The Art Float for Social Change

The Art Float for Social Change approaches the judges at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade, where it won the ‘Best Community Spirit Award’. Photo by Dana Dworin.

Behold the Art Float for Social Change! 

We created this parade float at Tam Makers in spring 2018, to engage more people to participate in community life and democracy.

This community art project was led by Fabrice Florin and Geo Monley, co-founders of Tam Makers, with the support of Good Earth Natural Foods, the Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN) and Tamalpais High School. This parade float was built in our state-of-the-art wood shop and makerspace at Tam High, with over a hundred community members of all ages and backgrounds — including makers, artists, activists, students, parents and staff.

The Art Float for Social Change features Mother Earth and a circle of hands, pulled by the dragon Quetzy, created by Howard Rheingold and Pataphysical Studios. They invite you to vote, speak up and create a better world! The art on the carousel was created by winners of the Youth Poster Contest. Our performers include Emma Spike, Sheri Cooper and Clancy Bounds, as well as the Freedom Singers and their sing-along leaders Greg Brodbank, Wayne Lechner and Marilyn Price.

The Art Float was first unveiled on Earth Day and made its official debut at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade, where we received the ‘Best Community Spirit Award’. We will show the Art Float again at the Fairfax Festival and Fourth of July Parade in Corte Madera — and throughout California this fall, to encourage people to vote in the midterms election. Our traveling art show will reach out to youth and people of color through art, music, and technology.

You can see the Art Float in action in this video (also embedded below), in this Facebook photo album or in this full photo album on Flickr. Learn more with this Independent Journal article about our float, the IJ’s photo coverage of Memorial Day, as well as our own photos of Earth Day and how the Art Float was created.

As shown in this video, the Art Float for Social Change inspired thousands of spectators at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade, where it won the ‘Best Community Spirit Award’. Performers included  Emma Spike and the Freedom Singers. Video by Luis Costa, Fabrice Florin and Marin Weatherspoon.

Join us at the Fairfax Parade

We invite you to march with us at the Fairfax Parade on June 9, 2018, 10am-1pm, along with our sponsors Good Earth, the Freedom Singers and our environmental partners 350Marin and friends. If you would like to march with us, please email  float@tammakers.org. We also plan to bring the float to the Fourth of July Parade in Corte Madera.

Volunteer for the Art Float

Would you like to help present the art float this summer? Join our crew for one of these events:

During these events, we need help with: loading, driving, coordination, security, setup, photos, sound, video, greeting, hosting, packing, unloading.

If you would like to give us a hand on any of these dates, email us at<float@tammakers.org> for more instructions. You can sign up for the whole day, or just for the morning or afternoon shift.

Photos from Memorial Day

Here are some photos of the Art Float debut at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade. You can see more pictures in our Memorial Day photo album.


The Art Float for Social Change at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade, with a sing-along led by the Freedom Singers. Photo by Fabrice Florin.


Young activist Emma Spoke sings on the Art Float for Social Change, with Eileen Fisher as Mother Earth and Greg Brockbank of the Freedom Singers. Photo by Fabrice Florin.

A group picture of the Art Float crew and its supporters at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade. Photo by Suz Lipman.

Art Float creators Fabrice Florin and Geo Monley at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade. Photo by Martha Ture.

Photos from Earth Day

Here are some photos of our first Art Float unveiling on Earth Day at Tam High. You can see more pictures in our photo album.

An early version of the Art Float was unveiled on Earth Day at Tam High School, to inspire more people to participate in democracy. Photo by Howard Rheingold.

Art Float creators Geo Monley show off their unique parade float, with a large globe spinning over a circle of hands and a carousel of art, while performer Kayla Campbell sings about youth in action. Photo by Tim Pozar.

The Art Float features the colorful dragon Quetzy, created by Howard Rheingold and inspired by the Aztec god of wisdom, Quetzalcoatl. Photo by Martha Ture.

Young artist Emma Spike sings her original composition, ‘Custodians’ to invite people to take action to protect the environment, standing on the Art Float’s podium on Earth Day. Photo by Jenny Tomkins.

Young activist Mimi Lawrence speaks up about her climate change on the Art Float’s podium, which was created to help people share their ideas for a better world. Photo by Fabrice Florin.

A young artist shows off her painting for the Art Float’s art carousel, which also features original creations by the winners of the Youth Poster Contest. Photo by Fabrice Florin.

Musician Reed Fromer sings about climate change next to the Art Float, which was created to help people share their ideas for a better world. Photo by Fabrice Florin.

You can also view photos of the making of the Art Float in this special photo album on Flickr.

An early design session for the Art Float, which was created to help people share their ideas for a better world. Photo by Chris Krueger.

Thank you!

Thanks to all our friends, neighbors, partners and community members who made this project possible!

The Art Float was created by Fabrice Florin, Geo Monley and over a hundred volunteers at Tam Makers, with the gracious support of Good Earth, the Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN), Tamalpais High School and the Youth Poster Contest.

Kudos to our float construction crew, led by David Barr, Pierina Dell’Avo, Chris Krueger, James Long, Chris Scofield, Pam and Stan Weatherspoon, to name but a few — they all worked tirelessly, above and beyond the call of duty, to bring you this experience. Tip of the hat as well to Howard Rheingold for creating the colorful Quetzy dragon, along with Freddy Hahne, Jean Bolte, Phyllis Florin, Mark Petrakis and others at Pataphysical Studios.

Many thanks to our talented performers Emma Spike, Sheri Cooper and Clancy Bounds, Reed Fromer, as well as Greg Brodbank, Wayne Lechner, Marilyn Price and all the Freedom Singers. We are also very grateful to our wonderful videographers Luis Costa, David Donnenfield, Bob Harlow, Tim Pozar, Kim Spencer and Marin Witherspoon, as well as our gracious photographers Dana Dworin, Vickisa Feinberg, Fabrice Florin, Suz Lipman, Howard Rheingold, Grace Severtson and Martha Ture.

Special thanks as well to our partners Jessica Hurtado at Good Earth, June Cooperman and Eileen Fisher at MVCAN and Bruce Burtch at the Youth Poster Contest. We are deeply grateful to our event team Carol Korenbrot and Marilyn Price and our ‘art float widows’ Phyllis Florin and Meryl Rubenstein, who kept us all organized, happy and well fed. Last but not least, we wish to thank all our gracious parade organizers: Larry ‘The Hat’ Lautzker, Paul Moe and Erma Murphy (Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade), Cynthia Briggs (Fairfax Festival) and all the nice folks at the Corte Madera Fourth of July Parade for hosting these important community events, year after year.

We really appreciate all your creativity, enthusiasm and generous support! We hope this community art project will inspire even more people to participate in democracy. We invite you all to vote, speak up and create a better world!

Learn more about the Art Float on our project pageplanning pageMemorial Day photo album, Art Float Creation albumdesign spec. For more info, email us at float@tammakers.org

We hope to see you soon!

Fabrice Florin
Geo Monley

Co-founders/Teachers, Tam Makers
Team Leaders, Art Float for Social Change

This page was adapted from our project page on the Tam Makers site.

Earth Day 2018

We celebrated Earth Day with a wonderful afternoon of art, music and talks about protecting our environment. Hundreds of activists, artists, environmentalists and youth gathered to pay tribute to Mother Earth at Tamalpais High School’s Student Center in Mill Valley on April 22, 2018. For a quick overview of our community celebration, watch our video slideshow (shown above).

We started the day with the first public showing of our Art Float for Social Change. This unique parade float was created by Fabrice Florin and Geo Monley with over a hundred volunteers in the Tam Makers collective, to inspire more people to participate in democracy. Pictured here is young singer Emma Spike, who performed ‘Custodians’,her original composition about climate change.

A large globe spun over a circle of hands and a carousel of art, pulled by a colorful dragon. The feathered dragon was inspired by Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of wisdom, and created by Howard Rheingold, Fabrice Florin and friends at Pataphysical Studios and Tam Makers (see photo below).

Activists of all ages stood on the decorated stage to share their ideas for a better world, including young singer Emma Spike (shown in the cover photo), Kayla Campbell, Mimi Lawrence, Eileen Fisher and more.

Many more painted original posters about the earth, which were featured on the float carousel. We are grateful to Bruce Burtch and his team at Youth Poster Contest (he is pictured below), for working with our volunteers Sarah Acker and Vanitha Sampath to coach young people in this art activity.

Dozens of environmental partners showed participants how we can all take action to reverse global warming — organizations like the Drawdown Marin (pictured above), Sierra Club, Resilient Neighborhoods and 350 Marin, to name but a few.

Our guest speakers were Mark Squire from Good Earth, Crystal Chissel from Project Drawdown, Marin Supervisor Damon Connolly and young local activists: they gave informative talks on a wide range of solutions to curb climate change.

Participants also learned to plant a veggie garden, ride an electric bike, while others registered to vote (we helped 5 teenagers pre-register to vote at this event) .

We ended the day with music performances by the charming Twinkling Stars of Singers Marin, led by Dana Cherry (pictured above), as well as young singer Emma Spike (see cover photo).

Music director Reed Fromer (pictured above) led moving sing-alongs with the Freedom Singers and Mill Valley Seniors for Peace (see photo below).

Earth Day 2008 brought together diverse groups of people who might not have connected otherwise: activists, artists, environmentalists, makers, children, teenagers, teachers and parents. We are particularly grateful to all the young activists who participated in our celebration, including Jackson Darby, Ben Kanter, Jillian Hickey and Elly Blatcher (pictured below with their ‘Don’t Bug Me’ exhibit) and their teacher Joanna Saunders from the Marin School of Environmental Leadership .

This community gathering was produced by Democracy CafeEco Warriors of MVCAN and Tam Makers, with the generous support of Tamalpais High School, Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN), Good Earth, Driver’s Market, Sloat Garden Supply and all our gracious partners, who are listed below.

Thanks to event organizers Fabrice Florin, Marilyn Price, Jennifer Tomkins, Geo Monley, Carol Korenbrot, Elspeth Martin, Grace Severtson, Laurie Riley — and all the wonderful volunteers who helped produce this inspiring event.

Special thanks to the photographers who took the pictures featured on this page: Bruce Burtch, Fabrice Florin, Bill Jensen, Howard Rheingold, Grace Severtson, Jenny Tomkins and Martha Ture (and to the videographers whose work will soon appear above: David Donnenfield, Tim Pozar, Bob Harlow and Chris Scofield). View more of their work on our Earth Day photo album

We think making art, playing music and talking with people of all ages and backgrounds can build mutual understanding and get us all more engaged as citizens. Join your neighbors to make political art and music, and take action together to create a better world!

To see more images of our Art Float in action, visit our photo album on Flickr and/or our favorite photos on Facebook. To see how we are building it, take a look at our Art Float Creation photos. Once you see how much fun everyone is having on this project, sign up here and join us!

 

Join us on Memorial Day

You and your friends are welcome to march with our Art Float for Social Change at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade on May 28, 2018, 10am-1pm, with members of the Tam High community and the Mill Valley Community Action Network. Please RSVP here to save your spot.

Make a Donation

Would you like to help pay for the Art Float, so we can finish it this spring? Please make a donation on our Memorial Day page, even if you’re not coming to that event. Thank you!

 

 

Visit our Partners

Please visit our partner and sponsor sites, and sign up for their projects, if they appeal to you.

Organizers:

Sponsors:

Presenters:

Partners:

Democracy Cafe – Youth in Action

Sixty activists and artists of all ages gathered at our second Democracy Cafe, for a fun afternoon of art, music and politics. This free community event celebrated Youth in Action and took place at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts in Mill Valley, on February 18, 2018.

We started by brainstorming ideas for a new art float, to be shown at public events in 2018. Participants suggested we build a large earth and a circle of caring hands, to symbolize social change.

The float will be created in the Tam High Wood Shop by students and adult makers led by Fabrice Florin and Geo Monley. Anyone who wants to help is invited to join the welcome meeting on March 1.

We then sang along with the Freedom Singers, led by Marilyn Price, in a medley of songs for a better world, including the two tunes heard in the video above, shot by Phyllis Florin: mexican folk song “De colores” and “Building Bridges”, a call to action by Wayne Lechner.

Young activists from ‘Generation: Our Climate‘ and 350 Bay Area spoke about their climate action campaigns: testifying with local and county governments to promote green energy policies, limit emissions from oil refineries and protest the new coal terminal in Oakland.

Speakers from ‘Generation: Our Climate’ included activists Caroline Schurz, Mimi Lawrence and Brendon Milan-Howells, along with their adult mentor Daniel Heagerty. Speakers from 350 Bay Area were Jada Delaney and Rosesanie Phan, both seniors at Oakland Tech High School, along with their youth organizer Carolyn Norr (you can learn about their campaign here).

To hear their speeches and performances, watch this cool 360° video by Gary Yost, with a panoramic coverage that gives a full experience, as if you were in the room with us. To look around, swipe the video (or view it with your smartphone in a Google Cardboard-style headset.) 

Young singers/songwriters Matt Jaffe and Patrick Maley took turns playing personal and politically-minded songs. Poet klipschutz and musician Joel Hamilton performed an inspiring mix of poetry and jazz, with paintings by Eun Lee in the background. For highlights of their performances, watch our 360° video above.

We loved that so many young people came and joined their voices, hearts and minds with our community. Their enthusiasm and creativity are our best hope for building a better world. Many of our young guests were moved to take political action by the recent school shooting in Florida, and created signs against gun violence — inspired by the nationwide protests that took place that week, such as the Tam High Vigil pictured below (see more of our vigil photos).

Our next Democracy Cafe will take place on Sunday, March 18, from 2 to 5pm, when we will help people of all ages prepare signs and songs for March for Our Lives, a nationwide rally to end gun violence. See poster below. Please RSVP and get your free tickets here.

Democracy Cafe is a series of creative and civic events organized a growing community of activists and artists in Marin, led by Fabrice Florin. We think making art, playing music and talking with people of all ages and backgrounds can build mutual understanding and engage us to take meaningful political action together. Learn more.

View more photos of Democracy Cafe in our full photo album on Flickr — or selected photos on Facebook. Many thanks to photographers Dana Dworin, Fabrice Florin, Phyllis Florin, Suz Lipman and Craig Love for documenting our event. More photos and videos will be posted here in coming days.

Kudos to all our wonderful performers and presenters, as well as fellow organizers Danny Altman, Carol Korenbrot, Robert Mowry, Marilyn Price and Laurie Riley for making this event possible. And thanks to all the community members who joined our celebration — many were from MVCAN, our local political action group.

Join your neighbors to make political art and music — and keep democracy alive!

 

 

Democracy Cafe

Welcome to Democracy Cafe!

We host free art, music and civic events in Marin, to help people of all ages and backgrounds drive social change through creative expression. We offer a range of activities to build mutual understanding and engage us to take meaningful political action together.

We host free Democracy Cafes on the third Sunday of each month. Each event focuses on a different theme, such as Gun Violence or Climate Change. A typical event includes a variety of collaborative activities, such as sign-making, sing-alongs, speakers and group discussions. We are now done with our spring 2018 series, but plan to host more Democracy Cafes in fall 2018.

To learn about our latest events, read below — and sign up for our newsletter.

Earth Day Celebration

Hundreds of activists, artists and environmentalists came to celebrate Earth Day 2018, for a fun afternoon of art, music and talks about the environment at Tam High School in Mill Valley. This was our last Democracy Cafe event in spring 2018, produced in collaboration with Eco Warriors of MVCAN and Tam Makers, as well as all the gracious partners listed below.

We unveiled ourArt Float for Social Change, featuring a large globe spinning over a carousel of art, and pulled by a colorful dragon. Presenters of all ages stood on stage to share their ideas for a better world. Others painted original posters about the earth for the float carousel.

Speakers included Mark Squire from Good Earth, Crystal Chissel from Project Drawdown, Marin Supervisor Damon Connolly and young local activists: they talked about a wide range of solutions to curb climate change. Dozens of environmental partners like the Sierra Club, Resilient Neighborhoods and 350 Marin helped our guests take action to reverse global warming. Participants also learned to plant a veggie garden, ride an electric bike and get people ready to vote (we helped 5 teenagers pre-register to vote at this event) .


We ended the day with music performances by Twinkling Stars of Singers Marin, young singer Emma Spike, Reed Fromer, the Freedom Singers and Mill Valley Seniors for Peace.

This community gathering was produced by Democracy Cafe, Eco Warriors of MVCAN and Tam Makers, with the generous support of Tamalpais High School, Mill Valley Community Action Network, Good Earth, Driver’s Market, Sloat Garden Supply and all our gracious partners.

Learn more about our Earth Day celebration — and view Earth Day photos here.

Join us on Memorial Day

You and your friends are welcome to march with our Art Float for Social Change at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade on May 28, 2018, 10am-1pm, with our sponsors at Good Earth, the Mill Valley Community Action Network and Tam High School. Please RSVP here to save your spot.

Join your neighbors to make political art and music, and take action together to create a better world!

Democracy Cafe to End Gun Violence

Our last Democracy Cafe took place on Sunday, March 18, from 2 to 5pm, when our theme was: how can we end gun violence?

We helped people of all ages prepare signs for March for Our Lives, and are grateful to all the young people who came to express their views.

We sang along with the Freedom Singers on the sun deck of the beautiful O’Hanlon Center.

Marin Supervisor Kate Sears shared her views about gun reform and led a discussion on how we can take action to end gun violence.

We heard a moving performance by young singer/songwriter Emma Spike, student at Tam High School, including several original compositions about gun violence and hope.

Music director Reed Fromer led us into song with old classics about creating a better world.

This free public event took place on Sunday, March 18th from 2 to 5pm, at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts in Mill Valley, 616 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941.

We enjoyed meeting over 50 activists and artists of all ages for an inspiring afternoon of art, music and politics. We deeply appreciated their creativity, goodwill and intellectual curiosity, which encouraged other participants to find their voice and take action.

Here is our photo album for Democracy Cafe on Flickr, for your viewing pleasure. And here is the Independent Journal’s photo coverage of our event, shot by Sherry LaVars.

Special thanks to the volunteers so who graciously helped organize this event: Marilyn Price, Jenny Tomkins, Rebecca Brackman, David Barr and Robert Mowry. We’re also grateful to all the folks who couldn’t come, but who supported us to organize this unique civic engagement program. It’s a true pleasure working with you all!

We are inspired by all the young people who took political action to protest the recent school shooting in Florida, such as the Tam High Vigil pictured above (see more of our vigil photos). We want to support their cause and empower them to join their voices, hearts and minds for social change. Their dedication, passion and creativity are our best hope for building a better world. 

 

Democracy Cafe 2 – Youth In Action

Sixty activists and artists of all ages gathered at our second Democracy Cafe, for a fun afternoon of art, music and politics. This free community event celebrated Youth in Action and took place at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts in Mill Valley, on February 18, 2018. 

We started by brainstorming ideas for a new art float, to be shown at public events in 2018. Participants suggested we build a large earth and a circle of caring hands, to symbolize social change. 

The float will be created in the Tam High Wood Shop by students and adult makers led by Fabrice Florin and Geo Monley. Anyone who wants to help is invited to join the welcome meeting on March 1.

 

We then sang along with the Freedom Singers, led by Marilyn Price, in a medley of songs for a better world, including the two tunes heard in the video above, shot by Phyllis Florin: mexican folk song “De colores” and “Building Bridges”, a call to action by Wayne Lechner.

Young activists from ‘Generation: Our Climate‘ and 350 Bay Area spoke about their climate action campaigns: testifying with local and county governments to promote green energy policies, limit emissions from oil refineries and protest the new coal terminal in Oakland.

Speakers from ‘Generation: Our Climate’ included activists Caroline Schurz, Mimi Lawrence and Brendon Milan-Howells, along with their adult mentor Daniel Heagerty. Speakers from 350 Bay Area were Jada Delaney and Rosesanie Phan, both seniors at Oakland Tech High School, along with their youth organizer Carolyn Norr (you can learn about their campaign here).

To hear their speeches and performances, watch this cool 360° video by Gary Yost, with a panoramic coverage that gives a full experience, as if you were in the room with us. To look around, swipe the video (or view it with your smartphone in a Google Cardboard-style headset.) 

Young singers/songwriters Matt Jaffe and Patrick Maley took turns playing personal and politically-minded songs. Poet klipschutz and musician Joel Hamilton performed an inspiring mix of poetry and jazz, with paintings by Eun Lee in the background. For highlights of their performances, watch our 360° video above.

We love that so many young people joined their voices, hearts and minds with ours. Their dedication and creativity are our best hope for building a better world. Many thanks to all the presenters and community members who participated in this celebration — and to the gracious organizers, activity leaders and multimedia creators who made this very special event possible.

Learn more about this inspiring event.

This is a 360° video of Democracy Cafe. To look around, swipe the video as it plays.
Created by Gary Yost.

Democracy Cafe 1 – Women’s March

Our first Democracy Cafe took place at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts in Mill Valley on January 14, 2018. A creative group of 50 activists and artists of all ages gathered to make signs, art and music for the upcoming Women’s March.

In just a few hours, we created dozens of inspiring signs, blue flags and Liberty figures. We also practiced protest songs with the Freedom Singers in the beautiful sculpture garden. To see scenes from the event, view our photo album or watch the video below.

Our first pilot exceeded all our expectations. Participants gave high ratings for this event, told us they had fun, made new friends, enjoyed making art and singing together, and felt more motivated to take political action. They felt well prepared for our Women’s March the following week. Most participants wanted to join our next events, and several offered to help organize them.

The event was covered by local and national journalists, who wrote these fine articles:
• Marin activists gear up for women’s marches, midterm elections
by Adrian Rodriguez, Marin Independent Journal
• Organizing The Resistance, One Meeting At A Time
by George Osterkamp, Dan Rather’s News & Guts

This enthusiastic feedback and this favorable press coverage suggests that we are on the right track with Democracy Cafe. To learn more about our first pilot, visit our event page.

 

Join Us!

If you would like to join future events or volunteer on our team, sign up for our Democracy Cafe mailing list.

Democracy Cafe is produced by a team of Marin activists and artists led by Fabrice Florin,  with Danny Altman, Carol Korenbrot, Bruce Mowry, Marilyn Price, Laura Riley and many more. Our goal is to engage our communities to help change the world, by combining arts and politics through fun, hands-on and inspiring activities.

Thanks as well to all our wonderful participants, whose commitment to art and activism inspires us. And kudos to our gracious performers, crew and activity leaders: Jean Bolte, Jake Cohen, Mary Cosgrove, Dana Dworin, Matt Jaffe, Kurt Lipschuck, Wayne Lechner, Craig Love, Gareth Loy Patrick Maley and Gary Yost, to name but a few. We’re also grateful to Erma Murphy at the O’Hanlon for hosting our first events.

Many of us are part of the Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN), our political action group in Marin. We’re delighted that so many MVCAN members are participating in this creative experiment.

Democracy Cafe shows great promise for energizing people through the transformative power of the arts, sparking our imaginations to solve problems and change the world together.

Join your neighbors to make political art — and keep democracy alive!

Photos by Fabrice Florin, Mary Cosgrove and Dana Dworin. Videos by Phyllis Florin, Craig Love and Gary Yost.

This page was updated on Feb. 21, to include more info about our first and second events.

MVCAN-Do Revue

Singer Matt Jaffe performs ‘Dark Ages’ at the MVCAN-Do Revue. Photo: Martha Ture.

We celebrated one year of resistance with friends and neighbors at the MVCAN-Do Revue, our first anniversary celebration for MVCAN, our progressive political action group in Marin. To energize our community and lift our spirits, we presented an evening of music, dance and storytelling at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, on Saturday, November 11th, 2017.

I produced and hosted this community celebration with a world class team of MVCAN volunteers, to honor community members who took political action this year. We featured talented local performers, including rock singer Matt Jaffe, poet Natalie Frederick, hip hop dancers from RoCo Dance, music director Reed Fromer with the Shady Ladies and the Can-Do Singers — along with special presentations by MVCAN team leaders.

Watch their performances in the full event video below, shot by by David DonnenfieldEd Ellsworth and George Eade — and edited by yours truly.

In collaboration with filmmaker Gary Yost, I also created special video montages to tell the story of how MVCAN came together the day after the election, to resist the attacks against democracy by the Trump regime and right-wing extremists.

Their Year in Review video below showed many of the actions we took together: we marched for democracy, we defended civil and women’s rights, we phone banked to flip elections, we protected the environment, we helped reverse Trumpcare, we created political art, and much more. Watch other videos of this event in our MVCAN Vimeo album.

Special thanks to the photographers who took pictures of our event (Martha Ture, George Osner, Suz Lipman, Tim Pozar and Jean Bolte). You can view more pictures of our anniversary in our photo album on Flickr and on Facebook.

To produce this event, we assembled a special events team, which I spearheaded along with Danny Altman, June Cooperman, Mary Cosgrove, Suz Lipman, Carol Korenbrot, Marilyn Price and others. If you have any questions or comments for the team, please email us at events-lead@mvcan.org .

Thanks as well to the 60 cast and crew members who generously volunteered their time to host this event, and to all the donors who contributed generously to support our cause. And kudos to all community members  who took political action this year! In dark times like these, community action is more important than ever: it’s that choice to act together that defines us — and gives us hope that we can build a better world.

If you would like to participate in MVCAN , sign up here — and/or donate to support our cause.

Join your neighbors to keep democracy alive!

Event producer and host Fabrice Florin kicks off the MVCAN-Do-Revue. Photo: Martha Ture.

Young poet Natalie Frederick performs her poem about her political awakening. Photo: Martha Ture.

Activist and MVCAN leader Suz Lipman thanks our action teams. Photo: George Osner.

Dancers from RoCo’s Hip Hop group bring funk and groove to our event. Photo: Martha Ture.

Marin County Supervisor Kate Sears speaks about community action. Photo: Martha Ture.

Activists raise their fists for democracy at our MVCAN community celebration. Photo: Martha Ture.

MVCAN leaders Danny Altman and Bill Jansen list Top 10 things we did this year. Photo: Martha Ture.

The Shady Ladies sing their hearts out for democracy, led by Reed Fromer. Photo: Martha Ture.

Reed Fromer leads a sing-along with the Shady Ladies and Can-Do Singers. Photo: George Osner.

Activists, cast and crew gather for a final curtain call. Photo: George Osner.

MVCAN leaders June Cooperman and Bernard Catalinotto as Liberty and Trump. Photo: Suz Lipman.

Carol Korenbrot and MVCAN volunteers greet our generous donors. Photo: Suz Lipman.

Meet our event team: Suz Lipman, Marilyn Price, Fabrice Florin, Mary Cosgrove and June Cooperman (from left to right). Missing in action: Danny Altman and Carol Korenbrot. Photo: Ed Ellsworth.

View more pictures of our anniversary in our photo album on Flickr and on Facebook. Watch videos of this event in our Vimeo album.

Robot World

Create your own artistic robot! Learn how to make your robot move in a variety of ways, using a programmable Arduino board. Decorate your animated character, give it a story, and create a magical world for it to live in. All materials are included in this course: you can take your robot home when the class ends.

This Maker Art class for grades 4-5 took place at the Lycée Français in Sausalito. We met every Tuesday for 12 weeks, from 3:30 to 5pm, between September and December 2017.

Students developed new skills in playful ways: science, technology, engineering, art and math skills (STEAM), as well as creativity, problem-solving and communication skills.

Teachers were multimedia innovator Fabrice Florin and software designer Edward Janne.To learn more, view our photo albumcourse slides and student guide — and check our course page for updates.

For a quick overview, watch the short video below.

This short video of our Robot World class was created by Fabian at the Lycée Français. Merci!

Who is it for?

This program was for lower school children in grades 4 and 5 (ages 8-10). Four students participated in our afternoon class in Sausalito in fall 2017.

Where and when is it?

This class took place at Lycée Français in Sausalito, in the Innovation Lab (Room #340). The school entrance is 660 Coloma Street, Sausalito, CA 94945.

We met every Tuesday for 12 weeks, from September 12 to December 5, 2017, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm, at the Lycée Français in Sausalito.

Here was our course schedule:

  • Sep-12: Plan the robot world
  • Sep-19: Learn about robots
  • Sep-26: Build your robot 1
  • Oct-3: Build your robot 2
  • Oct-10: Program your robot 1
  • Oct-17: Program your robot 2
  • Oct-24: Break: No Class
  • Oct-31:Program your robot 2
  • Nov-7: Break: No Class
  • Nov-14: Finish your robot
  • Nov-21: Create the robot world
  • Nov-28: Rehearse your show
  • Dec-5: Shoot videos
  • Dec-12: Show & Tell

 

Can we see pictures from the classes?

Here are photos from our last “show and tell” class, when students performed a little play with their robots, based on their own original story: Devil Bot stole a secret recipe from Chef Bot, who runs the bakery where all the food is prepared in Food Ville. Police Bot and Swat Bot then chased the devil and locked him up, restoring peace in their little world, with “pizza for all.” 

Here are some photos from our first classes.

You can see more pictures in our photo album.

What are students learning?

Students are creating their own robot and interactive art, in a playful way that makes learning more fun. Working collaboratively, they make their bots move, bringing characters to life and interacting with others in their new ‘robot world.’

This unique combination of art and technology helps them develop a range of new skills:

  • critical thinking and problem solving
  • Arduino, robotics and programming
  • science, technology, engineering, art and math skills (STEAM)
  • creative expression, communication & collaboration skills

Learn more in our course slides and student guide.

 

Do you also teach this class for adults?

Yes! We taught a Create a Robot class for adults and teens at Tam Makers in Mill Valley.

In just two evenings in September 2017, we showed students how to build their own artistic robot with Arduino, make it move around, shake its head and wave. And they got to take their animated creature home with you, to impress friends and family. 🙂  We may teach more adult classes in the future. Check out our classes page at Tam Makers.

 

What materials are included?

Each student received a robot kit, which they learned to assemble, control and program.

For this class, we created our own robot kit, using an Arduino Feather M0 for the robot, an Pro Micro for the remote, a custom chassis, plus three additional servos and more parts. Our robot kit was similar to commercial kits, but with a lot more features at a lower cost. This robot kit was decorated by the students to create an interesting animated character. Learn more about our robot kit in our student guide.

This robot kit supports these features:
Roaming – the bot can move around under user control
Moving – the bot can move some body parts (turn its head, wave its arms, using servos)
Inputs – the bot has a variety of buttons (on/off button, buttons for different gestures, etc.)
Remote – the bot can be controlled remotely (using a remote control or desktop app)
Lights – the bot can have lights in its body (LEDs that blink, glow, or fade on and off)
Sounds – the bot can play audio (using piezo buzzer to play simple beeps and tunes)
Programming – the bot is easy to code (with visual programming tool like Snap4Arduino)
Flexibility – the bot can be expanded (with extra parts to be ordered separately)
Pricing – the bot is affordable (we’re aiming for a maximum of $75 per robot)

They programmed their robots with Snap4Arduino and made them move in different ways with servo motors. We used the school’s Macs to program the robots, using the Arduino software and Snap4Arduino, a visual programming tool. Arduino code was shared with parents when class ended, so they can help students to continue to program their robot at home.

What do the robots look like?

Students created some cool characters for their Robot World: Chef Bot, Devil Bot, Police Bot and Swat Bot

Each student received their own robot kit, which they learned to assemble, control and program. They built a chassis, wired up the Arduino electronics, made their own remote control, added a head and arms (laser cut based on their designs). Last but not least, they painted and decorated them to give them unique personalities. You can track their progress in our photo album.

The video above shows what our robots looked like in early stages of development. Our fun robots can roam around, shake their heads and flap their wings, at the touch of a button. 

Below are a few photos of our first prototypes, made with laser-cut wood figures and servo motors (to see them in action, watch our video). We call them ‘Bambots’. This name is short for ‘Bamboodu Robot’: it is inspired by the fictional Bamboodu tribe we created for art projects like the Bamboodu Float and the Pataphysical Slot Machine.

Bambots like to shake their heads and flap their wings back and forth. The photos below show other prototypes of a Bambot Angel and an Bambot Dude, in different stages of construction.

For more pictures of this course, see our photo album.

 

What does the robot world look like?

We invited students to design a magical world for their robots, then build it and decorate it.

They imagined a future wonderland called FoodVille: a peaceful world filled with food, to insure a life of ‘everlasting fun.’ They created a colorful landscape centered around a volcano spilling out candy lava, with robot homes and a bright red soda fountain.

We asked students to decorate their robots so they looked like characters in that fantasy world. For a closer look, see our photo album for this course.

Who are the teachers?

Multimedia innovator Fabrice Florin and software designer Edward Janne taught this course.

Fabrice Florin

Fabrice is an art maker and social entrepreneur who creates unique experiences to inform and engage communities through digital and physical media. He has led the development of many pioneering products in education, news and entertainment, working with innovators such as Apple, Macromedia and Wikipedia. He is now a teacher and artist at Tam Makers in Mill Valley, where he teaches maker art to adults and kids. Learn more at fabriceflorin.com .

 

Edward Janne

Edward is a software developer and teacher at Tam Makers. He has an extensive background in interactive design and engineering. Prior to joining us, he was a technical animator at Bonfire Labs, a creative content agency. He also studied at the Academy of Art University and the University of San Francisco. Edward has taught several Maker Art classes with us, and will lead more classes for adults and teens at Tam Makers this fall.

 

How can I learn more?

To learn more, view our photo albumcourse slides and student guide — and check our course page for updates.

Also read this overview of our Maker Art classes, and visit our site for Tam Makers, our community makerspace in Mill Valley.

For more info, email Fabrice at fabriceflorin-at-gmail-dot-com.

Time Machine at the Lycée

Travel through time and meet characters from the past, present and future!

Our Maker Art class at the Lycée Français created a Time Machine with animated scenes and characters from the age of dinosaurs to the 50th century. This interactive art exhibit integrates physical and digital media, combining art, technology and storytelling.

Our 4th and 5th graders created their own scenes from the past, present or future, and brought them to life with motion, lights and sounds. Then also worked in teams to build interactive features to showcase their scenes: keypad, spinner and doors.

See also: video, slides, photos and design spec.

What does it look like?

Watch the video above to see the Time Machine in action. Some photos are also included below. See more in our slides.

Students

This program was designed for lower school children in grades 4 and 5 (ages 8-10). Nine students participated in this class: Tilo Allexandre, Esther Bomse, Theodore Carman, Louise Eddy, Nathanial Jenkins, Lena Jessen, Eugene Maeght, Yann Menard and Marshall Patron.

Here’s a survey report on what students thought of this class: they found it very good, liked learning about Arduino, and most would recommend this class to a friend.

What did students create?

Students created their own interactive ‘wonderboxes’ for these time periods:

  • Age of Dinosaurs
  • French Revolution
  • World War 2
  • World War 3
  • New York 2092
  • Alien Invasion
  • 25th Century
  • 50th Century

They brought their characters to life inside their cardboard ‘wonderboxes’ by making lights blink, sounds play and things move.

Working collaboratively, they also created these Arduino-powered features:

  • Dashboard with keypad
  • Spinner
  • Doors with lights

 

What did students learn?

Students learned to design a miniature world, build it with a variety of tools, animate it with electronics, and tell its story in presentations at the Lycée in Sausalito — and at Marinovators at the College of Marin on April 22 (see photos). We also showed them how to program the popular Arduino board to create a cool interactive art experience.

This unique combination of art and technology helped them develop a range of new skills:

  • critical and logical thinking;
  • science, technology, engineering and math skills;
  • electronics, circuits, lights, motors and soldering;
  • Arduino and computer programming;
  • creative expression and storytelling skills;
  • communication, collaboration and social skills.

See also: video, slides, photos and design spec.

 

Location

This class took place at Lycée Français in Sausalito, in the Innovation Lab (Room #340). The school entrance is 660 Coloma Street, Sausalito, CA 94945 (see Google Map).

 

Schedule

We met every Thursdays for 12 weeks, from January 5 to March 30, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm, at the Lycée Français in Sausalito.

Here is our course schedule:

  1. Plan our time machine (Jan. 5, 2017)
  2. Design the time machine (Jan. 12)
  3. Create your time scene (Jan. 19)
  4. Create a character (Jan. 26)
  5. Light up your scene (Feb. 2)
  6. Build your time machine (Feb. 9)
  7. Create a feature (Feb. 16)
  8. Paint your feature (March 2)
  9. Program your feature (March 9)
  10. Finish the time machine (March 16)
  11. Write your story (March 23)
  12. Show & Tell (March 30)

(There was no class on Feb. 23.)

 

Who were the teachers?

Multimedia innovators Fabrice Florin and Edward Janne taught this course, with the help of our Tam Makers community.

Fabrice Florin – Teacher

Fabrice is an art maker and social entrepreneur who creates unique experiences to inform and engage communities through digital and physical media. He has led the development of many pioneering products in education, news and entertainment, working with innovators such as Apple, Macromedia and Wikipedia. He is now a teacher and founder at Tam Makers in Mill Valley, where he teaches maker art to adults and teens.

Learn more at fabriceflorin.com .

Edward Janne – Associate Teacher

Edward is a software engineer, teacher and active member at Tam Makers. He has an extensive background in interactive design and engineering, and a personal interest in maker education. He is teaching other classes for adults and teens at Tam Makers this spring.

Learn more about Maker Art classes here: fabriceflorin.com/teaching-maker-art/

Fabrice and Edward are both part of Tam Makers, a new makerspace in Mill Valley, CA. To learn more, visit our site at tammakers.org .

 

Ubu’s Dreams

Ubu’s Dreams is a shadow puppet show featuring Père Ubu and surreal characters from his unconscious. This play was created by Mark Petrakis and Fabrice Florin, with Edward Janne, Dan Cantrell, Phyllis Florin, Jean Bolte and our friends at Pataphysical Studios.

We premiered Ubu’s Dreams at the Canessa Gallery in North Beach, San Francisco on November 3, 5 and 12, 2016. Watch the video here. The show was part of the ‘Pataphysics of Dada exhibit for the Dada World Faire hosted by City Lights Books.

What’s it about?

Ubu’s Dreams stars Père Ubu, the protagonist of Alfred Jarry’s plays at the turn of the 19th century. This shadow puppet show features many surreal characters from his unconscious: big faces, talking ravens, exploding cows and other creatures from the wild ubu-beyond.

Ubu’s Dreams explores new ways of telling stories with shadows, combining laser-cut wood figures, mechanical automata, a rich musical soundtrack as well as video and multimedia scenery. This 12-minute show consists of three separate plays with music interludes.

Watch the video below. For more details about this first show, check out this scripts page.

Where was it shown?

We premiered Ubu’s Dreams on November 3rd, 5th and 12th, 2016, 6-8pm, during our ’Pataphysics of Dada exhibit at the Canessa Gallery in North Beach, for the Dada World Faire.

We may perform Ubu’s Dreams again in 2017. Please contact us at info@pataphysics.us with any questions or suggestions of possible venues for our next show.

In the meantime, you can watch the video of our first performance here on Vimeo.

And here is our photo album from recent shows, including the ‘making of’ Ubu’s Dreams.

How are the characters made?

The shadow puppets in Ubu’s Dreams are made of wooden figures and shapes created in Adobe Illustrator and laser cut onto ⅛” birch plywood. We animate these puppets by hand from behind the screen, holding them on thin vertical sticks planted on animation stands. A few of the characters have moving parts, such as arms or mouths — and some of the parts light up.

We plan to bring some of these figures to life by making them move with small motors. We’re also experimenting with spotlights and other forms of automation. Some long-term aspirations for this experiment are outlined in this Theatre Mécanique blog post.   

 

What does the show look like?

Here are photos for each scene in the show.

See more pictures in this photo album — including the ‘making of’ Ubu’s Dreams.

What is going on behind the screen?

Here are photos of the performers and their puppets.

How does it work?

This shadow puppet show takes place inside the Magic Theater, a mobile stage for interactive storytelling we created for this project.

The Magic Theater is based on a wooden cart with a PVC framework. It includes a powerful projector over the performers’ heads, which illuminate the top of the screen, so the show can be seen even in a crowded room.

 

Who created this?

Here are the fine folks who created this project:

Created by Mark Petrakis and Fabrice Florin

Written, Performed and Directed by Mark Petrakis

Designed and Produced by Fabrice Florin

Animated and Engineered by Edward Janne

Music by Dan Cantrell

Stage Design and Construction by Fabrice Florin, Phyllis Florin, Edward Janne, Mark Petrakis and Jean Bolte

Special Thanks to our friends at Pataphysical Studios

 

How can I learn more?

Watch the video here. See also: photo album, scripts page and timeline.

 

Bamboodu Float at the Parade

People loved our Bamboodu Float at the 2017 Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade!

I created this political art performance with the Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN), to express our frustration with the Trump regime.

Our puppet theater on wheels stars Lady Liberty and Tiny Trump: each time Trump tweets fake news, Liberty bonks him on his thick bobble head.

Here’s a video of our parade with dozens of artists and MVCAN members:

Thousands of spectators cheered and sang along with us: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses …” This lovely poem by Emma Lazarus was turned into song by Gareth Loy and performed by local singers, including members of the Shady Ladies.

Veteran journalist Paul Liberatore wrote this fine cover story for the Independent Journal, the largest newspaper in the North Bay. ABC 7 News featured our political art throughout their Memorial Day coverage (a clip from their news report is included in the above video). Our video also includes footage from a wonderful parade montage by Gary Yost, with a moving guitar solo by young musician Matt Jaffe.

This Memorial Day Parade was organized by Larry “the Hat” Lautzker, Mill Valley’s colorful clothier. The parade judges gave us the “Best Community Spirit Award.” One judge, Eric Christensen, explained why he voted for our entry: “I thought it was a very appropriate message to send on Memorial Day: if people don’t stand up to Trump and his policies, our future will be filled with many more war dead to memorialize.” 

Our friends at MVCAN invited me to give a talk about this project and the importance of art in politics at their monthly MVCAN meeting. Here are my takeaways:

  • Art engages us at a deeper level
  • It unites us around shared emotions
  • We identify with the characters of our stories
  • We spread our message to a wider audience
  • It invites people of all ages to participate
  • It sparks our imagination to invent the future
  • Making art together is fun and inspiring
  • It encourages playful collaborations
  • It builds community and strengthens our bonds

Here’s the video of my talk. See our slides for more info.

I’m very grateful to all the MVCAN friends and neighbors who helped build this float in our front yard: Danny Altman, Laura Boles, Phyllis Florin, David Glad, Peter Graumann, Edward Janne, Suz Lipman, Charlene Lundgren, Jean Marie Murphy, Mark Petrakis and Martha Roush, to name but a few. See the team in action in our photo album.

Special thanks to my amazing friend and associate Edward Janne, who designed and engineered the technology behind this float, using an Arduino, an MP3 shield and NeoPixel matrices. He coded the Bamboodu Player, the custom software which allowed me to choreograph our live performance, using this simple script. If you’d like to learn how to build systems like these, we’ll teach another Arduino class together this fall at Tam Makers.

Many thanks as well to our friends at Pataphysical Studios, our art collective, who marched ahead of us holding a large Traffic Jam sign, from an earlier caper memorialized in this video. We all wore our purple lab coats and funny hats, to set the tone for this new political art march.

I’m really happy that so many people enjoyed our Bamboodu Theater — and that our performance helped promote the Mill Valley Community Action Network — a grassroots political group that helps us coordinate our resistance to right-wing attacks on our liberties. 

Through this interactive art experience, we hope to engage people of all ages to get engaged in political action. If you live in the North Bay, sign up here on the MVCAN site — and join your neighbors to keep democracy alive!

Vive la liberté!

Fabrice

Learn more about the Bamboodu Float:

#art #bamboodu #indivisible #mvcan #politics #puppets #resist #theater

Bamboodu Theater

Behold the Bamboodu Theater, my new puppet stage for civic events and art shows.

This interactive theater experience features the Bamboodu spirit, a mythical creature rising from the earth to expose the troubles facing America and the world. Above his head are some of the characters that haunt his dreams, playing out the eternal fight between fear and hope.

Our first scene stars Lady Liberty and Mr. Trump. As surreal music plays, Mr. Trump’s recent tweets and alternative facts scroll by on a news ticker below the stage. Each time Trump says something wrong, Liberty hits him on his thick, bobbing head — until his oversize jacket falls off, revealing that the emperor truly has no clothes.

At the end of this short play, we invite our guests to sing along the inspiring words of Emma Lazarus’s poem about the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor …”). Through this interactive experience, we hope to engage people of all ages to think about the values we share — and help change the world through civic action.

Bamboodu Theater is a work-in-progress, combining mixed-media art with radical puppetry, along with electronic text, lights and sounds powered by Arduino. We customize the experience for each public appearance, whether it is shown as a stand-alone exhibit, a parade float or a street theater performance.

We premiered this interactive theater experience at Signs of Hope, an inspiring exhibit of political art that ran from April 14th to 29th at Art Works Downtown in San Rafael. See photos of our theater in that exhibit. Learn more on our project page.

We are now building a special float to feature the Bamboodu Theater at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 29, 2017. To create this float, I am working with a wonderful team at the Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN), a local political group which I recently joined to resist the conservative takeover of our country.

Our new Bamboodu Float is coming along very nicely, as shown in this photo album. Learn more on our project page. In coming months, we plan to show it at other civic events and political rallies.

Bamboodu Theater was created by Fabrice Florin, in collaboration with Phyllis Florin, Edward Janne, Mark Petrakis, Geo Monley, Jean Bolte, Howard Rheingold and our friends at Pataphysical Studios and Tam Makers. Special thanks to Gareth Loy for permission to use his Mother of Exiles song, and to all the MVCAN members who are helping build our parade float: Danny Altman, Laura Boles, David Glad, Peter Graumann, Suz Lipman and Jean Marie Murphy, to name but a few. I’m deeply grateful to you all.

It’s been a true pleasure to work with so many friends and neighbors to keep democracy alive through art and theater.
Vive la liberté!