Category Archives: Activism

RIC MONTEJANO, DIRECTOR, CHRONICLER, SILVER LAKE ICON, DIES AT 64

Gia On The Move got the news yesterday and it saddened us to hear it.  This is for my Angelenos, some of whom surely knew and/or worked with Ric. A highly active community centric man, Ric’s passing is surely a loss for the Silver Lake, theatrical and gay communities at large here in Los Angeles.
Rest in peace.  

What follows is a verbatim reprint of the press release.

RicMontejano-in-The-Indian-Wants-the-BronxCSUF

RicMontejano in The Indian Wants the BronxCSUF

 

Richard (Ric) Montejano was born on September 22, 1949 in San Gabriel and grew up in Van Nuys and then La Habra.  In the late 1970’s, he found his true community in Silver Lake where he lived as a creative artist, entrepreneur and activist on his own terms, chasing his passions and accepting the pitfalls, until he died from lung cancer on June 22, 2014 at the age of 64.

After graduating from La Habra High School, Ric attended CSU Fullerton where he developed his talents for choreography and directing as a student of theatre and dance.  In 1970 under Ric’s artistic direction, a troupe of fellow CSUF students formed the communal Dudesheep Theatre Company and moved to San Francisco.  They became the resident company at Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Poets Theatre.  Ric directed the West Coast premiere of The Open Theatre’s The Serpent to rousing critical acclaim during the heyday of San Francisco’s experimental theatre boom.

Returning to Los Angeles in the mid-1970’s, Ric continued to perform sporadically as a dancer, actor, choreographer, playwright, producer and director at a variety of local venues including Scorpio Rising, Los Angeles Actors Theatre, The MET, The Fountain Theatre, and Word Space.

Over the years, Ric was a notable presence in Silver Lake.  He unabashedly loved the leafy, hilly neighborhoods that housed an interesting mix of locals who were gay, straight, Hispanic and a “little bit of everything.”  His first ink, in his fifties, was the words Silver Lake tattooed in bold calligraphy across the top of his back.

Ric Montejano spoken word is written down.

Ric Montejano spoken word is written down.

In the 1990’s he was proprietor of Mohawk’s Antiques & Collectables specializing in mid-century finds at his store near the corner of Mohawk and Sunset Blvd.  His knowledge, instinct and style attracted customers, and he loved “the hunt” of finding treasures at thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales and auctions.

Ric succumbed to the drug culture that was part of the unleashed gay lifestyle in the 1980’s and developed a weakness for speed that derailed his career and his health down to a period of sickness and homelessness.  His strong life force and creative energy prevailed, but he continued to fight this personal demon for the remainder of his life.

The AIDS epidemic that swept through the gay community had taken many of Ric’s close friends by the 1990’s and Ric was diagnosed with HIV and other ailments.  His direct link with historic times compelled Ric to write about his experiences as a gay man.  He discovered a knack for composition and cadence coupled with a distinctive and honest point of view.  He wrote with raw clarity about what he had observed and fantasized, including the Gay 80s, AIDS, crystal meth, incest, obsession and murder.

In SLHC Interview with Ric Montejano by Richard Goldin and Marco Larsen for the Silver Lake History Collective, Ric discusses his life and the evolution of the gay community in Silver Lake.  The interview can be seen here: 

In 2008 at the Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, Ric’s stories were performed under the title The Unforgiving Road, a journey down the mean streets through the eyes of a survivor.  Ric’s spoken word interpretation of his own stories went on to mesmerize and inform diverse audiences at many other venues and festivals in Los Angeles.

As his declining health kept him closer to home, Ric and his tiny tufted foundling Chihuahua-mix Sparky (the “velcro dog”) could be seen on their daily stroll down Silver Lake Blvd. to the 7-11 for a Big Gulp and the paper.  Every Saturday Ric became “the lamp man” and sold distinct, eclectic, collectable lamps from the curb in front of his Silver Lake apartment.  A steady stream of friends, neighbors, and passers-by populated his sales and enjoyed his generous, low key camaraderie.  They brought him food, reading matter, and even special finds for him to appraise or sell.

Ric detested threats to the character of his cozy, friendly Silver Lake neighborhood.  He became a community activist by spearheading the successful effort to ban digital billboards near his home on Silver Lake Blvd., close to the Silver Lake reservoir and the dog park.  Ric and Sparky stood daily across the street from the intrusive flashing electric sign that had been installed at Silver Lake and Effie, holding a hand-made poster that said “HONK if you hate the billboard.” His efforts and objections attracted major media attention that eventually unleashed a floodgate of protests to city hall until the sign was eventually removed.

ric on LOST bench

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Ric is one of the “Faces of Sunset Blvd.” in photographer Patrick Ecclesine’s book of the same name.  His “Lost” portrait of a shirtless Ric with a blond Mohawk haircut on a bus bench was featured in exhibits at LA City Hall, Arc Light Hollywood and at the Berlin City Hall-Germany.  Another candid portrait of Ric writing at his kitchen table by photographer Phil Chin was exhibited at the Pasadena Armory.

In 2011, Ric fulfilled a lifetime ambition to take a show he directed to New York City.  Performance artist John Fleck, a sometimes collaborator and longtime friend, asked that Ric help direct his auto-biographical one-man show, Mad Women.  Ric’s gifts for restraint, for visual and aural composition, and for focus on what’s essential, heightened the impact of Fleck’s stream of consciousness memory show that wove the story of an aging Judy Garland with that of John’s mother, Josephine Fleck who died of Alzheimer’s disease.

The show opened at the Skylight Theatre in Los Feliz to rave reviews and an extended run.  Then John and Ric travelled to La Mama NYC where a review from New York’s Stage and Cinema commended Ric for “weaving the show together with finesse and panache and a great deal of heart…never forgetting the darker truths or the human warmth.”  In L.A., John Fleck received an LA Drama Critics Circle Award for this production.

​Mad Women Director Ric Montejano – Photo by Ed Krieger

​Mad Women Director Ric Montejano – Photo by Ed Krieger

Ric is survived by his loving, strong, active family of friends.  He has been clear that he has no regrets over the life he chose.  In his own words, from his story “Beauty,” Ric says, “I don’t regret chasing the dragon or flying too close to the sun.  I don’t regret biting off more than I can chew or my nose to spite my face.  I don’t regret eating crow or humble pie.  I don’t regret walking down roads that led nowhere.  This journey is MINE.”

To send donations for several legacy projects, including publication of Ric’s Silver Lake stories, contact montejanomemorial@gmail.com .

The Mockingbird Has Been Killed

To Kill A Mockingbird

Something extraordinary has been happening today.  In case you haven’t been on Twitter, To Kill A Mockingbird has been trending.

Believe it or not British Education Secretary Michael Gove has caused an uproar by removing this book which has been a part of English study for over 20 years, as well as Of Mice and Men from the GCSE syllabus purely because of his personal “dislike” of these texts.  He wants them replaced by English works written  by pre-20th century British authors such as Charles Dickens or Jane Austen. 

The decision has also been criticised by educators and is being rumored that,  ‘It’s a syllabus out of the 1940s, that Michael Gove, designed the new curriculum himself,’ and that he’s on a mission to ban all American texts from British study.

Really? Wow!

What’s awesome about the backlash is finding out just how many people world-wide are chiming in with anger at this decision…and you thought nobody read anymore.

Apparently, To Kill A Mockingbird has been one of the most influential books read in our time, instilling a sense of connection with one’s fellow man/woman, taking the ideal of erasing prejudice and racism to great lengths in our hearts, minds and actions.

The new curriculum is going into effect in 2015.  Let’s hope we don’t have an American backlash to the extent of no more Shakespeare, or Dickens or Austen for us here in the “Colonies”.  That would be more than a shame, it would be an erosion of culture.

Thanks for the wake up call Mr. Gove. Cheers!

ASCL Annual Conference 2014



Michael Gove wants students to learn from the English classics (Picture: PA)

International Women’s Day 2014: Reducing Global Hunger

interantional-womens-day

“In many developing countries, women are the backbone of the economy. Yet women farmers do not have equal access to resources and this significantly limits their potential in enhancing productivity.”

Today, Saturday March 8th is International Women’s Day—and, all over the world, there are innovative women inspiring us.  Our friends at Food Tank who are at the forefront of developing new solutions to the Global Hunger and Sustainable Farming issue put together their list of current pioneers working tirelessly to alleviate poverty and feed the world.

These are business women, mothers, teachers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs, changing the food system through creating better working conditions, securing land rights, becoming leaders in their community, and more.

In many countries, while women are responsible for the majority of food production, they are also more likely to suffer from hunger in food shortages. According to Oxfam International, women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, but only earn 10 percent of the income.

Globally, 70 percent of all farmers are women.

According to the World Food Programmeproviding women farmers access to the same resources as men could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100-150 million people. And when women earn more, they invest more in the health of their families.

Read the full article here

In the meantime, here are 23 women righting the wrongs of hunger and poverty that Food Tank is celebrating this International Women’s Day (in alphabetical order).

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Rebecca Adamson: Adamson is Founder and President of First Peoples Worldwide, an organization facilitating the use of traditional Indigenous knowledge in solving issues such as climate change and food security.

Rucha Chitnis: Chitnis is the South Asia Program Director of Women’s Earth Alliance, mobilizing resources to grassroots, women-led groups who are working to secure women’s rights and food sovereignty.

Ertharin Cousin: Cousin is the Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Programme. She leads the organization with more than 25 years of experience combating hunger and food issues worldwide.

Grace Foster-Reid: Foster-Reid is the Managing Director of Ecofarms, a community-based business in Jamaica that produces honey products from her family’s farm.

Stephanie Hanson: Hanson has been the Director of Policy and Outreach at One Acre Fund since 2009, which provides smallholder farmers in Africa with support, inputs, and training, with the goal of doubling agricultural production on each acre of smallholder farmland.

Wenonah Hauter: Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, Hauter has worked extensively on food, water, energy, and environmental issues, and her book “Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America” examines corporate control over our food system.

Heather Hilleren: Hilleren is the Founder and CEO of Local Dirt, an online platform to find and buy fresh, local food directly from family farms.

Saru Jayaraman: In 2001, Jayaraman began leading a national movement to improve working conditions of food workers and founded Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.

Sarah Kalloch: Kalloch is a Senior Advisor at Oxfam America and runs Oxfam’s Sisters on the Planet program, engaging over 200 leading American women in anti-poverty advocacy, and builds alliances with national organizations interested in hunger, poverty and injustice.

Nancy Karanja: Karanja is a professor of soil ecology and Director of the Microbial Resource Centre at the University of Nairobi, and from 2005 to 2009, Karanja was the sub-Saharan Africa Regional Coordinator for Urban Harvest, a CGIAR program with the goal of stimulating agriculture in and around cities to alleviate poverty and increase food security.

Joan Karling: Karling is the Secretary General of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). She helps safeguard the environment, preserve traditional knowledge, and protect biodiversity through securing land rights for indigenous people.

Myrna Cunningham Kain: Kain is the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) special ambassador from Latin America, she is a social activist for the rights of Indigenous peoples with extensive experience, and in 2001 she was named, “Hero of Health in the Americas.”

Anna Lappe: Lappe is an expert on food systems and a sustainable food advocate, she has authored three books, and co-founder of the Small Planet Institute and the Small Planet Fund. Currently, she runs a new initiative, the Real Food Media Project, to spread the power of sustainable food.

Federica Marra: Winner of the 2012 Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Young Earth Solutions competition, Marra created Manna From Our Roofs, an innovative organization that engages young people across the world in food cultivation, preservation, and education.

Kathleen Merrigan: Merrigan is an expert on the relationship between farmers and politicians, she served as Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), playing a vital role in Know Your Farmer and Know Your Food initiatives. She currently serves as Executive Director of the Sustainability Institute at George Washington University.

Anuradha Mittal: Mittal worked as the co-director of Food First Institute for Food and Development Policy and as an internationally renowned expert on development, human rights, and agricultural issues, established the Oakland Institute, a progressive policy think tank in 2004.

Sithembile Ndema Mwamakamba: Mwamakamba is a Programme Manager with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), she coordinates the Youth and Gender Programme, aimed at developing a holistic agriculture policy framework in Africa that will support youth and women.

Mariam Ouattara: From Cote d’Ivoire, Ouattara founded Slow Food Chigata, which encourages local women’s cooperatives to grow fruit and vegetable gardens. The chapter has also held workshops on how to produce ecologically sustainable food without chemicals.

Esther Penunia-Banzuela: Penunia-Banzuela is the Secretary General of the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA), a regional alliance of national farmer’s organizations and as a Filipino-Asian social development worker, she brings experience working with farmers, fisherfolk, and indigenous people. She is also the International Year of Family Farming Special Ambassador for Asia and the Pacific.

Claire Quenum: Quenum is the General Secretary of the African Network on the Right to Food as well as director of the Togolose women’s right group Floraison. Through her work she promotes the right to adequate food in Africa.

Sara Scherr: Scherr is the Founder and President of Ecoagriculture Partners, a non-profit that works with agricultural communities around the world to develop ecoagriculture landscapes that enhance rural livelihoods, have sustainable and productive agricultural systems, and conserve or enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Michele Simon: A public health lawyer specializing in strategies to counter tactics that harm the public’s health, Simon has been researching and writing about the food industry since 1996.

Kanthi Wijekoon: A hero to other women, Wijekoon was arrested while she was trying to escape Sri Lanka to find a better life for her family. The Rural Women’s Front helped her get out of jail and she went on to lead programs reaching more than 600 women a year, increasing daily wages for women rice farmers.

International-Women's-day

14 Food Resolutions for 2014

14_food_resolutionsThis week our wonderful friends Ellen Gustafson and Danielle Nierenberg, over at Food Tank released their personal list of 2014 resolutions that they think anyone can do in order to bring about positive, sustainable change that will not only nourish people but also our planet. We love these ladies here at Gia On The Move and have to agree — most of the items on the list are a no-brainer. What’s more, you’re probably doing at least half of them already.  The rest are aimed at food consciousness, food choice, real farm support and sharing with others – including a fun meal together. And let’s face it — most of us have a Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or Instagram account.  You can do it!

Change happens one small decision at a time, one single person at a time.  You can read the full article on their website for more information.

Here are 14 food resolutions for 2014:

1. Meet Your Local Farmer
Know your farmer, know your food (KYF2) aims to strengthen local and regional food systems. Meeting your local farmer puts a face to where your food comes from and creates a connection between farmers and consumers.

2. Eat Seasonal Produce
By purchasing local foods that are in season, you can help reduce the environmental impact of shipping food. And your money goes straight to the farmer, supporting the local economy.

3. End Food Waste
food wasteMore than 1.3 billion tons of edible food is wasted each year. Tips to reduce waste include planning meals ahead, buying ‘ugly’’ fruits and vegetables, being more creative with recipes, requesting smaller portions, composting, and donating excess food. (Hey there are some apps for that! Check out Gia’s article New Foodie Apps Help Minimize Food Waste.)

4. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Many diseases are preventable, including obesity, yet 1.5 billion people in the world are obese or overweight. Promote a culture of prevention by engaging in physical activity and following guidelines for a healthy diet. Gaps in food governance must also be addressed to encourage healthy lifestyles, including junk food marketing to children.

5. Commit to Resilience in Agriculture
large portion of food production is used for animal feed and biofuels–at least one-third of global food production is used to feed livestock. And land grabs are resulting in food insecurity, the displacement of small farmers, conflict, environmental devastation, and water loss. Strengthening farmers’ unions and cooperatives can help farmers be more resilient to food prices shocks, climate change, conflict, and other problems.

6. Eat (and Cook) Indigenous Crops
Mungbean, cow pea, spider plant…these indigenous crops might sound unfamiliar, but they are grown by small-holder farmers in countries all over the world. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that approximately 75 percent of the Earth’s genetic resources are now extinct, and another third of plant biodiversity is predicted to disappear by the year 2050. We need to promote diversity in our fields and in our diets!

7. Buy (or Grow) Organic
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that at least one pesticide is in 67 percent of produce samples in the U.S. Studies suggest that pesticides can interfere with brain development in children and can harm wildlife, including bees. Growing and eating organic and environmentally sustainable produce we can help protect our bodies and natural resources.

8. Go Meatless Once a Week
To produce 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of beef can require 6,810 liters (1,799 gallons) of water and 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of pork can require 2,180 liters (576 gallons) of water. Beef, pork, and other meats have large water footprints and are resource intensive. Consider reducing your “hoofprint” by decreasing the amount and types of meat you consume.

9. Cook
cooked, food, Michael PollanIn Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked,” he learns how the four elements-fire, water, air, and earth-transform parts of nature into delicious meals. And he finds that the art of cooking connects both nature and culture. Eaters can take back control of the food system by cooking more and, in the process, strengthen relationships and eat more nutritious–and delicious–foods.

10. Host a Dinner Party

Maja D., Bilbao Spain - Real Meal Sharer..."I laugh a lot"

It’s doesn’t have to be fancy, just bring people together! Talk about food, enjoy a meal, and encourage discussion around creating a better food system. Traveling in 2014 and craving a homemade meal? For another option try Meal Sharing and eat with people from around the world.

11. Consider the ‘True Cost’ Of Your Food
Based on the price alone, inexpensive junk food often wins over local or organic foods. But, the price tag doesn’t tell the whole story. True cost accounting allows farmers, eaters, businesses, and policy makers to understand the cost of all of the “ingredients” that go into making fast food–including antibiotics, artificial fertilizers, transportation, and a whole range of other factors that don’t show up in the price tag of the food we eat.

12. Democratize Innovation
Around the world, farmers, scientists, researchers, women, youth, NGOs, and others are currently creating innovative, on-the-ground solutions to various, interconnected global agriculture problems. Their work has the great potential to be significantly scaled up, broadened, and deepened—and we need to create an opportunity for these projects to get the attention, resources, research, and the investment they need.

13. Support Family Farmers
The U.N. FAO has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming, honoring the more than 400 million family farms in both industrialized and developing countries, defined as farms who rely primarily on family members for labour and management. Family farmers are key players in job creation and healthy economies, supplying jobs to millions and boosting local markets, while also protecting natural resources.

14. Share Knowledge Across Generations
Older people have challenges–and opportunities–in accessing healthy foods. They’re sharing their knowledge with younger generations by teaching them about gardening and farming, food culture, and traditional cuisines. It’s also important to make sure that older people are getting the nutrition they need to stay active and healthy for as long as possible.

by Danielle Nierenberg

Crowds Will Be Gathering in Oakland, CA For Labor Day

wordsby Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Most people spend Labor Day on the beach. But the hottest place this holiday will be in Oakland, CA where a Revolutionary Crowdfunding Platform will be launched.

As culture goes, people all over the world suffered the greatest economic hit since the Depression when in 2008 the stock market collapsed.  We’ve never really recovered.

So when I received the press release for the upcoming CoCap – The Community Capital Symposium on September 2nd from 12-5pm PST, I was immediately intrigued. The symposium will be attended by some of the most innovative entrepreneurs, investors, and civic leaders from throughout the US and will focus not only on advancing a new way of financing, that shifts investing from Wall Street back to Main Street, it will also be the launch of a first ever crowdfunding platform that allows investors to own shares in a company instead of just donating.

coCap“A hundred years ago, individuals invested in their own community. It was really common for you as a businessperson to own an interest in 5-10 businesses in your town,” says John Katovich, President of Cutting Edge Capital. “It was a strengthening of common bonds – a vote of confidence in each other. But slowly we lost that. We’re bringing it back.”

In short, the pioneers of the Community Capital movement are bringing together both non-accredited investors, who demand the right to invest, and entrepreneurs, who are seeking new ways of raising funds.

Check out the full press release by clicking on this link to find out more information.  If you are local, you can also sign up for the conference.  It is open to all.

August 4th #TwitterSilence

Caroline Criado-Perez.

If you haven’t been following the news, i.e. are some sort of troll (and yes I said that), there has been a direct attack on Caroline Criado-Perez a 28-year-old U.K. feminist activist and freelance journalist (above, far right), who successfully campaigned to make sure one non-royal woman would be featured on the redesigned British banknotes, the celebrated, much loved, 19th century, female writer, Jane Austen.

Everyone that I knew who read it thought, “cool.” And that should have been it.

Apparently, however,  there were a lot of  men out there who didn’t think so. And what is truly stunning is that because of this one small act, Ms. Criado-Perez subsequently began receiving death and rape threats about every minute for the next 48 hours.

Tomorrow, August 4th, 2013 is National Friendship Day.

To celebrate that, Gia On The Move has decided to stand in solidarity with Caroline not as a feminist, or as a hater of men (which I vehemently am not – get real, I love my dad, my brothers, my uncles, my cousins, my guy friends, who also coincidentally respect the hell out of me) but as a woman; a woman with a public voice and a woman who has the strength to stand up and speak, and who is being attacked along with all women who share her purpose of living with dignity.

Will you please consider joining and not tweeting tomorrow all day until after midnight except for the hashtag #TwitterSilence?

(Or if you feel you must, maybe take a cue from Catilin Moran who suggests that you just be super positive and nothing else.)

The original goal of the boycott: (directly taken from the article written by KAT STOEFFEL @ The Cut)
A “Report Abuse” button, conveniently located on a Twitter user’s page, that alerts the social network to users who violate its rules by threatening to rape and kill people, according to a Change.org petition that’s been signed by more than 120,000 people.

Did they get it?
They wanted it like a week ago. They got it Monday.

So then why is the protest still happening?
In short, the cynicism of all the smart-aleck, overwhelmingly male tech commentators saying a “report abuse” button is less important than the freedom of speech, and that rape threats are an inevitable form of speech, and women should just deal with it, block people, “not feed the trolls,” etc. Or so says Caitlin Moran, author of How to Be a Woman, and another prominent supporter of Criado-Perez.

And just because of the obvious:  It’s National Friendship Day!

Below is a video about the hot debate going on in England also taken directly from Kat’s article featuring Stella Creasy, MP who is also currently under attack.  I watched it.  It’s pretty serious stuff.  You might want to at least check it out. I hope you will.

A Whole New Shaq Attack — Wake Up America!

Shaq & Mom

Boys & Girls Clubs of America Kicks Off Back To School with Shaq & his Mom!

 
by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move ~
Retired NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal and his mom Lucille sounded the morning alarm — literally — as part of one of the Largest Wake Up Calls on Thursday, August 1st in New York City. It was a signal to the start of a unique event where hundreds of teenagers competed in a creative obstacle course designed to dramatize the daily activities of all kids getting ready for their school day. But… they were challenged by difficulties, distractions and disturbances that made their attempt to get to school and receive that final diploma a huge undertaking.

Shaq and his mom know firsthand that by providing kids with a safe, constructive environment and dynamic after school programming, Boys & Girls Clubscan make a difference, especially for those most in need. As a kid growing up, the former basketball star often headed to the Boys and Girls Club to hangout with friends and talk with mentors about his future.

Shaquille O'NealShaq has said it was at the Boys and Girls Club where he learned to be a leader and not a follower.

The event is part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) national Tools for Back-to-School campaign, encouraging parents, families, and communities alike to support academic preparedness for our youth, especially those most in need, by providing access to necessary tools and resources, including Boys & Girls Clubs. As part of this event, JCPenney served as BGCA’S partner in raising awareness about the importance of academic preparedness and the BGCA’S after-school programs which help support kids ensuring they have the right tools to be successful this school year.