Boom California talks changes in OC, California culture and diversity

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(Katie Albertson / Daily Titan)

“Boom California” held its first of four Boom Conversations in the Pollak Library Tuesday, where two guest speakers discussed the varying aspects of Orange County culture.

Pollak Library faculty fellow and editor of “Boom California” Jason Sexton said the event, Three Orange Counties, was a way to open up conversation about the potentially large changes currently happening in Orange County with rising gentrification, a lack of jobs and a troubling housing market.

Tom Zoellner, an English professor at Chapman University, talked about the often overlooked history of literature in Orange County, as well as the complex identity that people develop living in California.

“There’s something magical still to me, with that sort of knowledge ‘I’m a Californian.’ It’s the apex of a kind of a dream, a dream of what we want to be, what we could be and in some sense, an awareness of what we’re not,” Zoellner said.

Zoellner also recounted the way his students often describe Orange County as “uniform, nice and uncertain.”

Cal State Fullerton Professor of American studies Elaine Lewinnek, Ph.D., talked about the diverse history of Orange County and its lasting effect on the community.

“I feel like there’s so many layers of history and culture here that aren’t often talked about and that are worth noting,” Lewinnek said. “These are our stories, and we need to keep telling them, not just to keep some creative class here, but to know who’s been here and what their struggles have been and what their current struggles are.”

Audience members were able to ask speakers their own questions near the end of the talk and participate in the dialogue.

“We have big issues in Orange County, and these are conversations that we want to be having in the Pollak Library, that we want to be having with our students, for our students and for the sake of finding better ways to engage,” Sexton said.

The next Boom Conversation will be held Oct. 24 in Pollak Library on Latin American religion in Southern California.

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