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Alice Bag, Tony Fletcher, Zhena Muzyka: Authors Visit Ventura College 4/12 5:30-9p

April 11, 2017

An Evening with Three Authors:
Weds. April 12 530-9pm
ASC 150 * FREE

Musician Alice Bag – LA, CA
Violence Girl: East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage—A Chicana Punk Story

Music Journalist Tony Fletcher – Woodstock, NY
Boy About Town; In The Midnight Hour: The Life & Soul of Wilson Pickett

Editor and Entrepreneur Zhena Muzyka – Ojai, CA

Life By The Cup: Inspiration for a Purpose-Filled Life

As part of Ventura College’s two day Diversity in Culture event, three authors tell their inspiring stories, read from their books, and speak about how writing and passion shown a light and led the way through life’s challenges. Q and A and book signing follows each presentation. With a dessert reception with treats from Ojai Coffee Emporium thanks to a student who works there, the event is hosted by Adjunct Professor Gwendolyn Alley & her English 1A Classes. 

Read more…

VC Celebrates Diversity 3/29, 4/12-13: dance, speakers, authors, poets, film, free food!

March 27, 2017

You are invited to this year’s Cesar Chavez Event at Ventura College hosted by M.E.Ch.A on Weds. March 29 starting at 430pm in Guthrie Hall. The event is free and open to the public and Danza Azteca Xochipili will start the evening right outside in the quad area plus free food from Mom and Pops restaurant will be provided while provisions last.

Recent executive actions have caused a time of uncertainty and genuine fear for many on our campus and in local communities. With threats of deportation faculty, staff and students need to know how to navigate in this new environment. Guest presenters include Attorney Gabriella Navarro Busch, who will lay out the legal conditions we are facing and Leo Martinez, a local community activist who will discuss how students can proactively protect themselves and their families. Please join us in examining these and other questions about the new administrative challenges.

Earlier in the day, at 330pm Ventura College’s Sociology Club  will show and discuss The Illusionists a campus event in MCW 110. This new documentary film is about global commercialization of beauty ideals. They will also have a food truck with FREE food on a first-come, first served basis.

Diversity_PoetrySlam_5x7 (1)

We are also busy planning Ventura College’s second annual Culture in Diversity Festival on April 12 and 13 from 930am-9pm. Wednesday highlights include evening readings by Alice Bag, Tony Fletcher, and Zhena Muzyka. Thursday’s highlights include a Poetry Slam by area and VC student poets plus Richard Blanco from 1-2pm and Donna Granata on women artists and activists from 3-4pm.

If you’re a VC student and you’d like to participate in the Poetry Slam, submit your poem for consideration by Friday March 31!


This Spring, Terry Tempest Williams Says: Flood with Integrity of Purpose, Patience, Persistence Capable of Cracking Stone

March 20, 2017


Let us pause and listen and gather our strength with grace
and move forward like water in all its manifestation:
flat water, white water, rapids and eddies,
and flood this country with an integrity of purpose
and patience and persistence capable of cracking stone.
— Terry Tempest Williams, Erosion, 11/2016

Today is Ostara, the first day of Spring for us in the Northern Hemisphere.

The 2017 March equinox occurred early this morning March 20th (3:29 am PDT): the Vernal or Spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, and the Fall or Autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere. The March equinox marks that special moment when day becomes longer than night in the north, and everything is growing, while it’s harvest in the south. The Sun enters the sign of Aries, while crossing the celestial equator from south to north.

So Happy Nowruz! That’s the Persian work for New Year because in their calendar the first day of spring is the first day of the new year! “Although having Iranian and religious Zoroastrian origins,” Wikipedia says “Nowruz has been celebrated by people from diverse ethno-linguistic communities for thousands of years. It is a secular holiday for most celebrants that is enjoyed by people of several different faiths, but remains a holy day for Zoroastrians.”

So what are your New Years Resolutions? How about to be happier? Today would be a great day to start because it’s the International Day of Happiness 2017!

Plus today  is World Storytelling Day with a 2017 theme of Transformation.

(PS It’s also National Ravioli Day! Read about some great ravioli here!)

This spring, for what purpose are you gathering your strength? To create happiness? What stones do you intend to crack? What stories are you telling? What stories are you helping to transform? What part of your life or our world would you like to reimagine? (Thanks Tea Silvestre Godfrey for this story telling prompting!)


Pablo Neruda: You can cut down all the flowers but you cannot stop the spring.

(If anyone has an actual source for this phrase, I’d appreciate it. While Neruda was radical enough to have said it, and it is attributed to him, it is a popular Chilean slogan that may or may not have originated with Neruda).

Like last year, my students and I will be celebrating the day at Art City, 197 Dubbers Ventura CA 93001 (near the Vons on Ventura Avenue, Main and Olive; turn left on Rex just after the Olive and Highway 33 entrance and look for parking). Celebrate the Vernal Equinox with us as we enjoy the wonders of the elements working together! Balance your monday with Yoga, Music, Creative expression, Dance, Food (Potluck!). Invite your friends to the magical stone (and food) garden of Art City! Read more about the event here.


Among the speakers and performers tonight will be Fantuzzi who has a new book out Love at First Bite (2017) that tells his amazing life story  and the story of Fantuzzi’s music.  Love At First Bite gives readers an insider’s view of his 50 year career, his travels as a musician, and his work as a spiritual teacher; he shares the inspiration that drives his mission of bringing spiritual transformation through his music and teaching to fans worldwide.


Finally: here’s a spring desert poem I wrote. See spring desert wildflowers along the PCT here.


Tribute to Chuck Berry 10/18/26-3/18/17

March 19, 2017


I love music and I love to dance. I have been to Burning Man almost 20 times and danced many days and nights away. I have gone to Coachella twice and I am going this year to hear Radiohead and Lady Gaga. I attend Lucidity, Lightening in a Bottle, Live Oak, the Joshua Tree Music Festival, and lots of summer concerts in LA. I have danced to The Who at the Santa Barbara Bowl, and to Bruce Springsteen at a bunch of different venues. I have danced to blues greats like John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, and B.B. King as well as African musicians like Baaba Mal and Angelique Kidjo not to mention contemporary groups like Thievery Corporation, Massive Attack, Flaming Lips, Talking Heads, B-52s, Spearhead and many many more. I love music and I love to dance.

But nothing beats the night I danced on stage while Chuck Berry played live.

Read more…

Cheers! Spring for Orchids and Wildflowers

March 16, 2017

Spring means time for wildflowers, strawberry pie, and the Santa Barbara Orchid Show! Cheers!

With St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, Spring Equinox on Monday, and Easter just around the corner April 16, it’s time to get out and enjoy the flowers and the sunshine at the Santa Barbara Orchid Show, a music festival, the desert, or just a gathering of friends! Keep reading for details!

After all of the rain this season, much of California is starting to experience a SUPERBLOOM of wildflowers, beginning with the more southern desert areas and working its way north. A superbloom occurs because after a period of drought and then exceptional rains, the seeds take advantage of the conditions and bloom like crazy! And the desert is the best place to experience it — the lush wildflowers contrasts with the stark and seemingly barren landscape.

I got down to the Anza Borrego Desert for a three day, 33 mile backpack trip along Section A of the Pacific Crest Trail. Read more…

Why Participate in Today’s Women’s Strike by Social Movements Scholar Jen Schradie

March 8, 2017

“Caminante, no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar,” writes Gloria Anzaldua.
This translates to “Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks.”

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. There are gatherings, marches, protests, art shows, and other events around the world today to honor the contributions of women, including this installation of this brave girl facing the stock market bull on Wall Street in NYC.


Because of recent political events and actions by the current Republican administration, a call went out for a General Strike– a day to walk out on the job.

Women’s March organizers encourage us to take the day off and avoid spending money as part of “A Day Without a Woman,” to show the impact women have on the economy and society. Through walking out, as Anzaldua points out, we build bridges.

What should you do? Should you strike? How can you participate? Ventura County events below and Bay Area events below..

photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermidSo, how are you participating?

  • How to participate:

  • Don’t go to work.

  • Wear red.

  • Refrain from purchases except from local, woman and POC owned businesses.

  • Attend an event. (list of Bay Area events here)



My friend Jen Schradie, PhD from UC Berkeley, is in France doing a post-doc on the subject of social media, social movements, and labor. When she saw that people who would like to participate and/or support the Strike had reservations, she shared this FAQ from her perspective as a social movement and labor scholar:

1. “I’m privileged (e.g. white and/or have a job where there will be no repercussions), why should I strike if others can’t?”

Historically white privileged people have not gone on strike as much as working class people of color. But because of their risky union struggles, we have all benefited (40 hour/week, minimum wage, no child labor). One does not help the working class and/or people of color by not striking. And many working class women will go on strike. Show solidarity.

2. “If I go on strike, it may prevent other women to go on strike and participate in actions (e.g. if one is a teacher, child care worker, librarian, etc.), so why would I want to hurt other women in the process of my striking?”

The short answer is without struggle, there is no progress. It is a struggle, and that’s the point. Yes, there will be some negative impacts, but in the larger effort of helping those same women. Also, historically, strikes have had support committees to address these challenges – whether union, church or community organized. Tie in with an existing group or start your own. Organization matters.

3. “If I go on strike, it may disrupt (Fill in the Blank – traffic, local commerce, education).”

Yep, again, that’s the point. Without disruption, change does not occur – civil rights legislation, women’s right-to-vote, labor legislation, etc. did not happen because nice politicians voted it in. It happened because people organized and conducted civil disobedience.

4. “Will one day of going on strike really make a difference?”

Um, no. But strikes do not happen in isolation. Organized and sustained actions make a difference, and the strike is part of that broader movement. Also, contrary to popular Internet myth, this did not come out of thin air or simply online. Organizations and activists with a long history have endorsed this strike.

And it is on March 8 for a reason – it’s International *Working* Women’s Day – it has labor union roots for 100 years.

5. “How will people know I’m on strike? What do I do?”

Ask local unions – find local union activists and ask them how to get involved. Talk to your co-workers. Attend local events on March 8. As the clichéd but very relevant saying goes: “Well-behaved women never made history.”

I asked my union rep about the Women’s Strike on March 8, and learned that “it is illegal in the US for unions to call for strikes, except in the case of contract negotiations that have gone through mediation, arbitration, and a court hearing. We gave up the right to wildcat strike in the 1930s with the establishment of the National Labor Relations Act, which made labor unions legal, but took away the right to call wildcat strikes. Some people think it was a good deal, others say unions died that day. This is why you sometimes see unions call for “sickouts” instead. Calling for a sickout is very serious, and is only done when all other methods of negotiating have failed.

Although many union members will be “striking” on Wednesday, they are not doing it as union members, but rather as individuals.

If you need to take a personal necessity day for any reason, the union suggests that when you fill out your absentee report, under “reason” you write “personal business of a compelling nature.” That is the language from the contract. You are expected to give 48 hours notice if possible to your dean: tell them you have personal business of a compelling nature.”

Because I didn’t give notice, and because I had already scheduled a midterm in class essay exam and made arrangements for use of the computer lab, I have decided for myself to: refrain from spending money, wear red, give the exam but not grade, refrain from cleaning house, and instead, write and publish this 1000 word blog post plus work on another blog post about New Zealand wine maker and owner Erica Crawford of Lovelock Wine as well as organize a series of blog posts about women in the wine business for Wine Predator (go over there and subscribe!).

Speaking of women who made history, check out this event tonight in Thousand Oaks:

Other events tonight include an event to call attention to Human Trafficking and Sexual Slavery which largely impacts women and children.

So what are you doing today??

What is poetry? How to read poetry? When is National Poetry Month?

March 7, 2017

What defines or makes a poem a poem? How do you read poetry compared to prose?

Is this work by Maggie Estep a poem?

What about conceptual poetry?

Because I am subbing a lit class today that is moving into poetry, I’ve been thinking about this.

So I am curious how students define poetry, and what they think about the US Poet Laureate as well as California’s, LA’s,
and Ventura County’s.

As we have a few writers coming to Ventura College for Culture in Diversity Festival April 12 and 13, I also thought I’d ask them to find out about Alice Bag, Tony Fletcher, and Richard Blanco.

Celebrate National Poetry Month with us in April at the Culture in Diversity Festival!


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