Ventura College Publication for Student Writing Seeks Submissions by 3/28

VC Voices

Close up of hand writingNeeds student writing!

Get published for cash prizes!
Get extra credit by submitting your work and including a copy of it and a screen shot that shows you did it!

Submissions due Friday March 28!

What is eligible: any essay, short story, or poem written by a student for an English class at Ventura College within the last year.

How to submit:

  • Complete a online submission form here.

Contact the editors for more details:

Ventura College To Host Environmental Lectures


You are invited to attend guest lectures for ESRM1/BIO 10.

Guest lecture on fracking:  RL Miller

Wed. 3/12 at 1:30-2:45pm in rm: ECT-8

Guest lecture on SOAR: Steve Bennett

Wed 3/19  at 1:30-2:45pm in rm: ECT-8

Guest lecture on Climate Change: Don Price

Wed 3/26 at 1:30-2:45pm in rm: ECT-8

RL Miller

RL Miller is a climate blogger at outlets including DailyKos, Climate Progress, Grist, Calitics, and on climate, environment, and clean energy policy. And you can Follow @RL_Miller on Twitter. He has recently founded Climate Hawks Vote, a superPAC devoted to electing climate-centric candidates. He has spoken at Netroots Nation (coal exports and climate), Netroots California (led environmental panel, 2010) and locally on issues such as Proposition 23, nuclear power, & fracking, and has appeared on radio shows including Lila Garrett’s KPFK. Miller’s work has been written up in the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, and Guardian (UK). He is also chair of California Democratic Party’s Environmental Caucus. Current interests, in all that spare time, include practicing law, keeping chickens, and – on rare occasions – sleeping.

Steve Bennett:
Steve Bennett serves on the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, representing the citizens of District 1. He graduated in 1972 from Brown University with an Honors degree in economics. Before being elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2000, Steve was a teacher and high school administrator for 20 years at Nordhoff High school in Ojai. Steve served on the Ventura City Council from 1993 to 1997. He co-authored the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) that has made Ventura County a national leader in land-use planning. SOAR slows urban sprawl by requiring a vote of the citizens before greenbelt areas outside of the cities can be rezoned for development.

Don Price

Don Price is a professional engineer now retired from the Ventura County
Air Pollution Control District. A graduate of Purdue University, he
has over 30 years of experience in the control of air pollution and has
been following global climate change since 2007.

Extra credit or make up an absence for my students who attend and write about these events!

Save the date: Earth Day April 22, 2014 Earth Day at Ventura College.

Find us on Facebook!

In Recognition of Martin Luther King Jr

No school on Monday January 20, 2014 at Ventura College! Celebrate MLK’s birthday and honor him by being of service!

Note to current students: links to today’s readings and discussion materials embedded here to make it easier for us to prepare for class.

art predator

From Martin Luther King’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon, given on 4 February 1968:

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.

You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.

You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.

imagesYou don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.

You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.

View original post 463 more words

Joan Didion’s “Holy Water”

PoseidonPasadenaP1This semester, my English 1A classes are going to tackle some tough environmental problems, with a focus on water.  We’ll also share what we’ve learned at an Earth Day event we’ll organize.  Water has been on my mind for a while now, and in 2013 I was commissioned by the City of Pasadena to write a poem about water and power which will be part of an art installation in 2014 (part of the poem is pictured). I’ve also been concerned about plastic in the ocean and following a lecture by Chris Jordan, I wrote on this topic here and here, as well as a paper for my degree in Ecopsychology.

In anticipation of where we’ll go and what we’ll learn this semester, here is Joan Didion’s celebrated essay “Holy Water” from her 1979 collection of essays, The White Album. I found it here as part of a special look at water called “Thirst” on PBS.

Some of us who live in arid parts of the world think about water with a reverence others might find excessive. The water I will draw tomorrow from my tap in Malibu is today crossing the Mojave Desert from the Colorado River, and I like to think about exactly where that water is. The water I will drink tonight in a restaurant in Hollywood is by now well down the Los Angeles Aqueduct from the Owens River, and I also think about exactly where that water is: I particularly like to imagine it as it cascades down the 45-degree stone steps that aerate Owens water after its airless passage through the mountain pipes and siphons.(1)

As it happens my own reverence for water has always taken the form of this constant meditation upon where the water is, of an obsessive interest not in the politics of water but in the waterworks themselves, in the movement of water through aqueducts and siphons and pumps and forebays and afterbays and weirs and drains, in plumbing on the grand scale. Continue reading

Actions for Bicycle Awareness + Safety

VCCool is leading three upcoming actions, starting with a ride tomorrow, Sat. Nov. 23, 2013:

1.) Bicycle Awareness Ride
Saturday, November 23, 2:00pm-4:30pm,
Starting at the HUB Community Bike Shop
1150 N. Ventura Avenue, Ventura

Wear signs about the SOLUTION!!
This is not a ride of silence. What’s our message?
Same Roads, Same Rights, Same Responsibilities.
“We’re all in this together!” or “Bicycling Makes Life Wonderful.”
Or “Coexist!”
The Route: Ventura Ave/Main St/Loma Vista/Then Back

My students can join the ride for extra credit or to make up an absence.

2.) Letters to the Editor
Share how our dangerous roads affect you, your family, and our community. What are some solutions that would serve all of us? What does the freedom to bicycle and walk in our City mean to you? Do you have a kind message that you think might educate readers?

Please take a few minutes in the next day or two to write and email or snail mail your letter in advance of the council meeting and to follow-up awareness after the ride.  My students can write AND SEND a letter for extra credit. Include the published letter in your portfolio.

3.) Bring the Issue to City Council
Monday, December 2
6:00pm- 7:30ish (come early to get a seat and fill out a PINK comment form)
Ventura City Hall
501 Poli St., Ventura, CA

Students can attend for extra credit–even more if you prepare something to say, speak, and include your notes/speech in your portfolio.

Read more details here. Students looking for extra credit or for a new research project might want to look into this more!

You think this class is tough? Check out Auden’s!

tumblr_mb8gp7oZH21qz4v5ho1_1280Think this class requires a lot of reading? Check out this syllabus from a lit class taught by poet W.H. Auden in the early 1940s! (Click on the picture to make it bigger).

Imagine 6,000 pages of reading for 2 credits for 2 semesters! And that 6,000 pages probably doesn’t include the suggested readings!

In comparison, my graduate school classes require 1,000 pages of reading for a 2 unit class. That’s about 100 pages a week per class. And that’s a lot!

To compare again, I assign my college students between 50 and 100 pages a week for a 5 unit community college writing classes.

Read more about Auden’s class here.

Sue Shapiro’s Genious “Humiliation Essay” Assignment

In the article “Make Me Worry You’re Not OK,” author Sue Shapiro explains how her assignment, the humiliation essay, “encourages students to shed vanity and pretension” and discover that “through the art of writing, [students] can transform their worst experience into the most beautiful.”

Read the whole article here:

I’m gearing up for the new term which starts Monday Jan 14. I’m teaching two sections of writing at Ventura College, one “fundamentals” class (English 2) and one transfer level class (English 1A). E2 meets Tues/Thurs from noon-2:15pm and E1A meets from 430-645pm.

Do you think I should model my first assignment this spring after her humiliation essay? Do you think students would get into it? Hmmn…certainly would make for some a great writing practice prompt–and some great blog posts!

Oh, and happy new year!


Student Blogs 2012

Most semesters, I require my students to start a blog. For the past two semesters, I’ve asked students to create a blog for a group presentation related to their book club book, and to use that blog during their presentation. That way, the materials they collect to present are all in one place and available to anyone who would like to know more about it.

In the comments below, I’ve asked students to post links to their personal and group blogs from Fall 2012 so we can all go check them out!

Happy reading, commenting, and liking!

I Search for Solutions: Name, Reflect, Act

Term Paper II

Term Paper II (Photo credit: SBellavance)

One of the key components of any college composition class is THE RESEARCH PAPER.

Learning how to do college level research, to write an essay where there’s an argument and not just a report or summary on the topic, is critical to student success. That’s because most students will be required to write one or more papers for almost every upper-division class they have as they strive to reach their degree goals. There is also a presentation aspect–sharing your research with the class and on your blog.

Why name, reflect, act?

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” Chinese Proverb

Why volunteer? Here’s one author’s take on the rewards of volunteering:

Where can you do research and/or take action? The United Way website lists various opportunities and offers a way to search according to your interests. Here’s an example of a posting that a student found to see if it would work for this project:

Seeking young, upbeat people to volunteer for a fun
community project
Be a part of the Prize Posse!

“Be the DD and Win” is a campaign intended to bring awareness to the
importance of designated drivers in a fun and positive way.

We’re looking for outgoing males and females (ages 21-30) for members of the
Prize Posse. Teams will travel to several downtown Ventura nightlife
establishments on several scheduled nights to interact with the crowds and
give away prizes. The “Be the DD” campaign has been a huge success, and we
need you to continue making it. . .

–> Sponsored by Straight Up

For more information, please visit:

Here’s the assignment: Continue reading