Saturday, November 22, 2008

In the News

This week's Banning-Beaumont Record Gazette includes a community profile about Dorothy Ramon Learning Center. Read it here.
Or here:
Community profile: Dorothy Ramon Learning Center
By Pat Murkland
People once called Banning “The Center.” The word in Serrano was Ahunika'. When people had a need, they would go to The Center. In that spirit, Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, Inc. is transforming a building in the heart of downtown Banning into a Center featuring the Native American cultures and arts of Southern California.

Since 2003 the 501(c)(3) nonprofit public service corporation and its publishing arm, Ushkana Press, have been partnering with tribal nations, museums, schools of all levels, and community groups to save and share Southern California's Indian cultures, languages, history, and music and other traditional arts. The Learning Center works with tribal nations to revive and restore these endangered cultures and languages, and also works with the greater public to share an integral part of America's national heritage.

The Learning Center has now found its future home in a building at the corner of San Gorgonio Avenue and Hays Street, in the center of Banning's fledgling Arts District.

To become a Center, the building needs major restoration work. Under plans submitted to the City of Banning, the interior walls of four separate storefronts would disappear. The building itself would expand both up and out.

Inside, the building will include amenities such as a gathering hall and exhibit area; a children's center; a library; a kitchen; a recording studio and listening area; and a Native Arts gift shop. Outside, two neighboring lots will become a parking and gathering area surrounded by an educational garden of native plants. Altogether the Center will be more than 6,000 square feet.

While the architectural plans hurdle through City Hall and the non-profit fund-raising has begun, the building already is growing into a Center. Workshops, lectures, and classes in the cramped, current space and on the sidewalk outside already have drawn eager crowds of all ages and from all races and walks of life. The activities also show what's to come.

For example, instead of merely looking at a group of traditional musical instruments in a display case, people can connect personally. At the 2008 spring Art Hop, a crowd learned from knowledgable culture bearers about clappersticks, flutes, rattles, and other first Southern California music instruments, and their appropriate use. They trekked beyond merely holding the instruments; they learned how to make them, how to play them, and how to respect their place in native cultures.

More recently, at On Board for Stagecoach Days in October, people visited a replica ancient Southern California Indian village and explored first-hand how the First People lived.

That's because the Learning Center is not going to be a museum. It will be a regional Center where the past and present meet; where both Indians and non-Indians alike come to save and share the living cultures of Southern California's First People. Dorothy Ramon Learning Center is working to invite the people of Southern California's diverse Indian nations to the Center to tell their own stories, in their own words and songs.

To make it all happen, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit is raising money in a capital campaign, but also seeking the energy and enthusiasm of people who will attend programs, join the nonprofit community of volunteers or offer other kinds of support. For more information, visit, and check this nonprofit blog for news.

No comments: