Welcome to the OAHIC
The Online Almanac
of the History of the Italians of California
An effort of the Italifornian community of Northern California, and rooted in Santa Clara County, the Online Almanac of the History of the Italians of California (OAHIC) is a reconstruction of the journey of the Italian ethnic community into the creation of the California Dream, as shared by family, friends and kindred Italifornians.
The stories, the writings, the images, the recordings, the works of art, the music, and the analysis that you will encounter browsing the pages of this almanac aren’t produced solely and preeminently by experts, researchers or social scientists — for sure not the majority. Although the works of such professionals will be represented and will be encountered on this site, many accounts will be told in the first-person form by the members themselves.
We hope that having been provided with a blank canvas, our members will choose to fill it with their rich history and the history of their loved ones.
Describing how after arriving in America and how in time they crossed the cultural divide that turned them from immigrants into a vital ingredient of California’s cultural and ethnic melting-pot, we expect that these stories will provide additional confirmation of the Golden State’s fame as a state that has been moving steadily and consistently toward social progress, tolerance, openness, empathy, and compassion.
California is a state with a “can do” mentality — where people look at the future with hope, and with the certitude that it will be better than the past, and the knowledge that only by working together will we will achieve a more equitable society.
Although the design has been conceived to help the user to easily locate the archive to which his/her materials should be uploaded, expect that some content may be referenced in more than one index. Some users may not agree with the placement; we hope that while following the site instructions for submitting their material, they will care to let us know under which category (or definition), in their opinion, their story should be classified.
As you navigate OAHIC you will see that this site resembles a magazine, with beats, highlights, reports, studies, opinions, and so forth. The site has a Publisher — Paolo Pontoniere--an Executive Editor — Ken Borrelli — and several Associate Editors. You can meet them in the Staff section We request that you be patient with them as they are all volunteers.
They aren’t tasked to control or censure your content but instead to help categorized and index the materials, and at the same time make sure that standards of decency, civility, respect and compassion are met. What are these standards? It is simple: don’t call anybody any name or epithet, or anything else that you yourself would not wish to be called.
As said at the beginning of this introduction, the scope of this site is to create a choral story. To let those character that you sometimes see in photos or images of times past come out of the tapestry and the anonymity to which the pictures and the expert narration has relegated them to tell their story. Their choral voice will narrate to the world who are the Italians of California, what they dream and what they’ve done, and hopefully help to bridge the ethnic divide created by a narrative in which they have no voice and no agency.
-- Paolo Pontoniere, Publisher
Executive Editor & Co-Founder
Ken is a long time member of the Italian American Heritage Foundation, San Jose. He has served as its President, Vice President, and currently chairs its Cultural Committee, among other activities. In addition, Ken is a contributor to the IAHF newsletter and a member of several other Italian American organizations and networks. Ken has helped organize forums and lectures of regional and national significance. He hosts the Villaggio Culturale at the annual IAHF Family Festa, is an Opera San Jose booster, and is part of a statewide effort to save one of the nation's oldest Italian American structures -- the Romaggi Adobe, in Angels Camp, CA. Ken is also the author of Flavors from A Calabrese Kitchen (1989). Ken is a retired Deputy Director of the Department of Family and Children Services in Santa Clara County, as well as an emeritus member of the SCC Child Abuse Prevention Council. His immigration experience includes refugee resettlement, unaccompanied minors, and child welfare work with families with immigration problems. He has also provided training for NASW, National CASA, and several nonprofit foundations. Ken was a founding member of the Center for Immigration and Child Welfare, BRYCS, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation on child welfare issues.
OAHIC Newsletter Editor
Antonio was born in Sicily, Italy. At age 18 he came to the United States. A year after arrival to the U.S. he joined the U.S. Army Reserves. Antonio and his wife Cassandra moved to Palo Alto, California in 1959 where they still reside. He is a dual citizen - USA and Italy. Antonio holds a BS from San Jose State University, an MS from HEC Paris University, and a Ph.D. from Union Institute and University. Antonio is an experienced entrepreneur, international executive, and consultant in organization effectiveness and human resources. Since his retirement, he spends his time with his social entrepreneurial and advisory firm, Skopelos Ventures LLC. Over the years, Antonio has served on the board of seven private firms. Antonio loves to write and cook. He maintains a second home in Castel di Tusa, Sicily. He has published several technical articles and two novels. He has traveled to 76 countries and visited every continent except Antarctica.
Publisher & Founder
Journalist, Neapolitan, I moved to San Francisco in the mid-eighties, when the West Coast and the Pacific Basin for Italian media were still a no-man's land. A "hic sunt leones" developing across the left border of the US map. I arrived first as a traveling envoy of Frigidaire, a cutting-edge culture, politics, and arts magazine. I returned to promote the Fondazione Reperti del Terzo Millennio, The Third Millennium Evidence Foundation, a project sponsored by Arci Nova. The project intended to create a center in California devoted to foretelling the future and putting it on exposition--particularly in the arts and the literature. Over the years, I've been a foreign correspondent and contributor for several Italian media, including Panorama, L'Espresso, Focus, Repubblica, and a contributor to the Los Angeles Times, Pacific News Service, and New America Media. Although I covered the same beats as other correspondents, I was the first Italian to narrate Silicon Valley from the inside, anticipating many of the social and technological developments that would come. However, even though I focused on describing the US to an Italian audience, I never lost sight of our community. Over the years, I have explored the many ways It has contributed to the California mystique with writings, news reports, exhibitions, and exchange projects.
OAHIC Website Designer
I’m gratified to be a part of the OAHIC team. I’ve been a creative director in Silicon Valley since 1976, establishing and managing in-house design teams for several major technology companies. I was born in New Jersey to a family that originated in Molise, a small, mountainous region on the Adriatic Coast of Italy. I’m a proud Italifornian and I encourage all interested Californians to join me as members of The Online Almanac of The History of The Italians of California. Ciao!