100 Year Anniversary

JrCapitolIt’s the 100 year anniversary of Jeannette Rankin’s election to the United States Congress in 1916. Jeannette Rankin was from Montana and had a 60 year controversial career lobbying for suffrage, women and children’s issues, health, education, economic equality, peace and campaign finance reform.

Jeannette Rankin’s most defining, defiant and courageous acts were her No votes against both World Wars. Jeannette’s stance on World War II was unforgivable to many and has cost Rankin her place in mainstream popular history. Why else would no one know who the First Woman elected to Congress was?

These are the words that Representative Jeannette Rankin spoke when the roll call “Rankin” was called and she was to vote on whether or not to enter World War II…

“As a woman I cannot go to war, so I refuse to send anyone else,” is what Jeannette Rankin said.

Boos erupted in Congress. Senators called out, “Traitor, Nazi, Skunk!” and Rankin took refuge in a phone booth until security could escort her to safety. Pretty dramatic stuff.

Congresswoman Rankin had a vision and she believed,

“Murdering humans is no way to settle a political dispute.”

Jeannette worked her whole life hoping that when women got the right to vote they would put an end to war.

Women must be at the Peace Tables on the World Stage. Why? Because our women, children, sisters, brothers, sons, husbands, lovers and friends are dying and we want them home. But if the fighting stops then you have to fix the problems and then nobody makes anymore money selling arms.  Jeannette believed that.

I made the Montana PBS docudrama Peace is a Woman’s Job so that people would learn about Jeannette Rankin, the Lady from Montana. I made this movie in Virginia City, Montana in 2003, with the help of the talented, enthusiastic and generous locals of Madison County and an angel named Roger Craver.   I’ve updated my  Jeannette Rankin Website  where you can find out more about the movie and  Jeannette Rankin.

Peace is a Woman’s Job is available to view for your local school, church or community organization. Maybe Jeannette Rankin’s message can help us with tomorrow? Better yet, today.

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Please visit www.peaceisawomansjob.comPeace is a Woman's Job

Art Knows Best

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Me in the West Village, 1983.

New York City is still the last best place to get that Art “fix” and look humanity right in the face.

The Kiss mural seen from the HighLine, NYC.

The Kiss mural seen from the HighLine, NYC.

Hankchampion (sculpture by Mark Di Suvero) at the New Whitney museum.

Hankchampion (sculpture by Mark Di Suvero) at the New Whitney museum.

Street musician, Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, NYC.

Street musician, Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, NYC.

After being away for 23 years, which I now refer to as “Manhattan Interruptus,” my cup runneth over with the juice of this pulsating metropolis.

The World Trade Center from the New Whitney Museum.

The World Trade Center from the New Whitney Museum.

Thanks to the good company of Beau Gage, who  is a true patron to the arts and fine sculpturess herself, I got an inside glimpse to Martha Graham’s living legacy, the FANTASTIC new Whitney Museum, a Russian Modernist’s exhibit at the Neue Galerie, coupled with a classical performance by lively, young musicians.

BERLIN - JULY 04: (GERMANY OUT) The Martha Graham Dance Company performs during a photo call at he Deutsche Staatsoper on July 4, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sven Darmer/DAVIDS/Getty Images)

BERLIN – JULY 04: (GERMANY OUT) The Martha Graham Dance Company performs during a photo call at he Deutsche Staatsoper on July 4, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sven Darmer/DAVIDS/Getty Images)

Beau and I at the Neue Galerie in front of Klimt's Woman in Gold.

Beau and I at the Neue Galerie in front of Klimt’s Woman in Gold.

People at the Whitney overlooking Hudson River.

People at the Whitney overlooking Hudson River.

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Alexander Calder’s Circus at the New Whitney.

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Whitney Museum

View from Whitney of New Jersey.

View from Whitney of New Jersey.

More extraordinary view from the Whitney of Hudson River.

More extraordinary view from the Whitney of Hudson River.

Beau at the Whitney looking downtown.

Beau at the Whitney looking downtown.

Brooklyn, New York.

Brooklyn, New York.

I was able to track down Miles Bellamy, a well cultured buddy from my starving artist days, and devour his “Spoonbill and Sugartown Bookstore” in Brooklyn,  before sharing spaghetti on the roof with his 11 year old daughter. Time has certainly marched on.

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Miles, me and Jonas.

Fountain and boy along the Highline.

Fountain and boy along the Highline.

I walked the fantastic, new HIghline that stretches 30 blocks along the Hudson River and is planted with indigenous flora. I think I heard someone speak English, once, and a Buddhist monk gave me a beaded bracelet.

The sure footed journey down the middle path is like an amusement park without the rides or admission.

I stayed at Westbeth in the West Village, which is a well known artists housing and cultural center and where I participated in Nancy Gabor’s acting workshop (the whole reason and purpose for my trip).

Nancy Gabor making her magic.

Nancy Gabor making her magic.

Me doing Chekhov in Nancy's acting workshop. Playing to Greg Taubman.

Me doing Chekhov in Nancy’s acting workshop. Playing to Greg Taubman.

Wrapping up an amazing weekend. Transforming!

Wrapping up an amazing weekend. Transformative!

Since Nancy and I reconnected after 30 years, I have rekindled my passion for Nancy’s acting core techniques. My early roots as a fledgling dancer/actor/playwright are in New York and my return feels like divine intervention. Nancy’s work gives wings to anyone who experiences it.

Happy Actors.

Happy Actors- Ethan, Shelley, Nancy, Allyson and Greg.

I am filled to the brim with possibilities, friendship and inspiration.

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Hannah and I started in the village and ended up in Mexico.

Although, NYC has changed and I miss some of the grit and danger of the old days. I’m glad I had the good fortune of being broke and starry eyed during the 80’s. My humble performances in black box theatre seem better than ever in retrospect. Romantic even.

Tourists with money to burn have replaced the struggling artists and the neighborhood diners now resemble boutique eateries. Every one I talked with lamented the exorbitant rents with more luxury apartments coming. The Broadway world seems to be shrinking with remakes and star turns where everything old is new again. Change is constant.

One of my favorite moments was sitting in a Bleecker Street Cafe over Caesar salad and helping a fellow playwright get his play back on track.

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Martha Graham dancer

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Kids Art at the Neue Galerie. The artists of tomorrow interpreting Adele in America.

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Adele in America, Kids art at Neue Galerie, NYC

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Mural from the HighLine.

Mural from the HighLine.

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Adele in America, Kids art at Neue Galerie

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Adele in America, Kids art at Neue Galerie

Mural from the Highline.

Mural from the Highline.
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Plucking the Poison Out of Eden

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 ECO-YARD RESTORATION

An interview with Permaculturist Linda Gibbs

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Permaculturist Linda Gibbs

Spring is a great time to celebrate our beautiful earth by heeding the call to stop recklessly spreading poison into the environment.  Linda Gibbs, Permaculturist and volunteer for Poison Free Malibu, has shared a few tips about how to “restore” the landscape on your property without toxic chemicals. Linda is a native Californian, passionate organic gardener, herbalist, amazing wife and mother. Whenever I want to know the right thing to do for my garden, I ask Linda.

ALLYSON ADAMS- Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. What is the best way to eco-spring clean your yard and create a sustainable landscape?

LINDA GIBBS- It’s not about sustainability anymore, it’s about restoration. “Sustain” means you sustain the same thing. We want to make our yards and environment better and healthier so that everything works together. Healthy plants attract “good bugs.” You want to “restore” the landscape and begin to envision your yard as its own little eco-system.

AA- California and many other states are suffering from drought. What are the best ways to save water and cut down on usage?

LG- There is a phrase that’s catching on about landscaping water use.

“Slow It – Spread It – Sink It “ Any water that you are using, you want to be able to harness it, so that it doesn’t drain off your property. Treat your property as its own watershed.

AA – How do you harness water or keep it on your property?

LG- Swales, and there’s a lot of information about them online. Swales are a way to divert rain water from your gutters so that the water runs through your yard, instead of into a drain that goes into the street and out to sea. You make small ditches around your mounds of plants to capture moisture and direct water from one spot to another. I encourage people to research it. http://www.tenthacrefarm.com/2014/02/using-swales-in-the-landscape-part-1/

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AA- What about watering your lawn? Over 30% of our water usage in the United States goes to watering lawns and golf courses.

LG- There are many alternatives to having a lawn. Mowing a lawn every week uses gas lawn mowers. The amount of resources to maintain a lawn is staggering and the chemical nitrogen from the fertilizers runs off into the ocean and kills the reef and marine life.

Rather than having a yard that looks like wall to wall carpeting, have diversity in your lawn. Let weeds grow. Plantain and clover are good for the soil. Why not plant clover that feeds the soil by taking the Nitrogen from the air, chokes out the other weeds and feeds the bees. Dandelions are a good, edible plant. Find more drought tolerant plants and diversify. images-1

Plus, mowing your lawn too short makes the roots grow shallow. Letting grasses grow taller make the roots grow deeper and nourish the soil. Long grass roots sequester carbon and counter Global warming.

AA – What can you do with the leaves from trees?

LG – Another catchy phrase is “Leave them be.” When they fall, leave them be. Let the leaves break down by themselves and go back into the earth. Or you can put them in the compost, or use them as mulch for ground cover.

If your leaves fall on concrete, try sweeping instead of blowing. One hour of leafblowing admissions is equal to 1,000 miles of car travel. Leaf blowers stir everything up, including allergens that irritates the sinuses. I find sweeping therapeutic and meditative because it’s quiet, and I’m cleaning the energy.

AA – Any tips about taking care of trees? Can you use ashes from the fireplace to put around trees and plants?

LG- Yes. Ashes are good for citrus and makes the fruit really sweet. You want to mix the ashes with other organic compost for fertilizer.

The best time to trim trees is in the Fall. Don’t trim trees in the Spring because birds are making their nests. When we trim our trees in October, we burn the tree trimmings in the fireplace for heat, because they dry fast. The rest of the wood needs to dry longer because the pieces are bigger.

Rather than have the tree trimmers haul your wood away, have them chip up the wood so you can use the wood chips for mulch. That way you are recycling the yard into itself. It’s better than buying and using chemicals.

The best fertilizer is a layer of manure and a layer of wood chips. That will create a great area to plant or a walking area. If you buy wood chips, make sure they are untreated. Then they will break down and feed the soil and you can replenish with more chips. 245-4

We used our Sycamore logs for our front steps. Eucalyptus wood chips and leaves are great weed abatement and they don’t compact the soil. When weeds grow taller you can pull them up easier because the soil is open. The chips reverse compaction.

AA – What made you change your whole yard and begin this “restoration” process?

LG – Before I became an active steward of my piece of heaven (laughs) I wandered over to a neglected area of the yard where there was thick mulch under a tree. I noticed the soil was so dark, rich and loamy. I realized all the weed pulling and leaf clearing was depriving my soil in the areas our gardener was paid to expose the soil.

Soil hates to be naked. Never leave it exposed. Would you leave your skin exposed all day to the elements? Plants or mulch must always cover the ground. Mulch can be leaves or cuttings from your plants near by. We call that “chop and drop.” You can use hay, or straw, or woodchips. They all work well. The hay breaks down the fastest, but has a lot of nutrients. The straw lasts longer and the woodchips last the longest.

My soil has become so active and healthy. The healthy soil eats up the woodchips faster and faster every year and leaves behind great soil. I add a lot of bio-dynamic preps to my soil which creates more activity.

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 AA – How can people avoid rats, insects and spiders, so they don’t have to use poisons?

LG- Poisons adversely affect the whole food and plant chain. Poison Free Malibu’s campaign is to help people understand that All Things Are Connected. Natural predators will kill pests, but if a poisoned rat gets eaten by a pet dog, cat or owl, let’s say, they could die.

AA- The latest report that Roundup, a commonly used herbicide, is proven to cause cancer, is just another ugly fact in a string of alarming truths that add up to one thing; The poisons in the environment are slowly killing us. Anymore catchy phrases?

LG – Yes. With rats, it’s all about cleaning up. So we say “Clean up – Seal up – Trap up.“ Clean up and you starve them. You have to keep trash lids on and clean up all around the garbage. No food around anywhere. Trash lids need to be sealed, so pests can’t get inside. You have to seal your home as well. Any place they can get in, you need to close up and seal.

You don’t need poison if your area is free of food. If there is food, no matter how much poison, you will always have rats coming to eat. No food, no rats. Cleaning up is the answer, not the poisons or the traps. Traps are the last alternative.

AA – What about spiders and ants?

LG – Spiders eat the bad insects. Why would you want to get rid of them if you don’t like bugs? Clean the webs in your home and leave them alone.

If you don’t like ants in your kitchen, clean up. It’s just like the rats, clean everything up. Wash with soap and water and put chalk in the hole. Find where they are coming in from and put chalk and eucalyptus leaves.

AA – You’re right, that works. Anything else?

LG- To be sustainable, you need to do more than save water and stop using poisons. We need to think restorative. When you use wood chips and clover, and start growing taller grasses, you are restoring the soil better than it’s ever been. Healthy plants attract “good bugs” so you don’t need the poison. You can use water in a way that recycles and replenishes the watershed on your own land.

Begin thinking about restoring your yard to a healthy Eco system that self generates. You want a landscape that recycles resources and grows more abundant with life and diversity the older it gets. Less and less outside input every year will be less work for you. A healthy Eco system has everything it needs.

AA –Thank you Linda! For more information, visit Earth Friendly Management. We can do it green, one yard at a time!

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10Tips

Happy Spring!

Awesome 11-Year-Old Calls Out Sexism In DC Entertainment

From the mouths of babes!

A Beautiful Mess

For all those DC loving girls out there, Rowan Hansen, an astute and incredibly awesome 11-year-old girl has just done us all a massive favour.

It’s no secret that male heroes dominate the cape crusading on the big and silver screen. This is just one part of the sexism problem in our culture. Every year we see re hashes of Batman and Superman, we’ve seen TV series reach phenomenal success for The Flash and Arrow and yet there are no Wonder Woman, Supergirl, or Hawkgirl series gracing our screens.

This is when this witty, smart talking kid jumps in and points out if Marvel can make a movie about a talking tree and smart ass raccoon, then surely DC could make heroes like Wonder Woman into a blockbuster.

We salute Rowan and the letter she penned to DC expressing her concerns.

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Not only does she outline the serious lack of…

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Xmas Special Film Noir –Mary Poppins

Who knew the author of Mary Poppins was a bohemian?

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Mary Poppins

The movie, Saving Mr Banks, portrays the creator of Mary Poppins, P L Travers, as stiff-necked.  Some Americans think that if you drink tea from a cup and saucer it automatically follows.  Travers was a bohemian and a fan of the wandering hippie prototype, George Gurdjieff.  The Beatles discovered their equivalent, Mararishi Mahesh Yogi, in the late 60s.  The film, Mary Poppins, was released in 1964.  This has significance.  Mary Poppins appears and tells children and their parents that we live in a crushing conformist world.  In the decade that followed, teenagers argued that the lives of adults were unbearable.  For a brief period, people believed we were obliged to escape the demands of the money making machine.

Mary was adamant.  All we need to do is relax and laugh and we can float up to the ceiling.  Unlike Poppins and the children, the bank manager dies from laughing…

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