Written by Lucero Benitez, COSS Communications Specialist

More than six months ago, California ordered its nearly 40 million residents to stay home to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus also known as COVID-19. The order was set in place to help combat the outbreak and asked Californians not to leave their homes except for essential things such as food, prescriptions, healthcare and commuting to jobs considered essential.

This lead to millions of people spending a lot more time at home. Maybe out of boredom, stress, creativity or simply feeling like they had all the time in the world, people completed several “quarantine projects.”

We asked the COSS faculty and staff to share their projects with no accomplishment being too small and here’s what they did:

Linda Ragus, Administrative Support Coordinator in the department of Political Science, had two containers built in her backyard. She loaded both with lots of soil and one container has cucumbers while the other has three tomato plants that are quickly growing.

Jessica Acevedo, COSS Administrative Analyst, restored a toolbox given to her to store her tools. “Working on getting my partner to actually use it as storage now, lol,” Jessica said.

Mildred Denise Jessie, History lecturer, is working on building a new house. “I am doing the work, along side my husband and son,” Mildred said. “It is backbreaking but rewarding, this is the frame for the foundation. We have a long way to go!”

Lori Clune, History Professor, says that when she is stressed, she paints (anything). During quarantine she painted a few things including the side of her refrigerator, a door, a chair and a light switch plate.

Ann Berg, Administrative Support Coordinator in the department of History, did a rock project on the front of her house and says she loves it.

Lucero Benitez, COSS Communications Specialist, cleaned out her toddlers’ playroom (heavily used during quarantine) and donated toys to Creek Fire victims. She says the kids still leave a mess but not like they used to.

For Katherine Fobear, Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, her project is one that was on the back burner for some time. She says the shelter in place allowed her to return to a project she started before coming to Fresno State.  

“When I was at Purdue University Fort Wayne, I conducted an oral history project with Terry Doran who tried to start a Folk School in Fort Wayne Indiana for under privileged kids. It’s a really fascinating story about the alternative education movement, counter culture, and one old hippie’s dream to make a learning environment where all kids can thrive,” Fobear said.

When she interviewed Terry, she had just started teaching and she says the oral history project became a really beautiful bonding experience for her.

“When I met Terry, not a lot of people knew about the Folk School. He didn’t want to talk about it, seeing it as failure because he couldn’t keep it going. But, it was through our oral history sessions that Terry was not only able to revaluate the legacy of the school, but of himself as a teacher and community organizer. My hope is that everyone will know about this school and Terry’s story.” 

This year she was finally able to return to the oral histories and the archival work. She wrote an article about the folk school and memory that will be sent to an academic journal for review.

“I learned so much from him and he continues to inspire me in my teaching,” Fobear said.

If you completed a project and would like to share it, please email Lucero Benitez at lbenitez@csufresno.edu.