SF Mime Troupe “Ripple Effect”

Bay Area 004Seeing the San Francisco Mime Troupe every year is almost a pilgrimage for me.  Fortunately I was able to see this years production in their final show of the season at Dolores Park on Labor Day. As it got closer to attending and I was by myself, I realized I was completely okay with it. It’s my time to soak up ideas about revolution, problems with capitalism and the struggle that most of us 99% have to deal with in America. It’s my time to be inspired.

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It was refreshing to see in the middle of all the gross changes in San Francisco that we could sit in Dolores Park, in the middle of it all (Mission District is one of most the rapidly changing and gentrifying neighborhoods) and make art about the sadness and struggle of the working class American. That we could address the very thing that was happening around us. And so this years production was on point with addressing displacement, evictions, encroaching technology and government surveillance. And as with many of the San Francisco Mime Troupe productions–the loss of dreams by visionaries and activists in the 1960’s 1970’s that wanted a better world.

They reminded us for those of whom might want to tack a back seat to politics or declare themselves as not political:

“There is no such thing as not political.” -Ripple Effect

While I was sitting there I couldn’t help but think about our world and feel like the problems with capitalism were insurmountable. This doesn’t change the system of capitalism but there are a few things that I thought of that can make a difference in the world that we live in.

“Everything has an impact. Revolution is not a threat, it’s a state of mind.” – Ripple Effect

1. How do you spend your time and how do you spend your money? The former ultimately ends up being what we do for work. Does your work represent your values or is it something you just do to survive? Do you save money or are you caught up in the cycle of spending? Where do you spend it? I think this is something we could all benefit from sitting down with and having a deep conversation with ourselves about regularly. There is an expression: your money or your life –and it expresses the reality that we become tied a cycle that controls our lives. It could be for our highest good or it good be for not.

2.  Support farmers. Go to farmers markets over or in addition to your local grocery store.  While some grocery stores are featuring local produce, the retailer is taking a cut. Shopping at a farmers market puts more money in the hands that feeds you, literally.  This is something we must preserve and at a local level. Grocery stores have food that is shipped from miles and miles away often from around the world. There is a cost to our environment and keeping us stuck in economic system that will help no one. The produce will be fresher too.

3. Even better. Grow your own food.

4.Support your local craft-person or artisan. Time for some new jewels? Don’t go to a chain store and get something made in China. Find the store in your area that features locally made jewelry and crafts. Sometimes they can be found at farmers markets or at special pre-Christmas sales. If you look around, your likely to find something that you can afford.

5. Move your money to a local bank or a credit union. This can be tough. When I have looked, it was hard to figure out how banking was going to work logistically. But if you can, do it and you’ll feel better that you are not supporting a ginormous corporate bank.

6. Don’t use credit cards. Your just hurting yourself and making corporations very rich. Unfortunately this can affect your credit score that qualifies you to rent a home which is unjust. By not participating in obtaining debt and paying it back you will have a low credit score which can count against you in renting. One way around this is to save a lot of money and offer to pay a number of months of rent upfront or flash the landlord a copy of your bank balance.

7. Vote. Vote. VOTE! I know, the system is broken but if we don’t exercise our voice in this way we might as well just give up and accept a mediocre existence.

8. If you work for a large company or corporation it may be tough to change it from the inside depending on your position. But here’s few things you can advocate for that won’t rock the boat.

–Being green in the workplace. Are they really being green or is there a green washing going on? Often there can be a cost involved but ultimately going green could end up being cheaper for the company in the long run.

–What is the policy for maternity leave? Does the company support breastfeeding in the workplace for nursing moms? How could it be better? What does this have to do with capitalism? Well, I am glad you asked? Supporting mothers in the work force supports equality for everyone. If we take care of the Mama’s then everyone’s happy.

9. Also shop coop. Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives.

This is just barely skimming the surface and doesn’t address changing things at structural level.  There is a lot more to talk about including the encroachment of technology as a capitalist product in our lives and the fight for housing rights in the Bay Area, which this years season of San Francisco Mime Troupe so importantly touched on.

How have in your life found that you can live more with less?

What ways have you chosen to live your life in or around a capitalist system?

 

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Carnaval SF 2014

I took many photos as I was excited to participate in Carnival this year— that is as a bystander. When I lived in the Mission I almost got spoiled to the idea of Carnival. I could roll on out at whatever time I felt like. Even if I got there late there was still a lot to see. Now that I live in Oakland I made a point to get there early for the parade and cherish the spirit of Carnival I love so much.

One reason I love Carnival so dearly is that I started studying samba dance more than 20 years ago and was part of a samba dance troupe that performed in the Brazilian carnival style. I fell in love with Brazilian music and dancing samba instantly. I love the costumes, the feathers and of course the music! It’s a special joy one can experience through the drums, the colors and the smiles. I love Carnival in the Mission of San Francisco because it is an opportunity for people to come together and express cultural traditions from around the world including those from San Francisco! That opportunity extends for the people in the parade and the people watching. Baile!

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See Ceasar Chavez, The Movie

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Warning: mild spoilers, mostly opinions about the film

I am glad I went to see this movie and I would see it again tomorrow. I was moved by the tenacity and bravery of Cesar Chavez illustrated in the film. He and rallying farm workers kept going fighting for decent working conditions and wages after dealing with so much resistance, fear of retribution and the danger of being hurt or killed.

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Looking Like Potential

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By now it’s a bit past the first season of Looking on HBO, the new “gay” show. It has been renewed for season two which I am looking forward to, no pun intended.

Maybe you’ve seen the series by now and have your own sentiments. I caught up a bit late viewing via HBO Go. I still wanted to put my two cents in because for me–it’s a Bay Area show just as much as it is show about gay guys living in San Francisco. Actually I think it is a show about “people” living in San Francisco.

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Money Tree Mission District SF

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This public art piece is long gone. It was at the corner of 15th and Van Ness for a long time, sitting inside an empty lot. It was around the corner from where I used to live in the Mission District. It had been up way before the recent surge of issues regarding the inhabitants of San Francisco. I’m glad I got to photograph it before it went away for good. Now they are building something–probably condos. Not that there isn’t anything wrong with making new housing–it was an empty lot–but what demographic will be able to afford them? It’s not easy to forget the poor when you are in San Francisco as there are many people living on the street there. But do you ever wonder if they get enough food? Food with nutrition? Continue reading

The Organic Hustle

Selling in Union Square Farmers Market, NYC
Selling in Union Square Farmers Market, NYC about 1984

I’ve been at this a long time. Saying it like that makes it sound like I am old, but I’ve been part of a movement since before I could walk, so then yes it has been some time.

My parents were organic farmers and they started in 1975. That was almost 40 years ago! Even before ’75 they were macrobiotic practitioners studying away with other yin/yang hopefuls chewing brown rice together.

The organic food industry is now worth over 30 billion dollars!

It’s almost hard for me to make the jump. When did it get so big?

Back in the early 80’s only a handful of people cared about organic.

Back then it was just us. There were other farmers of course but we could point to them on a map. Continue reading

Juana Alicia Mural 24th and York

La Llorona (The Weeping Woman)

This is by far one of my favorite murals in San Francisco. What draws me to it are the colors, the artistry and extensive intricacy of the stories that are woven onto the side of the building. I also have been fortunate to have met the artist, Juana Alicia when she subbed for my painting class at Berkeley City College.

I could sit for hours and study this mural–albeit for the fact it is on the street and that I might become very sad. It is the story of women around the world, their struggle for sovereignty and the fight for earths resources, in this case: the rights for water.

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My Little Food Revolution

It’s a little funny that my next health post involves chia seed because my previous post indicated that chia may not give us the healthy fats we are looking for. So it goes. It has been said that health and happiness is direction and not a destination. New research and knowledge is made available all the time. It is our job as consumers, as humans on this planet called Earth to sort through what makes sense for our bodies.

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