ACP (Associated Collegiate Press) Conference 2023: Peer-to-Peer Learning in Action

March 13, 2023

The value of peer-to-peer learning was clearly and beautifully on display Friday afternoon during the second day of the three-day ACP (Associated Collegiate Press) 2023 Annual Spring Conference here in San Francisco. San Francisco Chronicle breaking-news reporter Jordan Parker was describing his one-year transition from being a reporter and editor for his university paper in Sacramento to being an intern with the Chronicle to accepting full-time employment at that publication less than a year after graduation (while also considering an offer from a Sacramento-area television station).

Jordan Parker

Collegiate journalists in the audience, after a couple of days of hearing wonderful presenters encourage them to follow their passion for journalism while also citing the familiar statistics about the decline of print publications and jobs within mainstream media organizations, finally were hearing a success story from someone their own age. And it clearly made a difference, as one audience member told me after the session ended.

It’s not as if the speakers I heard at the conference were anything less than encouraging. Santa Rosa Press-Democrat Executive Editor Rick Green, during an inspirational and highly energetic keynote address Thursday evening, provided a passionate, engaging call to action reminding conference attendees of the importance of what they do, and he reminded them that the 45 words comprising the First Amendment were among the most important guiding us. Odette Alcazaren-Keeley (director of the Maynard 200 journalism fellowship program of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education), during her own keynote address Friday, did a fantastic job of reminding student journalists of the challenges they face and the important role they play: “Student journalism is local journalism.”  

But it did—and does—make a difference for these collegiate journalists to be shoulder to shoulder with someone who has successfully made the leap from the positions they hold as near-term job-seekers to fully employed journalists: “Journalism itself is not dying. This industry has opportunities if you take a chance and put yourself out there,” he reminded them as he described the various skills—web design, search engine optimization, social media management—that can connect applicants to media outlets. And the excitement in the students’ voices clearly showed how encouraged they felt as they listened to this peer describe opportunities they are eager to pursue.

Parker’s session Friday afternoon offered a first-rate complement to San Francisco State University Journalism Faculty Advisor Laura Moorhead’s “Striking a Balance: Meeting Student Needs in a Changing Profession” session (Thursday afternoon), during which she offered tremendous insights into what media employers seek from prospective employees. It also offered tremendous ongoing learning opportunities far beyond what collegiate journalists find through the work they do on campus: “A first-year job…it’s interesting. Sometimes I feel like I‘m learning on the job…At the same time, you get your own freedom” to pursue stories that are interesting, he told audience members.

He also provided a glimpse of what some of us recognize to be the lifelong learning environments in which we continue to improve our skills over a very long period of time by working alongside people with more experience than we have acquired: “I like to pick the brains of the veterans in the newsroom…It’s kind of like a crash course.”

Returning to that theme near the end of his session, Parker reiterated a point well worth hearing from a peer: “I’m still learning how to write…I don’t have all the skills yet.” And that is clearly a point any of us in training-teaching-learning needs to remember to make: we are often only one step ahead of those who are coming to us for help, and we can encourage them by letting them understand we are right there with them as co-conspirators and peers in the learning process.

Hidden Garden Steps: Celebrating Our Moments of Transformation

September 16, 2012

There have been plenty of transformative moments since the Hidden Garden Steps project in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District began in early 2010. But none have been so encouraging and rewarding than what we saw earlier this month at a community celebration centered around the signing of contracts with Steps artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher—pictured here working on the life-size design they have begun creating in their homes and studios.

It’s more than just the acknowledgement that we’ve raised enough money ($100,000 in cash and approximately $20,000 in services completed or soon to be completed) to begin building the 148-step ceramic-tile mosaic that is at the heart of the project. It’s the gathering of a community that through working on this project is even stronger than it was before, and will be even stronger by the time we finish this project that creates a second set of ceramic-tiled steps along with gardens and murals in the neighborhood. And the celebration itself was completely sponsored and hosted by one of our business supporters: the Crepevine at 624 Irving Street here in San Francisco.

The Inner Sunset District, like so many of San Francisco’s individual neighborhoods, is a surprisingly vibrant combination of businesses; cultural (e.g., the de Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the San Francisco Botanical Garden, just to mention a few) and educational (the University of California, San Francisco) organizations; physical beauty (the numerous paths through Golden Gate Park and the hills that are in the heart of the district; and residents and visitors who cherish the area and sustain a variety of organizations including the Inner Sunset Park Neighbors to continually foster collaboration.

As members of the Hidden Garden Steps organizing committee have repeatedly acknowledged, we’re drawn not only by the sense of immediate community that exists here, but by the extended community that is interwoven into all we do. The Steps project alone has partners including the San Francisco Parks Alliance; the San Francisco DPW Street Parks program; Nature in the City’s Green Hairstreak [Butterfly] Corridor; administrators, an art instructor, and art students from the nearby Woodside International School; members of the Inner Sunset Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community; and the Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Association, with more partners expressing interest in joining us so we can bring this $300,000 community project to a successful conclusion. We’ve also had tremendous support from City/County Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and his legislative aide, Alex Volberding; the San Francisco Arts Commission; and members of the San Francisco Department of Public Works who have announced that onsite repairs will be underway in the very near future.

With all that support in place, it was tremendously gratifying not only to have coverage of the Crepevine event by KCBS radio reporter Anna Duckworth the following morning, but to also find the Steps featured on the cover of our neighborhood newspaper—the Sunset Beacon this month—and in a prominently-displayed letter to the editor in the San Francisco Chronicle Insight section recently.

As we move into the production phase on the ceramic-tile mural, we’ll continue to rely on the efforts of volunteers who help us do onsite clean-up on the second Saturday of each month, from 1 – 3 pm on 16th Avenue between Kirkham and Lawton here in San Francisco; donations from individuals, community groups, businesses, and other supporters that now extend not only across the United State but also include a couple of people from the U.K.; and those who can help us build relations with other prospective donors drawn to the mission of creating a new, sustainable community meeting place in a city known for its commitment to communities. For additional information in how you can become part of our community, please visit our website at

N.B.: This is the thirteenth in an ongoing series of articles to document the Hidden Garden Steps project in San Francisco. 

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