Monday, September 15, 2014

Solano Stroll: History through Community

Sunday was the 2014 Solano Stroll.. An acquaintance had suggested "It's been done.. hasn't it??" and then remarked on how his family had attended in the past and even the kids had been in the parade. Sure, I said.. but this year would be different.

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Different for me, at any rate: I would be supporting it as a member and volunteer with the Berkeley Historical Society. I've been volunteering a bit in various ways here and there with the group since earlier this Spring.. and although I wasn't sure I was ready to be thrown into a wolves' den of people (crowds of strangers and unfamiliar situations tend to make me a little anxious unless I know someone..) I was more than willing to give it a go. For as much as new experiences can make me anxious, I still love to try new things, and learn new things.

While I knew what to expect as an attendee of the Stroll, I wasn't sure I was knowledgable enough to support the Society the two hours I was there. It turns out I had nothing to worry about.. I was surrounded by knowledgable associates that were there at the ready whenever a question was too much for me.. Mostly I just chatted people up, sold postcards of various views of Berkeley, some neat B&W pix, as well made change, shared out membership pamphlets when requested, and just had Fun!

Being at the Stroll in this capacity put into play one of the aspects of history that I love.. the tactile aspect. Yes, it's "going to places" where historical things happened.. One can visit Philadelphia or Baltimore as I have, or Charleston or St Augustine, (as I also have many years ago) and see where things happened and be told what and who did what where.. but the bit I'm talking about is more subtle than that.

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Walking Solano, you see the theatre, the shops, you talk to people who live there and are part of the community. You take in their experience. You take home your own memories and photos of things you saw or experienced. Whether it's the neat hat I purchased at a local shop or a Solano Stroll poster I took home a few years ago.. the ephemera and memories.. You look around and know people have shopped here before, lived here before.. memory ghosts ..that walk the sidewalks and commune with neighbors and shopkeepers.

Listening to the people yesterday that were fascinated with the panoramic image of Berkeley that the Society had on display (and for sale) was a pleasure. Discussion, sometimes heated about which building was missing or where someone's home was or which street they were looking at.. Learning by listening, learning by viewing.. Learning by holding the things that came before and being part of it myself. It's more than just visiting a park or a city. It's experiencing and opening yourself to those around you and the stories they share.. Being part of the community engagement. Yes, there's a lot of nostalgia mixed throughout these stories.. but so is some truth.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Back to School!

I was going to title this post "What's goin' on".. but figured people would collectively throw stuff at me.. and I wouldn't blame them..

I haven't been posting partly because I haven't been up to much.. but I've been up to a lot at the same time..

1. School started up the week of the 18th of August.. I'm taking 3 classes at Berkeley City College this semester.. giving things a chance to ramp up and see where the curriculum takes me..

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2. Volunteering: been involved on a basic level with the Berkeley Historical Society since the end of March.. mostly helping with aspects of event hosting: set up, seating people, and clearing things up afterwards, helping with any random mailings, and attend monthly program committee meetings regularly.. I'm expanding my knowledge to hopefully include Docent-ing at the History Center once a month, (especially now that school is in session.)

Recently I was approached about a couple volunteer projects at the BPL.. so I've jumped into that the last couple weeks.. I don't know how official I am yet, but suffice to say I'm happy to be of use, and if I am of any help it makes me very glad and grateful. Some days that's all I want: to feel I have a purpose and I'm not wasting oxygen being here.. And if I have the opportunity to meet folks (and make friends Dangit!) and learn new things.. that's the real lagniappe.. that something extra I shouldn't expect but feel good if it comes my way.

3. Settling into the new home.. We've not finished unpacking our stuff by a long shot.. and it's unlikely we'd be "company" ready any time soon either.. but we're in our new home and enjoying the neighborhood and proximity to all the conveniences that living in Berkeley have to offer.

Also with September here, I'm living the reality of all the various organizations, school groups, and historical associations coming together to create this great atmosphere of history and remembrance for the anniversary of the FSM. So many opportunities to see that great karmic quilt flow and grow: every fiber touching another, crossing through and moving on through another thread.. I already knew the world was small place when I lived in New Orleans.. but seeing it in action between the various history groups, academia, and community activists is something! I could never tire of seeing the world work together.. Berkeley is not the only place where this action is happening.. Like I mentioned, New Orleans was a big example of that for me in the past.. but you can see it happen in your own community if you look around you. Pay attention to all those folks in your area.. what they're doing and the people who flow in and out of your life.. The patterns are there if we look.. No need to be surprised by any of it, just enjoy the coincidences when they happen! =)

As for the posts, I'm trying not to sweat it. Stuff is going on, I just need to let things happen and write when I feel the muse.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Something By Sondheim


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It was
something by Sondheim..
some thing..
that makes me think of you
like he,
wishing his mentor would know..
aren't you proud of me..
proud of you!
if only
I had that way with words.
if only I could be
better like he..
I think of all the stories
if I could write
the light like you..
the things you do.. did.
when you walked the earth
and made generations love
you.. Honorary Uncle
honored by me..
loving your every word.
missing every word,
and your heart and your head..
and you.. Missing you.
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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Radical Acts Pop-Up Talk

Friday August 15th the Oakland Museum of California held a pop-up talk by Lincoln Cushing, curator of Radical Acts..

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The installation includes 15 counter-culture / activist posters within a smaller time frame of the original "All of Us or None" archive that appeared at OMCA in a previous year. Some of the posters were chosen based on comments from museum patrons, (which were included with the displayed poster art.)

Democratize Yellow Cab
This linotype poster print attributed to Franke Rowe is my favorite of the posters included in this installation. If I recall the story correctly, (I didn't take notes) Rowe was an instructor at SF State who was fired for refusing to sign the loyalty oath during the 50s... banned from teaching til the late 60s, when he was hired at Laney.

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There was a pretty nice crowd for the talk which was to last about 15 min.. I wished it could have been longer.. Pop-Up talks as part of OMCA's Friday nights feature different speakers each week.. as well discounted admission, and the food trucks of course.. although honestly this was the first Friday Night event I've made as I specifically came for the talk.

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I took the pix with my iphone.. no flash.. so a lot of blurriness & jazz hands.. ;) However, if you want to see the other pix I took of the framed posters or more blurry image 'jazz hands' you can view them in my OMCA flickr set HERE..

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Poetry at Mrs Dalloway's

Thursday night we headed over to Mrs Dalloway's for a poetry reading with Matthew Zapruder & Dean Young:
Matthew Zapruder reading

Dean Young