In the latest Around Town column, news about the Midpen Media Center welcoming locals back to its studios, City Council members taking part in a simulated earthquake drill and a Stanford professor's family reaction to his Nobel prize.
RECONNECTING ... Over the past few days, the Midpen Media Center celebrated Community Media Week with a handful of events that encouraged the public to think about the role community media plays in our lives. It was also a celebration of Free Speech Week.
The organization welcomed local residents to its studios at 900 San Antonio Road on Wednesday for an open house, which marked its official reopening.
"During the height of the COVID pandemic, we supported our producers remotely so they could continue to deliver important new content. We also used the time to listen to our community and reassess how we can use our space to better serve its needs," Midpen Media CEO and executive director Keri Stokstad said in a statement. "We're introducing revamped areas that will support greater collaboration for the local creative community and provide space for media makers and other creative types to meet and build community, learn new skills, create great art and make new friends."
Midpen also hosted a VIP watch party over Zoom featuring some of their producers' work on Thursday and plans to screen free public service announcements for local nonprofits on Friday. For more information, visit midpenmedia.org.
SHAKE IT OFF ... With the drought and pandemic dominating the headlines, it's all too easy to forget about earthquakes, the Bay Area's ever-present threat.
This week, the Palo Alto City Council and Ken Dueker, director of the city's Office of Emergency Services, did their part to remind residents what to do when the ground shakes. Donning T-shirts with the words, "Drop," "Cover" and "Hold On," council members started their virtual Monday meeting by taking part in a simulated earthquake.
The event, which supports the International ShakeOut Day campaign, aims to drill into participants the steps they need to take in the event of an earthquake: drop, cover and hold on. "Those are the things one ought to do as soon as one feels the earth shaking," Dueker said. "The worst that can happen I suppose is that you're embarrassed that it's a large truck coming by."
Council members did their part by scurrying under their desks for a brief period before reemerging for a "welfare check" roll call by Mayor Tom DuBois. Most survived the drill unscathed. Council member Lydia Kou was the sole exception. "I hit my head on the table when I was going under, so I have a headache right now," Kou, a longtime emergency response volunteer, said after the drill.
Dueker encouraged community members to take earthquakes seriously. "It may be tempting to ignore it as we deal with the global pandemic, and people are dealing with many other things that are perhaps more front and center, but at any moment we may be confronted with a pretty severe shake," he said. For more tips on natural disaster planning, visit cityofpaloalto.org/preparedness.
ALL IN THE FAMILY ... Stanford University professor Guido Imbens' household was buzzing with excitement during the wee hours of Oct. 11 when they learned he won the Nobel prize in economics.
"I woke up around 2:30 in the morning. Everybody was running around," his son, 17-year-old Carleton Imbens, told Stanford News Service.
The award was so momentous that Imbens' wife, Susan Athey, gave their three children the option to stay home from school that day.
Imbens and Athey (the economics of technology professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business) have discussed their work with their three children. "Mostly they want to talk about other kinds of science, but occasionally they'll indulge their parents with econometrics," Athey said in the Stanford article.
Imbens is sharing half the prize with Joshua Angrist, his colleague from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships." It's a topic that Imben and Athey's children seem to understand. "It's very interesting how you can take data from things that were not intended for anything and then use it to draw these outstanding conclusions," Sylvia, 10, told her father in a Stanford video. In the same video, Imbens sat down with his middle son, Andrew, to elaborate on the applications of his work, which can be used in social policy such as guaranteed income.