Today is a holiday, which means a notional field trip.
Today is Labor Day, which means many things, one of which is thinking of the Anglican hymn of my boyhood, “Come Labor On.” I learned what a snare was from the line “The enemy is watching night and day / to sow the snare, to snatch the seed away.” Doug Adair and I bonded over “While we in sleep our duty have forgot / He slumbered not.” Jane Borthwick wrote the lyrics; she was a 19th century Scottish hymn writer and translator of German hymns.
I met Wally McGuire on Jerry Brown’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for President in Wisconsin in 1980. Cold! Wally then went into the political consulting business with Bill Barnes, who among other things had been a reporter for the Examiner. In 1982 I worked with them on Barbara Boxer’s first campaign for Congress. She won the election and kept winning – ten years in the House of Representative and then 24 in the United States Senate.
So – anyway – a few years ago Bill and his wife Charlene Clarke moved to Santa Cruz.
In Santa Cruz, they became involved with the Seymour Marine Discover Center. Charlene works as a docent there.
The issue that drew her was the proliferation of plastic in the ocean. Cigarette filters are the number one offender. Ninety-eight percent of cigarette filters are made of plastic fibers (cellulose acetate) that are tightly packed together. They are a mess.
To draw attention to the problem, Clarke partnered with the 418 Project to create Plastic Water. I am a sucker for mission statements. Their is: “The 418 Project builds community, ignites creative expression, inspires exploration, and nurtures personal and artistic growth through dance and movement art in Santa Cruz County.” Anyway – the two organizations partnered – plastic reclaimed from the ocean and beaches has been fashioned to suggest the undersea, featuring a kelp garden.
Plastic detritus is made into mobiles.
The message should be getting through –
Soup and sandwich – plastic kelp fiefs and aerial arts. Of course!
The Plastic Water show was to have been a one-off, but it was popular and for a good cause and so there will be another one.
The 418 Project describes the evening: “Plastic Water Interactive is an art installation transforming The 418 Project into an underwater habitat composed of sculptures made from repurposed, commonly used and discarded plastic items that end up in the ocean.
The sculptures have aerial dance apparatus as skeletons–drifting aerial dancers perform as ailing sea creatures who navigate the ‘new normal’ of our plasticized oceans. Viewers can manipulate, ride on, write about and imagine the hazards of modern aquatic life.”
Charlene Clarke lists the different ways in which attendees will be able to manipulate, ride on and write about and imagine the growing hazards posed by plastics to modern aquatic life in our oceans and Monterey Bay, including:
- Pulling strings to make waves in the Meandering Marionette Kelp Forest made of plastic bags;
- Swirling around in the Pacific Gyre of plastic water bottles;
- Floating inside The Bayble – a giant bubble made of shrink wrap and bay twigs;
- Sinking from a Melting Glacier and then swim like a polar bear;
- Blowing on the Diatom Mobile to make air currents and see the Brownian motion ofmagnified unicellular creatures created by 5th graders from Watsonville Charter School of Arts. Watching their videos about consumption and disposal of single use plastic items;
- Feeling the tepid surge of Extreme Storm Patterns as seen from outer space;
- Feeling inspired and compose haiku. Then listen to it become music as ArmandRuby riffs from your words;
- Floating around with fashion by Lisa Agliano and her couture plastics.
This sounds wonderful. I plan to go. Santa Cruz is a special, sentimental place for me. In my United Farm Worker years, we usually lived in small rural towns far away from any traces of youth culture. We moved the headquarters of the legal department to Salinas in 1974 – paradise compared to where we’d been. We were on the road a lot, but when in Salinas, there was nothing like a Sunday trip to Santa Cruz – the Bookshop Santa Cruz, the Crepe Place, and YOUNG PEOPLE like us except not immersed in the farm worker cause.
So there we have it – a notional field trip with an invitation for a real brick-and-mortar, flesh-and-bones, living and breathing, real-not-fake field trip.
I showed this post to my friend.
“I remember when your mom came to visit in ’78. She wasn’t even 60 yet. You were living in San Juan and I was at the house in Prunedale. You took her to Santa Cruz.
Yes, I remember. She did.
Yes, I was living in San Juan. I loved those years. I loved the town. I loved the group around – UFW lawyers and organizers and then farmworkers and legal aid lawyers and members of the Teatro Campesino.
My mother loved the Paradis Bakery. It was Portuguese and down-home. She loved walking the mission grounds too.
I thanked my friend for bringing up those memories. What about Plastic Water?