Tag Archives: mill valley

Democracy Cafe

Welcome to Democracy Cafe!

Democracy Cafe is a new series of free art, music and social events for people of all ages and backgrounds, hosted in Marin County. We build community and drive social change through creative expression and civic engagement.

We think making art, music and talking with people from diverse cultures can bring our communities closer, build mutual understanding and engage us to take meaningful political action together.

Art and Music for the 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. We’re now well prepared for our Women’s March next week.

I loved seeing so many creative collaborations take place throughout the afternoon. Participants told us they really enjoyed themselves and would like to meet again at Democracy Cafe!

For more information about this first pilot, visit our event page — and view our photo album for Democracy Cafe.

 

Next Steps

In our first pilot series for winter and spring 2018, we plan to host Democracy Cafes on the third Sunday of each month, centered around a wide range of social and civic themes:

  • February: Youth and Politics
  • March: Diversity
  • April: Environment
  • May: Get Out The Vote

Our next Democracy Cafe will be on Sunday, February 18th from 2 to 5pm, on the theme of Youth and Politics. We will invite young people to participate, so we can connect with them, learn more about their views and how to get millennials engaged in the next election. Save the date and sign up here for more information!

Each 3-hour session can include several hour-long activities. For example, the 1st hour could be for art-making, the 2nd hour for a music performance or sing-along, and the 3rd hour for a group discussion. Where space allows, small group meetings can be held at the same time.

Democracy Cafe shows great promise for energizing people through the transformative power of the arts, and sparking our imaginations to solve problems together — and change the world. At the end of this pilot, we will evaluate results of this program to decide next steps.

 

Join Us!

If you would like to join future events or volunteer on our team, please 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, Mary Cosgrove, Carol Korenbrot, Marilyn Price 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 gracious crew and activity leaders: Jean Bolte, Jake Cohen, Dana Dworin, Wayne Lechner, Gareth Loy and Gary Yost, to name but a few. We’re also grateful to Erma Murphy at the O’Hanlon and all our wonderful participants, whose commitment to art and activism inspires us.

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 joined us for this creative experiment.

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

 

Note: This page was updated on Jan. 15 to include info about our first event.

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.

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!

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.