All Politics is Locavore and Connected, Too: Reality and the Hammer of Art

No caption for this photo, so I'll put one of my favorite quotes (by Bertolt Brecht) into the mouth of one of my favorite eco-activists (Naturalist-for-You Joel Robinson), by way of celebrating local art, local politics, local books and all kinds of loving, liberating, loco (!) writers, filmmakers, artists and activists: “Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”

Here's Silverado Film Festival organizer Robinson, the canyons John Muir-Johnny Appleseed and now John Ford of the Santa Ana Mountains, welcoming all to his vision of sustainable living, eco-harmony, anti-development and, yes, the celebration of all of the above. He's helped organized the Fourth Annual SFF and it couldn't come at a better moment, what with the further destruction of chaparral just outside the canyons for ticky-tacky housing, 'dozing of hundreds of acres for construction of a mega-abbey at the mouth of Silverado Canyon and possible sale of the gorgeous “mesa” property by the otherwise terrific land conservation outfit which apparently can't afford it. So, an arts festival with politics and consciousness-raising…


Robinson has been doing his excellent outdoor education work for years, wearing his funny
hat and breeches and scruffy beard, and mostly barefoot, and with real success. He and his non-profit troupe of mountain men and women have led thousands in walks through the Santa Ana Mountains, given talks and played an important role in conservation politics. Next weekend the N4Y founder hosts a terrific lineup of local film making, “a festival dedicated to independent film makers inspired by the human and natural communities of the Santa Ana Mountains in Southern California and beyond.” Sponsored by the Santa Ana Mountains Wild Heritage Project in partnership with Colectivo Tonantzin and “Community Voices” at Dodge College of Film N Media Arts,the outdoor (what, where else?) screenings, with music and food (from health food outfit Boldo Bol), you can find a complete schedule of screenings and more information at the website.

Looking forward to seeing the newest from Laguna Wilderness Press, whose gorgeous books of photography and careful writing both assess and celebrate the wild regions of our stressed-out coastal ecosystem. The local publishers and conservation activists have expanded and updated a classic from photographer (and LWP founder) Ronald H. Chilcote, re-releasing his Nature's Laguna, first published in 2003 as The Laguna Wilderness. Helpfully for this blogger, the copy from LWP only further echoes this week's theme, so here goes: “The accomplished photography of a sumptuous landscape may obscure the fact that the Laguna Wilderness consists of equal parts of the three most powerful currents of nature photography over the past half century — art, political advocacy, and love of nature.”

Finally, I embrace that slightly insufferable late'1980's Lefty slogan “Everything is connected,” and ask you to do the same. No, it doesn't take much to connect this week, especially with arrival of the latest issue of one of So Cal's best literary journals. The Rattling Wall is a newish magazine sponsored by PEN Center USA. It's also a national magazine but I'll choose just now to esteem its regional appeal and contributors to further affirm my vigorous bloggy through-line. Among those with work in the current issue is OC's own Victoria Patterson (The Little Brother, Drift, This Vacant Paradise), frequent subject of discussion and celebration here at OC Bookly. Founded and edited by PEN Center USA Executive Director Michelle (Meyering) Franke, issue number 5 of The Rattling Wall showcases art by Kristina Collantes and lots of other favorite local writers including poet Amy Gerstler (soon a guest over at Bibliocracy Radio as it happens), poems from the late LA poet Wanda Coleman and the always on-time writer-reviewer David Ulin, and terrific short stories from Amelia Gray, Charles Bowden and Susan Berman (who has been in ZYZZYVA and, yes, Santa Monica Review), and more which I just haven't read yet, but look forward to. As usual, there's a section of travel essays, including one by Robert Pinsky.

Oh, and for more interconnectedness and politics, PEN Center USA (the great literary and human rights and freedoms organization) announced its big annual awards last week, among them fiction which Mr. Bib helped pick. More on poet Robert Thomas's most exceptional and prize-winning small, perfect novel Bridge in near future, you bet, so get your copy now. And consider joining PEN today, do.

Fourth Annual Silverado Film Festival, Saturday, September 26 6 – 10 PM, Silverado Community Center 27641 Silverado Canyon Rd, Silverado 92676

The Laguna Wilderness, Ronald H. Chilcote, Laguna Wilderness Press, 120 pgs., $29.95

The Rattling Wall, Issue 5. Michelle Franke, editor. Purchase at The Rattling Wall

Andrew Tonkovich edits the literary journal Santa Monica Review and hosts the weekly books show Bibliocracy Radio on KPFK 90.7 FM in Southern California.

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