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!

Make a video about YOUR concerns about climate change

I received this email today from the Alliance for Climate Protection
& think making a video would be a great project for us all!
As the New Media Director here at the Alliance for Climate Protection,
I’ve been thrilled to see The Wall grow so rapidly over the last few weeks.

My team and I have been busy reviewing thousands of moving messages,
and I just wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of our favorites,
and share with you why I’m so excited about this campaign.
Enjoy these, then add your own:

Watch Bill Nye.Watch Kaitlin.
Watch Daniel.Watch Gen. Steve Cheney
In the past few years, new online tools have revolutionized the way
that people can get involved in the world around them,
connect with the things they care about, and even
organize others to truly make a difference.
Of course, traditional media like TV and newspapers are still
an important way we communicate.  But most of us can’t just go on TV
or get published in the newspaper when we have something
that we want to say.That’s what makes The Wall so unique.

The Wall is powered by your support for clean energy and enabled by an
online platform that brings together your messages from across the country
in a powerful, visual display.

We then amplify your messages by putting them in mass media ads targeted
for your state or community.

These ads are uniquely positioned to have an impact on the elected leaders
who are deciding now how soon we’ll take action for clean energy and climate
in this country.

The Wall represents a resounding sense of urgency shared by diverse voices
from across the country.

It gives us the chance to organize and connect on clean energy and climate
in a whole new way.

As our leaders debate issues of Make  and scope related to clean energy policies,
The Wall is more important than ever to make our voices heard
in the fight for strong energy and climate policies.

Add your voice and grow a movement for clean energy that our leaders can’t ignore:

I look forward to your message and thank you for being a part of this exciting campaign.

Tim Fullerton
New Media Director

I hope you’ll go check it out! If you make and post a video, leave a comment below
so we can check it out!

Ventura College One Act Plays November 2009

The Ventura College Theatre Department presents the Fall 2009 One-Act Play Festival beginning November 12. This semester’s one-acts include Seven Menus, a transcendental dining experience shared by multiple couples in ever-changing relationships, written by David Ives and directed by Aaron Manuyag; Variations on the Death of Trotsky, an exploration of how the great Leon Trotsky came to have a mountain climber’s axe smashed into his head, written by David Ives and directed by James Fraker; Night Visits, an endearing parable of love, loss, and ultimate happiness, written by Simon Fill and directed by Alex Manriquez; and Misreadings, a unique tale of the delicate and complex relationship between teacher and student, written by Neena Beber and directed by Wayne Hellstrom.

The One-Acts will be performed at the Ventura College Mainstage and Circus Theatres continue next weekend: Thursday, November 19 at 8pm, Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21 at 8pm, and a Sunday Matinee on November 22 at 3pm. Tickets are $7.00 for general admission, and $5.00 for students, staff, and seniors, and are available only at the door shortly before the performance begins. For more information, contact Judy Garey at 654-6400 ext. 3236 or Jay Varela at ext. 3194.

Students enrolled in my classes get in free! Just tell them you’re in my class and your name and they’ll look you up on the roster. I hope you’ll write up a review on your blog–please leave a link here so we can go see!

Harvest ArtWak to feature children’s play at Bell Arts

 Bell Arts Art walk play "We Source: We are our greatest resource"There’s plenty going on around with the Ventura Harvest Artwalk this weekend downtown.

 We Source ActorsBell Arts Factory is always a highlight of any ArtWalk, but today Sunday at 2pm, my son will be performing there in a very unusual and free theatrical presentation, “We Source” about “magical beings in a magical forest who discover what empties the spirit and feeds the soul.”

About 11 children from 5-12 have been developing the story and rehearsing the play two afternoons a week for two months. Numerous adult artists from Bell Arts and the community have also been involved in various aspects of the play written and directed by Tracy Hudak, created by the young artists of the Bell Arts Youth Program, and with live music. The set includes a fabulous tree created by MB Hanrahan, Rosel Weedn, and Michele Foster. Bell Arts is located at 432. N. Ventura Avenue.

 My son The WizardMy son plays a Wizard and he’s very excited about being part of this performance. He’s worked very hard to understand his character and the character’s motivation. Being part of this play has been an important journey in his life. He’s had lots of fun but he’s taken it very very seriously. I see how much he’s grown in terms of understanding the world, 7331_158274900269_553815269_2638111_5962357_nhis place in it, and how we are each motivated by various factors. As he has come to understand what motivates the characters in the play, and why and how they respond to conflict and opportunity, he has understand to himself and the world better.

If you can’t make the performance of the play on Sunday at 2pm at Bell Arts, a second performance has been added for Tuesday Oct 27 at 4pm. Hope to see you there!

And if you can’t make either performance, drop by Bell Arts to check out the set. Or join us for the First Friday ArtRide –it will still be up and lit up for our Bikers Ball gracing the stage where band The Sideshow Preachers will be performing!

Today, Monday September 21 is International Day of Peace

International Day of Peace PosterMonday, September 21 is International Day of Peace which is celebrated and honored throughout the world. A few years ago, my students and I put on an event at Ventura College which included European spoken word performer and dj Emil Brikha (who mixed a spoken word piece of mine text, mp3 here “I Want to Be That Man”) plus poet and translator Jen Hofer from Los Angeles. We had copies of a drawing of a dove which students colored, cut out and “flew” while the music and spoken words flowed in the quad, thanks to funding support from Poets and Writers.

Events large and small are going on around the world; you can view a live broadcast of events at or!  The broadcast was produced through the efforts of Unity Foundation and their partners at, and Pathways to Peace.   To add it to your Facebook profile, go here and add the Livestream application, and the Peace Broadcast will play directly on your profile!  You can EMBED the broadcast anywhere… on your own website, blog, myspace, etc!  By doing so, you will help make this broadcast viral and create more awareness about the International Day of Peace!

In closing today, a poem: Wendell Berry’s “The Peace of Wild Things” which I found in Robert Bly’s News of the Universe

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

POETRY: Gwendolyn Alley to feature 7:30pm Sept. 15 at Artists Union Galley

I will be the featured poet tonight, Tuesday Sept. 15 at the Artists Union Gallery, located in Ventura on the Beach Promenade near the parking garage: 330 So. California St. The reading is free but the parking is not.

An open mic follows my featured reading, so bring your work to share also! I look forward to hearing you read! I imagine I will read the poem read above which was selected by the on-line video poetry journal Guerilla Reads last year; I will probably read the poem below also

also as well as some 3:15 Experiment poetry like this one but probably not this one:

Over the years, I’ve published over 3 dozen broadsides in ArtLife Limited editions as well as other publications, and I’ve done readings in most of the Western states. I’ll bring  some of these to sell at the reading.

For more poetry, check around this blog or ride the Monday Poetry Train!

Three LA Area Literary & Art Collaborations & Shakespeare too for you this summer

Shakespeare Galore plus three Visual & Literary Art Collaborations in LA Summer 2009

macbeth_poster CLU KingsmenSummer is outdoor Shakespeare season with Will’s Words popping up all over the country, including many different performances in unusual venues all over the Los Angeles region including Topanga Canyon’s Will Geer Thetricum Botanicum.

The Kingsmen’s version of Macbeth opens tonight at 8pm on the campus of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, in east Ventura County followed by All’s Well That Ends Well. Bring a blanket and a picnic and come early –grounds open at 5:30pm–to enjoy the pre-show entertainment and stake out a good spot on the grass.


  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday – June 26-28, 2009
  • Thursday, Friday, Sunday – July 2-3, 5, 2009
  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday – July 10-12, 2009

All’s Well That Ends Well

  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday – July 17-19, 2009
  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday – July 24-26, 2009
  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday – July 31, August 1-2, 2009

Poetry can be heard in an art gallery at Bell Arts Factory 432 Ventura Ave Saturday starting at 7:30pm; an open mic follows the feature. If it’s less traditional means of the literary arts that fascinates you, here are three events worth checking out, two of which feature my dear friend Jen Hofer:

ONE: Jen Hofer will read in Hollywood tonight, Friday June 26 from few of her brand-new hand-made tiny books which will be exhibited as part of a group show curated by Jibade-Khalil Huffman at Eighth Veil Gallery. The show is titled Wrong: A Program of Text and Image: information on the Eighth Veil website. Jen will also have on hand a hand-sewn a quilt made of papers collected on recent cross-country travels and she’ll be setting up the escritorio público (public letter-writing desk) at the opening where she charges $2 for a letter, $3 for a love letter, and $5 for an illicit love letter.

WRONG: A Program of Text and Image Curated by Jibade-Khalil Huffman
26 June 2009 – 31 July 2009 Opening reception June 26
Eighth Veil 7174 Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, California

Featuring works by: Lucas Blalock, Mira Dancy, Zipora Fried, Charles Gaines, Jen Hofer, Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Marci MacGuffie, Eliza Newman-Saul, Mariah Robertson, Xaviera Simmons, Lawrence Weiner. Curated by artist and writer Jibade-Khalil Huffman, “Wrong: A Program of Text and Image” is a group exhibition of works concerned with the use of language in visual art. In conjunction with the show, Eighth Veil is producing “After Stanley Donen,” an anthology of art and writing edited by Huffman, available in July. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 12 – 6pm, and by appointment.

TWO: Visual artist Hillary Mushkin and Jen Hofer collaborated on Precipitation, an animated video that is part of the Oog series, an online multimedia opinion feature for the nationally distributed Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. It can be viewed this week at After that it will be in the archives,  You’ll find Hillary’s images on her website, and in the near future another of collaborative projects will be published in the journal area sneaks, edited by Rita Gonzalez and Joseph Mosconi.


Mild Light

An evening of Cantastoria from the Performance Department of The Museum of Everyday Life

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“Cantastoria” is the Italian word for a traditional performance form originating in 6th Century India, involving the display of representational paintings accompanied by sung narration. Recently there has been a revival of interest in Cantastoria among performers,artists, puppeteers and activists in the West, who find that this ancient form has startlingly modern qualities and can easily be infused with fresh content. Historical, lyrical, and pathetical examples of the ancient and post-modern art of picture-story recitation will be presented by Clare Dolan, Chief Operating Philosopher of the Museum of Everyday Life (Vermont). Using examples from the permanent collection of the Museum of Everyday Life, Clare will demonstrate the versatility and immediacy of this performance form, with stories ranging from accounts of bloody crime in the 1930’s written by Bertolt Brecht, to the dilemmas of a modern-day heroine trying to make a living and achieve total happiness. In addition to the shows, a brief, entertaining and historical overview of the performance form will be presented, and refreshments will be served.July 2nd and 3rd performances will feature a special musical performance by Emily Lacy!Show Times:
Thursday, July 2nd at 8pm
Friday, July 3 at 8pm
Friday, July 3 at 10pm
Saturday, July 4th at 8pm

The Manual Archives
3320 West Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

general admission $12

students or seniors $8

For more information please go to

The Manual Archives is a project of Automata

Native American Playwright’s Fest at LA’s Autry Center closes 6/27; Climbing Art show open to Oct. 4

granite frontiers at the Autry MuseumThe Autry National Center this summer presents a stunning exhibition, Granite Frontiers: A Century of Yosemite Climbing. For more information on The Autry, click here.

Granite Frontiers chronicles the history of modern rock climbing in Yosemite, where the towering granite walls of Yosemite Valley are the ultimate proving ground for climbers from around the globe.  Included are amazing artifacts, stunning photographs, historic video footage and interactive displays, giving you a sense of the rich history of over 100 years of climbing in Yosemite.

Photo: Pete on Sunkist by Greg Epperso

from Granite Frontiers: A Century of Yosemite Climbing

KCRW members like me receive free admission plus a guest by showing a KCRW Fringe Benefits Card, Saturday, September 5, 2009 only. No Fringe Benefits Card?  Subscribe to KCRW at the $50 level or higher and start saving at nearly 1000 businesses. Click here.

Closing this weekend at the Autry:


GOLD–VC Dance Concert

The Ventura College Dance Department’s spring show, GOLD, celebrates award winning music, cinema, and stage performances. Through dance and song the audience will relive Grammy, Academy, and Tony recipients. GOLD will please all dance lovers with a full range of genre, including ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop, ballroom, and tap. For music enthusiasts, there will be live performances from some of the county’s best vocal artists.
GOLD will be in the main theater at Ventura College Friday May 16th at 8:00 pm, Saturday May 17th at 8:00 pm and a 3:00 pm matinee performance on Sunday May 18th.
This original dance production is the artistic creation of the students in Dance 30, a course offered at Ventura College to give students real experience in choreography and performance. GOLD is directed by Becky Contreras, in conjunction with assistant director Darshana Chima.
Dance numbers will include performances to well-known music from such movies and musicals as Gone with the Wind, Doctor Zhivago, Chariots of Fire, Casablanca, Love Story, Zorba the Greek, An American in Paris, Chicago, The Godfather, Titanic, Wicked, Grease, Guys and Dolls, Dream Girls, Lion King, Schindler’s List, the Wiz, Movin’ Out, and Hairspray.
Music will include pieces from Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Sound of Music, Man of La Mancha, Camelot, Cabaret, Big River, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and South Pacific.
Students from around the county will be participating in this series of performances:
Janesse Alcaraz, Karen Alfaro, Yulianna Alfara, Yadira Barboza, Jannely Becerra, Isaias Castillo, Latika Castillo, Glacy May Guijo Juan Carlo Gutierrez, Rudy Larrazolo, Erika Lopez, Jocelyn Liu, Ashley Martinez, Jessica Parizo, Rafael Rameriz, all of Oxnard; Alyse Herrera, Linda Isaac, April Rose Muentz, Shelby Schneider, Olivia Valdellon, all of Ventura, Eddie Martinez of Santa Paula and Micelle Muentz of Cape May, New Jersey. Danielle Barrette of Fillmore was also in the cast until her death in a car accident last week. The cast is continuing with the scheduled performances in her memory.
All tickets at the door will be $10.00. Pre-sale tickets are $10.00 for general admission, $8:00 for students, seniors, and faculty members. For more information, or to order tickets contact Becky Contreras at 805-207-5877.

On the Rewards of Volunteering

From the LA Times: The rewards of Big Sunday

It may not have the production value of ‘Extreme Makeover,’ but the hard work of helping people has its rewards.
By David T. Levinson
May 2, 2008

Bill Clinton wrote a whole book about it. Oprah Winfrey turned it into an eight-week prime-time TV competition. And even President Bush is in on the act, declaring this National Volunteer Week.

Volunteerism — giving and helping and donating time and energy — is all the rage. And that’s a wonderful thing.

I think.

I run a large annual event called Big Sunday, and over the years have worked with thousands of volunteers. Last year, for instance, about 50,000 of them pitched in, helping in all kinds of amazing ways. Certainly my organization has benefited from all this new volunteer chic.

That said, things can get sticky when volunteering becomes the “in” thing to do — like going to Kauai. Suddenly it’s an experience to be marked with photos of houses built or tallies of meals served, and rewarded with a satisfying emotional payoff.

“I want,” one prospective volunteer told me, “to go to a poor person’s house and help at an extreme makeover.” Well, so would I. But “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is a TV show that involves months of preparation and many thousands of dollars, not to mention soaring music, clever editing and close-ups of crying beneficiaries. I can do makeovers, some more extreme than others. And I can always argue why they’re worth doing. But I can’t guarantee the Kodak moment.

The homeless man muttered at his cheeseburger. “What is he trying to tell us?” another volunteer asked hopefully, looking for some deeper truth. But we were in a shelter, not a Robin Williams movie, and the man was only, I think, telling us that he was schizophrenic. It doesn’t mean the burger — or the man — wasn’t worth serving.

A few years back, a volunteer screamed at me because she couldn’t find a nearby parking space. “I’m sorry,” I said, “but the turnout has been much larger than we expected. Would you mind parking a few blocks away?” Yes, actually, she would. “It’s wonderful,” I continued, still trying, “because now we can help so many more kids!” “This is terrible!” she responded, furious, as if she’d pulled up at Mozza and there was no valet. “And I drove all the way from the Valley!”

About this time last year, I got a call from a caseworker at a home for people with AIDS. He’d just heard of Big Sunday and was hoping that, at this crazed eleventh hour, we could muster some people to come by, visit the residents, maybe serve brunch.

So I called some friends — a middle-aged Jewish guy from Hancock Park, an African American schoolteacher, strangers to each other — and asked if they’d help. Sure, they said. Then two women from a church across town e-mailed, apologetic for being so last minute, and they kindly agreed to go too. Great. They divvied up the food buying. Wonderful. This project was so easy.

Until the home’s address didn’t appear on MapQuest. The ragtag quartet eventually found it, but the weekend staffers answering the door knew nothing about any brunch and were suspicious of these so-called volunteers loaded down with eggs and pastry. They talked their way in — only to find indifferent residents. Ever hopeful, they kept calling me to get advice, offer updates or commiserate; my heart sank every time my phone rang. This was not going the way it was supposed to.

But these intrepid volunteers somehow coaxed one resident out of her room. And did, indeed, serve her brunch. I know this because the next day, my schoolteacher friend forwarded me an e-mail from her that said: “I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated you and your friends’ hospitality. I haven’t had that much fun and laughter in a long time. And please let me know if you ever need my help.”

In a big weekend of big numbers and big events, this was the smallest of moments. There are no statistics to mark it. No before-and-after pictures.

Yet it reminded me why I do this. Of course, volunteering is wonderful. And sure, volunteers deserve to get their own special week. But in the end, the reason I love working with volunteers — and continue to year after year — is finding those people who are looking only for what they can give.

David T. Levinson is the founder and executive director of Big Sunday, which is this weekend.Ser