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Be A Space That Welcomes

November 2, 2015



Let yourself become that space that welcomes any experience without judgement, advises Tsoknyi Rinpoche in this week’s Weekly Wake-up from Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo, artist of the silk applique thangka detail pictured above. 

Last Monday I wrote about empathy. And there’s a lot more to say about this topic. In fact next semester, developing empathy, practicing empathy, and working on an Earth Day event that focuses on empathy will be key in my college composition classes from Day 1, January 12, 2016 (2 sections of class meets T/Th 1230-6pm; see the Ventura College schedule for more).

With empathy, we care. We want to give back to our communities, our world. We look for and find opportunities to do so, and to find ways where our own unique gifts and talents can be utilized.

There are lots of opportunities to serve, to do service learning and community engagement. This coming year, my family and I are going to be involved in planting trees — 54 by January 12, 2017 to be exact. Fortunately, we will be able to join the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy in their efforts to Plant 150 Trees and Celebrate the City of Ventura’s 150th Birthday. Join a community Tree Planting Party at the Big Rock Preserve near Foster Park to help kick-off the City of Ventura’s 150th birthday.


VHC invites members of all ages to join us Nov. 14, 2015  from 9 a.m. – 12 noon along the Ventura River Parkway to help plant 150 oak trees on property we own and manage. The County of Ventura’s Resource Management Agency awarded VHC a grant for the purchase and planting of nearly 500 trees.  Over the next several months, join one of these planting parties where we will remove non-native plants and replace them with trees that are native to Ventura County.

“Planting trees adds additional aesthetic and wildlife value to the Big Rock Preserve,” said Derek Poultney, VHC conservation manager. “Trees are not only beautiful; they also produce oxygen, provide homes for animals and prevent erosion.”

Planting native trees benefits wildlife, improves air and water quality, and encourages public visitation and use of natural areas. Tree planting enhances invasive species removal project by restoring native species into and around the affected areas. Included in the $87,080 grant is transportation funding to bring local schoolchildren to the preserve to help plant trees and to learn about the benefits of restoration. Perhaps next semester, my students and I can help with these field trips.

Click here to view your Tree Planting Party Invitation

To RSVP, email: or click on the RSVP link on the  VHC Events page.

Can’t make it Nov. 14? Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 09:00 AM at the Ventura River Estuary is River Restoration Saturday. On the third Saturday of each month, VHC staff and volunteers join forces from 9 a.m.-12 noon to clear invasive (Arundo donax) plants, clean up trash and clear paths in the Ventura River.

PS His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave his blessings to Leslie’s work and encouraged her to make images that speak to the spiritual aspirations of people across religions and cultures. Leslie’s story is the subject of the acclaimed documentary film, Creating Buddhas: the Making and Meaning of Fabric Thangkas.  

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