Why You Should Exercise Outside

According a recent article in the New York Times, Gretchen Reynolds argues that the benefits of exercising outdoors far exceed those of working out in a gym:

“While the allure of the gym — climate-controlled, convenient and predictable — is obvious, especially in winter, emerging science suggests there are benefits to exercising outdoors that can’t be replicated on a treadmill, a recumbent bicycle or a track.”
Hmn,  I wonder how working out outside might help with what Richard Louv has coined “nature deficit disorder”?
Read more here:
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Rachel Carson Center’s New Blog Sees the Forest

Rachel Carson’s landmark book Silent Spring turns 50 this fall (read an except here of the chapter “The Obligation to Endure”).Douglas's review contributed to the success of...

The Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society just launch its blog, Seeing the Forest: http://seeingtheforest.org/ to demonstrate the relevancy and importance of humanistic and historical perspectives in discussions about today’s environmental challenges.

By providing context to reveal the bigger picture, or “the forest,” the blog shows the

long and complex relationship between humans and nature, and serves as a resource and forum for those invested in and curious about the environmental humanities.

The blog welcomes contributions from scholars, students and professionals in the environmental humanities field.

Planetary Problems, Botany of Desire, Writing Projects

This semester, my students and I are thinking about the “Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet, Profit.” We started class by reading various essays about “people” then we moved on to planet, thinking about what we eat and how we live, and reading Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire.

Students have been giving presentations on sections of the book: Apple, Tulip, Marijuana, Potato, and now it’s time to begin the writing process to produce a paper on a topic relevant to planet; I’ll review first drafts today.

Here are a series of questions for us to consider today. Please write a note discussing them to turn in with your draft at the beginning of class.

  • 1. What concerns you most about the planet?
  • 2. What interested you most about what we’ve studied?
  • 3. What did/do you like best about your group’s presentation? Another presentation? What have you learned from the presentations?
  • 4. What is your paper about? What texts are you using? What’s your argument?

James Hansen: “Just say NO to COAL”

Revolutionary Resolutions #1: James Hansen advocates "Just say NO to COAL"

Just as DARE’s “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign belittles the struggles of drug addicts and avoids the greater cultural and economic challenges that lead to drug use, so does the simple “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” approach to dealing with global warming lack substance as well as any significant signs of success. Here’s the Inconvenient Truth: no matter how much or how often you personally ride your … Read More

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VC Eco-Pirates Present Eco-Fest Dec. 3

Save Santa! The Ventura College Eco-Pirates Present:
Eco-Fest– A DIY Day for Action Thursday December 3, 2009 8:30am-1:30pm

Can’t go to the UN’s Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen this December?
Join the Eco-Pirates in Ventura College quad 4667 Telegraph Road
and learn how you can “Do It Yourself” to help preserve the planet and ourselves.
Keep the North Pole from melting!

On Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009 from 8:30am-1:30pm, Ventura College students from Gwendolyn Alley’s English composition classes will offer a free “Eco-Fest: A Do It Yourself Day for Action” which they have organized over the last few weeks of the semester. Student presentations encourage cycling, gardening, ocean rescue, and self-empowerment.  All are welcome to this free event.

Students encourage participants to ride bikes or take public transportation to the event. Student and local bike mechanics will be on-hand to show cyclists how to fix their own bikes and look over bikes to make sure they are in shape for commuting.  Students will also be sharing eight reasons to ride and information about local fun rides including the monthly themed First Friday ArtRides to galleries around downtown Ventura. The next ride, the Save Santa Ride, asks: what will Santa due if the North Pole melts? (details follow)

Another student group will offer information on how to grow a salad. They will have seeds and soil so participants can begin at the event. An additional student group is concerned about women’s empowerment. In the Fireside Lounge, students will curate a film festival on these themes. Other entertainment includes art, music, handmade crafts and eco-friendly gifts.

To encourage participation at the Eco-Fest, Starbucks is donating coffee to those who bring their own cups and Noah’s Bagels will provide bagels. A small donation is requested for cream cheese. From 11:30-1pm, Milano’s is catering healthy pasta and salads for a small donation; samples will be free.

More info: http://bikergogal.wordpress.com and http://artpredator.wordpress.com

What will Santa do if  the North Pole melts due to climate change?
Join us for a Save Santa Bike Ride Fri. Dec. 5
Meet 4:45pm Ventura College corner Day/Telegraph
5-6pm Ride to Artists Union Gallery, California St & the Promenade
6-8pm Ride around downtown Ventura to open galleries
Party 8-10pm CSUCI Gallery corner of Main & CA  (unconfirmed as of 11/18/09)
for music, drinks, veggie pasta & salad from Milano’sVC

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!

Blog Action Day: Th. Oct. 15, 2009–participate!

Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day on their own blogs with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Blog Action Day 2009 will be the largest-ever social change event on the web. One day. One issue. Thousands of voices.

This year, the topic is Climate Change.

Why Climate Change?

Climate change affects us all and it threatens more than the environment. It threatens to cause famine, flooding, war, and millions of refugees.

Given the urgency of the issue of climate change and the upcoming international climate negotiations in Copenhagen this December, we think the blogosphere has the unique opportunity to mobilize millions of people around expressing support for finding a sustainable solution to the climate crisis.

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 cultureofpeace.org or internationaldayofpeace.org!  The broadcast was produced through the efforts of Unity Foundation and their partners at PeacePortal.mobi, GetZooks.biz 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.

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:

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J.M. Synge’s One Act Tragedy “Riders to the Sea”

J.M. Synge’s one act play, “Riders to the Sea,” is considered by many to be the best one act tragedy written in the English language. I know it’s one of my favorite plays for many reasons, but I’m curious why you might think it is considered one of if not the best.

If you’re not familiar with the play, or want to reread it, here’s a link. I strongly recommend reading it aloud; it will only take about 15-20 minutes. Relax and picture the scenes in your mind; you might even look on-line and find images of Galway and the Aran Islands to put you in the mood. Here’s a link about an article which discuses the native language of Ireland: LA Times: Speaking of Riders to the Sea…

Warning: Have plenty of tissue nearby when you read this play.

J.M. Synge’s One Act Tragedy “Riders to the Sea”

While you’re reading the play, consider:

1. who was J. M. Synge?
2. where and when has the play been performed?
3. symbols: the colors white and red
4. the symbol of water
5. the passing on of various articles—examples and meaning
6. allusions to fate/who were the 3 fates?
7. allusions to religion and the Bible, especially Revelations
8. when does the play take place and why is this important?
9. the comment of the priest
10. define tragedy—Aristotle’s and contemporary (what’s comedy?)
11. the role of the supernatural
12. pagan beliefs, in particular with relevance to the cake
13. keening and other unknown words and acts
14. the setting in the Aran Islands (Ireland)
15. historical context within which the play takes place
16. what and when was the Irish Literary Revival and who was involved?
17. refer to handout with questions to consider when reading drama

(For my English 1B students, in your reading response, do some research in order to answer and discuss one or more of these questions.)