26 May 2009

In mtgs in LA all day 2day but got text w/ct decision literally rt b4 I had 2 shut off 4 takeoff. Prepared-but still can't believe: what game r justices playing w/law, rts, + ppl's lives???

25 May 2009

QTP (quick thought post): Tomorrow

I am definitely still hoping and visualizing that the California Supreme Court strikes down Prop 8 as unconstitutional and unjust.  But I also know that no matter what happens tomorrow at 10am PST, it won't be the end.  If the justices do the right thing and follow up on their May 2008 decision, those against marriage equality will renew their fight and there will still be misunderstanding and ignorance to overcome.  And if the court upholds Prop 8, I know that it will be hard work and it may take time, but that it will happen in California as it is happening in other places across the country and around the world.  Good people, civil rights, and justice will prevail.

Photograph: "Towards the Sun/Yachats" W.J. Dong, Jr. (c) 2007

22 May 2009


Quick, late-breaking news: The California Supreme Court has just announced that it will be issuing its opinion on the validity of Prop 8 this Tuesday, 26 May at 10am PST.  

We all know they may very well uphold Prop 8, but I'm still hoping justice will prevail.

And amidst all of this, some very cool news about an Oregon Native American tribe ruling to recognize marriage equality.  Thanks to Dena for sending the news from 'Gene, OR.

18 May 2009

California Dreamin' or Rainy Days and Mondays? Another Week with No Decision on Marriage Equality

I cried last week when I listened to NPR playing testimony by straight allies in Maine before their state legislature took their historic vote for marriage equality.

But another week has passed since I last posted about the much-awaited decision by California's highest court on the validity of Prop 8 (see my 6 May post). And the one-year anniversary of their momentous decision to grant marriage equality came and went this past Thursday too. And the justices have to issue a decision by June 3rd. What does the delay mean?

As the calendar pages flip by, the good news continues to flow westward: the governor of New Hampshire has announced that he will sign marriage equality legislation, and the New York Assembly added five new supporters when they voted to pass a new marriage equality bill. The momentum continues to grow: soon tiny Rhode Island will be the only New England state (okay, Massachusetts is a commonwealth*) without gay marriage.

I continue to hope that our court will do the right thing. And perhaps naively, I keep thinking that their delay is a sign that they are taking the time to reflect, rewrite, and harness the groundswell of change that is happening in courts, legislatures, and people's hearts and minds across our country.

I want to take the opportunity to point you to an organization that has done so much to fight for marriage equality: NCLR. Check out this blog post ("Fasten Your Seatbelts"**) by its incredible executive director Kate Kendell. NCLR works everyday to help build a more just and fair America for all queer people. I have the honor of knowing well some of the amazing people who provide community leadership and legal acumen and services at NCLR, and the equally amazing people who raise the money to make that important work possible; and I have had the added honor this past year of helping them fundraise. If you click through to their website you can even sign up to receive a text message as soon as the court schedules an announcement.

Keep up the positive visualization!

*Four U.S. states are technically "commonwealths." Do you know the other three?

**And here's some cultural background you'll only get on a blog written by a gay man: "Fasten your seatbelts...it's going to be a bumpy ride!" became famous as the warning by Bette Davis' character, Margo Channing (based upon Tallullah Bankhead), to Marilyn Monroe's character in a New York soiree scene in "All About Eve." But the film was released in 1950 and seatbelts in cars weren't common until the late 50s--the audience would have understood that the characters were tossing around high-society banter, because only airplanes had seatbelts. Okay, bet you didn't know I was that kind of gay man...(Don't get me started on the original "A Star is Born...")

17 May 2009

My Photography, This Blog, and Two Upcoming Shows

"Cafe Society" Lisboa, 2003

The Big News is that I have two individual art shows scheduled this fall: the tentative dates are a show running this September at 18 Reasons Gallery in The Mission, and then a show at Awaken Cafe in downtown Oakland in November.

"Lines and Arcs" Minneapolis, 2008

I'm really excited about the shows and one of the reasons I finally launched this blog recently was to help document the path toward these big events.  Over the next several months at least some of my posts will focus on my creative process and putting together and hanging the shows, and I will give more specific info on the shows and openings as the date nears.  So please check in to learn more, get a behind-the-scene look at putting a show together, and please come see the shows if you are anywhere near the Bay Area.  In the meantime, you can also check out my small art website to see some of my existing body of work or learn a little more about my process and influences.

18 Reasons Gallery at 593 Guerrero Street at 18th in San Francisco's Mission District was founded by Sam Mogannam, a member of the great family that owns the incredible Bi-Rite Market devoted to good and sustainable food (and community), and this wonderful gallery adds art to that mix.  Joyce Engebretsen at 18 Reasons has brought incredible artists, shows, and events that really foster and explore the relationships between art, community, and food.  

"Elevated" Chicago, 2007

I'm still working out the final format of my show at 18 Reasons, but what I've discussed with Joyce is a multi-media portrait of the local community.  For me it will be an opportunity to work in some of the ways I have in the past as an artist: photography, collage, book art, painting, and decorative and ceramic art, but I would also like to experiment with some media new to me like video/film.  And I'm really excited about bringing together my art with some of the tools and processes I've used in my design and community work like oral history, mapping, and cultural landscapes, and maybe even a version of a charrette for one of the show events.

Awaken Cafe at 414 14th Street near Franklin in Oakland is a great local business founded by a great group of people including Cortt Dunlap, and Shalene Rose Dunlap who curates their art program.  They have great coffee, food, staff, and vibe and are really committed to fostering community and art in Oakland. And they have featured great local artists and shows and really support the shows with great openings and getting the word out.

"Continental Divide" Seattle, 2008

Because of the size of the space and length of the show, I'm going to focus on my photography in my Awaken show, probably choosing between eight and sixteen new and existing pieces to hang.

"Shadow and Juxtaposition" Healdsburg, 2002

So I hope to be able to share some of my creative process in the coming months, and I hope you will check in to see more, comment and let me know what you think, subscribe and follow the process, and if you find it interesting please share my blog and art--and info about my shows--with anyone you think may enjoy it too.  Thanks!

"Across the Pond" Charlottesville, 2005

06 May 2009

Waiting for Gay Marriage

Please click through and scroll down for an added multi-media feature to this post...

Okay, I couldn't resist the "Waiting for Godot" allusion, even though I prefer to use the terms "marriage equality" and "equal marriage rights."

So a great number of queer people, people who care about queer people, and people who just care about civil rights in our society--in California and elsewhere--are holding their breaths. Waiting. Trying to think positively. Because while the highest court in our state has until June to decide the validity of putting civil rights up to a popular vote, the scuttlebutt is that the decision on Prop 8 may come down as soon as this coming Thursday.

And this is something--as a queer Californian who very much would like to be able to legally marry my partner, and who believes that I should have the opportunity to those rights and responsibilities as part of being a Californian protected by our state constitution--this is something about which I care a great deal. It's personal and political, and it's about relationships and civil rights.

I guess I'm coming out...as a Unitarian Universalist--this is from the wedding of our Reverend Greg and his spouse Stillman in San Francisco last summer--and as engaged--David and me at Coastanoa when we decided.

I have been trying to stay positive, even when the scene that unfolded in court seemed so negative earlier this year. And as the incredibly amazing news keeps flowing westward from Iowa (Iowa!) and Vermont and now even Maine and New Hampshire, along with strong efforts in New York and DC and other states, I feel myself believing that our court has to do the right thing. And trying not to be afraid of believing that. And I know for a fact that so many other people, leaders and activists and allies and everyday folks are feeling and/or trying to focus on the same thing.

The purple--appropriately--is where marriage equality is now the law.

I know this is incredibly Californian of me, but I'm asking you to join me in visualizing our court doing the right thing and adding our home state to the list of places that says that queer people are not second-class citizens and queer committed relationships should be legally sanctioned, valued, and protected.

I completely understand the feelings, the preparations, and the call those who are working to plan events in response to the court upholding Prop 8 are making. I just think it's important for me to believe that justice will prevail.

Here's the added multi-media feature in this post: In January, David and I sat for a Storycorps interview in San Francisco. My dear friend Dena had passed along the call to participate because she knew I'm a huge fan of Storycorps and oral history, and because she knew I had been trying to figure out a way to process how I was feeling and seeing in our community in reaction to Prop 8 passing. It was a powerful experience, and helped us clarify how we've--together and individually--come to feel about wanting to be married and wanting everyone to have the right to marry. I'm including our interview in this post to give you a little more background on why I feel the way I do.

I hope you enjoy it and please comment and let me know what you think of it, and please be kind about the editing--I cut it down from forty minutes and I've just been teaching myself how to use sound-editing software.

P.S. David bought me the great Storycorps book, Listening Is An Act Of Love, this past Valentine's Day; the interviews are incredible and moving and I highly recommend it.

02 May 2009

Quick Thought Post: On Weekends and Private Time

So, in an effort to "start as I mean to go on*" in my blogging as far as sharing my feelings and not just relating events and opinions,  something my good friend Martha said reminded me about a dilemma that we face that I'm sure many other people share: when you work hard and long hours and have other commitments during the week, how do you balance the need for privacy, rest, and recuperation at the end of the week with the pull of traditional weekend 'socializing' and the fact that it may be the best or only time to see or do things with friends or have people over?

We tend to keep the weekend as private time with some regular things we like to do, and by planning way ahead try not to over-schedule.  So I did wonder how a weekend away with another couple would feel, especially because we always go away alone.  But it was really nice: we had plenty of private time and space, and the hiking, eating, and hanging out by the fire was more enjoyable together; definitely because Donna and Dan are such fun, easy-going friends and have their camping down pat, and also because of the rustic setting and relaxed timing of the whole trip.

Also, thanks for all the emails and support I've been getting on starting my blog and my first posts--it really means a great deal and gives me ideas and juice to move forward.  But please go ahead and share your input as comments on my blog--I would really appreciate it and I like to think it helps keep the conversation going.  And don't forget to subscribe or follow or share if you are enjoying it...

*I love archaic phrases like this and "giving it the old college try," or "excuse the boardinghouse reach..." Do you have some faves???

29 April 2009

Big Basin Getwaway: Part II, The Food

As promised, here's the foof-y, foodie part of our 'glamping' weekend in Big Basin. What is it about cooking over an open fire and eating under the sun and moon that makes everything taste so good? The menu was planned around good, simple, healthy food, and easy prep and clean up. And everything except the salmon preparation was already an 'indoor standard.' All recipes serve four people.

Lanterns and romantic candlelight

I found these very 60's-pool-party battery-operated "Japanese" lanterns in Longs' seasonal aisle and we packed a box of canning jars because they're great for tea candles and for hot and cold drinks. And I brought my iPod and speakers and so did Donna and Dan.

Camp kitchen set up for lunch; frico (just before they completely disappeared...)

Friday Lunch

Italian Turkey Sausage and Peppers
Almost slice through four sausages lengthwise and roughly slice one onion and one green pepper and saute all in olive oil heated in a hot skillet over medium flame until the sausages are browned and the vegetables are caramelized. Salt and pepper vegetables and warm whole-wheat buns and plate.

Red Cabbage and Pear Cole Slaw:
I recently made this for dinner when my dear friend Dena visited from 'Gene, OR, and she featured the recipe on her great food blog, Dena's Recipe Exchange. You should definitely click through her great posts. My blog hits your screen because she did so much to encourage me and physically make it possible.

Crabcakes cooking away in the cast-iron skillet and plated with aioli and lemon

Friday Dinner


This couldn't be easier: heat a cast-iron skillet until hot with a little olive oil over medium-high flame and distribute a handful of parmesan or asiago cheese across the pan. Flip so it's golden brown on both sides and remove to a plate to crisp and cool for a moment and then break into pieces and pass around. Repeat.

Dice one celery rib, two scallion bulbs, one shallot, and one small carrot and mix with two cans crabmeat, one teaspoon mustard, two tablespoons mayonnaise, two tablespoons whole-wheat breadcrumbs or panko, one egg, and salt and pepper. Form into four cakes and bread with additional crumbs, chill, and brown in hot oil in a hot pan over medium flame and plate with aioli and lemon wedges.

Mince one clove garlic and mix with the juice from one-half lemon, one tablespoon olive oil, and two tablespoons mayonnaise.

Salmon glazed and skewered, and cooking away in the firepit

Glazed Salmon
Mix one tablespoon olive oil, one tablespoon balsamic vinegar, one teaspoon mustard, one teaspoon agave syrup, one teaspoon minced fresh dill, one minced scallion bulb, and salt and pepper and coat four salmon fillets. Skewer or place on grill until lightly charred and done to taste and plate with lemon wedges

I had been thinking about cedar-planking the salmon, but I decided that skewering them and cooking them vertically in the firepit would be a lot easier and just as fun. Donna completely thought the fillets would fall in the ashes, but balls of foil stabilized the skewers and the fillets, and it was great fun to do, and they came out perfectly cooked.

Secondo piatto: salmon plated with couscous and braised endive and radicchio; pears braising in prosecco in the cast-iron skillet

Braised Radicchio and Endive
Trim the stems of six small heads of endive and/or radicchio di treviso and slice lengthwise in half and place cut-face down in a hot pan with hot olive oil over a medium-low flame. Salt and pepper and drizzle several tablespoons of stock, wine, or water and let brown. Turn and brown, and plate.

Whole -Wheat Couscous with Shallots and Dried Berries
Mix one- and-a-half cup of whole-wheat couscous in a large covered serving dish with a small handful of dried blueberries, currants, cranberries, raisins, and/or other dried fruit. Add one-and-three-quarters boiling water , stir, and cover for five minutes. Add one minced shallot, salt and pepper, and one tablespoon olive oil and fluff with a fork and serve.

Wild Arugula with Citrus-Caper Vinaigrette
Add two tablespoons olive oil, two tablespoons balsamic vinegar, juice from one-half lemon or orange, one teaspoon mustard, one-half teaspoon capers, one small shallot minced, and a drizzle of agave syrup to a jar and shake until emulsified.

Pears Braised in Prosecco
Slice three pears in quarters and core (with skin on) and place cut sides down in a hot pan with melted butter over a medium-low flame. Sprinkle half teaspooons of lemon zest and grated ginger, drizzle a teaspoon of agave syrup and several tablespoons of prosecco and brown. Turn and brown, and plate with drizzled cream or yoghurt.

Second batch of pain perdu with sunnyside-up eggs cooking in the cast-iron skillet, and plated with homemade sausage, breakfast sweet potatoes, and orange and grapefruit

Saturday Breakfast

Homemade Turkey-Sage Sausage
Mix one-half pound ground turkey with one cup whole-wheat bread crumbs, one-half cup milk, two tablespoons olive oil, one teaspoon fresh or dried sage, a dash of red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Form into three by half-inch round patties and refrigerate or freeze until needed. Brown four sausage patties in a hot skillet with hot olive oil over a medium flame until cooked through.

Breakfast Sweet Potatoes
Slice two sweet potatoes into large cubes or thick slices (with skin on) and microwave for four minutes until they are fluffy and the flesh is sealed. Add to a hot skillet with hot olive oil over medium-high flame with one half sliced onion, two sliced scallion bulbs, one minced garlic clove, one tablespoon sliced sun-dried tomato and salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are browned and vegetables caramelized and plate.

Brioche Pain Perdu
Slice eight half-inch thick brioche slices and cut slices diagonally to fit better in pan. Mix together two eggs, one cup milk, one teaspoon whole-wheat flour (for crispier pain perdu) a dash each of cinnamon, vanilla extract, and liqueur, and zest of one orange. Submerge slices briefly and brown in hot pan with hot olive oil over a medium flame, and plate with 10x sugar shaken through a sieve and accompanied by warmed maple syrup.

I always used to love to prepare a macedonia by supreming oranges and grapefruits; but since the fiber and pectin in citrus is really good for us, we always cut citrus into wedges now.

Chicken Tikka Masala and vegetable kabobs, and strawberry shortcake

Saturday Lunch

Donna and Dan made incredible Dagwood/Homer sandwiches for our strenuous hike (see my last post for the video replay) and for a special treat Donna had packed dried mango and Dan had found these great petite pickle packs (say that five time fast).

Saturday Dinner

Donna and Dan greeted us with Mango Screwdrivers and yummy cheese and crackers, and served incredibly tender and delicious Tikka Masala Chicken Kabobs (click on the small image on the right (think of it as an Indian Miniature...) to see Donna's full-size recipe) with vegetable skewers and Mango-Almond Rice, though she did try to kill me with all the cilantro in the marinade (Donna: "I can't believe you don't carry an EPI pen!"). As a special treat, dessert started off with my friend Kathy Wiley's Poco Dolce chocolate toffee crisps, followed by Dan's Strawberry Shortcake with whipped cream topped with chocolate shavings.

Sunday Breakfast

Donna and Dan made a great breakfast of blueberry pancakes and Aidell's Chicken-Apple sausages. The pancakes were incredibly light and fluffy; Donna swears by the Krusteaz batter mix, but I was insisting she must've meant Krusty's.

Thanks to Donna for many of the food photos from when I was cooking, and my apologies that I was too busy making food disappear when Donna and Dan were cooking to remember to take many pix.

General Camp-Cooking modus operandi

Donna and Dan do some of their prep in camp. I (surprise, surprise) like to prep all the dishes and have all the components bagged, labeled, and layered in the cooler, i.e. the crabcakes were formed in baggies with lemon wedges in a snackbag and aioli in a plastic container, salmon was sliced in a big baggie with the marinade ready in a snackbag and same for brioche and batter, pears were sliced and bagged with all the ingredients except the prosecco.

Everything except the salmon and the couscous was cooked in my trusty cast-iron skillet, which is especially easy to clean on a camping trip by boiling a little water in it and scouring out. If the menu's planned right, you can cook multiple courses without cleaning (i.e. frico > crabcakes > endive and radicchio > pears). Couscous' easy everywhere, and the pears were braised in prosecco because we had prosecco open for the meal...

Donna and Dan plate stuff; in our camp, salad for dinner and citrus for breakfast were served in baggies. I know, glasses not plastic cups, but baggies not bowls? Chacun a son gout...

We used recycled-paper plates and soy or potato compostable flatware, and foil is useful so many ways on a camping trip including keeping things clean and warm.

28 April 2009

Big Basin Getwaway: Part I

Make sure to click through and scroll down for a special added feature at the end of this post!  

Last weekend we took Friday off and made a little getaway down to Big Basin State Park. We completely recommend it: it felt like a real break even though it's only 65 miles south of San Francisco and about a 1 1/2 hour drive.

Big Basin: Route 9 signage, map, and what I call the "dirty RV sign" (you need to work backwards to the 'dirty dog' and then Black Dog Cafe t-shirts...)

We've gone before and loved it: there are great little tent cabins with woodstoves inside and firepits and picnic tables out front.  And the redwoods and nature are pretty incredible.  One of David's patients calls anything that's not backpack camping "glamping," but I really enjoy not having to worry about packing and pitching a tent, and getting to concentrate on being there, enjoying nature, having fun, and, of course, good campfire cooking (stay tuned for future food post!).  The tent cabins are $65 per night, so pricier than tent camping, but we find it a really happy medium as far as cost, comfort, and ease.  You do have to reserve way ahead for weekends, and remember to bring quarters for hot showers!

Big Basin: the tent cabin site with cabin, table, and firepit

The time before we'd been in the fall for David's birthday, and we'd said we wanted to come back in the spring when the waterfalls in the area were really running.  And we'd been talking about it for awhile with Donna and Dan, so this time we rented neighboring tent cabins with a path between, and split the cooking of meals with them.

Big Basin: Looking up through the redwoods and a burnt-out tree

We had a great time, took some good hikes, had some roaring fires, big laughs, and great meals. And it really felt like we were away and really had time to relax, breathe deeply, and sleep heavily.  Once you get off 280 the drive there and back is also incredibly beautiful and winding.

Big Basin: Looking up close at fallen trees, trunk rings, and spider webs

So here's the added value feature I hope you'll enjoy: I always buy myself a(n early) birthday present, and this year it was one of those Flip video cameras whose reviews, ratings, and price I've been following (very reasonable at Amazon at the time); I tried it out on this trip, and have been trying out iMovie, so...ta-da..here's my first 'flick' (please excuse the shaky hand and cut-off foreheads...it is a first effort!):

Big Basin: The Movie

Please comment and let me know what you think...I do want to try more multi-media and highlight more of my photography on my posts.  And remember you can always click on images in my posts to see a larger version.

Stay tuned for: Big Basin Getaway: Part II, the FOOD...

23 April 2009

Reminding Me of Another Inspirational City Hall event: Del Martin's Memorial Service

Being in City Hall Monday evening for the Goldman Prize reception reminded me about another event held at City Hall that I still think about (I realize that some of my posts are going to be about past events that I would have blogged about had I been blogging): Del Martin's memorial service last October. 

Del Martin's City Hall Memorial Service: banners of Del and Phyl, Glide choir with City honor guard at top of stairs, the halls and balconies filled with people celebrating Del's life.

My dear friend, Dena, especially since she sadly moved to 'Gene, OR, always reminds me about important events in the SF LGBT community when they cross her screen at work, and I'm glad she didn't let me forget about this celebration of Del's life.

Three main themes that day especially moved me: thinking again about Del and her achievements, the nature and feel of the ceremony itself, and the words spoken by Del's daughter toward its close.

Cover of the Program for Del Martin's Civic Celebration

Del and Phyl Lyon became a couple and starting working on queer issues in 1950 (!) and they stayed focused on both of those things together until Del died in August of last year.  Del was truly a steward and icon of the queer movement; Del and Phyl started the Daughters of Bilitis, The Ladder, the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club and so much more.  And I know I wasn't alone when I cried both times Del and Phyl got married in City Hall.  But that day it really hit home again how brave both of them had been to start this work when they did.

Program text and photos

Sitting in the Rotunda that afternoon as the service started, it struck me that we don't only live in 'the bubble," we are a separate country, and I felt very proud that it felt like a 'state funeral' that led off with an honor guard of uniformed police, fire, emergency, and parks staff carrying the U.S., California, San Francisco, and gay pride flags; our mayor spoke, as did our gay assemblymember, and our congressperson sent word from DC; all of the heads of city departments, our city supervisors, and so many SF queer, civic, progressive, and religious leaders from different generations filled the Rotunda that day.  To hear and see the arc of modern queer history and gay rights in that space, from official police intimidation to our police chief sitting in the front row, was extremely powerful.  And I know we were all keenly aware of us gathering together four months after our highest state court granted marriage equality and one month before that right was being put to a popular vote (more blogging on this too, I'm sure).

And I was truly inspired by something Del's and Phyl's daughter Kendra said to close her words:

"...Mom was not an extraordinary person, but rather a person who accomplished extraordinary things. This is important because each of us is needed to continue her work - - our work. It would be a shame if you left today, thinking that Mom was somehow bigger or bolder than you could ever be. In my view, what was extraordinary about what Mom did, and what Mom and Phyllis did together, is that they had clarity of purpose, set seemingly impossible goals and then just never quit...

Two other notes: Holly Near sang a beautiful song, "All That There Is;" I haven't been able to find a clip, recording, or lyrics anywhere, but will share it if I do--please let me know if anyone else has any info.  And Jim Hormel cited this John Wesley quote when he spoke, and it really made it so clear to me what we all do need to do to move queer rights forward:

"Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can." 

21 April 2009

Goldman Environmental Prize

Yesterday, on a rare balmy evening in San Francisco, David and I attended the 20th Goldman Environmental Prize Awards at our beautiful, but unfortunately-named War Memorial Opera House. And I was finally propelled (and freed?) to post my first blog entry because this event --and the awardees' stories--never fails to inspire me and move me to tears, and this year was no exception. I flash back often to something one of last year's awardees said from the stage, "We are in grave environmental danger and have so much hard work to do, but we have to remember that Martin Luther King changed the world not by scaring us, but by making us see how that changed world could look..."

War Memorial Opera House: Stage and Chandelier

This year's awards were especially glam: Christiane Amanpour emceed, Al Gore gave the keynote, Robert Redford spoke in person in addition to his regular narration of the video on the awardees, and Tracy Chapman performed. Christiane didn't look up much from the prompter, but she was still her amazingly crisply-spoken and telegenic self. Part-time SFer Al started off in his Professor Gore persona, shvitzing like mad in the heat, and he did an odd shout-out to his biz partner in the audience, but he finally hit his "Inconvenient Truth" stride. Redford was disarmingly unrehearsed and craggily handsome (David: "He's so short in person!"); I knew his very smart and generous ex-wife Lola in New York. And it was a treat to hear local resident Tracy's live versions of "Talking 'Bout a Revolution" and "Big Yellow Taxi" since she performs so rarely; she joked that it had been hard to find upbeat environmental songs. I understand there's a big debate on whether she's sapphic, but when I see her on Valencia in The Mish, I certainly think so...

Goldman Prize Awards Program: Christiane Amanpour, Al Gore, Robert Redford, and Tracy Chapman

But I digress, because the point of the awards and this post is the awardees and their amazing stories. Each year, the Goldman Prize gives an award to one grassroots environmentalist in each of six areas of the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, Island Nations, and North and South America. This year's awards highlighted work in Gabon to stop mining in newly-created national parks, in Bangladesh to halt the dumping of toxic freighters, in Russia to focus attention on chemical waste, in Bali to build safe water and trash/recycle/re-use infrastructure, in West Virginia to stop mountain-top removal coal mining, and in Suriname to prevent deforestation of tribal common lands. I always am inspired and amazed because these are truly grassroots efforts of individuals with few resources or connections who build movements and take on major issues, often facing hostile governments or well-funded corporations who put their lives at risk through intimidation, violence, and imprisonment--the awardee from Gabon alluded to how grateful he was to be allowed to leave the country to accept the award. And I don't think it is a coincidence that they are overwhelmingly upbeat, modest, and that many of them are women. As I watch and hear their stories and hear them speak in person I realize again what each of us is capable of--large and small.

Several notes: most of the awardees used the phrase "our territory" in their speeches, and I found myself wondering and hoping that they didn't intend to use those specific words with their specific connotations in English, but something more like "our home," or "where we live" since English was the primary language of only one awardee. I wish the organizers had used a lectern that could be lifted and lowered, rather than take out a mini lectern for the one awardee in a wheelchair. I sometimes wonder about the awards' hagiographic tone toward the Goldmans, but then they have done incredible things and put vast resources toward awareness around grassroots environmental efforts ($150,000 award x 6 awardees x 20 years = $18m). And I can never figure out where the award attendees are from: overwhelmingly well-off, well-dressed, older, straight, white people who I don't recognize.

The reception at City Hall that followed was again a generous and warm event overflowing with well-crafted, beautiful, and delish food and drink, and following the green theme it was a completely S.O.L.E. food gala that filled the North and South Light Courts, the Rotunda and stairs, and the balconies above. I love being in and attending events at our City Hall--it's a beautiful building that has been well-restored. And while it has some sad memories for San Franciscans, it is also has all the good memories of brave politicians and seminal legislation, gay weddings and gay pride, and other protests, movements, and memorials. I can never resist climbing the stairs and walking the halls, and I dragged David by the offices of the Gav and our Supes.

City Hall: Staircase and Main Hall

We also got to take a closer look at the cool/wild/slightly scary Patrick Dougherty willow sculptures woven into the London plane (Platanus × acerifolia) trees in Civic Center Plaza.

Patrick Dougherty artwork: toward City Hall and toward the Federal Building
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