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2015 in review: A year of transcendence

Editor's note: If we need a word to summarize 2015 for Alhambra Source, it should be “transcendence,” as it has been a year of achievements and crucial transitions. It was a promising year from the start, as 2015 marked the fifth anniversary of Alhambra Source. These past months we have covered stories about grocery stores, housing, education, crime, art, and even coyotes. We successfully held the Sam and Jackie Wong-Alhambra Source Scholarship Contest, and published the winning essays that were penned by seven local high school students. We published our first book, "Alhambra Source: Voices from the New American Suburb", a collection of more than 40 stories from the Source over the past five years. Our former managing editor Daniela Gerson left in July to work for the Los Angeles Times as a community engagement editor. USC Annenberg alumni Leo Wu succeeded her in September and has been working with our senior editor Tim Loc since then. We've also just hired a new member, Andres Rivera, as our community engagement coordinator.

As Gertrude Stein put it, "silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone." And as 2015 comes to an end we want to express our appreciation to the residents of Alhambra, especially our community contributors and readers; we wouldn’t have accomplished so much without their participation. 2016 will be a year of challenge and possibility to us, as we aim to pilot the Source on a new course and implement a business model that is sustainable. We hope you will continue to support Alhambra Source by getting involved with our events, sharing your advice on business and marketing, and telling us your stories. We will dedicate ourselves to covering and engaging the community.

For now we want to take a look back at the year. We’ve selected several stories from 2015 that have aroused public attention. Please comment below about the issues that were important to you in 2015.

Grocery stores:

• 99 Ranch Market to replace Ralphs on East Main Street

• Sprouts rep says store is ‘coming soon’; Supermarkets a reflection of changing demographics

As more Asian grocery stores continue to open in Alhambra, debates about the variety of grocery choices in Alhambra have gained major attention from local residents. It has even resulted in some racially-charged tension.

“This's a bad decision. This town will turn to another Asian town. We want Ralphs stay and 99 ranch don't come,” commented Steve, Alhambra Source reader.

“Win win situation. Brand spankin new 99 Ranch on the way, Ralphs in South Pas, brand spankin new Sprouts on the way, and good old Smart and Final, all within spitting distance of each other,” commented Joesph S, Alhambra Source reader.

• Fresh and Easy closing all stores in U.S. 

Goodbye, Fresh and Easy. Its iconic white and green sign has become part of history.

Residents raise their hands in silent opposition of the Midwick development project | Photo by Tim Loc

Midwick development project:

• Planning Commission sends Midwick development project to City Council for approval; residents voice opposition

• Midwick development moves forward with community support

When a new housing develoment was announced for the Midwick Tract, many residents voiced their disapproval. Residents cited traffic, a sense of community, and the Midwick Tract's historical legacy as reasons for halting the housing project. They banded together and took their message to the City Council chambers. In the end they were able to convince developers to scale back their project and preserve some of the historical legacy of the Midwick area.

“Are these "commissioners" residents of Alhambra that are impacted by heavy traffic, or do they live in North Alhambra which has beautiful homes, far away from traffic concerns? Are "commissioners" acting "in the best interests of Alhambra"or do they have ties to developers and/or business concerns that will benefit from more dense development?” commented Richard Nieto, Alhambra Source reader.

“I have lived in the Midwick Tract for forty years and find it sad that our lovely neighborhood will be ruined by the development on Fremon,” commented Marijune Wissmann, Alhambra Source reader.

San Gabriel High School students protest teacher's dismissal:

• Alhambra Unified School District investigating censorship claims

• Students protest teacher's dismissal; claim violation of First Amendment rights

• SGHS journalism advisor put on leave; Students say it is an act of retaliation

• SGHS students win Courage in Student Journalism Award

Students from San Gabriel High School have been contesting the school and the Alhambra Unified School District since early this year. They alleged that Principal Jim Schofield censored an article from The Matador, SGHS's campus newspaper, that covered the dismissal of first-year English teacher Andrew Nguyen. They also criticized the school district for dismissing Nguyen and placing teacher Jennifer Kim, who was also the advisor to The Matador, on administrative leave.

A SGHS student, wearing an "armor of truth," speaks before the school board in support of teacher Jennifer Kim | Photo by Leo WuHousing:

• The uphill battle for homebuyers in Alhambra

• As California makes gains on affordable housing, Alhambra needs to follow suit

From rocketing house prices to a lack of affordable housing, owning a house in Alhambra is becoming harder and harder nowadays.

Discovering more of Alhambra:

• The Alhambra Coin Center: Dealing in gold, jade and antiques

• An Alhambran's connection with the Manhattan Project

• Journey to the West as a refugee 西行難民記 

Though we have been covering stories in Alhambra for five years, we're still able to find new places and stories to share with our audience. We will be dedicated to discovering more interesting characters and places with our contributors. There will be more stories to come in 2016.

A Dia de los Muertos celebration at SGHS | Photo by Tim Loc

Milestone, the Alhambra Source book:

• Alhambra Source celebrates five years and book release

Alhambra Source celebrated five years of local reporting and community engagement with a book release party and a scholarship ceremony in June. We proudly present our book “Alhambra Source: Voices from the New American Suburb,” a collection of stories that were written by more than 40 Source contributors ranging from high school students to retirees.

“Alhambra Source: Voices from the New American Suburb,” is still available and you can e-mail tim.loc@alhambrasource.org for a copy of the book.

Independent journalism is a bedrock of democracy--and it's in crisis. Here at the Alhambra Source, we're committed to covering the local stories that matter most to you. We don’t have advertisers and we don’t have pay walls, but we do have bills. You read to the end of this story. That's great. But this kind of journalism will end without public support. Join us! Support the work and the democratic values it serves. Donate now!

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