From Out of Mud, Grows A Lotus

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Film Review

Mud

Somewhere in the midst of summer blockbuster releases is a quiet film that just might be worth changing your schedule to see…changing your schedule that is, to a non-prime time theater experience, as this gem finds itself being screened at 11am and 5pm here in Nevada County, making room for bigger dollar draws, like Hangover III and Fast and Furious 6.

Mud has a 99% rating with Rotten Tomatoes, the review site where the film Lincoln received 83%. But that isn’t why I changed my dinner plans and persuaded other friends to do the same—Mud held a promise for a wonderful combination of talented star power, an intriguing script and homage to a great work of American literature, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mud kept all promises and beyond this surprised me with a wonderful parallel of modern Southern life along the Mississippi.

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Rethinking Homeless Signs

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Tidily written on a piece of corrugate cardboard torn from a box, the senior couple stands near their usual corner in Boulder, Colorado: “We Never Thought it would come to This.”

For many, the sign of the times is a piece of cardboard, held by a homeless person seeking food, shelter, work or perhaps just a smile. The 14 minute short film Good Karma $1 starts with an intellectual notion and follows it back to the human heart and a social dilemma without a clear solution.

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This Summer

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It is a busy season with writing, web projects and an amazing array of outdoor adventures.

I’ll be posting links here from time on work occurring across the boards, including footnotes on social—which filters through my twitter feed on these pages, but mostly watch for my writing elsewhere, like on YubaNet.com.

Summer evening, cool breezes the press of warm sunshine, or a moon rising over Grass Valley—enjoy!

Lately

Watch for articles from me at Yubanet.com, like this one on Bill McKibben and also guest blog spots at Orion Magazine blog and  Sierra Club’s Movie Review Friday.

There is much afoot, and I’ll be posting links here from time on work occurring across the boards, including footnotes on social—which filters through my twitter feed on these pages.

Happy spring and may your garden be filled with fragrant blossoms.

 

Photo courtesy of Ananda College of Living Wisdom

Changing Currents – Wild & Scenic Film Festival

It started simply enough for me, Julia Butterfly was attending the 2006 Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival in Nevada City, California and I wanted to interview her. In that moment, my role shifted from attendee to participant. I knew it would be worth doing, but didn’t account for how incredible the stories of each film could be. These stories were the driving passion for filmmakers, often filling several years of their lives. There was so much that was brave, beautiful and hopeful going on out in the world — Wild & Scenic films bear witness to a type of engaged activism that is truly inspiring. Reviewing these underexposed films became a special project for me — a way to contribute.

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What the @@*! is the economy for anyway? (the 1%, perhaps?)

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Authors de Graaf and Batker take an unconventional look at how we tie ourselves into knots of anxiety over concepts that add little value to our lives. Their new book What’s the Economy For, Anyway?: Why It’s Time to Stop Chasing Growth and Start Pursuing Happiness dovetails with current Occupy efforts—this is a time to question not only where we are, but how we got here and de Graaf and Batker are up to the challenge—they address themes of consumption, economics and the pursuit of happiness in an America boosting over 14 million unemployed with vast wealth being held by 1% of the population.

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Searching for Radical Pragmatism

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Bill McKibben describes Tzeporah Berman as ‘a modern environmental hero.’ I like to think of her as a radical pragmatist. “This Crazy Time” is an autobiographical memoir of an effective eco-campaigner who has spent the past 18 years evolving from a student practicing civil disobedience to a key negotiator, leveraging vital policies and agreements with global corporations, government and environmental allies. Berman has been recognized by Utne Reader as one of 50 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World. This spring she assumed Greenpeace International’s co-head of the climate and energy campaign.

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Towards Understanding Urbanism

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About 5 years ago I had my first run-in with urbanism–a word I had rarely encountered and seldom really considered. A new community was being proposed, and the developer hired some leading planners to discuss the benefits of walkable communities, with moderate density and local economies. Near this time I became familiar with Chuck Durrett and Katie McCamant’s great work in planning cohousing communities. Cohousing combines private homes with common facilities. Proponents are quick to describe cohousing’s energy, efficiency and quality of life benefits.

My head was further turned as I looked at examples of auto-driven suburbs transformed into friendly neighborhoods, with small business storefronts, bicycles and mass transit.  I was delighted this spring to find David Sucher and his book, City Comforts, an everyman  guide for pedestrian-friendly urbanism.

I had long noted that once a building is up, it stays up–the energy, costs and time seem to produce a kind of intertia, making it all the more important to consider what is built. Grieving over antiquated strip malls, I had not considered the inverse of this–city parks can almost perpetually reserve green space.

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A Tone Poem for California

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 New California Writing 2011

Edited by Gayle Wattawa

Paperback, 320 pages, June 2011

Reviewed by Pamela Biery

Editor Gayle Wattawa sounds a note full of depth, resonance and diversity in “New California Writing” Heyday Books new anthology series. From Michael Chabon’s musings on everyday family life in “Manhood for Amateurs” or Rebecca Solnit’s enlightening description of bluebelly lizards, on through to the very last page, there is much to ponder, embrace and recognize as the great golden State of California.

Think of this book as a snapshot of a single moment, captured simultaneously by distant cousins who have never met—viewing these vignettes shifts the reader’s perspective, informing subtly, as the best writing does.

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Where have all the hippies gone? Still off the grid after all these years

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In 1988, a filmmaker stumbled on a group of people sticking to their hippie values in Eastern Washington. Fast forward to the new century, and he finds that they are still keeping on keepin’ on.

In 1988, a young Seattle filmmaker took a road trip and along the way found what then seemed like a nearly extinct breed: flower children. Director Kevin Tomlinson had wandered into the “Healing Gathering,” an annual campout and get-together in the backcountry of Eastern Washington.

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