Category Archives: belief

An Interview with a Tree Fairy

Thursday brought some morning clouds, making a trip to Andulka Park (5201 Chicago Avenue, Riverside 92507) for an AM romp a no-brainer.  This marks the first time since the end of Spring I pulled a long sleeve shirt out for E.M. She loved the bright graphics and rough texture of the thermal top – I loved the fact that I could keep the sunscreen in the trunk.  But we hauled the sand toys because this park has some of the largest sand boxes in Riverside.

Now, some may dispute this fact and point to other parks. Others may play word police and claim they are actually volley ball courts. On weekday mornings, when they are crawling with amateur archeologists and future explorers, a functionalist like me says, “If it looks like a [sandbox] and it acts like a [sandbox]…”

And the tree fairy I spoke to would agree. He (yes, they can be guys – Santa may be the most famous fairy alive today) goes by Paul when he is with his granddaughter.  Here is why the parks are wonderful and should always be funded, maintained, and used often.  It’s the connections they create.  And lessons taught.

Before Paul made his true face known, I learned that he worked at Riverside City College (just like me) and he retired in June (just like I want to do!) and he’s not sure he is doing retirement right (I question myself to distraction). He likes Reagan more than I do but we both agreed the mental health issues behind much of the homeless problem in our parks stems from those mental health facility closures that started under his “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” approach to social services.

An old Gen-X and a young Boomer caring for the girls that will grow to save the world we have made for them.  And when we made Andulka Park, we had little more than dirt and space.  The City of Trees was devoid of shade.  The city planted them but the tree fairy made sure they grew tall and strong.

The Tree Fairy traversed the expanse of the park soon after it was finished.  He hand fertilized every single tree. Because he knew they would need the extra support. It was his way of doing his share and supporting a resource vital to the well-being of any city, and every single park in every city.

Now, fairies are odd creatures.  They typically know a good deal about a lot of things, yet they become known for just one or two key traits – few people realize that the Tooth Fairy can get your car started in a snowstorm and the Elf on the Shelf can make a sublime PB&J without a knife.  Which is why I suggest you get out into parks to talk with them. Don’t rely on what a few writers have put into your books.

This famous quote sums it up best:your task in the world rabbi

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under belief, Family, happiness, nature, things to do in riverside, Uncategorized

What We Could Be

This week, journalist and photographer David Bacon sledgehammers a hole in the wall, revealing the 750,000 farm workers in California hidden from view.  Their labor is performed away from where most of us work; few of us sleep in their conditions, but they are still our neighbors.  Through storytellers like Bacon, it is possible that we, us and them, could be so much more.

Nearly ¼ of those farm workers come from small communities in Mexico; these are native communities with a history and culture predating European discovery and exploitation by 1000 years.  In California fields, a rich linguistic history can be traced and explored; nearly two dozen languages can be heard on any given day – evidence of a rich, diverse culture going nearly unnoticed.  What we see today, in terms of working conditions and divisions between classes of people, are the result of choices made hundreds of years ago to create an unequal system.

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Photo by David Bacon

 

Perhaps it is time to ask ourselves:  Why do we keep this system in place?  Who benefits?  Who continues to suffer?

How about this?  What if these million or so people were welcomed in the world?  How much richer would American society become when these dozens of voices, perspectives, ways of seeing the world, became part of who we are instead of something we hide?  How much longer can these walls stand?

 

 

To see Trabajamos/We Work: In the Fields of the North, get to Riverside Art Museum, before April 11th, www.riversideartmuseum.org

To buy the book, go to www.ucpress.edu/9780520296077 and use source code 16M4197 at checkout to save 30% or buy at the Blue Door Store inside #RiversideArtMuseum

 

 

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Filed under art, belief, chicano, critical thinking, things to do in riverside, Uncategorized

Down the Advertising Rabbit Hole

If you are like me, when you think about the writer’s life, it involves power, paper, ink, coffee, late nights, early mornings, and feeling like you may never finish that next project.  But there comes a time when you put the pen down, and pick up the phone, metaphorically. It’s the date the book is done and now it must be sold.  This requires buyers, and they need to be reached.  How?

Back in 1994, I was chatting with a new co-worker at my sales job and we traded contact information.  My new friend pointed to his card, “And that’s my email address.” I said, “Really? Cool!” but I thought – Wow, what a dork. Why would anyone email?  In the following months, I learned I was the dork and my question was irrelevant…but in the era of texting, perhaps that question  – do we even need email – should be asked again.

My #resistance to email stems from my failed attempt to harness its power for a 2016 Riverside Art Museum exhibition. For that, I combed my contacts and LinkedIn profiles for emails and then created a mass email, which I tried to send in bulk through Gmail.  Whoops! Many of you know what happened next – several reports of SPAM ensued, along with a high number of bounce-backs from closed email accounts.  Rookie mistake!   So, I culled down what was left to people who ACTUALLY know me in the physical realm AND may want to come to an art show in Riverside.  My take-away?  Quality beats quantity.

So, armed with this wisdom, I set out to market my new book, 100 Things to do in Riverside Before You Die, I created a Facebook page and an Amazon campaign.

 

It was exciting creating the page because it was a measure of progress in my mission to “market my book” and another indication that I was a “serious writer” at that!  I did not let the ease of creating my page take away from its importance.  And while easy to start, it gets progressively more difficult to decide how to use it.  To do so, I perused other author pages to see what they say and how they keep the page fresh without appearing to constantly fish for likes, orders, and gigs.

For $25, you can start a campaign to generate page views, likes, shares, orders, just about anything you want a prospective reader to do.  You pay by the “click”, and each one takes about $.15 out of your budget.  The great thing is that you set it and go, then they keep you posted on data and tell you when you run out of dough!  Important to keep tabs on the expenses when you recognize that writing is the worst money making scheme since someone realized how much it cost to manufacture a penny.

The result? 51 clicks, just under 3000 impressions, and my likes crossed the 100 mark.  I am still trying to figure out if the clicks turned into pre-sales, but my looking in Amazon left me hanging on how to answer that one.  To see this as a positive, I am choosing to focus on what I learned and the fact that I am just starting out here, so there really is no reason to focus on sales yet.

For February, I will be adding photos and fun content daily. Since my book highlights several restaurants, museums, parks, shops, and entertainment venues, my next move is to connect with each, make sure they know about the book, and ask them to pass along my links.  Then, I will compare the two actions to see which one worked better.

For Amazon, I submitted my campaign, by the way, you must spend a minimum of $100, and it was rejected. The reason had something to do with the title of my campaign.  I couldn’t understand what to fix so I just put that project aside. Perhaps it will be the writing project that never gets done. If not, then I will write about that experience here soon.

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Filed under advertising, amazon, art, belief, facebook, Indie, marketing, publishing, things to do in riverside, Uncategorized, writing

Full Time or Adjunct? Which one is better for students?

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First, let me confess my bias:  I was hired as a full time faculty member with University of Phoenix back in February of 2015*. Prior to that, I spent the previous decade as a full time college administrator and an adjunct faculty member. I like being fully engaged in higher ed.

Is full time better for ME? You bet! But it’s not about me, cupcake, it’s about the students.  So, is it better for students? What’s happening in higher education.  Moves by Maricopa Community College District tells part of the story.  For the rest, join me, won’t you, for a few minutes in the classroom.

New college students must overcome external obstacles, internal doubts, and regular distractions from their studies if they wish to be successful (ie, graduate college and progress in their career). While those barriers are typically within their control, it helps to have someone in their corner.

Nearly all of the adjuncts I know are pressed for time. They usually have a full time job. In a growing number of instances, an adjunct may work for a half dozen schools, stringing together a bunch of courses to get them as close as they can to full employment.

What happens outside the classroom has a significant effect on the goings on inside the walls, or your CPU for those online educators. Day one, students respond positively to both backgrounds. In my experience, they are most interested in my work as a writer and literary advocate. Those in the job hunt, and really, if you are in college, you ARE in the job hunt, appreciate my two decades of employment, placement, and career development experience. What matters again is not my experiences, but how I present them that first day that matters.

My solution to the dilemma is to try and understand my audience and my purpose walking into that room or logging in for day one. When that is a consistent part of my practice, the student benefits. And I think that was why I meandered onto this career path in the first place.

Feel fee to share your own experiences, as teachers or students. I would like to profile others in a future post. Thanks!

 

*To add another layer, I was laid off in April 2016. I am now an Associate Faculty member at University of Phoenix…aka Adjunct.

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Filed under belief, classroom management, college teaching, employment, higher education, Uncategorized

Great TED Talk for Critical Thinking

I like to think of my classroom as a place for solid infotainment, to steal an idea from television news.  Students need new content to dissect and discuss constantly.  Like it or not, we live in a fast paced society, and that lifestyle has found its way into the classroom. Better to embrace it and adapt then to “fight the good fight” to the bitter end.  The fact is, students need teachers to look for many different ways to facilitate open communication and expose new college students to a wide range of ideas.

Which is why this talk comes in handy during week one.  Why People Believe Weird Things from @michaelshermer is the perfect antidote to the clock-watching and smartphone searching that begins in earnest as we start the fourth hour of class together.  It’s funny, moves from point to point with purpose, and uses so many cultural references (UFO’s, drugs, music, religion) that almost anyone can find a part to enjoy.  I particularly love the backward-masking section because in high school, we actually studied how to find all the hidden satanic messages in heavy metal 80’s rock.

The title gets people talking. Students come to understand the joke in the title…what we consider weird is usually a matter of perspective. What I think is normal; what you think is weird.  Five weeks of critical thinking will cure most of that illness.  A video that makes people laugh, makes people think, and provides dozens of discussion topics, is certainly worthy of any educator’s attention.

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Filed under belief, classroom management, college teaching, critical thinking