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Challenges. Choices. Parties.

February 20, 2016


Last week I posted about making a choice and taking on a challenge. In essence, for Lent, for February, for March or for life, I challenged readers to make a choice, to make a sacrifice for the love of each other and the planet. Yes, love, as I came to understand after talking to a local clergy. He says it is for love that Christ made his choices, and it is for love of each other, our planet, and our selves that we should also make choices that lead to what Pope Francis calls a merciful heart or what an Inuit elder calls the act of melting the ice in our hearts.

What is this challenge? In this blog post, I proposed three:

  1. cut back on plastic — and keep a diary
  2. cut back on screen time — and avoid it for the first and last waking hours
  3. make more time to be in nature — spend an hour or so a day, accumulating seven or more a week

It is easier to make changes when we do so in community, with others who can support us, guide us, and love us as we struggle with the challenge to change our choices of how we live our lives.

Because it is a choice whether we are more connected to our screens than each other or our planet.

And that is where I think PARTIES come in! Lent traditionally kicks off with Mardi Gras on Fat Tuesday where people indulge in all the vices that they will be avoiding in the coming 40 days.

But around the world, people hold Mardi Gras parties throughout the month, complete with parades, costumes, dancing, drinking, and music. Often these events are fundraisers.

In my area, Ventura County, California, in the 90s the artists would rally around the cause of AIDS, specifically Christopher House, a place where people with HIV could live. It was held at the Poinsettia Pavilion and included a silent auction, elaborate decor and costumes, and more.


Coming up are two Mardi Gras parties that will definitely put the fun in fundraiser: one in Ventura tonight Feb. 20 and one in Ojai Sat. Mar. 5.

Tonight, from 6:30 PM – 10 PM, the Ventura Charter School’s 10th ANNIVERSARY GALA and fundraiser takes on a Mardi Gras theme at the Poinsettia Pavilion 3451 Foothill Rd, Ventura, California 93003:
• dancing • cocktail attire • masquerade
• live music: new orleans jazz ~bluegrass ~ gypsy blues with


Trey O’Toole and Dirk Schumaker
The Ventucky String Band
D.on Darox & The Melody Joy Bakers

The multi instrumentalists, and multi talented Dirk Shumaker and Trey O’Toole will start the evening and more talent will hit that stage to celebrate VCS’ 10 year anniversary including:

Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. Enjoy a Craft Beer and Wine Bar with Delicacies Sweet & Savory plus Live and Silent Auctions. TICKETS can be purchased

Need a little more notice to get your outfit together?


The 26th Annual Ojai Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball at the Ojai Art Center 113 S Montgomery St, Ojai, California 93023 (next door to Ojai Vineyard tasting room!) will be held Saturday, March 5 from 7:30 PM – 1 AM.


This year’s theme is “Psychedelic Neon Nights.” Break out those hippy clothes, tie-dye, bell bottoms and psychedelic neon colors. Shake loose those Afros, fringe and flower power attitude and come groove. Don’t miss the costume contest, bead throwing and the coronation of our new King and Queen, Burton Lang & Debbie Armond (pictured below in last year’s prize winning costume)..


This year boasts two bands, a 10 piece Mardi Gras Band as well as Aquarius, a 60’s tribute band bringing the funky, groovy dance tunes to the event which kicks off with a traditional New Orleans Second Line Parade starting at 7:30pm.

“It’s in the Sauce BBQ & Soul Food” will offer pulled pork, tri-tip and brisket along with yummy sides. A no host bar will be twice as big this year to keep thirsts quenched.

Tickets on sale now at – $20 in advance & $25 at the door.



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