Road Trippin’ with a Puppy!

Now let us drink the stars, it’s time to steal away…

-Red Hot Chili Peppers, Road Trippin’

I’ve been up and down the California Coast and I’m pretty proud that since moving here in 2014, I now wear the badge of personally driving by hugging the coast down from San Diego all the way up to Fort Bragg! We’re lucky to live in such a diverse state- we can literally go to the beach and mountains for snow in the same day if we wanted to! Whether you are standing in the shadow of our giant redwoods in one of our many forests or soaking up a west coast sunset, it’s hard not to fall in love with this state. There is something magical about being able to live where you’d want to vacation.

That said, I had an itch to see what is north of us… in Oregon! Now that travel has opened up and we were all able to get vaccinated, we thought visiting Oregon would be the perfect road trip. Our first trip since 2019 due to the pandemic and travel mandates (#SIP). We adopted a puppy the week of Thanksgiving of 2019 and we couldn’t leave her behind. So, I researched pet friendly resorts to stay along our route and was surprised how pet friendly the entire state of Oregon is. We really lucked out with the timing of our trip too because we traveled right before a horrible heatwave hit the state, followed by fires.

We viewed packing for our pup as if she was a toddler. Food, treats, a few favorite toys, a familiar blanket from home and a collapsable water bowl. We did pick up a few extra things for the trip: a dog paw cleaner (for when we went hiking and to the beach) and a dog stake and tie-out cable. We made a cozy spot for her in the back where she could lay or stand. She did great!

Our first stop was 3 hours away in Redding, California to see the Sundial Bridge.

A little over 2 hours from there was our first resort stop at Running Y Ranch in Klamath Falls, Oregon. This ranked as our second favorite place to stay and we will definitely be back! We loved how quiet and peaceful it was. We had fun playing table tennis, basketball, swimming and eating on site. Even with restrictions and limited staff, this place was very hospitable. There were lots of other dogs here too- and they have a doggie park.

On the second day we work up early and headed to Crater Lake. We heard that a lot of National Parks fill up fast to capacity so we were sure to purchase our tickets online. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to visit Crater Lake. It was 75 degrees and there was still snow on the ground! At 1,943 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States.

After our time at Running Y Ranch and Crater Lake, we were on the road again… We stopped at Bend for lunch at a very dog friendly Deschutes Brewery. This was well worth the stop! Pup Bailey agrees that it was one of the best beverages and burgers we’ve ever had. She loved hanging out on the patio while waiting for her food.

Three hours from our lunch spot was our next place to call home for a few days…in Washington! While I’ve been to Washington before, this was the first time it wasn’t in the Seattle area.

Skamania Lodge was quick to welcome, Miss Bailey and even had a special gift bag for her waiting in the room. Her own water bowl, blanket, extra leash and big dog bone.

You certainly can’t beat the view here, but over all we don’t plan to come back to this place. The property is dark inside and really showing its age. While we understand that many places are struggling with staffing, there were often times over the duration of our stay that the kitchen stopped taking orders (at 4:30p.m. and told us to keep trying back after an hour) or it took over 90 minutes to pick up food. Being outside on the lush lawn was our favorite part- day or night.

We also had fun at the miniature golf course. Miss Bailey may have added a few extra hits on some plays. She couldn’t help herself!

There are lots of hiking trails on the property which was a bonus.

Back across the Columbia Gorge River to Oregon, where our next chapter would lead us through Portland for a 2 hours drive to Cannon Beach.

The Hallmark Resort and Spa on Cannon Beach at Haystack Rock was hands down our favorite spot! Direct Beach access made for long strolls and exploring from sunrise to sunset. “The history of Hallmark Resorts, Inc. can be traced back to a cocker spaniel named Sissy. In 1948, Bill and Georgie Hay’s dog (Sissy) sniffed out a For Sale sign sitting high on a bluff overlooking Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. The couple soon turned this special site into the Hallmark Resort & Spa in Cannon Beach.” (Hallmark Resorts, Inc.) We loved the bag of goodies they gifted Miss Bailey upon arrival; a frisbee, special dog cookie, and a water bottle that has a flexible cup attached so that you can squirt water directly into it for your dog to drink. Also, a portion of the room fee for renting a pet friendly room goes to the local animal rescue.

Beautiful, dog friendly downtown with lots of breweries and places to eat.

Rise and Line! Favorite Coffee House directly across the street from where we were staying. Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters (SO worth the wait!)

Our resort had blue chairs available at the beach for guests. This was really a nice touch!

As we made our way back down to our next destination, we stopped off at Tillamook Creamery for lunch… ice cream!

Bailey approved of the vanilla.

Our last stop on our bucket list was Silver Falls State Park. We may have all sparkled in the sun on our hike like the Cullen’s Family (this is one of the locations the movie Twilight was filmed), but it was just because around this point in our trip, Oregon started to heat up. This park was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places with so many different shades of green.

After a week and 62,000 steps later, we headed back home to California from our epic road trip with puppy! In the end, we drove 1600 miles. The people of Oregon (and Washington) were so friendly and nice. We continue to think of them all and will certainly be back!

 

WE NEED YOUTH!

“Being a member of a youth commission allows for professional development, encouraging young people to pursue a career in the public sector and participate in local civic activities. They are a resource that provides youth a voice in the political process and community input for local government. When a city, county, or special district creates a youth commission, they are investing in a new generation of public employees and change agents.”
-Institute of Local Government

Inspiration comes in many forms and in this case it showed up 2 years ago when a high school student showed up at a meeting applying for a role on the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County. It was my first commission meeting when I asked to be tasked with the creation of a Youth Advisor role because it’s important for our youth to have a seat at the table, share their lens and hear their voice. It’s also important to cultivate an environment where we welcome and encourage civic engagement and participation early on. After all, the youth now will one day be our future leaders.

From the initial research, framework for a draft for a change in our by-laws, information packet, interview questions down to the graphics and stepping up to mentoring, I’m always willing to do the work needed to support our county with initiatives that directly make a positive impact on so many lives. With a heart for service, I’m thankful for a Commission that supports this effort and Board of Supervisors that sees value it. My hope is that this lays the foundation for representation by our youth in every Contra Costa County district and perhaps, nudges other commissions and boards that lack youth representation to inquire about widening their circle for such a role.

Our first youth advisor has been so incredible to work with and support. As an intelligent, enthusiastic, creative, insightful, compassionate, organized and joyous collaborator that loves to bring people together as a Champion of the Arts, Youth Advisor Carolyn Considine has truly paved the way and set the bar for first ever county role.

  • She was the one that created our first ever live streamed panel for youth artists on 8/27/2020 for Artist Café which has a reach of 3.6k!
  • When Covid-19 hit, she pivoted to find a way for youth artists to continue to express and showcase their work—in the first ever online art exhibition for our county which showcased over 100 works of art from 27 different high schools!
  • She is the mastermind behind the Justice Murals of “Project WE.
  • She worked directly with Contra Costa Department of Education last summer to create the first ever county wide high school art exhibition in the offices in Pleasant Hill.

Our first Youth Advisor’s term ends in the summer of 2022, but our application just opened for the next Youth Advisor to apply! In only 10 business days, this application closes so don’t wait to apply for a chance to represent youth in a county of 1,165,927 million (per County Costa County website). As a youth advisor to the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County, participants serve not only as a volunteer but an ambassador for the county. A Youth Advisor provides an element to the commission in which their perspective enhances the mission, contributes to the conversation, entertains ideas of collaboration, representation and engagement for youth in Contra Costa County. Youth Advisors interact with county officials, learn about local government and civic engagement. Youth Advisors are to attend regularly scheduled Arts and Culture Commission Meetings once a month. Youth Advisors are assigned a mentor within the commission who are to be a point of contact for questions and support. Youth Advisors are expected to complete a service project and create a portfolio or resume during their year with the Arts and Culture Commission. Youth Advisors are expected to maintain a high level of responsible behavior and good standing in school as well as the community- including social platforms.

Application forms can be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors by visiting the County webpage at www.contracosta.ca.gov/3418, calling (925) 655-2000, or e- mailing ClerkoftheBoard@cob.cccounty.us. To learn more about the work I’m involved in on the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County visit AC5.org.

Let’s all cheer on our youth while also giving them a platform to use their own voice!

Breathing Free Together

I don’t often tear up at artist receptions, but I did today as I watched the many artists of all ages and backgrounds receive recognition for sharing their lens and talent for the public art project, “Breathing Free Together,” organized by a phenomenal grassroots organization, The San Ramon Social Justice Collective. SRJC is lead by some of the most beautiful, compassionate and empowering people I’m proud to know (and to have had the pleasure of meeting in person today after Zoom calls and emails!). The work they have done is not easy. The work have done is not for themselves. The beauty of their work is that they are helping create a legacy for their community.

Using public art as a medium for awareness, communities are able to challenge some of the biggest issues of our time. Public art in an innovative way to reach people in their everyday environments and confront easily overlooked issues. “Breathing Free Together” is the union of both of these things. The “Breathing Free Together” art project has a unique way of moving the needle forward by encouraging dialogue on racial equity and justice. It gives a platform for those who feel voiceless, leading to healing through collaboration and understanding- a true service to the community.

Public art should reflect the community around it, and represent the hopes and lives of all community members. This is a day that will linger in heart for quite some time. Knowing the hill SRJC had to climb to make this possible, well,…proud doesn’t seem enough to sum it up.

Keynote for One World

Namaha Foundation for the Arts recently hosted an online event called, “One World.” This San Ramon, California based non profit organization works towards bringing artists from all genres and cultures together! The foundation is an arts group put together by Artistic Director of Ushanjali School of Dance, Naina Shastri and her Senior Students from the dance school. Thank you to the Namaha Foundation and Naina for the invitation to be a keynote speaker. To learn more about this wonderful foundation, events or to learn how to support it, please click here.

The following is the keynote address I shared for One World on June 27, 2021. The Role of Art in Bringing People Together and Building Bridges. 

I’m honored to be with you today in celebration of the multi ethnic performance called “One World.” I want to start out by sharing a secret with you. Perhaps, it’s one of the best kept secrets of our time, but my hope is that you will go out and share this secret far and wide. I know, I know, …it won’t be a secret anymore if you all go out and share it, but this is one secret not to keep. In fact, it’s been a secret for far too long. Now more than ever, our community, our country – our world needs to know it.

In a time where there seems to be such divisiveness in our world, felt right down to the core of our own communities, when our inner circles grew even smaller due to the pandemic. Where outlets like social platforms kept us in contact, but lacked much on an authentic connection we craved. In a time where we seem to talk at one another instead of to one another, where judgements easily creep into minds. Where emerging from life in a pandemic has left us all with wounds to heal, some of which –those anxieties and issues still not even realized. Art now has an even bigger role to play in our daily lives.

Art! Yes, Art. If we truly want a stronger world, we must create a bridge to art, not walls.
Art binds us together. Culture strengthens the character of communities. The Arts are an important way for people to come together through meaningful, shared experiences. Art literally brings us together- at galleries, performances, events, festivals and culturally through our commonality, shared stories and connections. This type of binding transcends our differences and celebrates the uniqueness of this experience leaving imprints of not only belonging but uniting us.

Art helps us empathize and rear compassionate leaders. The arts uplift and inspire- opening our minds, hearts and even pocket books! We can’t deny the financial impact that the arts have in the state of California alone–according to The Americans for the Arts, in 2019, it was a $804 billion industry. That’s a large opportunity for bridge building!

So here is the secret. The special sauce. The key to building bridges and bringing people together…Learn how to embrace diversity by little daily actions that build up to a more enriched world~

  • Welcome people into your circle of varying beliefs and thought practices
  • Enroll in dance class
  • Listen to a music artist your child or your neighbor likes
  • Learn to say hello in another language
  • Be open to listening
  • Cook for others– sample a food you’ve never had from a county you have yet to visit
  • Take a trip to a museum
  • Attend a concert
  • Volunteer backstage for your local community theatre group
  • Paint in the park
  • Learn about the land you live on
  • Advocate for access to arts programing regardless of your zip code
  • March in a parade or protest that isn’t “about you,”
  • Inspire leadership to mirror the aesthetics of towns by reflecting those who reside in
    the community and beyond
  • Ask questions
  • Read more books and read far less comments online.

It’s essential that we create space in our lives not only for the Arts, but reserve a space for our humanity.

Thank you.

Art Education Matters

As a public school advocate and artist, of course my stance is that art education matters in educating the whole child. I hope they matter to you too. If they don’t, at the very least, I hope you’ll agree that a 12% compliance across school districts in the state of California in which it’s the law to have the arts in schools, means that we should probably be setting a better example. The law? Yes– Ed Code. Like math class. It’s the law to have math class in California schools too.

Just as much as the arts matter, funding for those art programs matter a lot too. That’s where it gets tricky. Even controversial. Definitely not equitable. Our school districts must start investing money in the arts— something that districts have side stepped for far too long. However, we can’t tip toe over this conversation anymore. After almost 18 months of traditional school being interrupted due to life in a pandemic, social emotional learning and equity have risen to the top of our priorities and at last, it’s time for the arts to take center stage. There has never been a time when our children needed the arts more in their lives.

What is Ed Code? “A collection of all the laws directly related to California K-12 public schools. Ed Code sections are created or changed by the governor and Legislature when they make laws. Local school boards and county offices of education are responsible for complying with these provisions.” (EdSource)

What does it say about Arts Education in California schools? California’s Education code promises visual art, music, dance, theater and media arts classes to each K-12 student.

Education Code Section 8811
Defines the “arts” to include the four disciplines of dance, drama and theatre, music, and visual arts as set forth in the state’s adopted curriculum framework for visual and performing arts.

Education Code Section 51210
(a) The adopted course of study for grades 1 to 6, inclusive, shall include instruction, beginning in grade 1 and continuing through grade 6, in the following areas of study … (e) Visual and performing arts, including instruction in the subjects of dance, music, theatre, and visual arts, aimed at the development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.
Education Code Section 51220
The adopted course of study for grades 7 to 12, inclusive, shall offer courses in the following areas of study: …
(g) Visual and performing arts, including dance, music, theatre, and visual arts, with emphasis upon development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.

The Problem? Even though section 51210(e) mandates the Visual and Performing Arts, long time art education advocate and teacher Carl Schafer shares with us, section 51050 states, “The governing board of every school district shall enforce in its schools the courses of study.” Therefore, no one is enforcing the law and holding school boards accountable. Carl Schafer goes on to share, “…to simply allow non-compliance with the California Education Code is unacceptable. We should teach our children that the arts matter. And so does the law.” (Carl Schafer)

The conversation we should all be having. What would it take for you to advocate to your school board that art is vital to educating the whole child? How would you feel if one day the school board said the district would no longer be teaching math or science…? We should feel no different regarding the absence of the arts in our classrooms.

Moving Forward.

Immediate response… Level the playing field with site specific Education Foundations. While these organizations are separate entities from the school district, school boards have a duty, which cannot be delegated to any citizen or group of citizens, to govern, manage and control the business of the district and the interests of its schools. While some schools receive a lot of money through parent donations, the reality is that many do not. We need a framework of “basics,” if you will, which ensures that all elementary schools (to start with) include investing in the arts by hiring art teachers. This will also address the topic of inequity. Currently, in our school district, these are all parent funded positions by money the district is gifted through Education Foundations- which it then hires for school sites. Often it’s a volunteer that likes to teach art but lacks certification, training or an understanding of the California Arts Curriculum.

Long term goal… Give every subject a line item allocation in the district budget. Transition from classified staff to certified staff for art teachers. Push the California Department of Education to re-evaluate it’s stance on enforcement linked to an equity issue. Create a formal complaint procedure process for teachers, parents and students to hold school boards accountable when need be.

What can you do right now? Many districts across the state of California are working on their strategic plan — plus! They have received federal and state Covid-19 relief money, some of which is to be used at their discretion. This presents an opportunity for you to reach out to your school board members and advocate for the arts. Align your thoughts with the goals in the strategic plan or mission of the school district. Ask your district to adopt a Declaration of Arts Education in Learning just like West Contra Costa’s Board of Education and school district did. You can find the complete document here.

Reach out to an art teacher in support and help facilitate the conversation about the arts in your area. Create opportunities for partnerships and be open to creative ideas that show promise not just for your child’s school, but for all of our California kids. Take it up a level and contact your state officials and ask them about Ed Codes, policy, enforcement and more funding for schools. When you factor in that if California were a country, it would be the 5th largest economy in the world and we rank near the bottom for funding for education, we owe it to all our California kids to do better.

Resources

  • California’s Education code promises visual art, music, dance, theater and media arts classes to each K-12 student, but only 12% of our schools are in compliance with that mandate. Source: Create California 
  • 89% of California K-12 schools fail to offer a standards-based course of study in all four disciplines—music, visual arts, theatre, and dance—and thus fall short of state goals for arts education. Source: Americans For The Arts
  • Find out how much California school districts and charter schools will get in Covid relief: EdSource  
  • To read more about the California Arts framework and standards: California Department of Education 
  • How to find your California Legislator: CA Gov
  • Researchers are finding that foundations, set up to raise money for public schools, are reintroducing funding inequality that was supposed to be eliminated back in the 1970s, when the California Supreme Court ruled on the Serrano vs. Priest case. Source: KPCC
  • Thus LEFs (Local Education Foundations) are adding inequality into an education finance system whose 1970s reforms were designed to promote equality and break the connection between wealth and education outcomes. Source: California Local Education Foundations 
  • State-by-State Guide for Arts Education Funding