Organizing an Environmental Justice Program with the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles
NCJWLA is known for its initiatives and programs serving the community, particularly social justice for women, children, and families. Recognizing the disproportionate impact of environmental degradation, such as pollution and climate change, on some communities over others in Southern California, greatly impacting the lives, health, and safety of families, NCJWLA’s Advocacy Committee has resolved to support legislation to protect our environment and host its first Environmental Justice event this fall.
I’m serving on the team organizing the Environmental Justice program. More details will soon be announced. Learn more about NCJWLA HERE.
Serving on the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles Board of Directors
I joined the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles’s Board of Directors this spring. I’m proud to team up with this stellar group of Los Angeles’s women leaders to advocate for social and environmental justice and ensure the delivery of excellent social services to people both locally and statewide. I am continuing to serve on NCJWLA’s Advocacy Committee, as well, where I am primarily focused on reproductive and environmental justice initiatives.
Learn more about NCJWLA and our work HERE.
Literature for Life Issue 5 Launched on July 16, 2017 — Signing on Educators to Teach Stories
Literature for Life is thrilled to announce the launch of the fifth issue of our literary journal featuring original stories, essays, poems, and articles, as well as original artwork and curriculum for each piece! Over 60 people attended the launch in Pasadena which featured readings and opportunities to meet the writers and illustrators.
This summer, we are signing on middle and high school educators to teach Literature for Life material. We provide contemporary, mostly local literature of all genres, and opportunities to invite the writers and artists to speak with students in the classroom. If you’re interested in participating, email me at email@example.com.
Read Issue 5 and past issues HERE.
Heading Up the Advocacy Training Program for the Women’s Leadership Conference, May 13, 2017
The 11th annual West Hollywood Women’s Leadership Conference is coming up May 13, and I have the honor of heading up the Advocacy Trainings and focused issues discussions for the conference.Topics cover running for office, effective lobbying, getting advocacy projects off the ground, engaging in climate change and reproductive justice issues, and more. The conference features a stellar full day of workshops, panels, speakers, and discussions focused on advocacy and concrete steps to connect with organizations and take action. To learn more about the conference and get tickets, go to HERE.
Festival Director for LitFest Pasadena Coming Up May 20-21, 2017
Pasadena’s two day literary festival, LitFest Pasadena, is coming up the weekend May 20-21, 2017 across the Pasadena Playhouse District. The weekend will feature fantastic panels, readings, and poetry with writers speaking on a broad array of topics, including cutting edge issues like “Hostile Environment Reporting for Young Female Journalists,” “Writing in the Time of Black Lives Matter and Resistance to Trumpism,” and “Writing Indigenous California.” I’m serving as the Festival Director. To see the complete schedule, go HERE.
The Tomorrow Prize and The Roswell Award Short Science Fiction Readings Presented at LitFest Pasadena May 20 and 21
Sci-Fest LA and the arts and education nonprofit, Light Bringer Project, will present dramatic readings of the finalists’ stories for The Tomorrow Prize for short science fiction by an LA County high school student and The Roswell Award for short science fiction by adults worldwide followed by awards presentations on Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21 at LitFest Pasadena. Featured celebrity guests will read the stories on stage, including Allison Scagliotti (Stitchers), Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager), Anna Maria Horsford (The Bold and the Beautiful), Carlease Burke (Crowded), Madison McLaughlin (Arrow), Peter Mackenzie (Black-ish), David Blue (SGU: Stargate Universe), Jasika Nicole (Fringe), Jonathan Slavin (Dr. Ken), and Graham Sibley (Fear the Walking Dead).
I serve as the Director of these competitions, which are designed to encourage and nurture up and coming science fiction writing talent, recognizing that sci-fi serves as a unique vehicle for creatively exploring and seeking solutions to the issues and moral dilemmas that confront us today.
The readings schedule is available HERE.
Leading a Workshop on Coalition Building Across Organizations for the Women’s Center for Creative Work on May 9
I’ve been invited back to the Women’s Center for Creative Work (WCCW) to lead a workshop for their Coalition themed Spring 2017 program series. Called “Creating Successful Coalitions Across Organizations,” here is a workshop description: Coalitions across organizations can be rewarding and effective for enacting large scale, long term societal change — when they work. But bringing multiple organizations together to take action is a challenge. In this workshop, Nonprofit and Government Advisor Rosalind Helfand will discuss several models for cross-organization coalitions from those that flourish in highly or softly structured environments to the holy grail of organizing — a long lived and effective coalition where all participants have input and decision making power. This workshop is designed to assist participants in strategies to form successful coalitions where all partners actively support a set of common goals. After the presentation, Rosalind will lead the group in an exercise and facilitated discussion where participants will have the opportunity to discuss their current or future endeavors and work through potential challenges.
Participants should bring:
* Ideas for their current or upcoming coalition building efforts
More information is available HERE.
Programming the Women’s History Month Mini-Film Festival for March 11, 2017
The Women’s History Month Mini-Film Festival is presented by the City of West Hollywood Women’s Leadership Conference and NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA). The film festival takes place Saturday, March 11 from 5-10pm.
I’m curating and organizing the program together with the City and NFMLA. The night features two programs of selected shorts by local women directors followed by Q&As with the directions, and Emmy-Award Winning Actress and Director/Producer of “Seeing is Believing: Women Direct,” Cady McClain in Conversation with Maikiko James of Women In Film Los Angeles. Learn more HERE.
President’s Award Recipient and Joining the Board of Directors of the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles
I’m honored to have recently received the President’s Award from the National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles for my advocacy work on reproductive justice issues and leadership training. I’m also excited to be joining the NCJWLA Board of Directors in April!
Appearing on the USC Student Television Station Platform “Highbrow/Lowbrow” Arts, Culture, and Entertainment Show on March 8, 2017 from 5:30-6pm
I’ll be appearing as a discussion table panelist on the USC student television show “Highbrow/Lowbrow” on March 8, 2017 from 5:30pm-6pm. This show covers arts, culture and entertainment topics. The show airs live on trojanvision.usc.edu, as well as on Channel LA36.
Advancing Advocacy and Leadership in Southern California
I offer professional services developing advocacy and leadership training workshops and seminars for nonprofit and government organizations and citizen action groups. Currently I’m working with National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles Advocacy Committee and past clients include the West Hollywood Women’s Leadership Conference, Mt. St. Mary’s University, USC, Red Hen Press, and others.
These services include developing and leading trainings, workshops, and seminars for all skill and experience levels; training staff and volunteers to lead trainings, themselves; developing and leading community outreach campaigns; messaging; creating materials; and more.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310-869-5749 to discuss working with your organization.
Co-Chairing the Political Awareness and Education Committee of Together We Will Los Angeles
Together We Will Los Angeles is a movement with nearly 10,000 members. I am serving on their Political Awareness and Education Committee.
TWWLA is “dedicated to effecting change on the local and national level. Our group was inspired by the spirit and ideals of the original PSN organization. TWWLA is for all who believe that bigotry, sexism, racism, xenphobia, misogyny, and hate have no place in our country. We will work for and support LGBTQ rights, Women’s Issues, Racial and Cultural Justice, People with Disabilities, and other marginalized groups. We want to stand up for accountability in our government, stand together against those who wish to use the White House for their personal gain, and stand out as a loud voice that represents the ideals of equality, free speech, diversity, and democracy.”
“RALLY TO SAVE ROE: Because Abortion is Your Choice, Not Theirs” a Success
As a member of the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles Advocacy Committee, I led the effort to organize the RALLY TO SAVE ROE: BECAUSE ABORTION IS YOUR CHOICE, NOT THEIRS! which took place on January 19, 2017 — the eve of the presidential inauguration.
The National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles (NCJW | LA) and 30+ co-sponsoring organizations hosted the Rally followed by an on the spot Advocacy Training to defend women’s reproductive rights in America. The training, kicking off a collaborative advocacy training series for NCJWLA and our community partners. In the face of an uncertain political climate, the Rally demonstrated our commitment to upholding the right to abortion that was established 44 years ago in the historic 1973 Supreme Court Case, Roe vs. Wade. The training gave participants the tools to take action. While the recent election has left many feeling hopeless when it comes to defending their rights, this training provided next steps for those who will not sit idly by and watch as those rights are endangered.
The list of featured speakers included:
* Sheila Kuehl, Los Angeles County Supervisor
* Nury Martinez, Los Angeles City Councilmember
* Lindsey Horvath, West Hollywood City Councilmember
* Juana Rosa Cavero, California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, Executive Director
* Hector Villagra, ACLU of Southern California, Executive Director
* Hillary Selvin, National Council of Jewish Women, L.A., Executive Director
* Remy Holwick, Feminist Activist & F—k Rape Culture Co-founder
* Lonnell Schuler, Black Women for Wellness
* L. Scott Caldwell, Actress
* Jenna Brister, Actress & Comedian
* Hayley Terris, Comedian, Writer & Producer
& MC Abbe Land, Former Director of The Trevor Project
Hosted by the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles, co-sponsors included:
* National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles (host)
* ACLU of Southern California
* Anti-Defamation League
* Black Women for Wellness (BWW)
* California Assemblymember Richard Bloom
* California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom (CCRF)
* California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ)
* California NOW
* California Women’s Law Center
* City of West Hollywood
* City of West Hollywood Women’s Advisory Board
* Congregation Kol Ami
* Feminist Majority Foundation
* Hollywood NOW
* L.A. for Choice
* Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz
* Los Angeles Coalition for Reproductive Justice (LACRJ)
* Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
* Medical Students for Choice at UCLA
* NARAL Pro-Choice California
* National Health Law Program (NHeLP)
* Planned Parenthood Los Angeles
* Planned Parenthood Young Professionals
* Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC/URJ)
* Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC)
* San Gabriel Valley-Whittier NOW
* Temple Israel of Hollywood
* Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills
* Together We Will, Los Angeles
* Women’s Center for Creative Work
* Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP)
RALLY TO SAVE ROE PRESS:
Listen to my Feminist Magazine Radio Magazine interview about the Rally to Save Roe with Sandra Fluke and Laura Jimenez HERE!
Read Living Out Loud’s coverage HERE!
L.A. Progressive’s coverage HERE! (Article written by Rosalind Helfand.)
Fox LA’s TV news coverage is viewable HERE.
L.A.’s New LGBTQ Literary Festival, Lambda LitFest Los Angeles, is March 6-12, 2017
I’m proud to be serving on the Steering Committee of the first annual Lambda LitFest Los Angeles, an LGBTQ literary festival, coming up March 6-12, 2017. This week long festival includes LGBTQ themed literary events across Los Angeles County culminating in a full weekend of programming with panels at Barnsdall Art Park on March 11 and pop-ups with a closing party at Akbar on March 12. More information is available HERE.
Presenting in the 2nd Annual Citizen Science for Conservation in Southern California Symposium on Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Long Beach Aquarium
I’m thrilled to be presenting at the March 4 Citizen Science for Conservation in Southern California Symposium at the Long Beach Aquarium. My presentation will cover why it’s important to link citizen science programs with high school community service programs. In addition to consulting for nonprofits and government, I teach a high school leadership class, and advise on developing innovative community service programs. Here’s my abstract:
As a teacher and nonprofits advisor, I’ve embraced citizen science as a means of community service for high school students, and a number of my students regularly participate in Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County wildlife hunts. Citizen science presents a unique opportunity for high schools and their students to engage in service. The data and observational contributions students make through citizen science are framed as a means to enhance their communities and inform decisions by policy makers as well as conservation efforts. More than community service, citizen science is service learning. Students learn about science while completing their service and gain skills that that they can share with others when engaged in citizen science programs. Connecting with high schools through their community service programs is also a great way for citizen science programs to expand their outreach, impact, and longevity.
To learn more about the day-long symposium and register, go HERE.
Co-Host of the Women Leaders for John Heilman Fundraiser on February 15, 2017
As one of America’s most progressive cities and a policy leader (West Hollywood was the first officially pro-choice city in the nation), it’s important that the city have great leadership. I’m proud to be endorsing John Heilman for West Hollywood City Council. The elections take place on March 7, 2017. John Heilman has an excellent history of fighting for human rights, women’s equality, environmental health, affordable housing, senior care, LGBTQ rights, and much more. He is the right leader for West Hollywood.
On February 15, I’m co-hosting a Women Leaders for John Heilman Fundraiser. I hope you will join! Click on the event image for more information.
Sci-Fest LA and Light Bringer Project Join Forces for The Tomorrow Prize and The Roswell Award Short Science Fiction Writing Competitions
Sci-Fest LA and the arts and education nonprofit, Light Bringer Project, have joined forces to host the 2017 short science fiction writing competitions, The Tomorrow Prize for Los Angeles County High School students and The Roswell Award for adults worldwide. I am once again directing these competitions.
The Tomorrow Prize submissions are being accepted through Friday, March 17, 2017.
The Roswell Award submissions are being accepted through Friday, March 3, 2017.
Dramatic readings of the finalists’ stories by performers followed by recognition of the winners, finalists, and honorable mentions will take place at LitFest Pasadena on May 20 and 21, 2017.
The Tomorrow Prize details can be found HERE.
The Roswell Award details can be found HERE.
Radio Commentator and Author Adolfo Guzman-Lopez Speaks with Students for Literature for Life
Ninth grade English students at West Adams Prep High School studied the poem “Vine a Los Angeles” by Adolofo Guzman-Lopez, author and KPCC radio commentator. We were proud to recently host Adolfo for a visit to the school and talk with the students. This is part of Literature for Life’s ongoing program to publish works by local authors, design curriculum for high school students to study their work, and bring the authors into classrooms to speak with the students. We’re excited to host more author visits this semester.
If you’re interested in studying Literature for Life work in your high school and hosting an author visit, contact me at email@example.com or 310-869-5749.
You can read Adolfo Guzman-Lopez’s poem HERE.
Appearing on the USC Student Television Station Platform “Highbrow/Lowbrow” Arts, Culture, and Entertainment Show on March 8, 2017 from 5:30-6pm
I’ll be appearing as a discussion table panelist on the USC student television show “Highbrow/Lowbrow” on March 8, 2017 from 5:30pm-6pm. This show covers arts, culture and entertainment topics. More information to come!
Appearing in SparkleBlob’s 9th Annual Holiday Puppet Show December 9-18
I’m once again puppeteering and performing in the annual SparkleBlob Holiday Puppet Show. This year’s show, “The Snowglobe of Progress: An Urban Puppet’s Contemplation,” runs December 9-18. The show takes on issues of affordable housing, gentrification, climate change and more in typical ebullient SparkleBlob fashion. KCRW and TimeOut LA both recommend making the show one of your top December performance priorities.
To get tickets, go HERE.
A Response to the Election
The recent United States election, in which both the executive and legislative branches fell to far right extremists, signal cultural and economic rifts in our society which will only widen under the policies of the newly elected. This is a threat to human rights, social justice and the environment. To help counter this and fight back, I’m working with nonprofit and government leaders, community groups, and others across Los Angeles to strategize and organize. We are also working on campaigns to educate our communities in areas such as civic participation and to communicate better with people around the nation. I will be posting advocacy opportunities, rallies, and more in the near future. Stay tuned!
A Refugee Votes in the US for the First Time…for Freedom
Jina is a colleague at a local nonprofit who came to the United States as a refugee. She asked me to show her how to register to vote this summer. I asked Jina to tell me more about her story and why she was inspired to vote for the first time. Her story is powerful, and it speaks to a perspective on the freedoms that we have that can only come from someone who’s lived without those freedoms. I wrote a piece about her experiences. You can read it HERE.
Election 2016: Heading to Nevada to Get Out the Vote
I’m proud to be heading to Nevada with the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project to get out the vote for Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto. These candidates show strong commitment to human rights, environmental conservation, reproductive justice, and education. They are the candidates who will support the progressive work of our best nonprofit organizations and state and local government leaders. Therefore, it is essential to help elect them. Other women who I’m supporting in this election include U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris of California and California State Assembly candidate Laura Friedman for District 43.
Literature for Life Welcomes Ivy Kuo and Michael Jaime-Becerra to the Classroom
Plus, Submissions are Open for Lit Journal Issue 5
I direct the curriculum and authors in the classroom programs for literary journal and educators’ resource, Literature for Life. Last month, Literature for Life author Ivy Kuo spoke to over 60 9th grade English students at West Adams Preparatory High School who studied her Issue 4 story, “The Lotus of the Muddy Waters.” This month, author Michael Jaime-Becerra, who wrote the Issue 3 story “1181 Durfee Avenue: 1983-1986,” will speak to a 9th grade class that studied his story this fall. With a grant from the DCA, we’re excited to bring more local authors to L.A. classrooms. You can read their stories HERE!
Literature for Life is also now accepting submissions for Issue 5 through November 21. Learn more HERE.
Feminism, Birding, and Unexpected Models of Community Based Change Workshop a Success
Last month, I had the honor of teaching a civic engagement workshop at the Women’s Center for Creative Work. The workshop combined elements of the histories of feminism, birding, and conservation to teach about past and present models of community based change that may be unexpected to many. Participants engaged in birding exercises along the Los Angeles Rover and worked on developing their own projects, too. A zine based on the workshop will soon be published by the WCCW. You can learn more about the WCCW HERE.
Literature for Life Lit Journal Issue 4 Has Launched!
Literature for Life, the L.A. online literary journal featuring fabulous stories, poems, articles and more primarily by local authors and featuring local artists, too, has published our 4th li journal issue! Each piece includes original curriculum and we’re getting Lit for Life into local middle and high school classrooms! I’m the Managing Editor and Curriculum Director for this project! Read and learn more HERE!
Op-Ed on the Hyde Amendment Published in The Jewish Journal
I recently published an op-ed in The Jewish Journal about the devastating effects of the Hyde Amendment, language added to federal appropriations bills each year, that bans all federal entities and services from including abortion care in their health coverage. This includes coverage for low income women, women in the military, women in Peace Corps, federal employees, Native American women, and many more. It’s time to end the Hyde Amendment and support the EACH Woman Act that will counter it.
To learn more, read my op-ed HERE.
Insect Puppets Video Featured on Gothtober
Gothtober is the fabulous online Halloween countdown calendar that features original artworks and videos, one for each day of October, every year. It’s a project of the L.A. arts collective, SparkleBlob. This year, I submitted a video of felt board puppet play with images of insects and other creatures for Day 5 of the calendar. The photos used for the puppets were all taken by me. The video is fun and odd…and fun! You can view it HERE. See more Gothtober HERE! Happy Halloween and enjoy!
Literature for Life Issue 4 Launch on Sunday, September 25
The literary journal and educators’ resource that I manage, Literature for Life, is a program of the arts nonprofit, Light Bringer Project. On September 25, we are officially launching Issue 4 of our journal. Issue 4 authors and artists will join us for a reading and celebration. We’ll also debut the Issue 4 curriculum that will be used in Los Angeles public school classrooms this year! Learn more and read stories from our past issues HERE.
Next Up for the Bifröst– Into the Aurora Project
In August, I joined the Bifröst– Into the Aurora Project team to document the latest stage of their multi-year effort to image the aurora borealis from the inside! This involved sending a camera into space on a rocket launched from the NASA Wallops facility in Virginia. The Project is collaborating with several university, nonprofit, and government space programs, and we conducted interviews of students who helped design and build the payload before, during and after the launch. The launch was successful, although this year’s payload was not recovered. I’ll next be conducting interviews of the documentary filmmaking team in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for updates! Learn more about the project HERE.
Teaching High School Leadership
Teaching is one of my favorite ways to give back to my community, and I teach several classes each year. This year, I’m teaching a high school Leadership course at West Hollywood College Preparatory School. The course will include everything from communication and speaking skills workshops, to regular class trips to visit with local government, to a service learning project component. We’ll also be analyzing the pre-election events and hope to take a class trip to Washington, D.C. in the spring. I welcome community participation. If you’d like to help out with a government, leadership or service learning opportunity for my students, please let me know!
Joining the Steering Committee of Lambda Literary’s New Festival
Lambda Literary will host its first LGBTQ literary festival in 2017, and I’m thrilled to be a member of the Steering Committee! I’ll be sharing my organizing expertise from Directing the West Hollywood Book Fair, Co-organizing Lit Crawl L.A., managing the Sci-Fest L.A. short story writing competitions, and Managing Literature for Life. I can’t wait to share more details about Lambda Literary’s festival — check back for updates! Learn more about Lambda Literary HERE.
Teaching a Civic Engagement Workshop at the Women’s Center for Creative Work on October 16
The Women’s Center for Creative Work, or WCCW, is a nonprofit organization which cultivates LA’s Feminist Creative Communities and Practices. Their fall 2016 programming is focused on Civic Engagement, and I’m pleased to be teaching the following workshop (I’ll post details on how to sign up later this month, and you can learn about the WCCW HERE):
Feminism, Birding & Unexpected Models for Community Based Change
Bring your binoculars, notebooks, and cameras!
Bring your binoculars, notebooks, and cameras to this active workshop exploring the feminist origins of popular birding in the U.S. and the impact of birding, in turn, on how we civically engage to enact change.
We’ll start at the WCCW with a little history and then head out to the LA River where we’ll walk, observe, and periodically stop and talk about unexpected models for community based change, beginning with the relationship between the simple act of enjoying birds and the environmental conservation movement, and including contemporary examples from across Los Angeles.
Participants will be encouraged to develop their own ideas for unexpected civic engagement projects and outline plans to make them a reality by the end of the workshop. They’ll also, hopefully, have a great record of birds sighted along the way!
Acting to Provide Support for Trafficking Victims
Working with the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles, I recently co-led an educational salon about human trafficking and met with Assemblymember Gatto to discuss this issue. This month, two bills that will help trafficking victims have the opportunity to come before the California State Senate for a vote. It is important that Californians call their representatives and ask them to support these bills. The bills are AB 1761 and AB 1762. AB 1761, which creates a defense for human trafficking victims when arrested for non-violent offenses directly related to their trafficking, is currently in the California State Senate Appropriations Committee. AB 1762, which ensures that trafficking survivors do not face long-term barriers to employment and housing by vacating convictions for crimes they were forced to commit when trafficked, is in the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File.
Learn more about these bills and NCJW/LA’s efforts to help trafficking victims HERE.
Joining the Reading Cast of the Kaidan Project from Rogue Artists Ensemble & East West Players
I’m thrilled to be joining the cast of the Kaidan Project from the Rogue Artists Ensemble in Collaboration with East West Players. We are presenting a staged reading of this work in progress on Saturday, August 6, 2016. This reading is free to attend. The full play will be presented in Little Tokyo this winter. According to Rogue Artists: Kaidan Project will be a multi-sensory experience (sight, sound, smell) and will involve the Hyakumonagatari Kaidankai (the telling of 100 supernatural tales) a tradition dating back to 1660. The experience will involve taking small groups of participants on a ‘ghost tour’ of Little Tokyo, while the 100 tales unexpectedly unfold around them, revealing a higher level of paranormal activity, resulting in a thrilling finale. This piece will not be for the faint of heart and will involve moments of sudden darkness, loud noises and frightening imagery.
Learn more about this project and how to attend the reading HERE.
Making it a Service Summer!
Teaching is one of my favorite ways to give back to my community, and I teach several classes each year. This past year, I taught Research and Academic Writing and Creative Writing for high school students. Several of my students are continuing to work with me over the summer by engaging in facilitated service learning projects. I recently accompanied several of my students to a Citizen Science program at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook organized by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and supported by the Los Angeles Audubon Society, as well. My students used the iNaturalist app on their phones to collect and upload data on species they observed. This data will benefit conservation efforts in Los Angeles.
I challenge you to do the same — don’t just think about the change you want to see, but help make it happen and teach others how to take action, too!
Literature for Life Next Phase — Curriculum and School Programs Development
The literary journal and educators’ resource that I manage, Literature for Life, is a program of the arts nonprofit, Light Bringer Project. We’ve secured a grant for the next phases of this project — completing curriculum for the stories in our issues, publishing our next round of work, and actively engaging with teachers and students and putting Literature for Life to work in Los Angeles’s high school classrooms! Read some of the amazing stories we’ve collected from primarily L.A. authors, and check out the beautiful artwork for the stories HERE.
Joining the Bifröst- Into the Aurora Project in August
I’m thrilled to be joining the team of the Bifröst- Into the Aurora Project in August for the next stages of their endeavor to study, understand, and document the cultural and scientific aspects of the Aurora Borealis. The multi-disciplinary international team behind this project is attempting to send cutting edge imaging equipment into heart of the Aurora at an altitude of approximately 300 kilometers. As both a science lover and a long time student of mythology, this is an especially exciting opportunity for me! Learn more about the project HERE.
Curating and Moderating Panel on Graphic Novels and Social Justice at LitFest Pasadena on June 4
I’m honored to be curating a panel for LitFest Pasadena on Saturday, June 4 at 6:15pm. This panel continues my ongoing interest in intersections between the arts and social and environmental justice issues at the local and international levels. “Not Your Momma’s Comics! Graphic Novels Tackle Social Justice, Global Conflict, & More” features Joshua Dysart, a bestselling author who went to Iraqi Kurdistan to talk to refugees fleeing ISIS about their plight, which became the basis for a free graphic novel, “Living Level-3: Iraq,” from Huffington Post World. It is also features Tanya Bjork, who is exploring access to health care and the struggles of our society’s most vulnerable in her comic series, “Havenhurst,” and Brandon Easton, who has won awards for his comics work incorporating issues of sex trafficking and transgender abuse in NYC in the “Watson and Holmes” series, and works to bring attention to African-American speculative fiction creators.
We’ll be at The Carrie Hamilton Theater at the Pasadena Playhouse at 6:15pm.
Read My Recent Blog Post About Advocating for the Women’s Health Protection Act (S 217/HR 448)
In May, I traveled to D.C. to advocate on behalf of NCJW/CA with the Act for Women Campaign for the Women’s Health Protection Act (S 217/HR 448). This is a critical, proactive and pro-choice measure in the U.S. House and Senate endorsed by the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). It creates federal protections against state restrictions that threaten women’s health and intrude upon personal decision-making. This legislation would preserve and protect access to safe, legal abortion care and ensure that the constitutional rights of every woman to make her own decision about abortion are secure – no matter where she lives.
As access to reproductive health care (and indeed what is primary health care for many, many women in the United States) and abortion disappears nationwide, this bill is more critical than ever. Read more about trip in my article for NCJW/LA HERE.
Congratulations to Sci-Fest LA’s The Tomorrow Prize and The Roswell Award’s Finalists and Winners
May came to a spectacular close with the performed readings of the finalists’ stories for The Tomorrow Prize and The Roswell Award. I direct these two science fiction short story writing competitions, one for Los Angeles high school students and the other for adults worldwide, and it was thrilling to hear the stories read on stage, and to announce the winners. Congratulations to the winners: Matilda Berke of Polytechnic School in Pasadena is the winner of The Tomorrow Prize, and Liam Hogan of London is the winner of The Roswell Award. Learn more about these competitions to identify and usher in new generations of science fiction writing talent at HERE! Submissions will open again in October 2016.
Opening of the Urban Nature Research Center, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
What a thrill to attend the launch of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s new Urban Nature Research Center! Held on April 13, 2016, the museum’s new President, Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, presided and the highly supportive L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas spoke. I am proud to participate regularly in the museum’s outstanding and ever growing Citizen Science program. The Urban Nature Research Center is not just a place to examine how nature is adapting and changing in our cities, it’s a new model for engaging the public in urban biodiversity research that will benefit conservation efforts! In fact, because of the Natural History Museum, Los Angeles is a worldwide leader in studying nature in cities for conservation purposes and engaging citizen scientists. Learn more HERE!
Heading to Washington, D.C. to Advocate for the Women’s Health Protection Act (S 217/HR 448)
The Women’s Health Protection Act (S 217/HR 448) is a critical, proactive and pro-choice measure in the U.S. House and Senate endorsed by the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). It creates federal protections against state restrictions that threaten women’s health and intrude upon personal decision-making. This legislation would preserve and protect access to safe, legal abortion care and ensure that the constitutional rights of every woman to make her own decision about abortion are secure – no matter where she lives.
In May, I will be heading to Washington D.C. to represent NCJW/California at the 2016 Advocacy Day. Coordinated by the Act for Women campaign, the Advocacy Day is led by the Center for Reproductive Rights. NCJW is a member of the campaign.
As access to reproductive health care (and indeed what is primary health care for many, many women in the United States) and abortion disappears nationwide, this bill is more critical than ever. The women of the United States must not loose their constitutional rights. Learn more HERE.
Get Ready for The Tomorrow Prize and The Roswell Award Short Story Readings & Awards Presentations in May!
As the Director of Sci-Fest L.A.’s two amazing short story writing competitions, The Roswell Award for adults worldwide and The Tomorrow Prize for L.A. County high school students, I’m over the moon to announce that we once again have an outstanding set of finalists for both competitions! Both sets of stories will be dramatically read in staged readings by sci-fi show celebrities! The Tomorrow Prize readings and awards will be held at the Acme Theater on La Brea in Hollywood on Saturday, May 14 at 3:00pm. The Roswell Award readings and award presentation will also be held at the Acme Theater on Sunday, May 22 at 7:00pm. Come and hear these incredible stories. Learn more HERE!
The 10th Annual West Hollywood Women’s Leadership Conference is May 6-7
I’m thrilled to be working with the West Hollywood Women’s Leadership Conference once again! The 10th annual Women’s Leadership Conference is Friday and Saturday, May 6-7. Learn more about the schedule and exhibitors, and register now HERE!
NCJW/LA and the Power of Empowering Volunteers
Upon receiving the Emerging Leader Award from the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles, I was asked to co-write an article about the power of empowering volunteers to not just put their expertise to work for social justice, but to have real ownership of their projects. I co-wrote this article with fellow award recipient Yvonne Winchell, who won the Women Who Dared Award. This subject is near and dear to my heart as a consultant for nonprofits and government. It can be scary for an organization to empower a volunteer, to give up some control. But the results are often quite fantastic when you create the right support structure! Read the article HERE.
Moderating a Panel on Women Going Beyond the Graphic Novel for Women’s History Month – Monday, March 7 at 7:30pm
Happy Women’s History Month! I’m excited to be moderating a panel for the City of West Hollywood’s Women’s History Month festivities and for Will Eisner Week on WOMEN GOING BEYOND THE GRAPHIC NOVEL! This panel is on Monday, March 7 at 7:30pm in West Hollywood. Join us for an exploration of how women are innovating in the field of comics and graphic novels and expanding on the topics and genres that comics can cover. For too long, comics have been synonymous with superheroes, and we’d like to upend that notion. Our panelists will talk about using comics to reach under-served audiences, finding new ways to introduce people to comics, and re-introducing once popular comic genres such as romance. We’ll also touch on how women have always been involved with comics and may have been written out of the comics history books. Our featured guests include: JANELLE ASSELIN-MOORE, Rosy Comics/ Fresh Romance, LILLIAN DIAZ-PRZYBYL, Chromatic Press, BARBARA RANDALL KESEL, Award-winning Comic Writer & Editor, MOM, Los Angeles Women’s Comic Creators League, and YUMI SAKUGAWA, “I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You.” Learn more HERE.
Heading to Washington D.C. March 12-15 to Advocated for Reproductive Justice and Other Social Justice Issues
I’m heading to Washington, D.C. March 12-15 to attend the Washington Institute hosted by the National Council of Jewish Women. The institute includes policy updates from incredible women leaders, advanced advocacy training, and meeting with lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Senate to advocate for reproductive justice and other social justice issues. My trip and registration were made possible by a full scholarship sponsored by NCJW and NCJW/LA. Thank you!
Short Story Published in Cutthroat: A Journal for the Arts
A literary curator and producer, I occasionally get around to also publishing my own written work. I’m excited to announce that my short fiction story, “Suburban Gopher Wars OR How I Learned to Be Weak” was recently published by Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts. Funny and probably a bit traumatic to some, this story is an absurd reflection on growing up in suburbia with bits of truth woven in! Read it in the Fall 2015 issue of Cutthroat HERE.
Emerging Leader Award Recipient – Presented by the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles
I’m thrilled to announce that on February 21, 2016, I’ll be presented with the Emerging Leader Award by the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles. Since 2014, I’ve worked with NCJW/LA’s Advocacy Committee and Reproductive Justice Working Group. My focus has been reproductive justice, including abortion access, as well as other important social justice issues. I’ve taken a leadership role in organizing, curating and emceeing the annual Roe vs. Wade Anniversary Celebration for two years, participated in numerous lobby visits to elected officials — including traveling to Sacramento last year and to Washington D.C. next month, and helped to shape NCJW/LA’s advocacy programs. NCJW/LA does extraordinary social justice work and it’s an honor to receive this award. Learn more about NCJW/LA HERE.
Thank You for Standing Together for Reproductive Rights, Health & Justice in January!
In January, the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles celebrated the 43rd anniversary of Roe v Wade and geared up for another year of working hard to protect and expand women’s access to the full range of reproductive health care options — including abortion. I helped to produce and curate this event, which drew nearly 200 guests and 20 co-sponsoring reproductive justice, social justice, women’s rights, and civil rights organizations.
The evening included true life storytelling hosted by the Unplanned Story Party and speakers from organizations including Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, Black Women for Wellness, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, and more. It was a tremendous success, and just the beginning of what is going to be a great year working for reproductive justice.
Directing Sci-Fest LA’s Short Story Writing Competition for L.A. High School Students — Submissions are Due February 19!
Sci-Fest LA’s short story writing competition for L.A. County High School students, The Tomorrow Prize, is open through Friday, February 19! Last year, we received extraordinary stories from high schools throughout LA County and featured our finalists’ work in a special afternoon of dramatic readings by science fiction celebrities. The goal of the competition is to encourage and foster up and coming science fiction writing talent. Submissions for The Tomorrow Prize for L.A. County High School students are due on February 19, 2016. For guidelines and to submit work, go HERE!
Excited to Attend the Citizen Science Symposium for Conservation in Southern California Symposium on February 20, 2016
A massive grassroots movement led by museums and other research institutions and nonprofit organizations to engage ordinary citizens in education, scientific research, and data collection for the purpose of conservation, Citizen Science is the wave of the future. I’ll be attending the Citizen Science Symposium at the Long Beach Aquarium on February 20, where we’ll hear about important conservation topics from researchers, discuss the growth of Citizen Science programs, and more.
I’m also interested in seeing Citizen Science incorporated into community service programs for youth.
Learn more about the Symposium HERE.
Join Me in Standing Together for Reproductive Rights, Health & Justice on Thursday, January 21!
On Thursday night, January 21, we’ll celebrate the 43rd anniversary of Roe v Wade and gear up for another year of working hard to protect and expand women’s access to the full range of reproductive health care options — including abortion. I’m helping to produce and curate this event, and you can learn more about it HERE.
The National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles is partnering with organizations from across LA and the nation to celebrate the 43rd anniversary of the landmark decision that ensured the right to abortion in the United States: Roe vs. Wade. At a time when access to abortion and ALL reproductive health services is under threat, we are standing together for reproductive rights, health and justice.
“In Our Own Words: Standing Together for Reproductive Rights, Health & Justice” is a night of powerful storytelling and taking action. Join us as some of L.A.’s best storytellers share their own stories on stage, making us laugh and cry, and challenging us as we engage in real time advocacy to stand together for reproductive rights, health, and justice.
The evening includes receptions before and after the readings featuring wine, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts. These gathering periods are an opportunity for our guests to collaborate, take action, and share what reproductive rights, health, and justice mean to each of us-in our own words!
RSVP to Maya Paley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the hashtag #Roe43LA to be part of the conversation on social media.
L.A.’s Fabulous Puppeteering, Performance, and Arts Group, SparkleBlob, Presents Its Annual Holiday Show in December!
SparkleBlob presents our 7th annual holiday puppet show musical extravaganza with “Holidays on Icing: A Christmas Cookie Crumble.” Presented together with Automata in Chinatown, the show will run December 10 to December 20 2015. This wildly popular annual event is kid friendly but definitely not just for kids. Audiences will love the zany puppet antics, sly jokes, rock ‘n’ roll score including a live band, pre-show receptions, and so much more! Check back for the link to tickets. They go FAST!
Literature for Life Art Exhibition & Sale on Sunday, November 15 from 4pm to 7pm at Pop Secret Gallery
Literature for Life is hosting our first ever Art Exhibition and Sale on Sunday, November 15, 2016 from 4pm to 7pm at Pop Secret Gallery in Eagle Rock, 5119 Eagle Rock Blvd. The art featured is by Literature for Life contributing artists including Walter Askin, Jessica Chrysler, Graeme Fordyce, Scott Gandell, Sherry Giang-Chen, Ester Petschar, Allison Strauss, Jen Swain, and Leora Wien. The art includes original works created for Literature for Life issues, prints, and more. At least half of all proceeds will benefit Literature for Life. I serve as Literature for Life’s Managing Editor.
Learn more about Literature for Life at www.LiteratureforLife.net!
Lit Crawl L.A. is Wednesday, October 21 and Literature for Life Will Be There!
The 3rd annual Lit Crawl L.A. in the NoHo Arts District is coming up on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 from 6pm to Midnight! Audiences are guaranteed to experience a spectacular, walkable literary night with over 200 writers participating in literary performances, readings, and more at 30+ locations. Locations include restaurants, bars, galleries, theatres, and even a martial arts studio! As a co-founder of Lit Crawl L.A. and member of its curatorial team, it’s exciting to see how wonderfully representative of the L.A. literary community’s diversity the Crawl has become. Plus, it’s FUN! Get the full three round schedule plus Opening Program and Closing Party HERE!
Literature for Life is presenting a reading with alumni authors in Round 2 of Lit Crawl L.A. on October 21! LITERARY LOCAVORE LOS ANGELES: L.A. STREETS BY L.A. WRITERS is an intense, mesmerizing collection of stories exploring life and lives in the East and South of Los Angeles County in essay, article, fact and fiction. Presented by Literature for Life, this reading, organized by street, features excerpts from our first three issues.
Featured Writers: Janet Fitch, Rebecca Gonzales, Erin Aubry Kaplan, Cheryl Klein, Keenan Norris, Susan Straight, Jervey Tervalon & Daniel Voll
8:45PM | Skynny Kitchen, 5166 Lankershim Blvd.
Directing Sci-Fest LA’s Short Story Writing Competitions — For L.A. High School Students and for Adults Worldwide –Submissions are Now Open!
Sci-Fest LA’s short story writing competitions are now in their second year! Last year, we received extraordinary stories from around the world and featured our finalists’ work in two special nights of dramatic readings by science fiction celebrities. The goal of the competitions is to encourage and foster up and coming science fiction writing talent. Submissions for The Tomorrow Prize for L.A. County High School students are due on February 19, 2016. Submissions for The Roswell Award competition for adults worldwide are due January 15, 2016. For guidelines and to submit work, go HERE!
Literature for Life Issue 4 Submissions Are Open
Literature for Life is both a fantastic literary journal featuring contemporary works from short stories to articles and a free resource for high school educators! We publish two issues each year, and are developing curriculum for an initiative to bring the work in Literature for Life with fresh writing and critical thinking exercises and hands-on activities to high school classrooms. Submissions for Issue 4 of Literature are Life are open through October 16, 2015. Be a part of this wonderful project and submit work now!
Learn more at www.LiteratureforLife.net!
Engaging Students in the Natural History Museum’s Citizen Science Program
Citizen science is the wave of the future with legions of ordinary citizens working with scientists to collect data for the purpose of conservation. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has an extraordinary citizen science program engaging thousands in studying LA’s urban wildlife so that officials can make better policy decisions for a sustainable future. For the past year, I’ve been accompanying my middle and high school research writing students on species cataloguing outings from fungi to birds. Most recently, we attended an event at Los Angeles City Hall for BioBlitz LA — a summer project with the goal of collecting and recording at least 10,000 species photos from around the city! We took a tour of City Hall and learned more about local government while we were at it.
I’m encouraging other educators to get their students engaged in the Natural History Museum’s citizen science program — though it’s just as fun for adults! The next program is coming up on August 29. You can read more about the program and our recent BioBlitz LA outing in the Beverly Press HERE. And get involved directly with the Citizen Science program HERE.
Literature for Life Issue 3 Has Launched!
Literature for Life, the online literary journal and resource for educators for which I am Managing Editor, has launched its third issue! The issue features fiction, nonfiction and poetry works from 10 writers and 9 artists, many of them Los Angeles locals. The featured authors include: Janet Fitch, Michael Jaime-Becerra, Bronwyn Mauldin, Rebecca Gonzales, Yvonne Estrada, Conrad Romo, Joel Jacobsen, Doug Benerofe, Elsa Valmidiano, and Keenan Norris. The artists include Scott Gandell, Sherry Giang, Jennifer Swain, Christopher Perez, Graeme Fordyce, Walter Askin, Alexander Lee, Nery Gabriel Lemus, and Ester Petschar. Curriculum for Middle and High School educators for each of the stories will be posted in early August. Stay tuned!
Read the issue now at www.LiteratureforLife.net!
Launch Party for Literature for Life Issue 3 on Saturday, June 27
Literature for Life, the online literary journal and resource for educators for which I am Managing Editor, will launch its third issue on Saturday, June 27, 2015 from 2:00PM to 4:00PM at the home of founder Jervey Tervalon in Altadena. The issue features fiction, nonfiction and poetry works from 10 writers, many of them Los Angeles locals. The featured authors include: Janet Fitch, Michael Jaime-Becerra, Bronwyn Mauldin, Rebecca Gonzales, Yvonne Estrada, Conrad Romo, Joel Jacobsen, Doug Benerofe, Elsa Valmidiano, and Keenan Norris. The launch party will include an exhibition by the artists who contributed work to the issue and more!
To RSVP, email me at email@example.com
SCI-FEST LA Presents Readings of New Short Science Fiction May 16 and May 24
As the Director of Sci-Fest LA’s two short science fiction writing competitions, The Tomorrow Prize for L.A. teen writers and The Roswell Award for adult writers from around the world, I am thrilled to announce that a truly fantastic cast of celebrity guests will be reading the finalists’ stories on stage at the Acme Theater on La Brea this month! The Tomorrow Prize stories will be read on Saturday, May 16 at 4pm. The Roswell Award stories will be read on Sunday, May 24 at 7pm. Both readings will be followed by a prize given to the winner of each competition. Sci-Fest LA founded these writing competitions to encourage and recognize emerging writing talent and a new generation of science fiction writers. This is our first year hosting these competitions. Students from five high schools around LA submitted work to The Tomorrow Prize and over 300 writers submitted stories to The Roswell Award!
Learn more and get tickets HERE.
Bingo for Choice with Planned Parenthood Los Angeles’s Young Professionals on Tuesday, May 19
I’m excited to be a member of the Planned Parenthood Los Angeles Young Professionals! On Tuesday, May 19 at 6pm at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, we’re hosting BINGO FOR CHOICE! This fabulous night of drag queen bingo, food and phenomenal prizes will support the absolutely critical services that Planned Parenthood provides to women and men in Los Angeles — from primary care to routine reproductive care and abortion. Tickets are just $45. Learn more and get your tickets HERE!
Now Accepting Presenter Applications for Our 3rd Annual Lit Crawl LA: NoHo
The 3rd annual Lit Crawl LA: NoHo is being held on Wednesday, October 21, 2015! As the Crawl’s Outreach Director, I’m proud to say that last year’s Crawl was held in three rounds at businesses all around the NoHo Arts District, and included around 36 presentations that drew over 3,000 attendees from all across LA! This year, we’re adding a call for innovative “street” presentations on the sidewalks of NoHo, including literary performance art! This is in addition to great readings with our LA and SoCal based authors. If you’re interested in submitting an application for a reading or performance, go to our website HERE. Applications are due by FRIDAY, JUNE 12.
Heading to Sacramento to Lobby for “Stronger California: Securing Economic Opportunity for All Women” April 20-21
I’m excited to be heading to California’s state capitol with NCJW/LA’s team for NCJW-CA Lobby Day 2015! The focus of our visit will be several bills concerning equal economic opportunity for women. A broad coalition of women’s groups and other progressive organizations, led by the Women’s Foundation and Equal Rights Advocates, is putting forward an historic package of bills. This effort – Stronger California: Securing Economic Opportunity for All Women – is being launched in concert with the Women’s Legislative Caucus. NCJW-CA is an active member of the coalition and on its Steering Committee. The package of over twenty bills being put forward by A Stronger California includes the bills we will be lobbying for.
Learn more about this outstanding effort HERE.
A Special Trip to USC’s Keck School of Medicine
What high school experiences inspired you most? Besides my work as a literary curator and organizer, I’ve taught Creative and Academic Writing to middle and high school students once a week for several years. This year, I’ve had the incredibly rewarding experience of also teaching a high school Sex Ed course. My Writing students enhance their course with trips to public readings. My Sex Ed students expressed the desire for their own field trip–a glimpse of life at a medical school. We are incredibly fortunate to be working with a Keck School of Medicine, USC student and the school’s gracious administration to take my students on a behind the scenes, interactive tour of the school this month. My students are hard at work researching the school and preparing questions in advance–over Spring Break! Our hosts are designing a superb program for the students–we hope that this will be one of those high school experiences that truly inspire!
The 2015 West Hollywood Debate Features High School Students Asking Candidates Tough Questions on Thursday, February 19, 2015
On Thursday, February 19, 2015 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm, the US Government and History high students of West Hollywood College Prep will moderate a debate with candidates for West Hollywood’s City Council. Nine of the city council candidates will participate and take questions that the students have worked hard to develop through study of local issues and policies, and the candidates’ own positions on the issues.
It is sure to be an exciting and informative evening. The public is invited to join us at this free event!
I’m currently working with the students on developing their questions and on their presentation skills. Working with students to engage them in elections and civic processes is one of the best ways to give back and help ensure a great future for our planet. If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to make some time!
More information about the event is available on West Hollywood College Prep’s website HERE.
“Stories from the Frontline: Standing Together for Reproductive Rights, Health, & Justice”–A Roe v Wade Anniversary Event for Choice–A Huge Success!
In January, I worked with the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles and a coalition of a dozen reproductive and human rights organizations to host “Stories from the Frontline: Standing Together for Reproductive Rights, Health, & Justice.” Organized to commemorate the anniversary of Roe v Wade, celebrity guests including Amy Brenneman, L. Scott Caldwell, Michael Cory Davis, Damon Gupton, and Elizabeth Triplett read original narratives that chronicled the abortion experience in America–and just how difficult it is becoming to access this basic right.
The event was a huge success with over 250 people in attendance and a “Call to Action” reception where our partnering organizations actively signed people on to participate in campaigns to protect, promote and take back choice nationwide. I was proud to not only be a lead organizer for the event, but to have curated the stories, as well as developing the program and emceeing.
Photos from the event are available HERE.
And read about the event in the Jewish Journal HERE.
Join Us on Thursday, January 22, 2015 to Celebrate the 42nd Anniversary of Roe v Wade with “Stories from the Frontline: Standing Together for Reproductive Rights, Health, & Justice”
I’m thrilled to be working on “Stories from the Frontline” hosted by the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles and sponsored by a coalition of local, state, and national organizations that advocate for full access to all reproductive health services including abortion care.
Celebrity guests including Amy Brenneman, L. Scott Caldwell, Michael Cory Davis, Damon Gupton, and Elizabeth Triplett will read original narratives that chronicle the abortion experience in America–and just how difficult it is becoming to access this basic right.
A dozen organizations are joining the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles including:
* ACLU of Southern California
* Anti-Defamation League
* City of West Hollywood Women’s Advisory Board
* Feminist Majority Foundation
* Fund Texas Choice
* NARAL Pro-choice California
* National Health Law Program (NHeLP)
* National Organization for Women, Hollywood
* Planned Parenthood Los Angeles Young Professionals
* Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
* Reproductive Justice Coalition of Los Angeles
* Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP)
The event will feature a fantastic, take action program with original story content from the “frontlines” of fighting for reproductive rights in America and a chance to learn how to collaborate with the many organizations working on this issue. A “Call to Action” reception following the program will provide guests with ways to get engaged and take action now to protect access to abortion care.
The event will take place on Thursday, January 22 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles Council House at 543 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. RSVP to Ruth Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org to attend.
Lit Crawl LA: NoHo 2014 Was a Great Success!
The 2nd annual Lit Crawl LA: NoHo was a huge success! Co-founded by Conrad Romo of Tongue & Groove, Sally Shore of The New Short Fiction Series, and myself, this year’s Crawl drew over 3,000 people for a night of “literary mayhem” in the North Hollywood Arts District! The Crawl featured 34 presenters and over 170 writers at 30 locations from restaurants to martial arts studios across the district.
Truly an event “where literature hits the streets,” the Crawl is L.A.’s largest grassroots literary program that showcases the fabulous diversity of L.A.’s literary world and all it has to offer–all in one night, and in one place! Partners for Lit Crawl LA: NoHo also include the LA Metro, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles County Public Library, and the Burbank Library system.
I don’t just work with arts and literary organizations, I also create, perform, photograph, write and curate, myself. For five years, I’ve belonged the arts and performance collective, SparkleBlob. I also engage in photojournalism and shoot production stills on film sets, and I’ve shared my writing at L.A. readings and curated many, many literary events. My visual arts exhibitions include microscope photography of an “I Voted” sticker, and painted fashion modeled at shows. To continue to chronicle my work as an artist, I’ve set up a new website on Google Sites: https://sites.google.com/site/rosalindhelfandart. Check it out!
Issue Two of the Literature for Life Literary Journal Has Launched!
Literature for Life is a nonprofit online literary journal and salon that features the work of LA’s great writers, artists, and curriculum writers. Literature for Life partners with LA schools to work with teachers on incorporating the stories into their curriculum, bringing students fresh contemporary works twice a year, and lots of activities and writing exercises to go with them. I work with Literature for Life as the journal’s Managing Editor. The second issue of Literature for Life launched on May 18, 2014! You can read the fantastic stories in issue 2 at literatureforlife.net. We will soon begin accepting submissions for Issue 3–check the Literature for Life website for more information.
Save the Date! The 4th annual Los Angeles Student Media Festival is Saturday, May 3, 2014!
The 4th annual Los Angeles Student Media Festival is coming up on Saturday, May 3, 2014! Presented by Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian in association with NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA), this festival will featuring fantastic work by high school students from across Los Angeles County! As the Educational Programming Director for NFMLA, I’m excited to be an organizer and juror for this festival! Tickets are free. Come out to support our high school students! RSVP is required HERE.
Moderating a Mentoring Workshop at the West Hollywood Women’s Leadership Conference on Saturday, April 5, 2014!
I’ll be facilitating an all day interactive mentoring workshop at the 8th annual West Hollywood Women’s Leadership Conference on Saturday, April 5, 2014 in West Hollywood, CA. This will be a fun experience integrated into the flow of the conference day and allowing for participants to engage as much–or as little–as they like. You can register for this great conference and learn more HERE!
Lit Crawl LA: NoHo is Coming Up on Wednesday, October 22, 2014–Apply Now to Be a Presenter!
Lit Crawl LA: NoHo is coming up Wednesday, October 22, 2014 & applications to present are being accepted now! It’s a crawl, it’s a lit crawl, and it’s oh, so LA! Last year’s debut crawl featured 23 literary events at 12 venues and over 2,000 people came out for the fun! Our goal was to bring the diversity and geographic range of greater LA’s amazing literary and writing communities to one part of town for one night and it went off so well, we’re doing it again! AND BIGGER!
Last year, I co-founded and was a lead organizer and curator for the crawl. I’m back for this year’s crawl, on Wednesday, October 22! It will take place once again in the NoHo Arts District–that’s in 3 rounds from 7pm-10pm, followed by an awesome after party! Literary events will be held in restaurants, bars, hair salons, theaters and on the sidewalks! We’re looking for creative proposals from organizations, series, and individuals who’d like to curate a reading, performance, etc.!
Get the details and application HERE (applications are being accepted through May 2).
Seeking Funds to Run a Leadership Program for High School Girls in Malawi, Africa
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of sitting down with two extraordinary people, Marie Da Silva and Luc Deschamps, President and Executive Director, respectively, of Jacaranda Primary & Secondary School in Malawi, East Africa. Jacaranda serves over 400 AIDS orphans, annually, and has enjoyed incredible success. Marie was recognized as a Top 10 CNN Hero in 2008 for her work. Despite the school’s success, teenage girls continue to have the school’s highest dropout rate due to various social pressures.
Working with Marie and Luc, I developed a leadership program proposal for Jacaranda to spend several months working with their students, teachers, student guardians, community leaders, and local universities to create a pilot, sustainable leadership program that continuously builds a network for the girls’ success. The program will include workshops, activities, discussions, mentoring, and community projects. Teachers, administrators, and others will participate in developing the program as we go along.
Why is this important? Much research shows that the health of a community and its environment is linked to the status and education of the women living in the community. The health of Africa is increasingly key to the health of our planet, overall, and it is critical to engage communities in creating innovative models for human development. On a more personal level, I simply believe that girls deserve to have great opportunities and I’m excited to be able to work with a school to make this happen.
Jacaranda School is supported by the nonprofit Jacaranda Foundation based in the United States. If you are interested in reading the full leadership program proposal and possibly supporting the program, please contact me directly.
Just Back from Contemporary Istanbul
Earlier this month, I journeyed to Istanbul’s international art fair, Contemporary Istanbul. Istanbul’s booming world of art and culture and its position as a city where east meets west makes it the perfect destination to explore the evolving landscape of art globally. In conjunction with the fair, galleries across Istanbul kept late hours, making for several days of great exploration.
Why attend an art fair in Istanbul? My home city, Los Angeles, is increasingly driven by exchanging ideas and creating opportunities for unique collaborations across geography, disciplines, ethnicities, beliefs, gender, etc. Creative expression is incredibly important to human rights, environmental conservation, space exploration, and sustainable food movements–and the reverse is true, as well. L.A.’s artists, leaders, and thinkers are actively reaching out to international creative communities and Istanbul is an ideal nexus!
Learn more about Contemporary Istanbul!
Co-Producing SparkleBlob’s 6th Annual Holiday Puppet Show Opening December 12
Not only will you find me Co-Producing SparkleBlob’s 6th annual Holiday Puppet Show, I’ll be flexing my own performance muscle performing, singing, and puppeteering! The show is sure to delight you utterly with its warm, somewhat existential, humor!
The show, titled “SparkleBlob’s Doublewide Roadside Holiday Snowflake Show,” runs December 12-22. Learn more and get your tickets at http://SparkleBlob.com
Specters, Spirits & Spies! A Night of Spooky Storytelling at The Last Bookstore
Specters, Spirits & Spies will take place at The Last Bookstore on Thursday, October 17 from 7:30pm to 9:30pm! Thirteen special guest authors and performers will each engage in a 5-minute dramatic reading or storytelling. This year’s guests include renowned LA performance artist Ian MacKinnon, Halloween expert and author Lisa Morton, voice of Mr. Oogie Boogie in The Nightmare Before Christmas Ken Page, star of the original Dark Shadows TV series Lara Parker, author of the Half Upon a Time YA series James Riley, founders of the American Russian Theatre Ensemble Laboratory (ARTEL) Bryan Brown and Olya Petrakova, filmmaker and writer Steven Calcote, writer and performer Corey Roskin, singer and songwriter Monica Howe (aka La Muff), writer Andrew Ramirez, writer/performer/director Jeffrey Wylie, and a WriteGirl protege! Besides curating the event, I’ll be hosting! Don’t miss this AMAZING night!
Lit Crawl LA: NoHo Is a Night of Literary Mayhem Featuring 23 Events at 12 Venues in 2 Rounds!
I’m thrilled to be co-organizing the debut Lit Crawl LA: NoHo coming up on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 from 6pm to 11pm in L.A.’s NoHo Arts District. Like the fabulous Lit Crawls across the US and in London, Lit Crawl LA: NoHo will feature a night of literary mayhem where guests “crawl” from venue to venue, experiencing a sampling of the best that LA’s literary world has to offer! Restaurants, bars, shops, and theaters will each host two evening programs from 6-7pm and from 7:30-8:30pm featuring 23 LA reading and performance series. The evening will close with a fabulous party from 9-11pm. The Lit Crawl is free and tickets to the closing party are $15.
The program enjoys support from the national LitQuake Foundation, the Pasadena Arts Council, the NoHo BID, the NoHo Arts District, Poets & Writers Los Angeles and others!
Go to the website, http://litcrawl.org/la, for complete descriptions and schedules of events.
Launching Issue Two of the Literature for Life Literary Journal and Educator Resource
Literature for Life is the nonprofit online literary journal that features the work of LA’s great writers. Cutting edge middle and high school curriculum is written for the stories, and Literature for Life partners with LA schools to work with teachers on incorporating the stories into their curriculum. As the Managing Editor of Literature for Life, I’m working with a team of writers, educators, artists and designers to launch the next issue of the literary journal, complete with curriculum, in April 2014.
Launching SparkleBlob, a New Los Angeles Nonprofit Organization!
SparkleBlob is a multidisciplinary arts and performance collective in Los Angeles that enthusiastically serves and educates the community and creates new art makers and arts leaders by shaping culture, teaching people to connect, opening eyes to different experiences, and creating conversations. For over 10 years, SparkleBlob has brought an amazing and engaging array of programs to the LA community from puppet shows to historic bicycle tours to Craft Night and the Gothtober Countdown Calendar.
Led by the fearless Julianna (J.P.) Parr, SparkleBlob is becoming a nonprofit organization to better serve the community for many years to come. As the Community SparkleMaven and co-producer of SparkleBlob’s annual holiday puppet show for three years, I’m assisting SparkleBlob in developing its organizational structure, achieving nonprofit status, and laying out its future plans and strategies!
Celebrating a Successful U.S. Premiere for the Play “Cooking Oil”
I’m proud to have wrapped up my work with the crew of “Cooking Oil.” The play, which held its United States premiere in Los Angeles June 6-9, was a great success.
As the Dialogues Producer for “Cooking Oil,” I organized six post-performance dialogues on topics including: Foreign Aid, Girls & Education, Accountable Leadership, Artists As Social Change Agents, Media Shaping Global Perceptions of Africa, and Positive / Equal Models for Human Development. These dialogues featured members of “Cooking Oil’s” cast from Uganda and Rwanda speaking together with leaders from around Los Angeles representing many organizations including: Girls Learn International, the City of West Hollywood, American Jewish World Service, Pacific Council on International Policy, WriteGirl, Pardee RAND Graduate School, Women at Work, Public Matters, Jacaranda Foundation, The Greater Contribution, and more. Each discussion connected local audiences with global issues in new and meaningful ways.
I also moderated the discussion with WriteGirl and Girls Learn International on “Getting Girls to School: Hopes & Challenges Locally & Globally.”
Learn more about this project HERE.
Developing Educational Programming for NewFilmmakers Los Angeles
NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, the nonprofit that showcases and supports the work of emerging filmmakers worldwide, is developing educational programs for high school and college students. I’m working with them to guide the development of this initiative, and to create exemplary learning programs that will serve local and international communities.
Presenting “SciFi, Fantasy, & Science Stranger than Fiction” on February 16 at The Last Bookstore”
On Saturday, February 16 at 5:00pm at The Last Bookstore, authors featured on the shelf Rosalind curated at The Last Bookstore will present their work…each with a twist and some fun!
The authors include Frank Beddor (The Looking Glass Wars), Jennifer Bosworth (Struck), Joshua Dysart (BPRD 1946), Todd Ratcliff (The 50 Most Extreme Places in Our Solar System), and Bronwyn Mauldin will present Hope Larson’s “A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel.”
This event is free and open to the public!
Co-Producing and Performing in the 5th Annual SparkleBlob Holiday Puppet Show!
It’s that wonderful time of the year, again, when SparkleBlob’s magical troupe of wacky puppeteers and performers presents a holiday show that delights and defies all expectations! “Season’s Greetings: A Disaster in Four Acts” will be held at Automata in Chinatown located in Downtown LA. This will be Rosalind’s fourth year puppeteering, and her second year Co-producing the show.
The show runs December 14,15, & 16 and December 21,22, & 23 2012.
Don’t miss it! For tickets and more information, visit: http://SparkleBlob.org!
Article Featured in the November/December 2012 Issue of “Poets & Writers Magazine”
Rosalind wrote the article “Connecting Literary Landscapes,” which appears in the November/December 2012 issue of “Poets & Writers Magazine.” The article discusses the impact of the Poets & Writers Los Angeles Literary Roundtable on growing L.A.’s literary community.
You can read the article HERE.
Curating a Book Shelf for The Last Bookstore’s “Indie Shelves Initiative” Launching on Saturday, November 3, 2012
Rosalind is continuing to bring unique literary programs to Los Angeles and beyond by participating as a guest curator in The Last Bookstore’s exhibition, the “Indie Shelves Initiative.”
The Last Bookstore, located at 453 S. Spring St., invited several individual curators and local, independent presses, to each curate a book shelf. The shelves will remain on exhibit through March 2013. Rosalind focused on Los Angeles based talent in the science, science fiction and fantasy writing worlds.
The featured books and authors include the graphic novel of “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle and adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson; “Struck,” the new novel by Jennifer Bosworth; the graphic novel “B.P.R.D. 1946” by Joshua Dysart; the fantasy novel “The Wonderland Wars” by Frank Beddor; and JPL/NASA planetary scientists Todd Ratcliff and David Baker’s book, “The 50 Most Extreme Places in the Solar System.”
A reading with the authors is being organized for the winter.
Completion of NewFilmmaker Los Angeles’s “On Location Student Program”
NewFilmmakers Los Angeles and Idea Resource Systems teamed up in October for the “On Location Student Program.” Nearly seventy Japanese film students studied film for a day, mentored by alumni of the NewFilmmakers film festivals.
Rosalind headed up designing and programming the educational program for the day. Students studied film production in Downtown LA, and studied Production Design and Post-Production at Sunset Gower Studios.
The program was a great success and is the first of more educational programs and workshops to come from NewFilmmakers LA.
Tune In to KPFK 90.7 for a Live Interview with Rosalind on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 8:00PM
Andrew Tonkovich, host of KPFK 90.7’s Bibliocracy radio show, will interview Rosalind live on the air on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 8:00PM.
Creative Consultant for LitFest Pasadena
Rosalind is excited to be the creative consultant for the young and growing LitFest Pasadena. The Pasadena area’s first community wide book festival, LitFest Pasadena debuted last spring. The second annual LitFest Pasadena, coming up on May 11, 2013, promises to be even more fabulous!
Rosalind will specifically be working with the staff on festival programming, festival management, and will moderate a panel with middle grade writers on magic and mystery in their work.
Joining the Team of New Online Literary Journal & Educational Resource “Literature for Life” to Connect Los Angeles Authors & Artists with Classrooms
Rosalind has joined the team of “Literature for Life.” “Literature for Life” is a new kind of beast: part online literary magazine, part educator’s resource center, part community salon. Its goal is to bring writers, artists, and educators together to help ignite young minds with a love of reading, writing, and the visual arts.
Founded by Los Angeles based author Jervey Tervalon and USC’s Kim Thomas-Barrios, “Literature for Life” features original stories from Los Angeles area authors paired with original artwork by local artists. The stories are accompanied by innovative curriculum for middle and high school students. Students will have opportunities to feature their own written work in response to their lessons on the “Literature for Life” site, as well.
Learn more about “Literature for Life” in this recent “Los Angeles Times” article: “Literature for Life Connects L.A. Authors, Artists with Classrooms”
Bringing Unique Literary Programs to Los Angeles & Beyond Starting with “Specters, Spirits, & Spies: A Night of Spooky Storytelling” at The Last Bookstore on Thursday, October 18, 2012
Rosalind Helfand, the West Hollywood Book Fair Co-founder and former Director of over a decade, now brings unique literary programs to Los Angeles and beyond. Her first major program is “Specters, Spirits, & Spies: A Night of Spooky Storytelling” hosted by The Last Bookstore at 453 South Spring St. in Los Angeles, on Thursday, October 18, 2012 from 8:00pm to 10:00pm.
Special guests include renowned Los Angeles authors and performance artists: Amber Benson, Joshua Dysart, Christina Aimerito Feinberg, Naomi Hirahara, Monica Howe, Michael Kearns, Ian MacKinnon, Janice & Gideon Markham, Julianna Parr, Gary Phillips, Lisa Teasley, and Will Wright.
On Location: The Los Angeles Video Project with NewFilmmakers Los Angeles
Rosalind is once again working with NewFilmmakers Los Angeles on their upcoming “On Location: The Los Angeles Video Project” filmmaking competition and premiere. Twenty-two films highlighting Los Angeles will screen at the AT&T Center in Downtown LA on Saturday, October 20, 2012. Rosalind is co-organizing the competition and screening, which are sponsored in part by the Los Angeles Convention & Tourism Board and the LA Weekly. Tickets to the premiere are available here.
In addition to On Location, Rosalind is working with NewFilmmakers LA on a mentoring program for film students, and on other new community programs.
Rosalind serves as the CFO and Organizational Development Advisor for NewFilmmakers LA.
Consulting for the Historic Bob Baker Marionette Theater
If you grew-up in or around Los Angeles, CA, then you’ve probably heard of the historic Bob Baker Marionette Theater. Co-founded by Bob in 1960, the Theater has served many thousands of school children, inspiring and educating them with the art of puppetry and storytelling. Last year, the Theater served 12,000 children from Los Angeles area public schools, as well as families, and Senior Citizen groups.
Rosalind is consulting for the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, which just completed their fabulously successful “Celebration & Preservation Extravaganza” which raised funds to ensure the future of the Theater and the programs it offers to so many children. The recession has hit many non-profits hard, and we don’t want to lose this historic and still vital gem in Los Angeles.
To learn more about visiting or supporting the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, go here: http://academyofpuppetry.org
Co-Chaired the May 24 “Los Angeles Power of Choice Reception” for NARAL Pro-Choice America
Rosalind Co-Chaired NARAL Pro-Choice California’s 2012 “Los Angeles Power of Choice Reception.” The reception was on Thursday, May 24 at The Standard, West Hollywood. Together with Co-Chair, Alissa Duel, Rosalind worked to increase support, visibility, and funds for NARAL Pro-Choice America’s activities in support of reproductive rights. The event was a great success, raising approximately $65,000 for NARAL Pro-Choice America. Attendees at the event also participated in on camera interviews on the theme of, “What does choice mean to you?”
Moderated Panel Discussing “Science Fiction & the Enduring Influence of Ray Bradbury” with SciFi Authors John DeChancie, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, & Harry Turtledove on Saturday, April 28, 2012
On April 28, Rosalind moderated a discussion on “Science Fiction & the Enduring Influence of Ray Bradbury” for the City of West Hollywood’s community wide “Big Read” celebrating Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”. The panel was co-hosted by the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society.
The panelists included award-winning science fiction authors John DeChancie (Starriggers), Larry Niven (Ringworld), Jerry Pournelle (The Mote in God’s Eye–co-written with Larry Niven), and Harry Turtledove (Down in the Bottomlands).
Go here to view a tape of the panel. Sound begins after an initial introduction at a minute and 23 seconds: “Science Fiction & the Enduring Influence of Ray Bradbury.”
Photography Exhibited at the Feminist Art Extravaganza and Now on Display at the CA Realty Group Offices
Rosalind exhibited her photography in the Feminist Art Extravaganza in Culver City in March, 2012. Her piece, “I Voted Under the Microscope”, is a study of an “I Voted” sticker placed under a microscope and photographed through the scope at different levels of magnification. The piece is now on display at the CA Realty Group office on 3rd Street near Fairfax– 8024 West Third Street.
Joining NewFilmmakers Los Angeles as Chief Financial Officer & Advisor on Organizational Development
Rosalind has accepted NewFilmmakers Los Angeles’s (NFMLA) invitation to join them as their Chief Financial Officer and Advisor on Organizational Development. On Thursday, March 1, 2012, Rosalind officially stepped into her new role with NFMLA, where she’d previously served as a Board of Directors member for two years.
During her tenure as a Board Member, Rosalind advised NFMLA’s leadership on their steady development from a monthly film festival, only, to an organization that provides multiple community benefits, including a youth mentorship program, an annual film competition, and partnerships with local film schools and organizations.
NewFilmmakers LA at Sunset Gower Studios is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization designed to showcase innovative works by emerging filmmakers from around the world, providing the Los Angeles community of entertainment professionals and film goers with a constant surge of monthly screening events. NewFilmmakers LA provides a forum where filmmakers can be recognized for their contributions, have open audience discussions about their projects and connect with industry professionals for insight on distribution, production, acquisition and representation.
Moving On After a Fabulous Decade with the West Hollywood Book Fair
After co-founding and leading the West Hollywood Book Fair (WHBF) for over 10 years, Rosalind is excited to announce that she is moving on to pursue new programs, projects, and great causes.
“It’s been such an extraordinary privilege to work so closely with the City of West Hollywood and its community, and with the literary and arts communities of the greater Los Angeles area–as well as the state and nation. Since its founding, the Fair has grown and flourished tremendously. Together with the city’s visionary council and gifted staff, a devoted Planning Committee, and a host of incredibly talented volunteers and supporters, we built a literary event that is diverse, exciting, and embraces the creative contributions of hundreds of people and organizations. Most importantly, the Fair truly fulfills its mission of encouraging reading, writing, and literacy. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. The Book Fair is a great civic achievement!” said Rosalind.
Rosalind is looking forward to continuing to work with many of the organizations, communities, and individuals with whom she’s built relationships through her work on the WHBF, as well as establishing new relationships with literary organizations as a consultant.
4th Annual SparkleBlob Productions Holiday Puppet Show
Rosalind will be puppeteering in the 4th Annual SparkleBlob Productions Holiday Puppet Show. In addition to performing in the show, Rosalind has joined the company as an assistant producer this year. The show dates are December 9,10,11,16,17, & 18, 2011. SparkleBlob Productions is the renowned Los Angeles troop of puppeteers, performers, and musicians.
California World History Association Conference
Rosalind presented at the 5th Annual California World History Association Conference on October 22, 2011. The theme of the conference was “The Revolutionary Tradition and World History.” Rosalind discussed the “revolutionary” work of community organizations in Los Angeles, and creative ways for World History teachers to connect this work with revolutionary movements throughout history. Her discussion was called, “Sea Change in the City: Community, Culture, & a Revolution in L.A.”
Rosalind Interviews Filmmakers for New Filmmakers LA and MovieMaker Magazine, 2010: