Life is Full

In addition to managing social media for my writing and acting forays, in the past few months I’ve begun to help others as well.

My favorite local soul/funk/R & B/pop band, Baby Cakes invited me to apply my skills to help elevate their existing stellar social media presence. If you haven’t already discovered them, there are so many ways to find them. On Facebook we’re in the middle of a series of posts I created called, “We want you to get to know your Baby Cakes, one member at at time.” Baby Cakes is great because each of the musicians and vocalists are interesting, talented human beings, both on the stage and off. I am honored and thankful to have joined the Baby Cakes family. We’re also expanding their presence on Twitter @BabyCakesband and Snapchat as BabyCakesband. Instagram and a new web site will follow shortly.

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Photo by Kenneth Kearney.

I’ve also been helping Bellingham Film become a consistent and educational presence on Facebook and have supported their campaign to claim and build #Bellinghamfilm. Bellingham Film strives to bring together the local film community to increase the number of film-related living wage jobs and paid work in our area.

crew

I’m delighted to help these groups connect with their audience and look forward to more in 2016.

The Arts and Life

I love writing about the environment, music, and the arts but really, I’m writing about people and their joyous, complicated lives full of dreams, goals, and problems.

Each of the stories I’ve written lately for WhatcomTalk.com were really about the incredible individuals and groups in my community and their complex stories.

Pickford Film Center’s Dances for the Camera film series was a look at local dancers and filmmakers wanting to share with others about end of life issues, including what its like to live with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It will have an encore performance later this month.

Ellis Film actors

My article about musician, Chandra Johnson, shares her story of perseverance and determination, both in pursuing her goals to protect our environment and to continue to share her creativity through music after a devastating car accident.

Chandra Johnson Fleur-de-lis Photography

I’m so excited for the new stories that the world will bring to me in 2016. Wishing you and yours a very safe and fulfilling new year.

My Version of Shopping…er, Not Shopping

I don’t enjoy shopping so I love REI’s idea to skip Black Friday and #OptOutside instead. So much so that I wrote about it for WhatcomTalk.com.  But I still need to do a little holiday shopping, so I’m skipping Cyber Monday in favor of #ShopSmall Saturday (also known as Small Business Saturday). Check out what that might look like in Whatc
om County in this article.Shop Small Saturday ModSocks

These are the socks I’m going to buy at ModSock during their sale on ShopSmall Saturday.

Playing with Birds, Bears, and Musicians

I had the pleasure of interviewing a fascinating photographer, Kenneth Kearney, about his adventures as a wildlife photographer, or at least a version of wild. Kenneth will photograph any wildlife that interests him, and that lately has included birds and bears of the West, and local musicians. Check out Kenneth Kearney on flickr and read more about the man here in my WhatcomTalk.com article.

Brown bear cubs

Brown bear cubs watching their mother in Brooks River, Katmai National Park, AK 

 

Solar is Looking Bright

This month I had the pleasure of becoming the proud owner of a solar system. Not an infinite universe, the renewable energy kind. I’ve wanted an array of panels since high school, the way some kids dream about a fast, shiny car or a spring break trip to Fort Lauderdale.

My adorable house, a 1928 craftsman, has struggled with overheating in the warm weather since before we bought it in 1998. So I knew its perfectly-sloped, south-facing roof would be ideal for erasing my electric bill.

IMG_3731I have to admit that I’m feeling a bit smug now that the panels are up, the way some might feel with that shiny new car in their driveway. But unlike a fancy new car, I’m hoping everyone will get to have solar someday. I’m really excited about the incentives and developments in solar and wind that help lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and the wars that go with them.

My husband has also expanded his nerd repertoire. At least twice a day he lets me know how many kilowatt-hours we’ve generated, while still forgetting to turn off the dining room light when he heads to bed. Baby steps.

While I was working on getting my own solar panels, I stumbled across the subject of my latest article on WhatcomTalk.com. A Bellingham-based land trust, Kulshan Community Land Trust, with the help of a mysterious anonymous donor, is putting solar on many of its homes, while creating jobs and stimulating the local economy for two solar design companies, Ecotech Solar and Western Solar, as well as a panel manufacturing company, Itek Energy.

If you’ve thought about jumping on the bandwagon, this is the time. One big federal incentive is set to expire in 2016. Maybe we can convince President Obama to use an executive order to extend it to 2020? Can’t hurt to send him an e-mail, right?

Senior Citizens as a Resource

Interviewing 81-year old, Ralph Thacker, for my latest WhatcomTalk.com article reminded me of the incredible, often overlooked, resource that our senior citizens can be.

Mr. Thacker retired in his 70’s and eventually moved to a city where he knew no one. But what he did after that may, to some, be his greatest achievement. He followed his whimsy, because retirement afforded it. He researched the history of Fairhaven, WA’s founder, Dirty Dan Harris, a task no one had yet undertaken. Then he took another step: he shared that information outside of himself. He could have just made his discoveries for his own sake, but he chose not to. Because he took his hobby so seriously, I, and future generations, will benefit from his obsessive toil. What he found will not be lost in the dusty files of the public record.

Dirty Dan Harris boat Ralph ThackerI just finished reading a book about the Ancient Pueblo Peoples, the Anasazi–In Search of the Old Ones by David Roberts. The Anasazi date from around 1 to 1300 A.D. and much of the details of their civilization have been left to the modern day interpretation of ancient clues they left in deserts of the Southwest. Piles of rocks, fragments of pottery, flint arrow heads, petroglyphs, and ropes of human hair are all that we have to help us guess how they lived and what they thought.

Thacker is like the Wetherill brothers, the ranchers who stumbled across Anasazi ruins in their own back yard. They are both a kind of archaeologist, hunting for and piecing together the tiniest of clues that together paint a broader picture of another time. The Wetherills sent their finds to museums. Thacker made his into a modern day museum, a web site.

Without the tireless effort of these hobbyists–amateur historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists–a fountain of information would be sitting, inaccessible in a metaphorical cave in the desert for hundreds of years.

Granted, there are plenty of my elders whose opinions with which I cannot agree, despite their greater experience. But what a resource our senior citizens are. Their perspective, the “data” they’ve collected simply by being alive during a time and in a place we could not witness.

My book club has recently read books about World War I and II, noting sadly that we are approaching a time when those that lived it will no longer be with us. Let us not lose the wisdom of their experience, their direct observation, their mistakes. Let us not force future generations to hypothesize about what we did or why.

Is it our nature to undervalue the experience of our elders? As if we cannot honor our own wisdom without valuing it above others. Is it latent rebellion? Or is it the shame we’ve felt when past generations have made grave mistakes? I myself roll forward at such a pace that I am guilty of not taking the time to sit and listen to the disheveled stories of the seniors around me. But their oral history, their sometimes hidden wisdom, is a great resource that we overlook every day.

I want to hear from a witness what it felt like to be a woman who was not allowed to vote  or a black man who could not own property, just as I want my children to grasp what it was like for others to grow up in a land without clean drinking water, without a computer, and no access to a cell phone.

Despite the downfalls and overwhelming nature of the information age, I am inspired to know that the hard won wisdom of generations does not need to be lost when we die. The task of future archaeologists and historians will be deciphering the wisdom buried deep within the noise.

Soul is in My Soul

I grew up on an eclectic mix of music. In the early days, it was whatever my parents or baby sitters liked–bee-bop, Connie Francis, John Denver, and Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. My tweens and teens rolled into movie soundtracks, anything Olivia Newton-John, The Beatles, and the buttery voice of 1980’s Casey Kasem Top 40. Along the way I sampled a whole lot of other music–whatever my friends or boyfriends were listening to, and whatever was interesting and cheap at a garage sale on 8-track or vinyl. In my 20’s I moved near the grunge capital of the world, Seattle, and so dutifully listened to 107.7 FM The End in its beginnings. My favorite then was 4 Non Blondes. In my 30’s I found local music and played my loves over and over, discovering that what I connected with most were tunes I could sing along with. When I reached the age to be making a bucket list, and dabble in public performance, garage band floated near the top. But what songs would I sing? I went to karaoke and tried on a few for size. Each time I caught myself singing along with a song with abandon, I wrote it down on a silly yellow post-it and tossed it in my desk drawer. When I finally cleaned my desk, I noticed most of those songs were classic soul by Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Bill Withers, and Etta James. That realization led me to those influenced by them, like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Amy Winehouse, and James Morrison. When I started looking around my own neighborhood for a soul cover band to obsess over, it took me only 15 minutes to find the amazing Supergroup, Baby Cakes. Turns out, they are already playing half Baby Cakes group photomy song list, with a lot more in their future line up. I was delighted to get to know them for this WhatcomTalk.com article. All of their future performances are now on my calendar because they play my favorite songs with their full heart and soul, and I can feel that power in my own.