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Where I’m Calling From

May 21, 2019

May 2019, Arroyo Verde Park, Ventura, CA

I come from Ventura, California
from hiking through cattle to Two Trees,
seeing Channel Islands float in the sea,
eucalyptus at Mound, quad at Buena.
I come from Aspen, La Honda, Taos,
Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View,
Los Altos, Peet’s coffee, Ridge Winery,
Stanford, Santa Cruz, Reno, Jackson Hole.

I come from driving school halls delivering
fresh student newspapers, from reciting
poetry on hay bales at Renaissance Faires
in Agoura, Larkspur, Novato, from
climbing Collegiate Peaks Colorado
Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton,
Yosemite granite and gym plastic,
Gibraltar sandstone, monkey bars, school roofs.

I come from mud between my toes, hail on
my head, sagebrush in my cuffs, hot springs in
my curls. From burrowing owls, red tails,
spotted owls, bush tits, Hollywood finches,
peregrine falcons, wrens. From sycamores,
cecil bruner’s, rose geraniums, pine.
From crows nests, trailers, vans, stucco, tents.

From Santa Anas and El Ninos. From
Sierra, Rockies, Tetons, Pingora,
Castleton Spire, Cascades, Mojave,
Great Basin, Coachella, Black Rock City,
Telescope Peak, Wheeler Peak, Badwater,
oceanwater. From sweat. From tears. From dew.

We’re no longer citizens, we’re consumers, says Patagonia’s Chouinard to VC Students

May 20, 2019

“We’re no longer citizens, we’re consumers,” pointed out Patagonia founder and owner Yvon Chouinard at Ventura College on Earth Day, April 22, 2019.

“Webster’s says someone who’s a consumer is someone who destroys,” he continued.

I took a break from writing my Earth Day piece that was published in the local paper (and reprinted with some addendums and photographs here) to listen to Yvon Chouinard’s wide ranging conversation with his long time friend and business associate Rick Ridgeway. He also engaged with student questions, and gave away copies of his new book, Some Stories: Lessons from the Edge of Business and Sport. Read more…

Ventura’s Midtown Monarch Paradise Park: RIP b. 4/22/98 – d. 4/22/19

May 14, 2019

After being planted by volunteers, shrubs and wildflowers like these lupine naturalized in a vacant lot 1570 Thompson in Ventura CA.

After 20 years, Ventura California’s Midtown Monarch Paradise Park is no more.

RIP Midtown Monarch Paradise Park

On Earth Day April 22, 2019, I watched from my home as the excavator scooped up the remains of the twenty year old Midtown Monarch Paradise Park, a Wildlife Habitat Demonstration Garden in Midtown Ventura CA funded by two Earth Day grants and built by the community on a vacant city lot and hillside near the terminus of Prince Barranca at Ocean Ave Park. This heartbreaking event helps to explain my absence from this blog… the noise alone is enough to break anyone’s concentration.

my former view

 …a wildlife habitat demonstration garden now dead  Read more…

Swing into Spring’s Festival Season! Santa Barbara’s Lucidity, Ventura College’s Culture in Diversity, and more

April 11, 2019

Coachella may be the biggest around here, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only festival or the best one for you! It’s Earth Month so watch for Earth Day Festivals near you all month!

This weekend is Lucidity near Santa Barbara, California and yesterday and today is the FREE Fourth Annual Diversity in Culture Festival at Ventura College, 4667 Telegraph Road, Ventura CA 93003. The FREE event includes a number of speakers on stages and classrooms around the campus.

We’ll be performing an extended version of our Thomas Fire piece, “What Does Thomas Teach Us” TODAY at just after noon on the Main Stage located by the library. We follow the Student Slam and the announcement of the winner of next year’s poster contest.

Here’s the blurb and our bios:

In the surprising, humorous, entertaining, and award winning “What Does Thomas Teach Us” originally produced for Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theater, experienced performance artists Gwendolyn Alley, Rasika Mathur, and Rosel Weedn present personal, poetic, and eco-psychological interpretations of the events that led to and transpired following the December 2017 Thomas Fire. Read more…

Spring substitute teaching gig then BEquinox!

March 21, 2019

This winter and now spring I’m on a bit of a sabbatical from teaching at Ventura College but I am substituting a literature class today, so I thought I’d do what I often do when I’m teaching: put up a post about it. Students read these three short stories about death and wrote essays about the techniques the authors used to get their ideas across:

Some of the literary techniques they’ve learned about via a handout that I’m looking forward to checking out. The instructor Lin Rollens describes these literary techniques as “tools in the writer’s tool kit and that you reach for them as easily at you’d get a phillips head screw driver to put the right pieces together.” I love this! She says, “We’ve talked about other things that are techniques–dialogue, repetition, long sentences etc or anything that makes your story work–and they are free to pull those into their pieces as well. I just want them to be able to see how these stories are things made and how art moves/manipulates them so effectively.”

I will also have students share on the board:

— the best thesis
–the best hook or intro
–the best quote from the paper
–works cited

I read the stories last night — and they are as heavy as you might expect. In class today, they will form groups with others who are working with the same story, and workshop their papers. I will also have them share the best thesis and quote from the papers and write it on the board and have them put the works cited up too. Next week is spring break but when they come back, they’ll be reading: Updike’s “The A&P”, the first chapter of Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” and Yukio Mishima’s stunning and difficult “Patriotism.” In preparation for the next set of readings she suggests we discuss the nature and history of honor:
“Honor is not something that we, as a culture, tend to talk about much, and the students often have a difficult time at first delineating what they think honor is and how it manifests, so I generally give a little back ground about nature and history of honor,” she writes in an email with class instructions.
“The Japanese sense of honor is a little tougher, and these articles may be of use:

Read more…

RIP Dick Dale, King of Surf Guitar

March 17, 2019



Richard Anthony Monsour (May 4, 1937 – March 16, 2019) aka  Dick Dale died yesterday. He was nearing 82 yet still playing shows in LA last year (see below).  The guitar legend was made most famous by his song “Misirlou.”

Read more…

But it is worse than that #ClimateChange

March 15, 2019

Today hundreds of thousands of students around the world followed Greta Thunberg’s lead and

walked out to make a statement about climate change.

students protesting in Montreal, Quebec

Young people are angry. As well they should be. What’s the point of an education if the planet is destroyed?

In a facebook post that went viral, Marc Doll writes that “The IPCC report and the Paris Accord are incredibly overly optimistic and that commits the world to a target that means th death of hundreds of millions if not more.

But it is worse than that.

Read more…

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