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Photograph Friday

This bird sure looks angry...Look at those eyes! He should listen to Pierre Bezukhov. Photograph taken outside Starbucks in downtown Santa Cruz.

“If there is a God and a future life, here is truth and there is goodness, and a man’s highest happiness consists in striving to attain them. We must live, we must love, and we must believe not only that we live today on this scrap of earth, but that we have lived and shall live forever, there, in the whole,” said Pierre Bezukhov, pointing to the sky. (Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace)

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Have a wonderful Friday!
Green Gal

"The oak sleeps in the acorn..."

My best friend Alexys has this quote on her Facebook wall, and I feel like sharing it with the world. The imagery makes it wonderful, and the message is inspiring.

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.
-- James Allen


May your dreams be nourished with rain, warmth and listening to your soul's inclinations. The acorn could never believe that within it a great oak tree would grow. Foster the oak tree within your heart. Dream, and act.

--

Some pictures from last Saturday's herb walk:

Chadwick Garden
Madrone tree
Edible Madrone berries

Happy Sunday!
Green Gal

No Shave November

The free and wild spirit of UC Santa Cruz draws many different sorts of people to its forest of learning. This spirit can be contagious to those who are already inclined toward living a little on the wild side; after all, the campus is surrounded by trees and deer, and this makes it difficult not to be aware of one's place in the natural world. I feel comfortable with being myself here, wearing what I want and dancing around when I want. I feel like I can be more naturally human, instead of abiding by certain social constraints that frown on violating arbitrary rules, like the idea that women should shave their legs and that men should have short hair.The foggy, wild forest of UCSC
It's not strange or appalling to see girls who don't shave their legs here, and I would guess many of those same girls don't shave their armpits. Hair is just part of being human, and many people here embrace this, with beards and mustaches of all sorts, long hair on both guys and girls, and …

Free Land

In my many years of encounters with the performing arts, I had never experienced hip-hop theater before Sunday night when I attended a performance at The 418 Project on Mission Street in downtown Santa Cruz. The theatrical performance, entitled FreeLand, took place during the second half of a benefit evening for Black Mesa/Big Mountain Dine (Navajo) Native residents in northeastern Arizona.

I'm hesitant to write about the Black Mesa situation, as I know very little about it. Essentially, the United States has been trying to relocate the Dine people for thirty or so years in order to access coal deposits under their homes. It's highly controversial, and these people have refused to leave their land. A group of people working with the Black Mesa Indigenous Support group is caravanning to the Black Mesa/Big Mountain reservation this month to provide support to the people who live there. I'm going to research the situation so I have a better understanding of what happened and w…

Santa Cruz Natural History Museum

It's raining in Santa Cruz this morning. Outside is foggy and wet, while I'm nice and warm in my dorm room. Perfect for story time!


Last Wednesday, I received an email from a woman who works with the Natural History Museum in Santa Cruz. I had learned about the museum while searching online, and was planning on riding my bike there on Thursday anyway, so her timing was perfect. She'd come across my blog and thought I'd be interested in volunteering and helping with a project. She wrote,

You might want to consider volunteering with us. We are going to be creating an Ohlone garden with CA native plants that grow locally and were used for food, dye, basketry, medicine. So we need to make a list of such plants and their uses. Any help you might give us would be appreciated. Let me know if you would like to work on such a list.

Of course, I told her I'm interested, so I met with her on Thursday when I visited. She gave me a tour of the Ohlone exhibit in the museum, which i…

Herbology 101

Lower Campus this morning

Earlier this quarter, I was looking through the Recreation guide for interesting classes or workshops to register for and I came across an Herbology class through the Holistic Health Program. I am fascinated by ethnobotany--how different cultures use or have used plants, both medicinally and in general--so this class appealed to me immensely. My family and I have been utilizing holistic medicine (homeopathy, accupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine) since I was a child, so the class appealed to me as something I'm familiar with. I signed up for the three-day class and looked forward to learning about herbology in a more detailed and formal way than I had ever before.

Thursday was the first day of the class, and I took about 15 pages of notes in my small green notebook from 6-9 PM about a bunch of different plants and their uses, the history of herbology, what the difference between food, herbs and pharmaceuticals is, and what questions to ask when identifying …

Rain!

It's been quite rainy here in Santa Cruz this past week, and tonight's rain has been quite talkative...whispering drip-drops and pitter-patters all over the ground for hours. In a world devoid of concrete, the noises rain makes would be quite different. Living in a small dwelling like an Ohlone tule hut would bring you right into the middle of the rain. We live in houses with hard, thick surfaces that create drumming noises and separate us from the world of rain. A tule home would muffle the falling drops' noises, and the damp earth all around would cushion the rain's landing. The smells would be so pungent. Imagine falling asleep in warm deerskin and furs, hearing and smelling the rain as it falls right outside the thin walls of your tule home. Many years ago, before students dwelled on this forested hill, people lived like this, closer to the rain and in some ways, more in tune with that cycle of rain, nourishment and growth. Many people see the rain for its wetness,…

Right Now

I am on a high right now for two reasons, from the coffee I had two hours ago, as well as (and more importantly) from the amazing evening I've been enjoying with my friend Tanya. We have History: The World to 1500 together and she lives two floors above me, so I've gotten to know her through early morning breakfast and time spent in the House. Every time we talk, we get into something REAL, and I gain insight into her perspective. Talking with her this evening, I realized how much I need to be involved in something with Native American cultural studies. It is my driving force; I am called to study the California Native culture, and I know I need to do something with that passion so I can benefit others. I went to a film screening of The Canary Effect last night, a film about the genocidal policies the United States government has had toward the indigenous people of this land. It hit home for me that Native American culture is not only the culture that developed before contact …

Sustainable UCSC, PTAGS & Gilgamesh

Knowing me and my crazy involvement in clubs last year, it's no surprise that I joined the sustainbility club through Stevenson College, PTAGS (Path To A Greener Stevenson). Tonight was our second meeting of the year, and I have realized that I come back from the meetings with lots of great energy to be sustainable and spread my passion for nature to all the world!

I have homework I should be doing, so if this blog seems poorly-written, it's because I'm rushing! I felt a great need to write a post since I am bursting with so many awesome experiences.

I want to share with you some of the things UCSC does to be sustainable--it's truly a way of life for many students at this campus, which is an inspiring change from the peer group I had in high school. Here's a list of some things that I learned from a handout from the Sustainbility Office...and I added some of my own from my observations:

- All new and remodeled buildings on campus meet LEED criteria
- There's a zip…

"Kickin' ice plant bootay!"

On Saturday, UCSC students who'd participated in Wilderness Orientation (and their friends and roommates) took vans down to
Younger Lagoon Reserve in Santa Cruz to volunteer. It was day one of WICKED Work Days, an annual tradition after WO. It was a day full of hard work, dirt, mice, and deliciously fresh sandwiches.

We met at 9 AM in Quarry Plaza on campus and had bagels, which brought me right back to Wilderness Orientation, during which I'd consumed many bagels. The dining halls weren't open yet, so I didn't have any coffee. I was concerned I'd get a headache, since I drink that delicious black goodness every morning. I had a drop of coffee left in my reusable mug, so I drank it and prayed that it would be enough.

Ari hiding his face from the camera in the early morning at Quarry Plaza

The vans drove us down toward the water to Younger Lagoon Reserve, which is used by UCSC for research. As UCSC students, we have open access to the reserve. After a brief introduction…

Life is AWESOME!

Ok, so it's definitely been way too long since my last post. Since August 5, my last time writing on Green Gal, I went backpacking, learned things about myself that will help me find balance during the new school year, made new friends, moved into my new home in the forest of UC Santa Cruz, learned how to become comfortable with co-ed bathrooms, and officially became a college student! No wonder I haven't posted for so long!

I just put my first load of laundry into the washing machine in my house's bathroom. Actually, it's my first load of laundry that I've ever done by myself (ok, so my roommate Monica helped me, but next time, I'll do it solo!). Since I have half an hour before it's finished, I figured I'd pass the time by updating the blogosphere on my life and happenings.

It's fairly well known that UC Santa Cruz is a pretty "green" place. Recycling and reducing and all that good stuff is really prevalent. Living in a forest helps mainta…

Blogger on Break

I have been spending time reconnecting with old friends and getting to know newer friends better this summer. As a result, I have less time to spend blogging. I've decided to take a break from Green Gal until I have more time. School starts in September and many of my friends go to school in mid-t0-late August, so I may return sometime in between.

I will be back, though!
Happy August!

Green Gal

Orientation and Camping/Backpacking Trip!

Yesterday, I attened Orientation at UC Santa Cruz! I met some cool people, learned a lot about classes and the school, and signed up for as many environmental group emails as I could find! I also signed up for classes and got a tour of my college, Stevenson. I originally signed up for Chicano Teatro and History 2A: The World to 1500, but today I decided to drop Chicano Teatro and add Theater 61-B: Tragedy. The Tragedy class is part of the theater minor requirement, so I decided to take it in case I decide to minor in theater arts! :) Unfortunately, the Anthropology 1 class I was hoping to take it supposedly very challenging and not worth taking first quarter freshman year. That's fine with me to not take a super hard class, and after reading on RateMyProfessor.com about the history professor I'll have, I can't wait to begin classes!

Tomorrow, I'm leaving for the mountains to go camping and then on Friday I'm heading into the wilderness for some backpacking with my d…

Murphys

Last Friday while on vacation in the mountains, my family took a day trip to the town of Murphys. We make the drive from Tuolumne to Calaveras county almost every year when we're up there. Though historic like its neighboring towns, Murphys is a little more upscale. It's a big wine-tasting place: in the Sierra Nevada Adventure Co., I saw a shirt that said "Save the Earth. It's the only planet with grapes."


After lunch at Firewood, my family sat in the shade by Murphys creek, which runs through a park behind the main street. My sister and I waded in its waters, and we read our various books at a picnic table. The library is right across the creek from the park, so my dad and I ventured in, since we'd never been in before. They had the same Miwok book that my friend Alexys's grandmother let me borrow. It was printed at Columbia Junior College and can't be found online.



We spent some time in Sustenance Books, on the main road in Murphys. It's a delight…