Archive for July, 2011

Veterans Museum has Clear Mission Objectives

Posted in Feature Articles on July 30, 2011 by
Photo by Joe McGarity
The Fantom Penguin recently visited the Northern California Veterans Museum and Heritage Center near the airport in Redding.  Christine Sullivan began with a brief history of this painting by a veteran whose duty as a shopkeeper did not allow him to be issued a weapon.
“He said they always felt kind of naked and vulnerable during the war and indeed he did.  And so when he got back, he has a great deal of PTSD and a lot of troubles with Viet Nam and so he’s painted a whole lot of different kinds of paintings to represent his feelings and emotions at that time, which has helped him to learn to live with his PTSD in general.”
The museum currently displays artifacts and uniforms from every historical period of American military history and represents every branch of service.
“We tell this from the veteran’s point of view and from no other view.  The media is not represented very well here, although we do have papers and documents from the media, that’s not our major presence.  Our major presence is the veterans themselves.”
“This part of the museum right now is six thousand square feet, but the main part of the museum is across the street from where we’re at now and that’s a seventeen acre campus.  The City of Redding has been kind to donate us seventeen acres, on that seventeen acres we’ll have a seven-acre Liberty Park and in that Liberty Park we’ll have a memorial chapel, bell-tower and a 250-person amphitheater.  The main museum is a 130,000 square foot state-of-the-art museum.  It has a restaurant, event center and then we’ll also have a live hanger as well on the campus so that we can bring in live aircraft and put them on static display.”
“We need volunteers to do graphic artwork.  We have a lot of stuff in the museum that has no nomenclature, so we would like somebody to come onboard and help us with that.  We’re always looking for docents.  I could use anybody that has any kind of background in military history.”

How to Feed the Hungry without being Arrested

Posted in Feature Articles on July 23, 2011 by
Photo by Joe McGarity
It is sometimes said that no good deed goes unpunished.  Conflict has arisen in some places between groups who wish to distribute free food and public entities charged with enforcing rules, codes and laws.  Yet, here in the Northstate this kind of strife has been rare.  Perhaps a discussion with one such group and an elected official can shed some light on why that is.  Shasta County Supervisor, Les Baugh, met with the Fantom Penguin in his office on Court Street in Redding.

“On the subject of feeding the hungry, while the county is involved in terms of Health Department and a tremendous amount of money and resources come through Shasta County Public Health Services for those in need, my issues are probably more personal.  I’m also a pastor.  I pastor a small church called Anderson Community and the person I co-pastor with is Pastor David Honey and he is with the Good News Rescue Mission.   So with David and I, I have been at the mission many times helping those that are especially in need.  I’ve gone there just to sing and encourage and visit and sit down and have dinner.  I’ve gone there to preach.  I’ve gone there to bring a communion.  I’ve gone there to lead worship; you name it over the years I’ve been involved in that ministry as well.”

“I think Shasta County has a huge heart.  It’s a loving community.  In the circles that I run in, I see people all the time that are trying to find ways to help – find ways to provide not only services, but bottom line:  Provide a meal.”

“So, what we decided to do, a group of friends and a very small group of friends, is we decided that we could grow food for those who need food.  I’m not talking about just the homeless, but there are many people that are what I would call ‘at risk homeless’.  People that are . . .  In the United States of America, probably especially in Shasta County, most people are one paycheck away from homelessness, so to me that accounts for probably today a lot of the population.”

The supervisor was asked what he wanted to say to the Fantom Penguin’s readers.

“Well, I would just say the obvious:  Get involved.  A lot of people tell me that there’s no practical way to be involved but I’ll tell you there are enough community gardens going in, just in Shasta County alone that if you truly wanted to do something, take your children on an educational weekend.  On a Saturday, arrange with your local community garden to come in and pull weeds.   There’s a tremendous  . . .  You don’t have to be a person of faith.  You don’t have to be a member of our church.  We didn’t make it a requirement that you had to even come through the doors of our church to receive.  You just have to go out to the garden to receive help.  There’s a practical basis there.  We actually delivered most of it to people so most of the people that received help didn’t even have to do that.  But what I’m suggesting is:  Take your family on an educational weekend.  Help them understand that there are people who have many needs in the community that you can help personally.  I believe one person can make a difference.  That’s why I like Wanda’s The Lunch Bunch.  Instead of saying other people should help, they simply Facebook.  They use social media.  They go online and they say we have a need for a hundred of this or fifty of this and we’re going to go out this Thursday and we’re going to hand out food and the friends and the people in the community that want to help bring stuff down to her business and say, ‘Here it is.  Thank you for what you’re doing.’   Really, I encouraged her online before I ever met her just because I liked what she was doing.  So, you can help if you want to or you can choose to ignore it, but it’s there.  It won’t go away.”

While conflicts between those who wish to feed the hungry and those who wish to uphold the law have escalated in other parts of the nation, here in the Northstate cooler heads seem to prevail.  Wanda Leach and Sherry Redmond of the Lunch Bunch, which distributes food on Wednesdays, told the Fantom Penguin of the guidelines they used to determine the content of their lunches.
“I based it on what the regulations on school parties and the school parties, lunches — and the school lunches and parties were no longer allowed to do home-baked items, where things had to be processed in a facility to where we knew that they were safe enough to eat.”
And in the event that some item is found not to be in compliance?
“If any of the authorities was to come to us and ask questions we would be very much be open to the ideas of, you know ‘Okay what?  What do you think I’m doing?  What do you think I’m doing wrong?   What am I doing?  What do I need to change to do?’  And so far, with all the angles that I have checked on everybody has said, so far, everything is doing fine.”
So, if everybody is getting along, what’s the problem?
“We ran out last week.”
“Yeah, we could have done over a hundred, easily.”

A Tale of Two Kitties

Posted in Feature Articles on July 16, 2011 by
Photo by Joe McGarity

Watch this on YouTube

The Fantom Penguin recently announced the return of Joe’s Cat Ranch, a Facebook community page dedicated to helping stray cats in the Northstate.  We are pleased to announce that of the nine kittens for whom homes were being sought only two are still in need.  This is Kitten Four, also known as Alien, a male black cat with an adventurous spirit and his sister, Kitten Eight, going by the name of Little Girl at the moment, a female grey tabby who is very affectionate.  Although it hardly seems possible that they’ve had enough time to become famous, a stuffed animal version of Alien is apparently already on the market.
Rather than follow the established tradition of a “Pet of the Week”, the Fantom Penguin will continue to feature these same two individuals until homes have been found for them.  If you are interested in adopting either of these animals, you may respond to this post or email

Watch this on YouTube

Sustainable Communities Require both Sustainability and Community

Posted in Feature Articles on July 9, 2011 by
Photo by Joe McGarity
If you’re headed for the landfill in Anderson, there’s one stop you might make.  It’s on the way and it might reduce your dump fees.  Moore’s Green Goods on South Street recycles building materials among many other things.  Rita Moore told the Fantom Penguin about their mission.
“About 40% of our waste stream is construction material and that includes usable building materials.  It’s not just drywall and cement blocks and those types of things.  It’s actually building materials and those things because of their size take up an enormous amount of space.  I mean, you can imagine a door.  And then if you look around this place when you see French doors, you know, or you see lighting or you see a toilet or you see even tile and that type of things, the fact that those things are just going someplace and being stuck down in a dumpster or rotting behind somebody’s house when other people could use them, that’s a part of what it means to me to be in a sustainable community and that’s a part of what this is about:  It’s a business that’s more than just about money.  It’s about a way of life and it’s about a community and it’s about this family trying to offer things to the community and at the same time, obviously, trying to make a living.”
Family and community are a part of the business plan as Rita’s daughter, Terasa Smolenski explained.
“So we wanted to have something that was comfortable for families.  We wanted to have a family atmosphere.  So, Mom kind of developed this area that we have in the back corner of the store and we call it our Customer Area and it’s a place where people can come in and sit down, kids.  We have color-crayons.  We have books.  We have toys.  We try to have something playing on the TV that’s related to sustainable building or repurposing.  We have a board, a re-use board where we feature items that our customers have need or other like-minded individuals in the community that have been in the media lately, we have interesting articles available here.  We have books about green building and sustainable development that are available, about the slow food movement and all the things that we’re excited and interested in right now.”
Rita went on, “We have something called a ‘Want it?  Got it?’ board and our ‘Want it?  Got it?’ board isn’t about us making money.  It’s about if you have something and you don’t want to haul it in here or you don’t want to give it to us, but you still feel like it needs a home, you put in on that board and we have people put their telephone number on there and then if somebody, they look at it and they go, ‘Oh, somebody’s looking for a blue toilet,’ because, believe it or not, people still like blue toilets, then they’ll see it on there and they’ll go, ‘I’ve got a blue toilet sitting out in my back yard and I never knew what to do with it and it’s been driving me crazy’ and they can call that person and we just want to give it a new life.  I’m here to rescue one door, one sink and one toilet at a time, I think.  I think that maybe is my mission in life.”

Radio Drama Now a Thing of the Future

Posted in Feature Articles on July 2, 2011 by
Photo by Joe McGarity
Most of us probably think of listening to dramatic shows on the radio as a part of those thrilling days of yesteryear.  But before you watch your radio ride off into the sunset, consider what Bill and Lisa Collins told the Fantom Penguin.
Lisa said, “Well, it’s like the old days where you had The Lone Ranger, The Shadow . . . “
Suspense! . . .” interjected Bill.
“. . . stories, basically plays that you just listen to.  They’re called ‘audio plays’ now as opposed to ‘radio plays’.   And what we’re doing, it’s actually a genre that is reemerging as a very popular medium because people have iPods now; they have computers and there’s a lot of listening going on.  So, our particular New Radio Theater is to encourage new playwrights, because we just don’t want to replay all the old stuff.  We have so much great new technology that we can add, enhance the plays with now and so we’re encouraging new playwrights to submit their scripts and they are competing for a year-end prize of $5,000, so if that’s not encouragement, I don’t know what is.”
The show airs each Sunday at 4:00 pm on am 1460 KCNR.  On the evening of the Fantom Penguin’s visit, the show featured the work of a local writer.
“But about half of our program material comes from back East and Canada; other production companies and they submit their produced scripts on digital and then we just play those on our program, but the things that we do produce are here with local talent.  We even have some people that will send us a script from back East say, and we’ll produce that script with our local talent,” Bill told us.
“But it’s really exciting that you’re here today because we have a local playwright in the studio with us, Chris Gomez, and we’re featuring his original work today,” added Lisa
Chris Gomez said, “Bill and Lisa Collins actually told me that they were doing this and asked if I had anything written and at the time I didn’t and so then they asked me to come in and do some voices work, because I’ve done a lot of voice acting and I just loved the medium.  I thought with such an oversaturation of like, now 3-D movies; everything’s visual, to have something that you can listen to and be able to interpret the story and visualize it in your own head, in your own way.  It was like, an amazing thing so when I decided to write something I kind of wrote it around to where I used it as a plot device.”
To understand what he means by that, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.  You can find it at
Bill Collins went on, “I’m probably one of the few people that actually listened to radio theater because we didn’t have television when I was young and everything Chris said is true.  I’d sit down there and I’d listen to The Lone Ranger or Suspense or whatever it was and the imagery was so much more vivid in my mind than what sometimes you see.  As graphic as some movies and television are, the unknown and what you create as your fear can be much more than what is really shown on the screen.”