Category Archives: Microhistories

Green Gulch Zen Center: Koan Competition

Green Gulch already has workshops revolving around the koans, but our intention is to take koan use one-step further.  Our plan involves a monthly competition that is open to all.  The competition will consist of the reading of a random koan at the beginning followed by an hour or two of zazen, seated meditation, which then will be followed by the construction and recitation of a koan commentary and verse, like those found in the well known and used commentaries.  The Roshi, or Zen Master, will judge the competition.  In this competition, community building, spirituality and history of Zen are some of the themes addressed. Koans are passages of Buddhist text. The competition will entail people to discuss the meaning of the statements. It creates a conversation between participants.

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Green Gulch Zen Center: K-8 Community Education Program

One audience that we would like to bring into the Green Gulch Zen Center community is the children of the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly children in urban environments. Subjected to increased academic pressures, standardized testing and technological overloads, children living in urban environments are receiving less time for experiencing nature, practicing mindfulness and, frankly, just being kids. We are proposing to create a curriculum for elementary school children in the Bay Area which would teach them about a number of aspects of life at Green Gulch – including meditation, organic gardening, environmental preservation and Native American history. As 4th grade is typically designated for a curriculum around California history, this would be the ideal time to incorporate our proposed curriculum into their learning. This curriculum would be taught in the spring in the months leading up to summer vacation – and would span across academic subjects.

(1) Five Wounds Church: Background

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Five Wounds in the Early 20th Century (Date Unkown). Courtesy of Portuguese Historical Museum

History :

Located at 1375 East Santa Clara Street in San Jose, CA (just off U.S. Highway 101) the Portuguese National Church of Five Wounds are the heart and soul of Little Portugal. On November 16, 1913, Portuguese residence of San Jose purchased the land to what became the site of Five Wounds. However, it was not until 1914 that the parish was created. In collaboration with Mr. Manuel Teixeira de Frietas, the Portuguese community asked Archbishop Patrick Riordan for the blessing to build a church. The blessing was given and in 1914 “we opened the house that today is the parish residence and the first bazaar in benefit of the church.” But in 1915, through a petition signed by the Portuguese residence of San Jose, the Archdiocese of San Francisco officially approved the parish as the National Church of Portuguese of Five Wounds. Timber and wood from the Portuguese Pavilion that was in display in the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 was used to build the church.  The building material, which was brought over from Portugal to build the Portuguese Pavilion, was transported by wagon through the Camino Real. On the 15th of November “Msgr. Henrique A. Ribeiro celebrated the first mass as pastor of the new parish.”

Modern Context :

             Since its creation, Five Wounds has been an integral part of the Portuguese community. Although historically Five Wounds has been able to sustain dedicated pastors bilingual in both English and Portuguese who been willing to work with the community, during the 21st century the church has not been able to host a pastor that stays longer than two years. In early 2011, the church announced that the current Pastor Rev W. D. Morgan will be stepping down from his duties at Five Wounds because he feels like the Portuguese community is unhappy with his leadership. Currently, the church is experiencing a lack Portuguese culture; a decline in bilingual mass and community participation has caused the church to rethink its leadership. However, the community continues to support the church financially and hope for a better one.
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National Portuguese Church of Five Wounds

SEE CHURCH OF THE FIVE WOUNDS HERITAGE, REVITALIZATION AND SUSTAINABILITY PROPOSAL

Five Wounds Church Inteperative Plan

(2) Five Wounds Church: Key Players (Stake Holders)

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Clergy Members: Key players of Five Wounds (Date is Unkown). Courtesy of Portuguese Historical Museum

The Plan addresses key players and interest groups, both obvious and inconspicuous, from immediate community members to “memory” community members surrounding Five Wounds in order to recognize and respect their stake in the Plan. Overall, the Plan has an opportunity to institute a variety of engaging activities that may keep current stakeholders as well as attract new ones to the church. This would, in the long run, keep the spirit of Five Wounds alive and promote a perpetuation of the culture within Little Portugal. The development of events and activities considered in the modern contexts, when applied to concerns of key players, may result in an enhancement of cultural experiences, a win-win type of situation. The follow were identified as stakeholders of Five Wounds:

  • The clergy, and especially the priest’s influence and involvement in the church are directly correlated to the future growth and development of the church
  • Portuguese Community in San Jose (not including the younger generation): Due to the historical implications, the Portuguese community developed a deep personal value towards the church.
  • Vatican Church: The Vatican’s, having the most at stake in Five Wounds Church includes tangible and intangible items. The church being part of a larger and powerful organization, the Vatican is the top leader for catholic churches worldwide.
  • Diocese of San Jose: The diocese of San Jose is under the direction of the Vatican. The Vatican appoints leaders to the diocese and that leadership decides what is best for the churches in the district of the diocese of San Jose. This branch of leadership decides the decisions of the church; recently, the diocese decided to rent out the school house adjacent to the church to a private organization.
  • Younger Portuguese Generation: their stake is having the church available to them once they grow older. In other worlds, the preservation of the Portuguese heritage in the church is at stake.
  • Local Businesses: their stake is economic. Businesses in Little Portugal benefits economically by church goers getting .
  • The Vietnamese community in San Jose also utilizes the church on Wednesdays and Saturday nights for mass.
  • Portuguese Band: Bands use the space to promote Portuguese heritage through their music.
  • St. Isabel Kitchen uses the space to feed needy families. This organization is supported by Five Wounds.
  • Needy Families:  Families that are in need of food look to Five wounds Church for help. Located to the building adjacent to the church, families are able to attend the kitchen of Santa Isabel for free food; no questions asked.
  • Daycare: the current tenant occupying the space that was once the school of Five Wounds is a private daycare. The daycare pays a monthly rent to diocese of San Jose.

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Portuguese Bakery located in Little Portugal. Many church goers get their pastries after mass.

(3) Five Wounds Church: Appraisal-Significance of Place

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Beautiful alter inside Five Wounds shows the aesthetic value

Upon assessing the environment that surrounds the Five Wounds Church, it is evident that maintenance of the plants, grass, and trees is significant to the value of the Site. The first significance of place at Five Wounds is thus a threat to the church. There is little or no management from the Comity that addresses the needs of the trees, plants and grass which give Five Wounds church one of its most defining and distinguishing appearances

To properly appraise the value of the Site within the church, it cannot be ignored that there is a decline in the attendance, especially attendance at the sermons held in English. It is a result, the clergy and people say, of the decline of masses held in traditional Portuguese. This is because the decline of masses held in Portuguese does not reduce the number of masses held total; rather they are given in English. When this happens, the cultural stakes are compromised and the logic of the people is sound: Why go to Five Wounds when there are closer churches to my house which also serve in English? People used to come to church at Five Wounds because its sermons were held in the traditional Portuguese; its decline has resulted in less attendance overall.

The appraisal of value of the physical church building of Five Wounds necessarily takes into account many details. There are pews facing a head altar, statues of saints, and a podium from which Father Morgan delivers his sermons. What value can be appraised from a common church setting such as this? There is that forgotten organ which looms high behind the eyes of the church goers. One of only three on the West coast, this rare organ is an overlooked value. Unfortunately, the building codes which dictate the use of the balcony on which the organ rests, restricts access to any group of people. There must be an entrance and exit path in the case of a natural hazard; currently there is only one of the two required exits.

The process of physical appraisal then turns to two other features: the sound system and the stained glass windows. First, the sound system symbolizes the inefficiency of the Comity’s organizational structure and consequent allocation of church funds. The intended increase in volume turned out to be an increase in garble and noise to the eardrums of those attendees sitting in the back. As eventually discovered, this systems has no capability to delay sound between speakers – a critical function not in every speaker set up, but deadly in this one. Without the sound delay, the speakers overlapped the projections of sound, turning it into an incomprehensible distraction and annoyance. The protection and conservation of the stained glass windows are another piece of the appraisal puzzle which does not receive much attention. While quite beautiful and expensive, there is no information about the images captured in them available to the public. To the regular churchgoer, these windows depict the story of the Bible and may be easily recognizable. But to the causal church visitor, the windows remain a quite mystery.

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Stain glass window displaying a picture of Five Wounds. This is significant for the Church

(4) Five Wounds Church: Appraisal-Interpretation and MultiVocality

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Visitors are meet at the church with the opportunity to self-explore. However, as it is see, there are no descriptions of the statues

The following are the results from our analysis of the MultiVocality of the site:

  • There is only one bus serving the entire neighborhood of Little Portugal. The only way a visitor can reach Five Wounds via public transportation is via the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) bus number 22, which runs along E Santa Clara Street (Santa Clara 2011). However, a proposed expansion of Bay Area  Rapid Transit is under way.
  • Parking lot is not big enough to accommodate all guest.
  • There are currently no visitor facilities and/or retail stores on the property.
  •  The visitors are not met by visitor guides, church leaders, or the pastor.
  •  The church does hold office hours for visitors. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm.  Moreover, visitors are allowed to explore the church without supervision.
  • A schoolhouse adjacent to the church graduated its last class in 2009. Since then, the educational opportunities have run dry. As a result, the facility is rented out to the highest bidder. Within the building there is a large cafeteria and a large venue ready for potential parties, festivals, and plays. Special privilege must be obtained to visit the schools; the space is not open to the public. A visitor might not be able to enter the school today, but they wouldn’t be missing much if they did.
  •  on the left hand side we find a smaller building that houses offices of the pastor and clergy. The building is also used by Saint Isabel’s Kitchen to provide food for needy families of San Jose.  Aside from the described usage there are no other usages of the building. The building is off limits to the public during non-usage hours and only accessible through Saint Isabel’s Kitchen or through special access via the church’s leadership.
  • Visitors are able to attend English mass on Sundays at 8am and 5:30pm, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9am. Latin mass is given at 9:15am on Sundays and a Bi-lingual English/Portuguese mass is given on Saturdays at 6pm. In addition, visitors are able to confess on Saturdays from 5 to 6pm and any other times by appointments. In addition, if visitors want to hold their weddings, baptisms, etc. at the church they must contact the church three to six months ahead.
  • First, the church website is not appealing and is in need of further attention.
  • visitors at the church have no way of making sense of the stained glass windows, other physical aspects of the site or the long history of the church because no such material is available.
  • Five Wounds Church has become meaningful to the San Jose community Anyone who has created and experienced or a memory at Five Wounds is thus part of the community. The Vietnamese community in San Jose that also use the space for mass are thus part of the memory community of Five Wounds. In addition, community members also use the space to celebrate weddings, quinceañeras, baptisms, etc
  •  Of the multiple voices among key players, the older generation of Portuguese-Americans has had the most to say. It was not apparent whether they had strong feeling for the church because it has been a larger part of their lives when compared to the lives of the Portuguese youth, or because it
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Beautiful Image without any description.

(5) Five Wounds Church: Appraisal-Community

Bride Walking Down the Aisle at Five Wounds. Courtesy of Danny Photo Studio

It is perhaps best to begin an appraisal of the Site and its residents by recognizing the regional connections within which it is situated. There are four levels of community that involve the church and the targeted audience.  The four levels are local, regional, national, and international. To begin with the smallest, Little Portugal surrounds Five Wounds Church in San Jose. This defines the site proper, and as such, is the focus of the Plan. Examples of local area links are the Portuguese newspaper and the local bulletins used to convey local activities and ordinances. These particular media examples provide a channel through which the community may become aware of local activities as well as current situations involving Five Wounds.

A step up from the local, the regional level includes the city of San Jose and the county of Santa Clara. Increased recognition of the Site will create an opportunity to collaborate and engage with many different neighborhoods and audiences, exposing them to the rich heritage of the Portuguese. At the local level, a desire to sustain the Portuguese culture is warranted; at the region and larger links, awareness and appreciation of the culture from multiple perspectives and ethnic backgrounds is wanted.

Specifically, the national and international links can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection these days. What used to mandate a long voyage across the Atlantic now only takes a click of a button. People involved at the national and international levels of the community appraisal would hardly invest in such a trip anymore; the Internet provides a more cost effective and safer experience of Five Wounds, but not with the current web access offered by the church. A connection to the Site is available be anyone from anywhere with Internet access, internationally or otherwise.

Over the years, as is the case with the Portuguese youth, a fusion of Western and traditional Portuguese culture has birthed a cultural perspective unique to Portuguese American heritage.  For instance, the local sport clubs provide a unique atmosphere that houses both Portuguese and Portuguese-American guests sharing food, wine, and laughs. Such a club is ideal to observe the people of Little Portugal closely precisely because the business structure of the club refuses to bend to the requests of traditional Americans (e.g. serving only traditional Portuguese food) and remains focused on Portuguese authenticity.

Back at the church, we find a healthy rhythm of weddings and baptisms scheduled. Aesthetically, the church has not lost its beauty over the years and needs little restoration support. There are no major ecological issues that need to be addressed immediately apart from the daily maintenance of the local ecology already outlined. There are little to no environmental risks besides the church being located rather close to the California 101 highway. Although the fumes and especially the noise which emit from the high traffic of highways can be taken as deterrents to the tourism of the Site, having the highway so close to the church keeps potential visitors from taking complicated directions and decreases the potential of getting lost or frustrated. Getting off the highway, Five Wounds is a two-minute drive.

(6) Five Wounds Church: Implementation (Action Plan)- Short Term Goals

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Fundraiser: Efforts by Five Wounds

Short Term Goals:

Proposing short term goals is difficult in the sense that this Plan had to first identify which projects, when implemented, would strengthen the succeeding implementations. It was like arranging a set of dominoes upright in a predetermined path so that when complete, the entire project would rely on only one push. Such effort is converse to the current implementation plans by the Comity which  deals with annual events and issues as they come along. This proposal aims beyond the festivals and Sunday mornings to give a supportive yet dynamic structure to the sustainability and practice of cultural components comprising the Portuguese culture of Little Portugal up to any international relations. The following are the proposed short term goals:

      • Setting up locked donations boxes at the entrance of the church.  Collections from boxes may be used to offset some of the expenses used by the food kitchen at St. Isabel’s next door.
      • Redeveloping the educational facilities.  This will be done by having weekly meetings among key players and stakeholders until an agreed until an agreement is made. Courses in Portuguese culture and language should be thought in collaboration with the local state and community colleges.
      • Creation of arts and crafts course to attract children, teenagers, and parents.
      • Implementation of multiple interactive Cultural Heritage Day throughout the year in the church parking lot. For example,  events at the festivals can include cooking classes, cooking contest, arts in crafts, etc.
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Up Close shot of the graduating class of 1967 school picture

(7) Wounds Church: Implementation (Action Plan)-Medium and Long Term Goals

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Display at Portuguese Historical Museum

Once the short term goals are meet, the medium and long term goals will serve to further strengthen the sustainability of Five Wounds. The plan’s final strategic move is to build a stronger connection with the home land of Portugal. The goal is to continue developing the educational facility, educate and celebrate the Portuguese culture, and the beautification of the church.  We believe that in twenty five years it is possible to begin holding events within the church by inviting scholars, politicians, and ambassadors’ representative of the Portuguese people. Throughout history, Portuguese immigrants have been prominent in contributing to the development of culture and society in the United States. Benjamin Cardoza, the Supreme Court Justice (1932-1938), John dos Passos (1896-1970), the author of the famous USA trilogy and other works on American society, John Phillip Sousa (1854-1932), the composer of America’s best-loved marching songs, were men of Portuguese heritage who have important places in the history of the United States. Although these great people are no longer of this world, the idea is clear that members of the Portuguese community can carry the culture of the Portuguese people by speaking directly to them at the church of Five Wounds. The following are the important goals we have identified to strengthen Five Wounds through a 25 year period.

Medium Term Goals:

    •  Have graduating students reach out to  other students from every educational institution in San Jose to serve as role models. In addition, they will promote Five Wounds through the advertisement of their experience and the Portuguese culture.
    • Digital documentation of clergy members. This project will allow future visitors to revisit the history of the church. In addition, the documentation will allow for research to be conducted on the church.
    •  Begin the process to find an individual to fix and clean the organ. In addition, the construction of a second stairway to meet San Jose building codes must begin. Access to organ will enhance visitor experience.
    • completion of an unattended portion of an incomplete ceiling paint job right above the main alter.

Long Term Goals:

      • Document the number of individuals engage wit the free services provided by St. Isabel Kitchen.
      •  Requests the local government for an  easier travel rout for visitors and tourists to Little Portugal.
      • Creation of a shuttle between Five Wounds and the Portuguese Heritage Society (only 3 miles apart).
      • Creation of promotional tours video feed aimed inside the church. This would give internet viewers a freedom to explore the church at their own direction and offers the potential to stream video feed across the internet for special occasions
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Sign of Portuguese Museum

(8) Five Wounds Church: Interpretive Project Profiles-Digital Exploration

Outlined here are three proposals to engage the community over the years. They can be implemented at any time given the necessary resources. The reason for their inclusion has been to supplement the historical, appraisal, and implementation approaches to the revitalization of the Portuguese culture. The following is are suggestions actively invite and retain visitors once the cultural aspect of the church and little Portugal has been established.

Digital Exploration:

Digital exploration immediately addresses the Portuguese youth and removed visitor audience begins by creating an interactive website. Digital tourism allows visitors-real and virtual- from around the world to visit Five Wounds Church, which will Increase the number of visitors. Currently, the church does not explain the history of the church and the meanings of all tangible items inside the church. The creation of website will allow visitors to create their own experience while maintaining the goals of Five wounds Church. In order to keep the visitors interested, the website will “not force-feed them a programmatic view of heritage. Rather we should create a design structure that is influenced by the goals of mulit-vocality and reflexivity” (Gonzalez 2005) as it is stated “Multivocality and the Virtual Interpretive Environment” by Sara L. Gonzales. The website will be created by using the free software WordPress. The ability for the visitor to explore the site in 3D will be created by a Google 3D program. visitors can click on an object that will produce the description and history.

For Example, if a visitor clicks on this object a description of the object will appear.

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This stain glass window will explain the history of Portuguese to America that is portrayed