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Greenville Rising August 18: Grand Openings and New Beginnings

A stunning sky over downtown Greenville. Photo by Niki Marceau Hammerich

     By now you’ve hopefully stopped on Pine Street and Highway 89 at least a few times to sample the pop-up cuisine in downtown Greenville. This weekend marks the grand opening of The Spot. It’s been a long-time coming. I can remember early meetings of the Dixie Fire Collaborative and other meetings where people threw open the idea of getting businesses re-started in downtown Greenville as early as last fall. And now that vision is happening. The power of making a thought, a dream, a suggestion is real. It speaks to collaboration and community and a good deal of independence that this is happening in downtown Greenville when so many small towns in Northern California have not had that bounce back happen yet for them. It definitely is part of the tenacious character of the characters of Greenville that this is happening. Bravo. Let’s celebrate.

     Speaking of celebrating. Celebrate Indian Valley’s Rotary Club. They’ve been fast at work creating picnic tables for the pop-up food trailers. You’ll be able to see them this weekend at the Grand Opening of the Spot. Check them out this weekend. I believe they were put in place today.

     I write this column from afar, taking care of things we do not have in downtown Greenville in southern California in a mad rush of a week. I call it Meg Maintenance Week. In the span of a few days I’m having done all the things that have yet to make their way back to downtown Greenville: (optometrist, orthodontist, hair stylist, aesthetician, CRT body work practitioner). I will most certainly also get my nails done because that’s my thing and I don’t apologize for it.

     Having taught for twenty years and having had two children now both graduated from high school, my inner clock is tuned to viewing the year in semesters. So even though my kids are now in colleges and I’m only teaching two private classes (poetry with Community Literary Initiative in Sacramento via Zoom and theatre with dramaworks locally) this year that don’t necessarily fall with the school year, I’m in that mode.

     I’m thinking about how far we’ve come that we are opening up the Spot and while I go through my own steps of beautification, I think of downtown and its steps taken. I also think about how those steps should also be taken for the school year about to start.

     We often talk about how we want Greenville to rebuild better than it was before, and frankly this many food options is helping us come back better. Nelz Towne Pump’s new building is better than its old building was. Are we ready to say the same about our schools? Are we ready to take on them becoming better institutions that our community’s children don’t just attend but thrive? Are we ready to become instead of the after thought of PUSD, but the crown jewel in it instead? What will it take for us to get there?

     It will take the same sort of imagination and creative leadership as opening the Spot has taken. It will take some acknowledgment that things weren’t so great before the fire. I liken this to my own issues I’m spending the week trying to get on the right path. New prescription for my eyes with an optometrist with more knowledge in recent developments of care. I’m sitting here writing you with a mouth full of pain as I am on day two of being middle-aged with braces—the thought being that I don’t want to have my mouth looking and feeling crowded, crooked, with the literal headaches that my teeth crowding have done to me over the last decade.  I’m assured the pain now will pay off in two years. Preventative maintenance and forward thinking.

     The “same old same old” thinking will not do us any good as we start the new school year. Everything has changed for the students in Indian Valley. Here’s some of what I’d like to see—as I’ve spent time talking to students, teachers, and parents about these things, rest assured, it’s not just my ideas.

     •Plumas Unified School District must designate an onsite school counselor for Greenville. Last year we were the only area of the county not to have a designated onsite counselor for our students despite being the community whose students’ homes burned.

     •Plumas Unified School District curriculum should be less focused on the Internet and more focused on student engagement in Indian Valley. For those of us who live here, we already know how hard it is to have a consistent high speed Internet connection. We regularly party like it’s 1999 online with that year’s DSL speeds.  Rather than have students, whose focus already can go out the window in a second waiting thirty minutes for connections to come back, let’s empower and support our teachers to teach curriculum that is not based on the Internet. Anything else sets our students up for failure. Last year I witnessed students groan and cry every time they were forced back to a non-functioning Internet based curriculum. PUSD, there’s no shame in admitting that it wastes precious learning time to keep forcing back students to a system that doesn’t work. Give our teachers the power to opt out of programs like i-Ready—already taken out of circulation by districts across the country.

     •New participation. Parents who lay low and complain—now is the time to step up! We need all hands on deck. Consider joining Parents’ Club. Consider volunteering. None of the annual events—like the Halloween carnival—can happen without volunteers. Old volunteers and leaders also need to be welcoming of newbies.

     •Support our teachers and staff. Not every teacher is willing to teach in Indian Valley. Let’s respect and honor those that chose to be here with our kids. Let’s help them make Greenville Elementary School a great place to learn despite the children having to stare out at bare hillsides and remembering trauma every time they go outside. Let’s make sure we get new playground equipment. Let’s make sure the high school offers the same classes as the other high schools offer their students so that ours can compete in higher education. Let’s stop with the nonsense of challenging teachers book choices and methods to calm down students.

     •Arts in schools. This is where I come in. I’m overjoyed to see that PUSD will partner with PCS this year in Indian Valley to offer sports opportunities to all students. Now how about the arts? Every year studies come out that demonstrate the vital importance of arts in education and every year PUSD offers less or does not promote in the same capacity as athletics the opportunities in arts for our students. In collaboration with existing arts organizations in Plumas County, I will personally promote and do what I can to make sure students in Indian Valley have the same opportunities for arts education as students in Quincy, but I will also need help in making that happen. K-12 students could be participating in afterschool drama programs with volunteer parents driving students to West End Theatre. We can donate and support Plumas Arts in bringing artists in the schools to Indian Valley schools. Our new English teacher can champion the Poetry Out Loud program. We can have a choir and a band if we push it to make it happen. These are just a few ideas.

     Have a great week, Indian Valley. See you soon. Here’s some of what’s happening now. As usual if you have something you wish for the community to know, send it for the column to [email protected]. Thank you.

The Spot Grand Opening    

     Two whole days of events are planned starting tomorrow! The Friday, August 19 fun starts at 6 p.m. with games, karaoke, a bounce house, and an outdoor family movie night beginning at 8 p.m. (Pixar’s A Bug’s Life). This is sponsored by Indian Head Properties.

     On Saturday, August 20, 10 a.m. the festivities begin with a vendor fair and kids’ corner. Then games and a cornhole tournament at 2 p.m. There will also be a street dance with a band at 8 p.m. The Saturday festivities are sponsored by The Way Baby—Way Station.

     Bring chairs or blankets for sitting. Vendors are welcome to join in the fun. Call (530) 394-0404 to reserve space.

     Find out about the new or returning businesses starting up, including Hunter’s Pet Corner, Greenville Strong Fitness, and the Indian Valley Thrift Store.

     The Way Baby, Region Burger, Crushabowl, Hawt Dogs, and Mary’s German Grill, and the Valley Grind will be serving up food and drink. The Dixie Fire Collaborative  at the monthly meeting will be giving out vouchers at the meeting to eat at The Spot.

Dixie Fire Collaborative

     This Saturday, August 20 at the Greenville Elementary School cafeteria is the monthly meeting. Get updates on businesses, pop-up district, Greenville schools, a tool lending library, the Innovation Hub, and the rebuilding of areas outside Greenville (Canyon Dam, Indian Falls, and Warner Valley). Meeting takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Zoom link is available on the www.dixiefirecollaborative.org website.

Innovation Hub 

     The following information comes from Lara Wheeler. The Plumas Sierra County Fairgrounds proposed the creation of the Indian Valley Innovation Hub. The goal is to organize mentors, experts, tools, equipment, marketing, distribution, financing, and branding to encourage the people in Indian Valley to innovate a product for export from Indian Valley. What kind of products, or services can be developed with the knowledge and raw materials available right now in that community? What can be made from burnt timber? What crops can be grown well in Indian Valley?

     The basic process for the Innovation Hub is that an “Innovator” will bring an idea or concept to a presentation meeting with three people known as the “ITeam”, short for Innovation Team. Their job is to hear out the idea, ask questions and assign a Project Advisor to the Innovator. Every idea will be given the time to develop with the help of a Project Advisor. Research resources will be made available for the Innovator and their advisor as they flesh out the idea to the point where they decide to take it back to the ITeam, or dump the idea. The goal of this phase is to complete a full business plan that is presented to the ITeam, which will then decide how to move the idea to market, be it micro loans, business loan assistance, materials, marketing, sales and/or distribution.

     If you have an idea for a product to develop for export please request an intake form by calling or texting (907) 242-4426 or email [email protected]. The IVIH Team will be reviewing intake forms from prospective clients this Monday, August 22.

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