University students: want to win a trip to Africa?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF wants to take YOU to Africa!


Nick Kristof wrote in his Sunday column about his 2010 Win-a-Trip contest where he’ll take a university student with him on a reporting trip to Africa, giving that student a chance to blog for and to file videos to The Times and Youtube.

According to Kristof, the contest is open to students at American universities – either undergraduates or graduate students – who are 18 years old or over. Consult the full rules for more about eligibility. To apply write an essay of up to 700 words, or a video of up to three minutes, or both. Send the essay to Post the video Youtube, next to the video invitation for applications. Explain why you should be picked to go.

The Center for Global Development will narrow applications down to a group of finalists from which Kristof and assistant Natasha Yefimov will pick a winner. Key attributes include: someone with excellent communication skills, who can blog and vlog (video blog) in ways that will capture the interest of other students. Experience blogging, vlogging or journalism should be mentioned as well as anything else special.Previous winners include
—  journalism student  Casey Parks who had never been outside the U.S. and had grown up poor, in the deep South.
–medical student Leana Wen and teacher Will Okun,  a superb, funny writer and a talented still photographer
— Paul Bowers  a thoughtful and sizzling writer with superb recommendations

The application deadline is a minute before midnight, Eastern Time, on Monday, Jan 18; the winner will be chosen by February and travel commences in April, May or June and will last about 10 days.

Just in case you don’t win, Kristof suggests exploring the following opportunities: Self-Employed Women’s Association of India and BRAC in Bangladesh,  both accept some volunteers. Those interest in health, might go to the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Somaliland, Africa. Teach English to brothel children in Calcutta at an anti-trafficking organization called New Light, run by Urmi Basu or contact World Teach that can connect you to possibilities to teach English abroad, from Namibia to Micronesia.

Read the complete column.

Performance Pioneer Rachel Rosenthal Publishes Book & Celebrates 83rd Birthday

According to The Los Angeles Times, “Rachel Rosenthal  bills herself simply as a performance artist. That’s about as accurate as calling the Taj Majal a house. The woman is a monument and a marvel. She is a force of nature…She is timeless, ageless, gutsy, quirky, exotic, potentially poignant.”

Back when I was in grad school at the University of Nevada Reno, Rachel Rosenthal came to visit. I didn’t know what to expect, but attending her performance came highly recommended by my friend Helen Jones who ran the Women’s Center. “Don’t miss it,” she said. And I was glad I didn’t. I can still feel the energy with which she filled the room, even if I don’t quite recall the particulars.

Flash forward many years later when another Helen, this one Helen O’Neil, invited me to Rachel Rosenthal’s 83 birthday celebration and book release party.

The DbD Experience: Chance Knows What It’s Doing! DbD, or “Doing by Doing” describes her signature method of teaching improvisational theater. In the 130-page book, the Obie winning performer explores improvisational theater and its relationship to life, offering a blow-by-blow account of what happens in her 34-hour DbD weekend intensive workshops (currently still happening on a bi-annual basis in Los Angeles). This mix of memoir, teaching manual, and manifesto was edited by Kate Noonan and is set for US release December 15 2009 by Routledge (ISBN 978-0-415-55102-1,

“Chance is the core of improvisation,” says Rosenthal when crystallizing the point of her teaching methods, “The DbD Experience is about breaking down borders, opening up to the givens, activating the moment, and paying attention to what is.”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I told her. “Unless of course I win that wine blogging contest and go to Portugal–haha!” Well wonders will never cease–I did win that wineblogging contest, went to Portugal, and was just too severely jetlagged to go to LA the day after I returned.

Fortunately, Helen went to Rachel Rosenthal’s 83nd Birthday Bash–and wrote about it for us:

The press was dubbing it “The Cultural Event of the Year” so I was expecting an over-crowded, stuffy event to honor Rachel Rosenthal’s decades of theater and performance art. All I knew was that Rachel did performance art in the 60’s and had a shaved head.

The hosting gallery, Track 16, in the Bergamot Station, Santa Monica CA, avoided décor with just plain white walls. Half the gallery was dedicated to the works for a silent auction that benefited Rosenthal Company’s TOHUBOHU! This new performance troupe, bills itself as an “Extreme Theater Ensemble” where nothing is scripted, rehearsed or repeated.

The event also premièred her new book The DbD Experience – Chance Knows What it’s Doing!, a mix of memoir, philosophical musing, and teaching manual. Here she explored improvisational theater and its relationship to
life, offering a blow-by-blow account of what happens in her DbD weekend intensive workshops.

Among the 83 pieces were works by John Baldessari, Mike Kelley, Robert Rauschenberg, Lita Albuquerque, Eleanor Antin, Judy Baca, Ed Moses and June Wayne. A Ed Ruska was going for $1,000; a happy celebrant won a large painting by The Unknown Heartist, for only $70, which several us felt was the superior piece. Many of the artists who contributed the art to the silent auction were in attendance.

Balloon sculpture, Pali X-mano, (www. whose works float around Burning Man and Santa Barbara Soltice, was there in his fun spattered pain over-alls, showing off his portfolio, which included a 20¹x20¹ tentacle
balloon that housed a 4-piece band.

Stand out art came from Photographer Lennybruce Lee, Llyn Foulkes collage “Letters to Rachel,” and metal and glass sculpture by George Herms.

While I never saw the Rauschenberg, I did see Clint Steinhauser’s beautiful necklace, “Rachel’s Head” which really showed the love these artists have for her and her powerful inspiration.

This was turning out to be more of a real Birthday party with people cooing over the birthday girl and chiming about her experiences with her.

There was a big cake from the Cake Divas, towering a top the 20 foot table lined with petit fours, gold sprinkled cookies, Croquembouche and chocolate cookies with handwritten ŒR¹s.

The Bar had a lovely supply of Hogarten Beer, White Cosmos and Bitch Bubbly. While Bitch, a grenache from Grateful Palate Imports, is considered by many a for the “label only” wine, the Bitch Bubbly was a lovely very dry Rose which complemented the desert table.

John Fleck MCed.  Performances of mime, vaudeville, and song included Amy Knoles from the California E.A.R. Unit and Jean Paul Monsché of the Mad Alsacians. All rich with accolades to Rachel, with her concluding, that she hoped we all had a lot of money to spend.

The receiving line was long and diverse: Rosenthal’s fame rose in the 1950s as artistic director and performer in her totally improvised “Instant Theater.” In the 1960s and 1970s, she was a pioneer in animal rights issues, and was a founder of “Womanspace,” a hotbed of feminism. Among the guests were her fellow comrades with the look of past battles in their eyes, while young students knelled down beside her with their glowing faces.

And then magically there was a break in the line. I turned to Rachel and mentioned that I just had turned 50 and it was amazing to see her here at 83. She just held my arm with both her hands, looked at me and smiled. Then I felt this great wave of energy. After a timeless moment I walked back to a chair. I sat and absorbed the whirl of joyous energy, strong enough to alter the Bitch Bubbly in my head. And I thought, Wow! does her art carry this energy across to an audience?

The evening closed with Alberto DeAlmar, playing Flaminco guitar in front of the Dosco Indian food truck, while the last of us danced and clapped.

Like The Los Angeles Times says of Rachel, “Rosenthal  bills herself simply as a performance artist. That’s about as accurate as calling the Taj Majal a house. The woman is a monument and a marvel. She is a force of nature…She is timeless, ageless, gutsy, quirky, exotic, potentially poignant.”

I believe ‘em.

Happy Birthday Rachel!

Accounts of Rachel Rosenthal’s Birthday party from the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly help to illuminate this force of nature:,0,499239.story and
as do these photos from
ARTinfo’s recent shoot:
and these images from the birthday bash:

Watch this space for an upcoming review of Rachel Rosenthal’s new book, the upcoming performance in February and more.

VC Students to Read in Artists Union Gallery Tonight 7:30pm

Students from Gwendolyn Alley’s English composition classes will read prose and poetry from their recently published class anthologies tonight, Tuesday Dec. 8 7:30 in  the Artists Union Gallery, 330 S. California St. Ventura California. The reading is free and all are welcome.

Pictured are students from Alley’s English 2 class at the conclusion of Eco-Fest which they organized. Christina Henderson drew the poster; an image with students and the poster graces the cover of their student publication.

Eco-Fest Success

Here are a few photos from Thursday’s successful Eco-Fest event at Ventura College organized by students in Gwendolyn Alley’s English 1A and English 2 classes.

Students had tables set up with information on growing your own food, reasons to ride bikes, a bicycle mechanic was on duty, and more.City of Ventura Environmental Services shared information about recycling, composting, worm bins and more. Kendra from VCCool encouraged people to join in climate change activism. Daniel and Jennfier Richman showed off and sold some of their handmade jewelry. Albert Hernandez dj’d the event with some help from his classmates (and his dad!)

Thanks to everyone for making the this wintry event a success!

VC Eco-Pirates Present Eco-Fest Dec. 3 & Save Santa Ride Dec. 4

On Thursday December 3, the Ventura College Eco-Pirates (a/k/a students in Gwendolyn
Alley’s English 1A & 2 classes) invite you, your friends, your family, and your students to:

The Ventura College Eco-Fest:
a Do It Yourself Day of Action
Thursday December 3,
8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the quad


& get a free bagel from Noah’s
& get it looked over by a mechanic
& get your winter riding lights on!

& get a free cup of coffee from Starbuck’s!

Learn why you should ride your bike
Learn how to grow a salad
Learn about DIY & self empowerment
Learn about the threat of plastics to local ocean ecosystems

Listen to music, watch films & more:
Gifts & crafts by local artists
Tables with info from local environmental organizations including VCCool & City of Ventura
Environmental Services

Friday, December 4, Save Santa ArtRide:

What will happen to Santa if the North Pole melts?
Calling all Santas, elves, polar bears & reindeer!
4:45 p.m. Meet at the corner of Day Rd & Telegraph
5:00 p.m. Ride down Telegraph to Main
5:30-6:00 p.m. Meet at the Artists Union Gallery
6:00 p.m. Ride to art galleries and studios
7:45 p.m. Socialize: Meet at the Ventura Visitors Center, 101 S. CA St at Santa Clara
for food from Milanos & beverages
$5-$15 donation for all you care to eat & drink

For more information, see Wednesday’s article in the Venture Breeze or check out these links–