Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ben's Bells: A Brilliant BrightSpot in Tucson

Friday we visited Ben's Bells at the UA location. (see for more information).  Since I have been doing informal research since July on what makes Tucsonans feel happy, I have learned that Ben's Bells is an element of our community life that everyone I talked with identified as an example of "community happiness." 

When a person decides to commit to completing a Ben's Bells project, s/he is given a Kindness Contract.  In part it reads: I _____ am signing because I believe in building a kinder Tucson for the betterment of all its people...I commit to being kinder to myself so that I may offer more kindness to my community.  This includes taking care of my physical, psychological and spiritual health.... 

Wherever you live, readers, these commitments, I believe, can help you create happiness in your daily life and at this time of the Season, I encourage you to consider applying the Ben's Bells Contract to your life.  We put our green "Be Kind" sticker on our car and I plan to return another time to make a bell in honor of my mom and grandparents.  Here are photos Mark took from our visit.  Enjoy.

Entryway to Ben's Bells: 

When you enter, you are greeted by a friendly volunteer, such as the UA student here:

Inside there is a kiln for the firing clay and a studio for making the bells where we saw children gathered with their parents.  Because the weather was so fine there were also two tables set up outside for bell-making.  With their permission, Mark took this photo of friends making a bell in honor of one of them who had recently lost her mother-in-law. 

There is a permanent bench in the patio, outside of the garden building location to remind passersby to be kind.
And here's a table--just for you--should you care to join Ben's Bells.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sabino Canyon: A Natural BrightSpot

An unintentional visit to Sabino Canyon today generated these photos which give testimony to the Canyon as a natural "BrightSpot" in Tucson.

In this one, you can see Thimble Peak in the Catalina Mtns.  Look to just right of the Saguaro which is really two armed, but taken from the side, looks younger than it is.

The photo above shows the clouds beginning to move in from the south, ocotillo in the foreground off the path.
Here two young saguaros are protected by an angled mesquite, seeming to embrace them in its snarly branches.

It's later in our walk, as you can tell by the shadows arcing across this small bosque.

Nonet #1

I tried this new format, a "nonet" suggested in Writer's Digest's Poetic Asides. It consists of 9 lines; first line has nine syllables, then eight, etc. until the last line with one syllable. Some of you might want to try it, too.

Nonet #1

Slow walking in Sabino Canyon
we watch black shadows fold
into green, brown canyon walls.
A red tail'd hawk soars high
above the mesquite
trees brown'd from sun
in short fall

Friday, November 16, 2012

Good News for Tucson's Youth and Pima Library

It's important to celebrate the good news (and not get stuck in the potholes)!  Here's an important update from one of my community colleagues:

In a media world that often bombards us with gloom and doom, I wanted to share some exciting, positive news for Tucson and Tucson's youth. For the past year or so I have been working with the Pima County Library to develop a youth media program. We just received notice that we were awarded a $100,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation & Institute of Museum and Library Services to plan a youth media center and mobile lab in Tucson. We’re one of 24 communities nationwide – and the only one in Arizona – selected to receive the grant. The attached press release offers more details.

I share this with you all because so many of you are passionate about art, media, youth, and building a healthy and vibrant Tucson, and I hope we can count on you to help us build on this momentum to make Tucson nationally recognized for its work around youth media and voice.

As the project moves forward, I am sure I will be calling on many of you to help us make a Tucson youth media center a reality.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Art and Culture in Phoenix

On our recent Phoenix Friday-Weekend trip, we visited the Irish Cultural Center,  .  Mark took photos of the Irish cottage and memorial to those who died in the Irish Potato Famine.

We also made our monthly stop at the Phoenix Art Museum and enjoyed the exhibit, The West Select: A New Western Classic, on display through 12/31. .  Mark unknowingly took this museum-forbidden picture of one of the many sculptures (also photography, oils, watercolors were on display).  We hope he will be forgiven for his error if this photo encourages at least one of my followers to go to the show!

Local First as a BrightSpot in Arizona

Part of the reason we had a Phoenix weekend this weekend was to attend the LocalFirst event at Portland Park (right outside where we used to stay when our friend rented an apartment).  .  Mark and I signed up as members and we look forward to joining others in Tucson and Phoenix who are part of the "buy local" movement.  At the LocalFirst booth we learned that Arizona has the largest local network in the nation.  Not California, not New York, but Arizona.  That is really an important fact we need to celebrate and shine light on as a stellar "bright spot."  Here are photos by Mark from the event.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day of the Dead Altar At the Mercado in Tucson

Last night we were invited to the "Art for Art (Chapa)" event at the Mercado.  This event helps raise funds to support education and health services in the fight against gastric cancer. [Go to for more information].  The event allowed us to visit the amazingly decorated Day of the Dead Altar which is pictured here.  In Tucson, partly due to the Hispanic cultural influence and partly, I would add, due to the inclusionary attitude of our community (which, as a whole, was not supportive of SB 1070), and, also because of the diverse number of artists in the Tucson area---the Halloween season extends three or four days beyond (we have a photo exhibit for the All Souls Celebration, the Procession of Little Angels, Soul Poetry) into tomorrow this year when the All Souls Procession expect to gather 45,000 people together and ends with the Dance of the Dead Concert at the Rialto.  What a wonderful abundance of culture and community!