October 19, 2017
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Jud Snyder
Raskin’s Tween Book Club and a new try to build an RP teen center
October 6, 2017

WE’VE HAD OUR LITTLE TIFF with election reform, redistricting and survived the fact that all five Rohnert Park City Council members live north of RP Expressway and the voting citizenry paid scant attention except for a mild shrug of the shoulders.

Then retired Sonoma State University English professor Jonah Raskin shook the educational rafters with a column in the Press Democrat titled “SSU still searching for its identity.” It appeared Sunday Sept. 24. It was an eye-catching title but Raskin had a bigger subject.

He’s starting a Tween Book Club open to students between the ages of 10 to 13. It’s held one Thursday a month and the first meeting was held Sept. 14 in the RP-Cotati public library (it doesn’t say which room or how many attended) but I’m guessing it’s the Armando Flores meeting room.

For the Sept. 14 meeting Raskin said, “We’ll be discussing ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ by author Jeff Kinney.’ Talk about your favorite ‘Wimpy Kid’ and practice writing with a real published writer, meaning Raskin himself. He’s got the credentials.

Hired in 1981 to teach English at SSU and retired in 2012 as head of the communication studies department, “which was overwhelmingly white and female,” I was told the university “Didn’t need to have diversity since Sonoma County, was largely white or so the argument ran, the university had no moral responsibility to accept non-whites.”

Raskin questions the moral responsibility of this argument.

THE TWEEN BOOK CLUB accepts both girls and boys as members, it will be held Thursday Oct. 12 in the public library, beginning at 4 p.m. Call 584-9121 for more information.

Judging by my past experience with formation of teen clubs, this format will consist mainly of girls who like this format to meet other girls and exchange experiences with boys they’ve met, or girls keen on meeting other girls. 

Boys don’t share this sort of experience sessions sharing like girls do, they usually get girl data from hanging out at street corners with other boys or in gymnasium locker rooms or playing field benches when not on the field or gym floor.

I wasn’t aware that pre-teen or teen girls or boys need this special attention. But it sure beats watching TV or poking idly at your hand-held computer as a substitute for genuine conversation.

I can’t quite join Raskin in his push to have Sonoma State U search for its identity. It’s a good headline grabber but fades quietly as the newspaper hits the recycling bin.

TO MY SLIGHT surprise, I read in the Sept. 22 Community Voice that another boys and girls club is open to Rohnert Park youth. Sponsors are a group called On Campus Ministries and the club’s name is Sozo. Its location is University Square shopping center across from Rancho Cotate HS. It probably opened mid-September and I trust it’s still operating.

Sozo had a photo on the front page and included Sean and Linzee Sage, Kristi and Rob Schuetz and SF Giant player Jeremy Affelds.

I don’t know what position Affelds plays with the Giants and I assume the other four people in the photo are members of On Campus Ministries.

Sozo is the second attempt to make a success of a teen center in RP. I don’t remember the date, but I know Jake Mackenzie was part of the opening. Location was the parking lot west of the Dept. of Public Safety and the RP-Cotati public library and east of State Farm Drive.

Jake was either on the city council back then or on the Bicycle Advisory Commission where he got his start. Oh, this first try at a teen center did not last very long. With Jake it’s another story.