Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Chanukah and Buon Natale from Rome!

I have been a horrible blogger lately, probably because I've been focused on my burrito project blog. Since I am in Rome for the holidays and happen to have a computer and internet access I thought I would check in!

First of all, I love Rome! How come Europeans have figured it out and us Americans haven't? They have teeny, cute cars, use energy responsibly, and know how to enjoy life. I think I am more European than American. We haven't driven or ridden in a car in about five days and I don't miss it at all. The dollar is not very strong right now but there are ways to have a budget-conscious trip like buying food at a market and preparing it yourself. We are staying in an apartment that has a shared bathroom, kitchen and living room but we are the only ones here so we have it all to ourselves!

The neighborhood we are in is very diverse - there are tons of little shops run by Chinese and Bangladeshi immigrants. Prasenjit has spoken Bengali with some of the Bangladeshi produce vendors in the nearby Mercato Esquilino, a wonderful covered marketplace similar to Grand Central Market in Los Angeles.

Haven't downloaded any pics yet so I just stole a few from the web.
These menorahs are from today's LA Times.

Wishing everyone around the world peace and joy this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Here are a few things that have been on my mind lately:

Prop 8

Prop-erty Crime. There's been a rise in break-ins in our neighborhood so we're trying to organize some neighborhood walks. Anyone know of creative ways to address property crime in a community?

Obama - the human being, not the politician
photo by Preston Gannaway

- Auto industry bailout
- Downtown Tucson
- The Invisible City
- Email and web overload!!

What's been on your mind??
self portrait by Marcus during Open Studio Tour Nov 8 & 9 @ El Centro

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Art in Odd Places

i went to an opening of the Micromentalists show at Lulubell's Toy Bodega last night and came across artist Eric Doeringer's "fakes" collection. i went to his website and found this awesome NYC happening - Art in Odd Places. Here are a few examples but there are lots more at the website.


Miryana Todorova and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín

A series of boxes painted in bright colors are continually loaded, unloaded and moved from one place to another on a cart. The normally mundane job takes center stage as the delivery moves at a high speed and with no clear destination. Pedestrians will be forced to interact with the "moving" process while the colorful delivery boxes continue to question: who sent them, to whom do they belong to?

Time/Location: Friday, October 3 (2pm-6pm); Sunday, October 26 (10am-2pm). 14th Street btwn Union Square and Seventh Avenue.

Eric Doeringer

A box of books labeled "Free Books" is deposited at various 14th Street locations. A seeming act of generosity, the artist has removed the last few pages from each book. The alteration will only become apparent to the reader after he or she has nearly finished the book, converting the cast-off into a statement of art.

Time/Location: Ongoing throughout October. Four undisclosed locations on 14th Street.

Eric Doeringer is a Brooklyn-based artist. He has had solo exhibitions in New York at Apex Art, Soma NYC, as well as locations in LA, Miami, Toronto, Spain, Switzerland, and Prague.


Aakash Nihalani

Brightly colored tape outlines rectangular shapes in the urban landscape. In a city made up of rectangular buildings, windows, and blocks the artist plays with a shape that is symbolic of New York City. In the attempt to draw attention to forgotten dimensions and overlooked layers, he creates reminders and portals with cubes that allow pedestrians to see the lines they are surrounded by in a new light.

Time/Location: Saturday, October 4, 11, 18, 25. (12-2pm). Bricks, sidewalks, crosswalks, windowsills, and other locations on 14th Street.

Aakash Nihalani is a Brooklyn-based artist and designer. His recent work explores the use of colored industrial tape as a medium for street art.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Invisible City

I have the honor of being one of the artists participating in The Invisible City project, a site-specific artist laboratory in Downtown Tucson. A collaboration between NEW ARTiculations Dance Theatre and Kore Press, the project brings dancers, writers, visual artists, and musicians together for 4 weeks to create work that investigates public space through process-based explorations and performance.

The first lab was Friday, October 17th. Our public space was the parking lot on the north side of Toole, just east of the 6th Avenue underpass. We explored, climbed, danced, jumped, wrote, and felt what it was like to inhabit the space. Click here to see images from Friday.

YOU, the public, are invited to take part in this project - either as participants or observers. The project will be taking place Fridays from 5 - 7 pm and Sundays from 2 - 6pm through Nov. 9th. Hope to see you come out and interact with the process!

Photo by Krista Niles. (I am second from the right, the blurry figure in red pants!)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Acts of Faith

Faith, religion, and spirituality are on my mind. We are in the midst of the Jewish High Holy Days and today my husband and I went to a Bengali Durga Puja, the annual celebration of the Hindu goddess Durga. I recently read the book, Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel, an Indian American Muslim who founded the Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that brings young people of different religious traditions together to do direct service.

I related to Eboo's experience as an activist college student searching for a way to connect his faith and religion to his desire to better the world. This was also my journey. Being heavily involved in student activism in college left me feeling that something was missing - where was the spirit and soul of what we were doing? Where we thinking about how we were treating our fellow students or just focused on "fighting the power"? Disillusionment led me to work for change on the inside - my personal growth - and within the non-profit world.

Marrying outside my religion has tested my faith and values. Do I really believe that all religions are equal? Can my husband and I celebrate and appreciate both of our religious and cultural backgrounds without resentment or fear? This includes our own religions. For a time, I avoided the Jewish community out of fear of my Judaism being questioned and of my husband feeling excluded. After reading With Roots in Heaven, about Rabbi Tirzah Firestone's return to Judaism, I realized that I want to be connected to a Jewish community - one that is inclusive and open-minded. These do exist, and I am grateful for that.

I struggle with the contradictions. Some Jews consider themselves "the chosen people" and believe that we are a "light to the nations" - an example for other religions. This seems condescending and exclusive. Yet at the same time we have a long history of standing up for the rights of all peoples. Many Jews have explored other spiritual traditions; Jewish Buddhists abound and Israelis are known to travel in droves to India after completing their mandatory military service.

I don't know what all of this means. I do know that my activism stems from my Judaism - the experience of being a Jew in a Christian country, the history of American Jews as union organizers and civil rights activists, and the concepts of tzedakah (justice), and tikkun olam (repairing the world). I also know that I believe we all come from the same source and that the path to peace has to come from acceptance and love.

Acts of Faith ends with Patel's thoughts on religious pluralism, which I believe can be applied to not just religion but ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, and all of the things that divide us as humans:

"I came to one conclusion. We have to save each other. It's the only way to save ourselves."

JewBu definition from

Monday, September 22, 2008

Paying it Forward

I haven't blogged in a while because I've been occupied with Park(ing) Day and my burrito cart. Now that it is over I am trying to get back into the blogosphere. I was reading the blog Tucson Cowgirl and found out about the challenge Paying It Forward.

This is how it works, as excerpted from Monica's blog:
"I have agreed to send something nice to the first 3 bloggers who post a comment on this blog entry. In turn, those 'first three commenters' who respond to my post will honor the pay it forward concept to the first 3 people who post on their blog… and so on. So if you're interested in participating in this, be one of the first three to leave a comment. Please remember that if you agree to pay it forward, you need to post this acknowledgment on your blog, link to me, and pay it forward to three more people."

I don't know what the something nice will be yet but probably some quirky items I have lying around.

This image has nothing to do with Paying it Forward except that I don't like to post blogs without an image. I suppose an apple is a good symbol for paying it forward in that it pays you with health!

Monday, September 8, 2008


This wacky contraption looks like a cousin of my burrito cart! I found it on

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

a spiritual path..

Ok, I'm veering a bit from my usual quirky topics but I've been inspired by a book I am currently reading - "With Roots in Heaven" by Rabbi Tirzah Firestone. The book chronicles Firestone's spiritual journey which led her from Orthodox Judaism to exploring other faiths to marrying a Christian minister to becoming a Rabbi in the Jewish renewal movement. I haven't finished the book yet but it brings up a lot of issues for me related to my Jewish heritage, my religious family, and my interfaith marriage. She struggles with the Judaism she was brought up with and its exclusivity, the same issue I have felt at odds with. Is it possible to be deeply connected to one's religious heritage while at the same time fully respecting and appreciating the multitude of spiritual paths that exist in our world? She seems to have been able to do this but I will know more when I finish..

Friday, August 22, 2008

Burrito Files Receives Tucson Pima Arts Council Grant!

Burrito Cart Sketch

The Burrito Files was awarded an artist mini-grant by the Tucson Pima Arts Council! The funds will support the construction of a mock burrito cart that will promote the project in downtown Tucson. I worked with artist Titus Castanza on purchasing the supplies and building the cart on August 20th and 21st. We agreed on the specs and he did the work - I assisted where I could! Here are some pictures from the process.

Materials Loaded Onto Titus's Truck

Cutting the Wood

In Progress

Almost Done!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ignite Tucson - My Love Affair With Fake Food

My Ignite Tucson presentation went very well. I was one of about 18 presenters on a variety of topics. The Screening Room was packed and people were sitting on the floor. Here are a few of the images I used in mine:

Heidi Kenney, My Paper Crane
The queen of plush food

Fake food for commercial uses (also called artificial food, display food, etc.)

KogePan (Japanese for burnt bread)


Our good friends Tad and Alanna moved to Portland a few months ago. We miss them but stay in touch via blogs, email, and even some snail mail. Alanna recently sent me pictures of these adorable creatures she makes from used socks.

They're called Zoxters and she can even make one from your old socks! To see more, visit the Zoxters blog. They cost $35 each.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Western Spaghetti - Fake Food Rules!!

I'm doing an Ignite Tucson presentation this Thursday, July 31st on "Why I Feel Nurtured by Fake Food." I decided to do some online research to see what interesting things I could find and I came across this awesome stop-motion animation. I am in love with it!! It may take a little while to load but it's worth it!!

If you live in Tucson, I hope you can make it this Thursday. Go to the link above for more info.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Trees are People Too

I love these art installations! I found them at this site through the Wooster Collective site (sent to me by Alanna).

Santa Cruz - go Slugs!

Santa Cruz is my heart home. I loved going to college in the middle of the woods overlooking the ocean. Prasenjit had never been so we spent a few days there last week enjoying the weather and spontaneously hanging out with my cousin, who I hadn't seen in 15 years!

Ice cream sandwiches from Day's Market on Seabright Ave.
I remember buying these as a special treat. If we had known they now cost $3.88 each, we may have passed!

I was glad to see UCSC is still a hotbed of activism!

Prasenjit checks out the new Engineering building at UCSC

The Kresge bridge

Fresh figs from my cousin Eric's garden

Me and Eric and Avery

We went tide pooling at Natural Bridges state beach.

And finally, Matthew, the pot-bellied pig (Avery and Matthew are pets of Eric's friend Renee). We fed Matthew grapes and carrots, which was a little scary but fun.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Six-Word Memoir Title - I've Been Tagged!

I was tagged by my friend Jenny to create a 6-word title for my memoir. Here it is:

A Lifelong Creative and Spiritual Journey

Now I have to tag 5 more blogs. Here are the rules:

1. Write the title to your own memoir using 6 words.
2. Post it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who tagged you.
4. Tag 5 more blogs.

I tagged these blogs:
Dusty Pictures
Tucson Querido
Tucson Cowgirl
Tad and Alanna's Simple Adventures
Muse Views

I also decided to add 2 images for my memoir!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dispersing seeds...and fun!

"The Bloom device is meant to be a subversive and inspirational tool for our concrete jungles. Similar to the tuft of a dandelion as the wind carries the seedling, we propose a way of dispersing seedlings with bubbles and bicycling."

More info here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Girl Effect

I love the effectiveness of this short video using type and some dots. No photos necessary. To skip the video and go directly to the website, click here.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Rational Simplicity - Less is More

Chris Jordan, Cell phones #2, Atlanta 2005 44 x 90"

Chris Jordan, Crushed cars #2, Tacoma 2004 44x62"

During this economic downturn I have been hearing stories about people who can't shop at Whole Foods anymore because it's too expensive, people starting their own gardens to save money on the cost of food, etc. I've always felt that there is too much stuff in the world and that time is more important than money. I recently read a book called Rational Simplicity, Setting Course to a Simpler Life that has some great suggestions. You can read excerpts (for free!) at Google books.

The green movement seems to be a perfect fit for rational simplicity. Using less resources is good for the planet and pocketbook. But at the same time, buying "green" can be a way to assuage our feelings of guilt. I just read an article in Fast Company about a study in which people felt more justified in indulging on luxury items after giving money to charity.

Lots of food for thought. What are your thoughts?

Link to Chris Jordan Photography

Friday, May 30, 2008

Interview with "Tucson Querido" blogger Eva Romero

Eva Romero is the creative voice behind the blog Tucson Querido - in the running for best local blog! I asked her a few questions:

How long have you been blogging?

I popped the blog cherry in November, 2005 – 181 posts ago.

Why do you blog?

Working on Tucson Querido gives me immense pleasure. I’m driven to explore, so when I moved to Tucson I set out to see and do everything. The blog became an excuse to keep going out, (“You could blog about it!”). I’m a researcher and I actually enjoy collecting data, so Tucson Querido became an archive of interconnected info. After visiting a place I further my own experience of it by finding out more “back story” online and incorporating it into the post. I also love photography. Tucson Querido is a convenient way to exhibit my work. Like many, I get a kick out of telling stories and painting pictures.

In essence I maintain Tucson Querido for selfish reasons, but I really do consider my audience when it comes to the writing. I try to keep the language honest, to the point, humorous and colorful.

Do you read other people's blogs? Other Tucson blogs?
I do visit other people’s Tucson blogs. I especially like the Local Couple’s Guide to Tucson, and Tucson Daily Photo. Also, there used to be this young Tucson cop’s online journal that was really candid and fascinating, but I think he deleted it because I can’t find it anymore.

What are some of your querido Tucson spots?

There are some places that I hold very close to my heart due to their intrinsic characteristics but also because of experiences lived in those places. In Tucson: Rincon Heights (my ‘hood), The Tanque Verde Swap Meet, Hotel Congress, Reid Park, Bookman’s, Signal Hill, Gates Pass. In Arizona: Mount Lemon, The Salt River, Jerome.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Once Upon A School - Innovative Project, Good Design!

It is refreshing to find a well-designed websiteand project whose message is simple, clear, and innovative. I like it!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Creative Social Change - Carrotmob

I'm a long-time activist who believes that social change and activism has to be fun and creative. I can't do marches and door-to-door campaigning. That's why this project called Carrotmob excited me. "Carrotmob organizes consumers to make purchases that give financial rewards to those companies who agree to make environmentally friendly choices." For their first campaign, they focused on liquor stores in San Francisco. Check out this entertaining video to learn what happened.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Saturday May 31 - Downtown Geographical Expeditions

downtown re:VISION is pleased to announce its second project, Downtown Geographical Expeditions!

VOICES, Inc. presents:

the living stories project

“Downtown Geographical Expeditions”
Saturday, May 10, 10 am – 4 pm and/or Saturday, May 31, 10 am – 4pm
(Sign up for one or both!)

Been downtown lately? What do you see? Dust? Renovation? Construction? Vacancy? Change? What do you envision for Downtown Tucson’s future? What are your downtown stories, memories, experiences and hopes? How might you help contribute to Downtown’s re-emergence?

Join veteran VOICES artists Kimi Eisele and Josh Schachter on two, day-long journeys to explore, document, discuss, re-map, and re-imagine Downtown Tucson through writing, photography, and movement (yes, dance! but don't fret, we define "dance" broadly--it's easy!). Expeditions will offer participants the opportunity to experience, see, critique, and celebrate the city center in new ways. Activities will include walking tours, mapping, photography, writing, movement, emphasizing participants’ personal stories, memories and experiences of the city, past, present, and future. Stories and experiences will be gathered and shared through “re:VISION,” an artist-led initiative aiming to re-invigorate the dialogue about Downtown Tucson’s future using art practice, intervention, performance, and other creative means.

Workshops are suitable for people of all ages and abilities. No prior experience necessary. Writers, photographers, dancers, visual artists, thinkers, performers, planners and anyone interested in sharing stories, discussing, and creatively re-imagining Downtown Tucson are encouraged to join us!

Guest artists Kimi and Josh are the VOICES’ founding writing and photography directors ran the 110 Degrees After School Magazine Project, for five years. Both have gone on to conduct artist residencies in schools and cultural institutions in Tucson and across the country. Kimi has taught workshops and directed performances combining writing, the spoken word, and dance. Josh has taught photography and digital storytelling to youth and adults.

WHAT: An all day workshop exploring and documenting Downtown Tucson through writing, photography, and movement.

WHEN: Saturday, May 10, 10 am to 4 pm
and/or Saturday, May 31, 10 am to 4 pm

WHO: All (14 years and up).
No experience required.

WHERE: VOICES headquarters, 48 E. Pennington and various downtown locations. Wear comfortable shoes, clothes and bring a hat and water. Bring a bag lunch.

SUGGESTED DONATION: $25 (please consider sponsoring a low-income youth to participate).

QUESTIONS: Rachel Villarreal, VOICES Projects Director, or 622-7458 x209 or Donnamarie Miranda, VOICES Administrative Assistant, or 622-7458 x204

You may register for the workshop by mail, email, or phone. Please direct registration to Rachel Villarreal, VOICES, 48 E. Pennington St., Tucson, AZ 85701,
or, or 622-7458 x209. Please include the following information:

Mailing address and contact information
Briefly tell us why you are taking this workshop
Check made out to VOICES for $25 (please reference “Living Stories”)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Interview with Margie Puerta Edson - Idea Rodeo Commentator and Loyal Supporter

I'm always excited when I see that someone has commented on my blog. Margie Puerta Edson - a friend, colleague, and neighbor - has been Idea Rodeo's most frequent commentator (thank you!). I asked her a few questions about her thoughts on Idea Rodeo and other important subjects:

What keeps you coming back to Idea Rodeo?

1: Friendship and loyalty. I want to show support for whatever projects my friends (in this case Julie Ray) are involved with.
2: Interest. It’s interesting and thought provoking for me. I have a general interest in the subject matter covered on the Blog: art, food, philanthropy, Tucson. It’s all interesting to me and viewing these topics from a different perspective is interesting to me. Also seeing how many times I can use the word “interesting.”
3: Ego. Julie’s Blog provides me with a forum to express my ideas and opinions and it is rather egocentric of me to think that anyone should care to know what I think.
4: Voyeurism. It’s kind of like reading someone else’s diary and living life through their experiences.
5: Reminds me of a kind of performance art adapted for our time and technology.

What topics most interest you?

Hard to say…I find the whole blog interesting for different reasons and have trouble separating the parts. I see it as a whole. As I said, it is a bit like performance art and Julie is the lead. The topics are secondary performers, the various people in Julie’s life are recurring characters and I move in and out, sometimes a member of the audience and sometimes a part of the show. If I were to dissect it, I would say the biographical aspects are most interesting.

If you had your own blog, what would you write about?

Visual art and travel as they relate to ME!

Do you think there is a connection between food and philanthropy?

Yes. I believe my first experience of philanthropy was a transactional kind that involved a bake sale for some club I was in at school. Metaphorically, food could equate with either abundance and generosity or scarcity. How much does anyone one need of anything – food or money – to be happy? Cooking for someone can be a nourishing and generous act. Hoarding is seen as bad, whether you are talking about money or food. Sharing one’s wealth, sharing one’s resources is seen as good for the most part. And of course this all makes me think of the oh so dreaded fundraising events that include awful food.

If downtown Tucson was a burrito, what would be in it?

Nopalitos cooked in a red Chile sauce with some Tepary Beans rolled up in a mesquite flour tortilla served with Cholla Blossoms on the side.

Any additional comments?

Thank you for the opportunity to have a guest appearance on your Blog. It is a very generous and kind gesture. I’ll have to start a Blog of my own so I can return the favor.

Stay tuned for Margie's blog - coming soon?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We Are What We Eat

I had the privilege of participating in We Are What We Eat, a collaboration between New ARTiculations Dance Theatre and the Community Food Bank. The performance was a series of pieces that combined dance with stories about breastfeeding, baking, gardening, food waste, gleaning, desert harvesting, and more. I created a temporary installation, Food Fantastico, for the final performance at Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Through the 10-week process, I learned how to create movement from words and phrases, met amazing people working to improve our county's food security, and reflected on our food systems. I was inspired by the Community Food Bank's Food Security Program, which "promotes, demonstrates, advocates for, and collaboratively builds an equitable and regional food system, which supports food production and strengthens communities." I bought two eggplant plants at the Santa Cruz River Farmer's Market (run by the Food Bank and where we performed an excerpt of our show) and planted them this morning!

Me and my installation

Children who participated in the performance try to eat the inflatable toast while Prasenjit watches.

Close up of Food Fantastico

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All Things Burrito

I got an interesting comment on my last post, which got me thinking about the history of the burrito. In my response, I said that the burrito is a Mexican-American creation. I would like to re-phrase that to say that the burritos most of us are familiar with are - cheese, lettuce, rice beans, guacamole, etc. - are a hybrid of the two cultures.

In 1998, a journalist at Washington Post went in search of the origin of the burrito (which I discovered at this blog) "As we followed the historical trail, and got closer and closer to the source, the burritos became smaller and smaller, and our favorite ingredients disappeared one by one. When we finally found what we thought was the original burrito, it was very different from the burritos we knew and loved."
Burritos-A Search for Beginnings, Peter Fox, Washington Post, November 4, 1998

Another source, Food Timeline, notes, "Burrito lovers David Thomsen and Derek Wilson believe that the modern burrito originated 'in the dusty borderlands between Tucson and Los Angeles.'"

Finally, I've discovered there are at least two people that have dedicated entire blogs to burritos:

Burrito Blog

Thursday, April 10, 2008

downtown re:VISION

Ok, it's time for some shameless self promotion. I've recently launched the downtown re:VISION project to spark new ideas and action around downtown Tucson. The first project is the BURRITO files, where I interview people on the streets of downtown and invite the public to do the same.

Here are a few examples. I invite you to participate - as an interviewee or interviewer!

April 3, 2008
1. What is your name? Justin
2. What are you doing downtown: Hosting an open house for One North Fifth
3. Do you live in Tucson? Yes. Originally from Buffalo, NY.
4. Describe downtown in 3 words or less: historic, funky, re-nascent
5. If downtown was a burrito, what would be in it? chipotle, nopales, guacamole, beans, lettuce and cheese.
6. Have any significant events in your life occurred in downtown Tucson? It's part of my re-birth.

P.S. Learn more about One North Fifth - the new apartments on Congress Street - at Thursday open houses at the new Tooley's on Congress (corner of Congress and 5th). Free coffee and snacks! (No, I wasn't paid to write this, but I did get some free coffee!)

April 3, 2008
1. What is your name? Maxx/Laura
2. What are you doing downtown: Just got off work/taking a break
3. Do you live in Tucson? Yes, native/Yes, from New Jersey
4. Describe downtown in 3 words or less: I love it/It needs more
5. If downtown was a burrito, what would be in it? no guacamole/lots of people going green and reading books, lots of friendly faces
6. Have any significant events in your life occurred in downtown Tucson? I got married once downtown/I got married once downtown (they didn't know this about each other).