Big ideas, big events in our small town

If you are a Julian/San Diego local, consider yourself invited to the following events that relate to gardening, Farm to School and environmental activism/awareness.   If you’re not, consider this a window on some of the super cool stuff coming up in the next four weeks in our little town.

Wild and Scenic Film Festival

For the last eleven years the Wild and Scenic Film Festival has kicked off in its home, Nevada City.  After that, it travels.  Local committees organize to bring the films to their city, and Julian is lucky enough to have a group of visionary folks (read Nancy, Brian and Terry!) and a supporting organization (Volcan Mountain Foundation) who successfully brought it to Julian last year and are bringing it back again this year, bigger and better.  From Friday to Sunday (May 17-19), our little town will show 44 films about the planet—from gorgeous nature films to inspiring environmental activist stories to thrilling adventure documentaries.  Along with the films, there are hikes, naturalist-led children’s activites, food, receptions, chats with the filmmakers, and more.  I can’t wait!  This year, the committee has also arranged for films, all featuring children and the environment, to be shown at assemblies at the elementary schools and junior high the week before the festival. (See list of kid-related films below.)  And during the festival itself, Cafeteria Man will be shown and the director will be present to discuss the project.  (Remember, we got a chance to talk with Cafeteria Man—a charismatic chef who revolutionized Baltimore’s public school lunch program— at our recent USDA conference.) To top it off, the event benefits the Volcan Mountain Foundation which I’ve written about here.

Learn more about the festival, buy on-line tickets and/or drool at the general awesomeness of this event at:

Julian Garden Tour

As a fundraiser for Julian’s Farm to School program, the Julian Garden Tour will be presented on Saturday, June 1st from 10:00-4:00.  Presented by the Julian Triangle Club and supported by the Julian Educational Foundation, this self-guided tour will feature seven gardens with their resident gardeners on hand to chat with visitors.  The gardens will range from an ambitious permaculture project in Pine Hills to an integrated waterwise residential landscape in Kentwood to our own charming school garden.  A $20 ticket buys a map to all locations and can be purchased at the elementary school or Julian Town Hall.  Seedlings donated by Heather Rowell and Julian-specific gardening handbooks, compiled by Sally Snipes, will be available for sale. (Many, many thanks to Sunday Dutro—the dynamo behind this incredible effort.)  More info? Check out the Julian Garden Tour Facebook page.

Family Fun and Fit Day

This Farm to School fieldtrip is the first in a series which will help Julian families explore our local food economy.  We will be visiting Cook Pigs Ranch, a family-owned farm that specializes in sustainably raised heritage pigs. To learn more about their passion for happy animals and good food, please visit:  (This is just for Julian families—please r.s.v.p. to me directly if you’d like to come along.)

All together now:   Goooooooooo Julian!


Young Voices for the Planet, Citizen Scientist

13-year-old Anya, an indigenous Siberian girl, sees her world literally melting away. She joins Arctic scientist Max Holmes’ research team, learns about her ecosystem and shares what she learns with her schoolmates. (4min)

Young Voices for the Planet, Olivia’s Birds and the Oil Spill
Olivia loves her New York forest and the Louisiana gulf coast where her grandparents live. When the BP Oil Spill devastates the coast, Olivia creates 500 paintings of her feathered friends to raise funds for Audubon’s bird rescue. (7min)
Watermelon Magic
Richard Power Hoffmann

International audiences will delight in this nearly wordless burst of color and music that draws inspiration from film classic “The Red Balloon”.  Weaving together documentary and narrative elements, “Watermelon Magic” chronicles a season on the family farm, as young Sylvie grows a patch of watermelons to sell at market.  The film employs a dynamic visual style that uses high-resolution stills at varying shutter-burst frame rates with stunning time-lapse sequences to trace the journey from seed to flower to fruit. When harvest time arrives, Sylvie must decide if she will share her precious watermelon babies with the world. (USA, 2013, 38min)
How The Kids Saved The Parks
Andy Miller, Robin Moore
You know those movies where the kids get together and do something awesome? When they unite to overcome insurmountable odds? Maybe win the championship from the favored bad guys. Maybe embark on an epic quest to stop the grown ups from doing something stupid. This is one of those movies, except this one really happened. This is the story of a group of great kids that worked day and night to save the California State Parks that they love – this is ‘How The Kids Saved The Parks’.  (USA, 2012)

From Julian to the MOPA

True:  Four Julian students currently have photographs hanging in the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.  This is a great story and my dear friend Ann recently wrote it up for the Julian Journal, and her account from the November edition is reprinted (with gratitude) below.

Julian Youth Exhibit Photographs at MOPA

Trustees and members of the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) filled its atrium last month as guests of honor, four students from Julian Junior High, arrived for an artist’s reception to open “Photo/Synthesis,” the 7th Annual Youth Photography Exhibition.

Seventh-graders Taylor Cole, Trevor Denny, Ethan Elisara and Kaleigh Kaltenthaler enjoyed appetizers and music, and mingled with the public, sharing a love of photography nurtured by their involvement in “Kids with Cameras,” an afterschool enrichment program.  Some of the students had never been to MOPA before.  For others, opening was a new experience.  For all of them, it is the first time their artwork was on display in a venue that is nationally recognized for its contribution to the world of photography.

The theme of this year’s youth exhibition, environment and sustainability, is a subject right up the alley of these students who spent most of their time taking photos in the school garden and on Volcan Mountain.  The show was open to students from throughout San Diego County.  Applicants submitted original photos and an artist statement.  A panel of five experts in the field of photography reviewed about 300 entries to select 100 images for the show.  Jurors considered the quality of the image, how it fit into the theme and how well the student’s written words supported his or her photograph.

Deborah Klochko, executive director of MOPA, spoke at the reception saying, “We live in a visual world; how we see that is important.”

She encouraged guests to take a moment to talk with the artists, saying that their voice plays an important role.  Klochko considers photography to be the most important media of the 21st century.

While she says, “Creativity is important,” she also emphasized the importance of visual literacy.

She spoke of the volume of images in the world today, saying that until one understands the structure of an image—how it is made and how it can be manipulated—one can be controlled by the image instead of being in control.  This is why the museum embraces the philosophy of lifespan learning, with programs for children and adults.

“The museum is proud to showcase the work of the youth, which is exciting for the audience as well,” she says.

In the gallery, the photos are arranged by sub-topics within the theme.

Hung with a group of floral photos is Trevor Denny’s close-up of a bee on a flower petal.  Denny, who thinks “It’s pretty cool” to have his photo in a museum exhibition, never thought about how complex bees are until he examined one through the lense of this camera, focusing on details like the patterns in their wings and the hairs on their bodies.

For Ethan Elisara, who “feels really good” about having his artwork in the show, it was capturing the moment when a cattail stalk released its seeds into the air that caught the attention of the jurors.  Elisara’s photo, which hangs with a group of “not your typical nature images,” has a mysterious quality that engages viewers.

Just a few of the photos on display used portraiture as a way to approach the subject, and that’s where Taylor Cole’s dramatic image of a child’s shadow on the bark of a tree burned in the Cedar Fire is found.  Cole, who “felt like a V.I.P.” at the reception, juxtaposes in her photo the contrast of the tragedy of a natural disaster with the playfulness of a child.

In a group of photos that show mankind’s effect on the earth, Kaleigh Kaltenthaler’s artwork is the lone example of a positive way in which human beings have impacted the environment.  Kaltenthaler said she was “fired up” to be surrounded by all of the photos as she talked with people about her image of a grinding stone and mortar.

Klochko publically credited Jeff Holt with doing a great job with a talented group of students.

The show, beautifully organized by Lori Sokolowski, continues through January 27, 2013.

All students pose with instructor Jeff Holt

Kids with Cameras 2.0

On Wednesday evening we wrapped Kids with Cameras 2.0 (an afterschool photography program I’ve written about here and here.)  Program partners (Garden Club, Volcan Mountain Foundation, Club Live and volunteer instructors) held a reception at the public library with brief remarks, a celebratory presentation of some of the kids’ best shots, and delicious refreshments. The collection will remain on display for the next couple weeks at the Julian Library, and photo gift cards are on sale at the front office of the elementary school.

The photos we chose for the show represent all of the topics we covered (sports photography, composition, environmental portraiture, using manual settings, etc.) as well as fieldtrips (shooting in the school garden, at our historic cemetery and on Volcan Mountain.)

Representing Volcan Mountain and the volunteer photographers/instructors, Jeff Holt did a brilliant job of sneaking an art lesson into the remarks as he went over why we chose each photograph.  Each kid was individually affirmed, and it was totally cool.

Below: a few of the students whose “show” picture happened to be taken during the school garden session.  (Glares are from the room lighting and not in the original photographs.)

And of course, it was beautifully, extravagantly catered by my dear Rita.

Thank you to Bill Benson, Bill Bevill, Anne Garcia, Dana Pettersen, Jeff Holt and David Pierce for making Kids with Cameras a simply outstanding program.  3.0—-here we come!

“And Volcan is my mountain”

Kids with Cameras was a wildly successful afterschool photography class that was offered by the Garden Club and partner organizations last fall.  This past week we launched Kids with Cameras 2.0 Spring Semester.  One of the program founders, Jeff Holt gave the first lecture on frame, focus, format, and then the kids headed out to the garden to practice.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Holt

This program has been successful on many levels, and in ways we couldn’t have expected.  Here is but one example.  One of the program partners is the Volcan Mountain Foundation whose mission is to preserve Volcan Mountain for future generations through the conservation and acquisition of land, practice of respectful stewardship, environmental education, public outreach, and resource management.  Every year they hold a dinner/dance fundraiser, and this past winter they decided to make Kids with Cameras the theme for the event, to emphasize the child/nature connection that falls within their mission.

Cue my friends: Allison, Kathy, Rita, Dana and Jeff.  Look at the decorations they came up with–as I said in my remarks that night “all locally sourced and lovingly assembled.”

From the imagination of Allison---film looped around natural elements with children's photographs

(Photo courtesy of Chris Elisara)

My friends made this from thin air---grand arrangements to match the centerpieces, with local foliage accented with turkey feathers and vintage cameras (Photo courtesy of Chris Elisara)

The mantel is decorated with an enlarged photo of kids on the mountain, local greenery and flowers, and antique cameras. Enlarged photos from the photography fieldtrip were hung in the dining room and auction venue.

Children's photography was for sale during the silent auction--all proceeds benefitting the work of Volcan Mountain Foundation

Additionally, my son was one of two kids asked to make a short speech.  It is reprinted below.  Watching him deliver this speech, and hearing/watching the room respond, was a highlight of highlights living here in Julian.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.  My name is Ethan Elisara.  My father is Chris Elisara who was born and raised in New Zealand.  In New Zealand, the native people who are called the Maori, introduce themselves by saying their name as well as a geographic feature they identify with, such as a river, an ocean or a mountain.  So as a half-Kiwi I would introduce myself to you saying:  Ko Ethan ahau. Ko Volcan te maunga OR  I am Ethan and Volcan is my mountain.

Growing up in Julian I have lived in two houses.  Both of them have faced Volcan Mountain.  The view of Volcan has been a backdrop for my childhood.  I see it when I wake up in the morning, from the playground at school and even from the mountain bike track that I bike twice a week.

Kids with cameras gave me the opportunity to explore the mountain more closely.  With my camera in hand, I studied the landscape.  I noticed shadows and examined trees.  I waited for the perfect moment when cottontail fluff blew across the viewfinder.  With our instructors we conversed about the light, we talked about the rule of thirds, we scrambled over rocks and tore across meadows.  At the end, we had hot chocolate and reflected on the day. 

Thanks for being here tonight and preserving my mountain.  Kia Ora and good evening.