Carmel-by-the-Sea’s New Mission Statement
The Carmel Mission’s Revolutionary Podcast Brings School Kids Closer to California History
If you’re in a California public school, you know that fourth grade is “Mission Time.”
A new project about the Carmel Mission, thought by many to be the crown jewel of the mission system, hopes to make a critical portion of California history more accessible to 21st-century students and their families, and to travelers in general.
Carmel recently became the first of California’s 21 missions to create a podcast. Podcasts are videos or radio-like files that can be downloaded from the Internet for playback on MP3 players. (Apple’s iPod is an example of an MP3 player.)
Carmel’s video podcast is available for free on the city’s travel Website (www.carmelcalifornia.com). It contains vintage photos and a colorful narrative tracing the Carmel Mission’s 236-year history.
“For 30 years, I’ve said that if I could just touch my forehead to my students’ and pass on information about the missions, that’s what I’d do,” says Susan Weinberg, a fourth-grade teacher in Oakland. “This technology, to me, is the closest thing to that. Plus, students who are confused can reverse and hear it again, and it makes learning easier for those kids who are auditory learners.”
MP3 technology is steadily making its way into education’s hallowed halls. Two years ago, Duke University made history when it gave an iPod to each of its incoming freshmen. Nearly 100 colleges have followed suit, and today iPods have become a curricular norm in some school districts at as low as the elementary grades.
“I think (the Carmel podcast) is a brilliant idea,” says Daniel Krieger, a history professor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, who is also president of the California Missions Studies Association. “It takes a complex, antique concept and makes it contemporary and easy to understand. Anything that makes (the missions) more relevant is welcome, particularly if it introduces a young audience to the profound beauty of the Carmel Mission.”
The mission podcast takes viewers back some 240 years to a time when Carmel was a vital religious center rather than a world-famous tourist destination. Founded in 1771, Carmel became headquarters for California’s 21 missions, and was home to their founder, Father Junipero Serra. At one point, the mission was like a small, self-sufficient city unto itself, with several thousand people living on the premises.
Sitting just a half-mile from the beach and steps from Clint Eastwood’s famous Mission Ranch, the Carmel Mission still functions as a thriving parish and school. It contains what is thought to be California’s first library, as well as the famous Serra monument and a statue that was on the altar when the mission first opened its doors. In all, there are fives museums on the mission’s grounds.
One Carmel hotelier says she’s ready should iPod-savvy families suddenly become more engaged with the mission by way of the podcast.
“It’s not unusual for entire families to stay with us while they research their fourth-grade project,” says Carrie Theis, owner of Hofsas House near Ocean Ave. “It’s incredible how the parents and siblings get involved. Hopefully, being the first to have a podcast will excite kids and their parents about Carmel and make them want to come here.”
The priests who populated the mission two centuries ago lived famously spartan lives, sleeping in small cells furnished with nothing but a cot, a desk and a candle. While they probably would have thought an MP3 player an extravagance, Carmel’s marketing guru says the new podcast will be welcome news to the 100 million-strong iPod nation that is revolutionizing the way learning and travel are done in the 21st century.
“The iPod is becoming a cultural norm, much like the Walkman once was,” says Jeff Burghardt, whose Anda-Burghardt Advertising created the Carmel podcast. “It’s not at all uncommon to see someone walking through a tourist destination with their earbuds in, listening to audio tours or regional music, or looking at downloaded maps.”
“The mission’s podcast builds a bridge to visitors in a way that’s consistent with how folks are getting their information these days.”
The Carmel Mission podcast can be downloaded by visiting www.carmelcalifornia.com. A printable outline of the video script with associated pictures is also available here.
Carmel lies 51 miles south of San Jose, and 120 miles south of San Francisco. From State Highway 1, exit at either Carpenter Street or Ocean Avenue and head west. All-day parking lots are located at Mission Street and 8th Avenue or beneath Carmel Plaza at Mission and 7th Avenue. Travelers can pick up maps and other helpful guides at the Carmel Visitors Center (San Carlos St. between 5th and 6th avenues; 831/624-2522). For information on lodging, dining and holiday activities, visit www.carmelcalifornia.com.