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Diversifying Pinole History

(L-R) Jeff Rubin (President of PHS), Justin Trujillo, Mitzi Perez-Caro (Mentor), Devin Dinh, Lizzy Duarte, Dyana Wing So (Mentor & Program Coordinator), Norma Mar-tinez-Rubin (Mayor of Pinole).

By Jeff Rubin

Last summer, three Pinole Valley High School (PVHS) students with a shared curiosity for history, storytelling, and social impact interviewed minority business owners in Pinole to chronicle their stories in print, in photos, and in videos.

This visual storytelling community project helped diversify the Pinole Historical Society’s historical archives.

Diversifying Pinole History is a visual storytelling project for high school students in Pinole interested in history, civic engagement, journalism, and diversity topics. The three students were Devin Dinh (now a freshman at Claremont McKenna College), Justin Trujillo, now a senior, and Elizabeth Duarte, now a junior.

The students cultivated their creativity and communication skills. Small businesses got a spotlight on their business within a cultural and historical context. It was a winwin for all involved

The Pinole Historical Society is committed to diversifying its historical archives, and invited these students to engage in the documentation of narratives of Pinole’s longtime residents, specifically its minority business owners.

The project kicked off June 19, 2021, on the lawn of the historic Fernandez Mansion, where owner Melinda Mariotti welcomed the students, took them on a tour of her home, and opened up the wellknown Southern Pacific Railroad caboose on her property for the students to explore.

The students received guidance, preparation, and production support from:

  • Dyana Wing So, a 2012 PVHS graduate and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (B.A.) and Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands (M.A). She is a creative strategist for Gold Front, a category design studio in San Francisco.

  • Mitzi PérezCaro, a UCBerkeley graduate and lead digital arts and web design teacher at Kennedy High School in Richmond.

The program concluded July 31 with a presentation of the students’ work in the PVHS library. Their interviews with Sequoia Real Estate, Sue’s Place, Valley Produce Market, and Buddy’s Barbershop are archived on the Pinole Historical Society’s YouTube channel —

Not only did their work enrich the Pinole Historical Society’s digital archives by highlighting new voices which reflect our city’s cultural diversity, but it also brought our community closer together through the journey of digital storytelling.

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