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 Online Community Lesson



            Yes, this is a trick question.  The Montebello Archipelago is not geographic, but, rather, sociologic.

            An archipelago is a group of physical islands.  Montebello is a group of sociological islands.  An obvious manifestation of this is the education islands.  Our schools are fenced and guarded, in part because school principals are not permitted to create effective safety zones around the schools, in part because the Federal and state governments dictate what must be taught in a school day which is too short.  Principals must content themselves with creating walled “islands of safety” and following the dictates of the “paymasters”.  There is little, if any, interaction, with the surrounding community.  A school is too busy or unconcerned to care about the surrounding community and vice versa.

            Is this a conjecture, hypothesis or theory?  The last one, unfortunately.  Ask the neighbors around a school if they know the name of the principal.  Ask the students at the school if they know something more than where the police and fire stations are located.  This theory is easily proven.

            A school is an island, and the surrounding community is an island.  But there are other examples.  There are islands of retirees in convalescent homes, senior housing, and the senior center.  There is an island of municipal employees.  There are islands according to culture, religion, and language, sometimes the same as “ethnic enclaves”.  Other islands include institutions and workplaces.

            The Montebello Archipelago is not unique.  There are hundreds in California, thousands across America.  They are worth noting because they impede the formation and functioning of communities.  We Montebelloans are worse off because of our islands.  Symptoms of our archipelago include crime, traffic deaths and injuries, graffiti, litter, an ongoing mistrust between those in government and those outside.  The goals of one island sometimes agree with and sometimes clash with those of another.

            Notably, these islands are not created by nature alone, that is, they are not the product of the environment and human physiology alone.  History, laws, and rules contribute to island formation. 

If you answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to with “Lesson answers” in the subject field, you will be credited toward a “certificate of recognition in community affairs” to be awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization. 

1. The Montebello Archipelago is

(a) geographic.

(b) sociological. 

2. Another way to characterize the Montebello Archipelago:

(a) a variety of interactive, but not optimally cooperative, groups.

(b) an inevitable and insoluble consequence of influences natural and artificial. 

3. To build bridges among the islands of the archipelago, we must

(a) give greater support to bridge builders, like our service clubs.

(b) accept that Washington, D.C., and Sacramento cannot know everything which would transpire in Montebello and cannot pass laws and regulations which would solve all of Montebello’s problems.

(c) organize and give priority to a “bridge builders” council of residents to take action.

February 8, 2007






























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