Every Friday we do something at College of the Redwoods called 'Elephants.' It's a simple event -- at 5:30, once the shop has been cleaned up, everyone gathers at the firepit and barbecue area beside the school, and we consume beverages and eat food and celebrate the accomplishments of the week (or try to forget the failures.)
Current students, former students, staff, local woodworkers, friends of the school -- pretty much everyone and anyone is invited and usually they all show up.
It's a great tradition that has been going on for years, and allegedly derives its name from the beer made by Carlsberg, a Swedish company, that was once much more common and easy to obtain around these parts. James Krenov, the legendary cabinetmaker who founded our school, studied cabinetry in Sweden, so the legend kind of makes sense.
Elephant beer is a lot harder to find these days in Northern California, where so many micro-breweries are doing such good work, but nonetheless the tradition and name continue.
Last Friday, while we were enjoying Elephants the event, and also coincidentally Elephants the beer, since a student's father dropped off an entire case he specially ordered as a generous gift, something awesome happened.
A former student arrived at the gathering carrying a giant white cooler full of beer, which he ceremoniously set down on the picnic table.
He then climbed on a bench, got everyone's attention, and said "I just got a sweet woodworking job, and it's all thanks to College of the Redwoods. So everything in that white cooler is up for grabs!"
Even though most of us had never met this man, he wanted to celebrate with us and share his good fortune with those who are studying at his alma mater, and who are also hoping to follow in his footsteps and one day obtain a 'sweet job' in the field.
It made me proud to be part of a woodworking program that has such a community of support built up around it. And also, we got free beer, which is always great.