface water, Superfund

sites, and water waste treatment processes are also emphasized. A map will help local visitors identify what watershed they live in and there will be a “Creek Stories” area where visitors can write down stories of their experiences with our local creeks.

Looking into the future, our growing population and changes in rainfall patterns have the potential to severely impact our water supply. The exhibition outlines future challenges and outcomes with concrete ideas to reduce consumption, reuse, and recycle water. A fun, interactive fish ladder display teaches young and old visitors alike about the important role of fish ladders. Resources and ideas for action will be provided to visitors
to continue and extend their thoughtful use of water.

Opening Reception

The History Museum
Saturday, August 25
4-6 pm

Film Screening: “Water, Water, Everywhere: Paean to a Vanishing Resource”

Location: The Art Museum | 4 Tait Avenue
Thursday, September 27
4-6 pm, FREE

Los Gatos Creek Watershed Tour

The History Museum (and Los Gatos Creek)
Saturday, October 13
Tickets $35, ages 18+
Purchase your tickets today at Committee for Green Foothills.

The Museum would like to acknowledge community support for this exhibition from the Committee for Green Foothills.



Saturday, October 27
The History Museum

Riveropolis is coming to the History Museum of Los Gatos this fall!

Help ‘Riveropolis’ artist Gregory Gavin create a temporary interactive 32 foot river and landscape!  ‘Riveropolis’ artist Gregory Gavin creates permanent and temporary waterplay environments for schools, museums, neighborhoods and parks.

This is an all day event for kids and parents of all ages with complimentary food and drinks!

Generously supported by

Radiant Light: Memories from the Ming Quong Home in Los Gatos

February 15 – July 15

The Ming Quong Home, translated to “Radiant Light”, opened in 1915 in Oakland and in 1936 in Los Gatos and served Chinese American girls of all ages. The Home was the first institution of its kind in the United States to admit Chinese children. Ming Quong was part of a network of Presbyterian Mission Homes created in San Francisco in 1874 whose initial purpose was to intervene on behalf of young, Asian, immigrant females who had become vulnerable upon arrival into the United States. Although Ming Quong was referred to as an orphanage, it functioned more as a custodial home for girls with families that could not care for them financially or emotionally. Radiant Light chronicles the general history of the home and explore what life was like at Ming Quong in Los Gatos before it became a residential treatment center and home in the late 1950s, and independent of the Presbyterian Church. Ming Quong later merged with the Eastfield Home of Benevolence in San Jose and is known today as EMQ FamiliesFirst. We invite museum visitors to experience Ming Quong through photographs, artifacts, film, and the personal stories of the women who lived there before they pass into history.

The girls enjoying themselves at meal time.

Girls standing outside the entrance of Ming Quong.

Personal accounts and images from the women who lived at Ming Quong will be shared throughout the exhibition. A listening station will rotate oral histories of the women who lived in the home and reflect changes that took place during Ming Quong’s evolution over the decades. Video presentations will be screened throughout the exhibition and include:

  • the Chung Mei & Ming Quong: Chinese American & A Radiant Light Reunion, August 3, 2003
  • a film about the Ming Quong site in Oakland including interviews with Nona Mock Wyman
  • and an NBC Bay Area news segment about a reunion at Ming Quong held in 2005.

 generously supported by

Last of the Prune Pickers

by Tim Stanley

11:00 am
Friday, April 27
The History Museum of Los Gatos

Tim Stanley, author of The Last of the Prune Pickers: A Pre-Silicon Valley Story, will be sharing his experiences and knowledge about the Santa Clara Valley orchards and agricultural industry when it was known as the “Garden of the World”.

Tim Stanley grew up in the Santa Clara Valley of California before it was known for silicon.  At age 12, as the Valley was being transformed from agriculture to housing tracts, he had the privilege of going to work for an old farmer who became a friend and lifelong role model.  The lessons learned while being with the old farmer and on his farm left a deep impression on him.  Tim met his wife, Deborah, while in high school and that union has been preserved and strengthened over 40 years.  After raising two children and running a business for 30 years, Tim has devoted most of his time to writing about those things that he has found to be helpful and of value.

Tim Stanley published his first two books– Letters to My Feathered Friends: Observations, Meditations and Thanksgivings, and The Last of the Prune Pickers: A Pre-Silicon Valley Story–at the end of 2010.  Both are being well received and  Prune Pickers has gone to a second printing. He is currently working on two new books that are scheduled to be released soon.

Please note that this a sneak preview of a new exhibit opening in May!

Click here to return to The History Museum of Los Gatos.

Negotiating Identity: History Film Series

The Immigrant Experience
Los Gatos New Public Library
Saturday, May 12

As part of the inaugural period for Los Gatos’ new Public Library The Museums are presenting two evenings of film programming featuring the work of filmmakers who address the negotiation of a Chinese-American identity.

The Saturday, May 12 program is devoted to the immigrant experience as it relates to Angel Island and will feature a panel discussion with participants that include Eddie Wong, Executive Director of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. and Judy Yung, co-author of Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America.

This is the second of two films that will be shown in relation to our current exhibit, Radiant Light: Memories of the Ming Quong Home in Los Gatos.

Chinese-American Identity
Los Gatos New Public Library
Saturday, May 19

As part of the inaugural period for Los Gatos’ new Public Library The Museums are presenting two evenings of film programming featuring the work of filmmakers who address the negotiation of a Chinese-American identity.

The Saturday, May 19 program includes selections which contemplate cultural stereotypes, gender roles, and expectations of the Chinese community, among other points. Bay Area film faculty introduce and contexualize the films.

This is the second of two films that will be shown in relation to our current exhibit, Radiant Light: Memories of the Ming Quong Home in Los Gatos.

Traps, Maps, and Money Belts: Highlights from the Collection

History Museum of Los Gatos
September 22 – January 29

Traps, Maps and Money Belts features common and unique artifacts from The Museum Collection that tell a story about different eras and people in Los Gatos history, including anti-prohibition banners from a controversial 1908 town election. The History Museum of Los Gatos’ collection includes items donated by the local community since 1965.

1915 Corona Typewriter

Gold Rush era Money Vest

Capturing Los Gatos: Images from the “Hooked on Los Gatos” Collaborative Photo Project

The Porter Family, Chuck Bergtold Collection
The Los Gatos Public Library

The Hooked on Los Gatos photo project began in 2003 in an effort to preserve and make accessible the photos and archival documents of the Los Gatos community. In Capturing Los Gatos, Museum visitors will have the opportunity to view historic images of Los Gatans over the past 100 years, many of which have not been published outside of the online project website.

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