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The Dreamer

•   K N O W    T H Y S E L F   •

Meet the Dreamer, my new interactive art project, which I have just started to prototype.

This illuminated sculpture aims to make us more aware of the characters who live inside our heads, and how our emotions influence the way we perceive the world around us.

The Dreamer’s head lights up with rear-projected videos of some of the characters who influence us, along with memories and feelings that fill in our minds, day and night.

To show what the Dreamer is thinking, our first prototypes will display images of people and nature, sparking different moods, each represented by a different color, as shown below.

The Dreamer’s emotions can be shown with different colored lights, such as: red for anger, orange for fear, yellow for happiness, green for surprise, blue for sadness, purple for love, for example.

You can change the Dreamer’s worldview by pressing buttons to make him/her more happy or sad, angry or kind, fearful or curious (like social media emoticons). In response, the Dreamer’s head lights up with different colors and facial expressions, as these emotions are activated in his/her mind.

This kinetic sculpture can give us a glimpse at what goes on inside our heads, as images of our lives pass by, fleeting like clouds in the sky, colored by our moods. The Dreamer’s quiet face keeps transforming, responding to new images and emotions with images and sounds of its own.

As times goes by, we see the interplay of the forces that drive us: anger can turn into love, sadness into joy, fear into curiosity. And we can learn how changing our emotions can transform how we view the world.

See more photos in our Dreamer album.

Development

The Dreamer is being developed at Tam Makers and Pataphysical Studios, our maker spaces in Mill Valley, where we are creating our first prototypes.

We are just getting started on this project, so we don’t have precise specs yet. We will add them here soon, after we’re done experimenting with our first prototypes. The small AAXA P2B projector we’re using seems to work best about 24″ away from a standard 6″ wide mask. And the mask’s illumination varies based on your viewing angle, so we may want to make it rotate a bit from left to right, using a motorized turntable, as shown below.  

The current plan is to first sculpt a clay mask for the head (the prototype shown below was made from a life mask of my own head), flattened it a bit at the mouth, eyes and forehead, then vacuum-form that mask with translucent white plastic, so that we can rear-project a variety of faces onto that slightly opaque form.

Products

This interactive art piece will be presented in different ways:

• as part of the Time Machine we’re building at Pataphysical Studios (see photo below)

• as a stand-alone exhibit in art shows and galleries

• in large street performance during public events

• in short videos on the web.

The Dreamer is inspired by radical puppetry, maker technology and modern art. It is also informed by our recent art projects: Art Float, Bamboodu Theater, Maker Art workshops and Ubu’s Dreams.

Research

In previous experiments conducted in summer 2016 by Fabrice Florin and Jean Bolte, we attempted to bring characters to life by projecting videos of human faces onto ‘life casts’. For these first tests, we projected some of Fabrice’s interviews with Jean’s daughter Natalina and our friend Mark Petrakis onto the David Bowie and Sean Connery life casts, as well as on a plain mannequin head and mask.

The results of these first tests were very encouraging, as you can see in this video and in these photos of our first session and second session.

We think we can apply this projection mapping technique to the Dreamer project by combining full face projections with images of what the characters are thinking. For the Time Machine, we can project re-enactions of historical figures, against masks or heads set in a dark box behind of the Time Machine’s porthole. Opening the porthole would reveal an animated face from the past or future, which would speak to you for a moment, across time and space.

Here are some of our observations from those first tests:

• this technique works well to bring characters to life

• it creates the illusion that you are seeing a real person

• aligning the faces from the videos with the life casts can be tricky

• we may need to hold the actor’s heads to keep them aligned while we shoot

• getting the eyes, nose and mouth to match may require adjusting the video as well

• some interesting expressions come out when the faces are not perfectly aligned

• people can be made to look older or younger, depending which cast you use

• when the face looks straight at the camera, you really feel that it is talking to you

• some facial expressions work really well, like shifting eyes left and right

• some interesting effects can be created by speeding up the footage, as in Max Headroom

In our next experiments, we will play with different ways to align the projected image and the life cast, and make it all work in a small space.

Next Steps

We will start by experimenting with medium-size heads (8-inch high), to develop the characters and their interactions. These prototypes would be shown in a toy theatre (about 2 feet square).

Future versions could let us open the Dreamer’s head to see the characters that lurk inside and drive her emotions. These characters could be moved or replaced at will, to change the influence they have on the Dreamer. For those versions, we can adapt the customizable robot kits we developed in our Maker Art classes.

In the next phase, we could create larger versions of the Dreamer for street theater performances, in public settings such as marches or fairs. For those larger version, we could re-use the same trailer we built for the Art Float, which could support a large puppet as high as 8-feet tall.

We can create fun interactive experiences with the Dreamer as a focal point. In “Share Your Dream”, we would invite you to become the Dreamer for a moment, and project your own face inside its head. You would then tell us about your dream and we could record you on video.  

The Dreamer invites us to better understand how our emotions make us perceive the world in different ways. It can show us how to replace our destructive emotions with a more positive outlook.

Learn more on our planning page: http://bit.ly/dreamer-plan

See more photos in our Dreamer album.

 

The ‘Pataphysical Time Machine

We are creating a Time Machine at ‘Pataphysical Studios, our art collective in Mill Valley, where surrealism meets the maker culture.

The ‘Pataphysical Time Machine invites you to travel through time and meet characters from the past, present and future. We hope to engage our guests in a fun interactive experience that combines art, multimedia, theater and technology.

This 3D fly through video illustrates the experience we are creating. We invite our guests to go through a short interactive ritual during their visit: walk around the exhibit, step into our magic portal, pick a time to visit, travel to that time, meet its characters and return back to the present.

Through this experience, we hope to enchant guests of all ages and cultures. We typically host time travel expeditions with small groups of up to six people at a time, lasting between 10 and 20 minutes. To insure we don’t disrupt the delicate fabric of time, we ask that our guests do not exit the machine during our time travel journeys. We usually return our guests safely back to the time they came in from. Time travel is not for the faint of heart! 🙂

Press the buttons on this time travel dashboard to jump to different periods, which are shown on the illuminated screen above. 

Exhibit

Our Time Machine exhibit is inspired by steampunk and art movements from the early 20th century: Pataphysics, dada and surrealism.

Here are some of the artifacts we’re now building for our exhibit:

  • a mysterious, glimmering time capsule and cockpit
  • a violin-shaped dashboard with time travel buttons
  • an illuminated main screen to view scenes from distant times
  • animated figures of Anubis and the Creature from the Future Lagoon
  • frescoes of hieroglyphic characters from across the ages
  • crazy clocks spinning at random and singing about time
  • collages of time travel images and stories against the walls
  • mechanical iris portholes revealing mysterious apparitions

… and many more time travel artifacts!

To see our work in progress, view photos below, and our photo album for the Time Machine. To learn about other artifacts, visit our exhibit design spec for the physical structures. To learn more about the interactive experience, read our time travel design spec.

If you liked our ‘Pataphysical Slot Machine, we think this new art exhibit will transport you even further. Fire in the hole!

Animated figures of the ancient god Anubis and the Creature from the Future Lagoon are here to guide your journey through time.

To make our art come to life, we are now developing new media and technologies that will animate the exhibit with animated characters, lights, sounds, motion and videos of the different times you will travel to.

Media

Our growing video library already includes dozens of short clips for different time periods, to create the illusion of time travel.

This Belle Époque video takes you back in time to Paris at the start of the 20th century, when the arts and sciences flourished, along with a “joie de vivre” (joy of living) that is music to our ears.

This short video is just one of the scenes you can visit with the Time Machine, and its authenticity is confirmed by copious historical footage from a variety of sources. Other scenes in our prototype  include videos of the Big Bang, Dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, the French Revolution, A Trip to the Moon, Dada Cafe Voltaire, Trumpocalypse — and many more. Here are some of the other time scenes we‘re considering for the next version.

Meanwhile, our sounds library now includes many time travel soundtracks, as well as musical quotes about time (e.g. “Time!” by the Chambers Brothers, “Crying Time” by Ray Charles, etc.).

To learn about our multimedia plans, visit this media overview.

Technology

We will combine many different digital technologies to support the Time Machine experience: Arduino and Raspberry Pi for artifact devices, NodeRed for the central host, MQTT for the messaging protocol, EasyESP firmware and other tech.

Learn more in this infrastructure document, programming guide and technology overview.

Meet the team

About a dozen creators are building the Time Machine together. We’re artists, engineers, makers, performers, poets, organizers and multimedia innovators. Over the years, we have grown into a world-class troupe of interactive artists, who like to make things together and learn from each other. Most of us are members of Pataphysical Studios and listed in this community page

We work in small creative teams to design and build the different parts of the Time Machine, combining interactive art with lights, sounds, motion, and videos of different times. Besides Pataphysical Studios, some of our fabrication work takes place at at Tam Makers, our community makerspace in Mill Valley, where we use a wide range of tools, from laser cutters to CNC routers and milling equipment.

Learn more on our planning page and project lists.

Join us

This is the most complex art project that our team has taken on, and we could use more help. We are now recruiting a few more creators to contribute to our community project, so we can complete it together in coming years.

If you would like to help build this interactive art experience with us, email us at info@pataphysics.us. We’re particularly interested in collaborators who you live in the Bay Area and can join our weekly work sessions in Mill Valley on Saturday afternoons. But if you live outside the Bay Area, we can also collaborate on a variety of tech and media projects. Let’s talk!

It’s a true pleasure to help new teams come together to design and build the various parts of our Time Machine. That’s what collective art is about. We can’t wait to see what it will look like in a year!

For more project updates, we invite you to subscribe to our mailing list — and/or follow us on Facebook. Learn more at pataphysics.us. We hope to see you soon, online or in person.

Vive la ‘pataphysique!

Fabrice Florin (a.k.a. Dr. Fabio)

On behalf of Pataphysical Studios

_____________________________________________

PHOTOS OF THE TIME MACHINE CREATION

To see more photos of our work in progress, visit our photo album for the Time Machine.

This page was republished from our Pataphysical Studios site.

Art Float for Social Change

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

Behold the Art Float for Social Change! 

We created this unique parade float to engage more people to participate in democracy. It features a spinning earth, waving hands and an art carousel, pulled by a colorful dragon. Live performers on our podium invite you to sing along, vote and “be the change.”

The Art Float has inspired thousands of people to participate in community life, through its original display of art, music, and technology. This year, we presented it at Earth Day, the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade (where we won the ‘Best Community Spirit Award’), the Fairfax Parade and the Fourth of July Parade in Corte Madera (where we won First Prize for Adult Motorized Floats). We hope to bring our traveling art show to other events in coming months.

As shown in this video, our Art Float delighted thousands of spectators at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade, with performances by Emma Spike and the Freedom Singers. Video by Luis Costa, Fabrice Florin and Marin Weatherspoon.

Over a hundred volunteers of all ages built the Art Float at Tam Makers, our makerspace in Mill Valley, with the support of Good Earth Natural Foods, the Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN) and Tamalpais High School.

This community art project was led by artists Fabrice Florin and Geo Monley, along with our creative partners at Tam MakersPataphysical Studios and the Youth Poster Contest — and live performances by the Freedom SingersEmma Spike and Cooper & Bounds, to name but a few.


The Art Float for Social Change performs in front of the judges at the Fairfax Parade. Photo by Dana Dworin.

To see the float in action, visit the Art Float Photos and Video page, with our favorite images from each event and development phase. For more photo coverage, visit our full albums for Fourth of July, the Fairfax ParadeMemorial DayEarth Day and Art Float Creation.

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

Thank you!

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

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, in collaboration with Fabrice Florin, Freddy Hahne, Jean Bolte, Phyllis Florin, Mark Petrakis and others at Pataphysical Studios.

Our parade cast and crew at the July Fourth Parade in Corte Madera (where we won First Prize for Adult Motorized Floats): Gary Appell, Ruthanne Ranz Appell, Greg Brockbank, Dana Dworin, Wayne Lechner, Teresa Marquez, Geo Monley, Tim Pozar, Marilyn Price, Grace Severtson and Emma Spike. Photo by Dana Dworin.

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, 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 to our ‘art float widows’ Phyllis Florin and Meryl Rubenstein — for keeping us 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), Judy 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.

Learn more on our Art Float Photos and Videos pageplanning pageslides and design spec, as well as in this Independent Journal article. For more info, email us at float@tammakers.org

Be the change!

Fabrice Florin and 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!

 

 

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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.

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!

Introducing Tam Makers

Tam Makers is a community of makers, teachers and students in Marin County. We build things together and offer courses, meetups and a makerspace at Tam High School in Mill Valley. To learn more, visit http://tammakers.org

We are starting Tam Makers, a new makerspace in Marin — and invite you to come visit, if you are in the area.

We offer courses for adults and teens, meetups and a new makerspace at Tamalpais High School, in our state-of-the-art wood shop and computer lab.

We created this community center to serve the needs of our local community, whether you are interested in making things for yourself or supporting a makerspace for your children.

Join our meetups

If you live in our area, come to one of our free meetups, so we can tell you more, hear what you think and plan our next steps together. Our monthly meetups are listed here and run from 6 to 8pm in our makerspace at Tam High School (see address below). Adults and teens welcome. If you missed our last meetup, here are photos and slides of this event, as well as the video of our presentation and group discussion.

Sign up for classes

This year, we are offering a wide range of classes for adults and youth: from Arduino to laser cutting, hand tools, wood turning and how to make elegant boxes, to name but a few.

Learn more in our Classes page, where you can sign up for these classes before they fill up.

All adult classes start at 6pm. Teens can also sign up for these classes, with the help of an adult.

Visit our makerspace

All events are at Tamalpais High School, in our state-of-the-art wood shop and computer lab: 700 Miller Avenue (Room 416), Mill Valley, CA 94941. See map.

The best times to visit our makerspace are during our free meetups (see above). To get a feel for our space and community, check out the Tam Makers Photo Album.

Meet our team

Organizers include: Geo Monley, Fabrice Florin, Howard Rheingold and our maker friends, with the Tam High School District’s Community Ed program.

We are developing this program to build fun maker projects with our community and learn from each other.

For more information, visit tammakers.org . To get our newsletters, subscribe to our mailing list. You can also email us at info@tammakers.org .

We hope you will join us. We invite you to share this page with friends and neighbors.

See you soon!

This post was updated on August 6, 2016 to introduce new classes and meetups.