Creativity in Nature

Posted on Wednesday 25 November 2009

On Monday, November 30, from 7 to 9 PM our featured guest speaker is Jack Laws. Naturalist, educator and artist John (Jack) Muir Laws delights in exploring the natural world and sharing this love with others. He has worked as an environmental educator for over 25 years in California, Wyoming, and Alaska. He is trained as a wildlife biologist and is a research associate of the California Academy of Sciences. His illustrations capture the feeling of the living plant or animal, while also including details critical for identification. He teaches classes on natural history, conservation biology, scientific illustration, and field sketching. His most recent book, The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada, is an illustrated field guide to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals and is beautifully illustrated with 2,710 original watercolor paintings. We welcome him as a special presenter for our course as we explore the wonder of creativity in nature together.

On Saturday, December 5, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM we will be at Foothills Park and our facilitator is Jana Tuschman. From childhood Jana has been involved with a wide variety of artistic pursuits and passions. She was trained as an art therapist and worked briefly in that field before she began facilitating art-making with children in the Palo Alto and Los Lomitas School Districts. Currently Jana is painting with acrylics and mixed media as well as encaustics. Another major interest is dying fabric and hand stitching art quilts. Recently Jana has begun to volunteer at Art for Well Beings, an art studio in Palo Alto serving artists with special needs.

As we approach the Winter Solstice, we will experience the coming of winter outdoors at Foothills Park. After our evening with Jack Laws on Monday, we will be coming to this place with a new sensitivity and the perspective of the artist that is in each of us.

The natural world invites heightened awareness and expanded presence. The way one discovers these expanded states, as well as the nature of the states themselves, are vital to the creative process. We will explore our innate creativity by immersing ourselves in nature.

Sensory awareness practices, simple meditation, drawing and writing exercises and experiments with shifting perspective will stimulate curiosity, wonder and creative expression. The focus will be on qualities that are central to cultivating creativity,
particularly close observation, interest in process, playfulness, passion, and the ability to proceed regardless of expectation and judgment. These qualities are part of any creative process, whether in art or a wide range of other endeavors.

As a starting place for experimenting with creativity and a sense of place, here are some inspiring quotes:

“I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle.”
— Frederick Frank from The Zen of Seeing 1973

Every creative act involves. . . a new innocence of perception, liberated from the cataract of accepted belief.”
— Arthur Koestler from The Sleepwalkers, 1959

“To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large – this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone.”
— Aldous Huxley from The Doors of Perception, 1954

Joanna @ 11:24 am
Filed under: San Francisquito Explorations
Upper Watershed & Scared Dialogue with Nature

Posted on Monday 12 October 2009

Our purpose for focusing on the upper watershed is to foster our understanding of how a watershed comes into being. On Monday, November 9 our speaker will be geologist Paul Heiple. He will be covering the “Structure of the West Union Creek”. Early in his career, Paul attended Colorado School of Mines and then worked in the oil industry. He moved to the Bay Area in 1994 bringing along his inquisitive mind and love for nature. He currently lives in Portola Valley and is the Chair of the Conservation Committee that is workin with the San Francisquito watershed Council on creek restoration and removal of non native invasive plants within the creek of Portola Valley. Paul is well known within the mid-Peninsula environmental community and we are honored to have him as a guest.

On Saturday, November 14 we will have Paul heiple as our guide, for the morning. We will walk along West Union Creek, which is a feeder stream to San Francisquito Creek, while learning the structure and natural history of the upper watershed as well as exploring the variety of wildlife in this riparian corridor.

In the afternoon we will be joined by Vanessa Eyen who will prepare and guide us in “Stepping into a Sacred Dialogue with Nature.” This is a unique way of getting in touch with yourself and nature. Vanessa has her Master’s degree in Outdoor Education and Community Counseling, a Bachelors degree in Psychology, and is certified as a yoga teacher and wilderness first responder. Passionate about fostering a connection to the natural world, she worked as a teacher, program director and trainer for outdoor environmental education companies since 2001. Specializing in nature based counseling, she was the teacher assistant for the undergraduate classes Ecopsychology and Dreams, Myths, and Symbols with Mary Gomes at Sonoma State Univ. Vanessa guides youth quests for several bay area schools and organizations.

Joanna @ 12:01 pm
Filed under: San Francisquito Explorations
Life in an Estuary

Posted on Wednesday 30 September 2009

Our speaker on Monday, October 5 will be Naturalist Annette Coleman. Her presentation will be titled “A Salt Marsh Prevails through the Years in Palo Alto; a short history of the use, abuse and restoration of the Palo Alto Baylands”. Anette grew up in Palo Alto and after graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Environmental Interpretation spent ten years as a ranger at Foothills Park then another ten as Area Superintendent for Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District and now works for the City of Palo Alto managing the Baylands Interpretive Center.

On Saturday, October 10 we will start our day in the Baylands Nature Interpretative Center and explore the laboratory and wildlife displays. Then Annette will take us out to explore the surrounding area. She will introduce us to the different vegetation growing within the mudflats and point out some of the various birds that live in the area and give us a sense of how the ecology has changed.

During lunch we will discuss a “Bioregional Quiz” with David Coale. After lunch we will continue our journey with David, who will lead us to the mouth of the San Francisquito Creek, where we can see it flowing into the Bay. David Coale, another native of the area, developed a love for the area and became knowledgeable of the Baylands with weekly walks in the area over the past eight years. David has taught a variety of classes for Acterra: Green Teams, Choices for Sustainable Living, Exploring Deep Ecology and more.

Joanna @ 8:23 am
Filed under: San Francisquito Explorations
Our Ohlone Ancestors: Wisdom From the Past

Posted on Thursday 20 August 2009

Our Ohlone Ancestors:
Wisdom from the Past

Date: Monday September 14, 2009
Time: 7:00 p.m.

Exploring a Sense of Place is delighted to offer an evening with Mark Hylkema who is a State archaeologist with 29 years experience in California archaeology and native American Culture. His storytelling will provide a flavor for the local prehistory and native lifeways up to the time of European contact. We will also reflect on what it was like, not too many years ago, when grizzly bears and the ancestral Ohlone people dwelled here. For more information click here

Location: Conexions Center, 1023 Corporation Way Palo Alto, CA 94303
Registration: Contact Laurel Smith or call (650) 938.9300 x17
Cost: Preregistration prices are $15, $10 for Conexions members. and $20 for a family. Door price is $20 per person.

strong>To register:

Register ONLINE by clicking on one of the options below.

Note: Online registrations are processed by PayPal via Conexions. PayPal account is not necessary.

REGISTRATION – Conexions non-member, for the Evening ($15)
REGISTRATION – Conexions member for the Evening ($10 each)
REGISTRATION – A family for the Evening ($20 each family)

You may also email or call:

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A project of Conexions: Partnerships for a Sustainable Future

admin @ 11:06 pm
Filed under: Events
Local Seasonal and Organic Food

Posted on Monday 10 August 2009

Our speaker on Monday, September 7 will be Drew Harwell who is a naturalist, educator and organic gardener. He has a BA from Prescott College in Environmental Restoration and was trained in nature awareness and regenerative design at the Regenerative Design Institute. He is the garden manager of the Common Ground Demonstration Garden and chef Jesse Cool’s Seeds of Change garden. He has worked with children, teens and adults in nature and garden settings for over 13 years. His style of mentoring is to help students explore nature through their individual passions and creativity. Whether he is working in the garden or wandering in the hills, Drew’s passion is connecting people to the healing powers of
nature.

On Saturday, September 12 we will get to enjoy many aspects of Hidden Villa, a 1,600 acre farm and wilderness preserve. We will start the morning with Drew Harwell who will guide us on a short walk while we learn about edible native plants and the foods of the Ohlones. Next Jason McKenney will escort us through Hidden Villa’s gardens and we will learn about the farm’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.

To prepare us for lunch we will be lead in a food meditation. Jesse Cool will then tell us the story of running a restaurant/catering business using using local and organic ingredients and paying workers a living wage while we enjoy a delightful lunch prepared by CoolEatz.

After lunch Walt Hayes will give us a tour of the Wolken Education Center and tell us about its many sustainable features.

Joanna @ 11:31 am
Filed under: San Francisquito Explorations
The Solar System and Cosmology

Posted on Tuesday 14 July 2009

Our guest speaker and guide for August is Joe Jordan, he has dedicated his life to astronomical research, science education, and new ways of generating power. His formal education started at Oberlin University with a major in physics, and continued at UC Santa Cruz with his Masters Degree in Oceanography/Computer Science.

Joe has worked for NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View for ocer 20 years. During his tenure at NASA he has served on various projects including: Hubble Space Telescope. SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), Computerized analysis of ozone depletion and global climate change. His recent research includes searching for new types of infrared astronomical objects, extra solar planets, supernova, and airborne earth/ocean/atmospheric imaging analysis.

Joe will speak to us on Monday, August 3 and lead us in star gazing on Saturday, August 8. On Saturday, we will commence the evening with a walk lead by Midpeninsula Regional Open Space Preserve (MROSP) docents, and a nature awareness experience. We will eat dinner while watching the sun set over the Pacific and then begin learning about the night sky.

Joanna @ 9:58 am
Filed under: San Francisquito Explorations
Nature Up Close with Jack Laws

Posted on Wednesday 13 May 2009

jlbird2
Exploring a Sense of Place is excited to present an evening with Jack Laws, a naturalist, educator and artist.

You are guaranteed to leave this evening feeling inspired.

Monday, November 30
6:45 – 7 p.m. Registration & Refreshments
7 – 9 p.m. Program
Conexions Center, 1023 Corporation Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303
$20 advance registration (by Nov. 23),
$25 at the door,
$5 discount for Conexions members.
Space is limited.

Naturalist, educator and artist John (Jack) Muir Laws delights in exploring the natural world and sharing this love with others. He has worked as an environmental educator for over 25 years in California, Wyoming, and Alaska. He is trained as a wildlife biologist and is a research associate of the California Academy of Sciences. His illustrations capture the feeling of the living plant or animal, while also including details critical for identification. He teaches classes on natural history, conservation biology, scientific illustration, and field sketching.

His most recent book, The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada, is an illustrated field guide to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals and is beautifully illustrated with 2,710 original watercolor paintings. This is a compact book designed to help you quickly identify what you find. We will have the book available at this event.

To register:

Register ONLINE by clicking on one of the options below.

Note: Online registrations are processed by PayPal via Conexions. PayPal account is not necessary.

REGISTRATION – Conexions non-member, for the Evening ($20)
REGISTRATION – Conexions member for the Evening ($15 each)

Download
payment-and-order-form (and fax or mail).

You may also email or call:

logo

A project of Conexions: Partnerships for a Sustainable Future

admin @ 11:08 pm
Filed under: Events
Tracks, Tales and Trails with Wendolyn Bird

Posted on Tuesday 10 March 2009

Tracks, Tales and Trails with Wendolyn Bird
by: Laurel Smith, Exploring a Sense of Place coordinator

Saturday November 21, 9:45am-12pm

Are you a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbor, friend, or caregiver who wants to make a positive impact on a child in your life?

Exploring a Sense of Place is delighted to offer an exploration for children hosted by the gifted, local naturalist, Wendolyn Bird (see biography below). During this special discovery of our own environment, all of us, children (5 – 10 years old) and adults, will have the opportunity to explore nature with new eyes and ears, and leave the experience with a broader and deeper meaning for “home”.

We will begin the day by gathering in a circle for lively storytelling before embarking on our adventure in nature. Children will help lead the adults on the exploration. We will end the day by sharing our adventures and enjoying a picnic lunch together.

We will be meeting at 9:45am. Please arrive a few minutes early, and bring a picnic lunch!

The exploration costs $50 for each pair (one child and one adult), and $45 for Conexions members. Space is limited to 20 people, so sign up now!
If you have questions, please contact Laurel Smith (extension 17) or Judy Cronin (extension 12) at 650.938.9300 or email, info@exploringsenseofplace.org.

“We think of our children as sufficiently fulfilled with technology. Yet we are finally learning that these fundamental experiences of the natural world are inherent necessities for us to reason clearly and shape a fulfilling course of human affairs in all their various contexts. Our children especially need these experiences. Yet only if found with their elders can children’s early experiences be complete.” –Thomas Berry

Wendolyn Bird is a teller of tales, music maker and guide for the young and old alike. She brings a unique and outstanding set of training and experience to all her work with young children. Her workshops and trainings for educators, caregivers and parents incorporate story, song and music. She has been running her own fully outdoor pre-school, Tender Tracks Tales and Trails, as well as her popular outdoor summer camps for older children, since 1995. Wendolyn has worked in Child-Adolescent Psychiatric Units, Juvenile Court Schools and the County Jail, and has taught for many years in schools with diverse populations.

Hooked on Nature recently published Wendolyn’s Tales from Earth to Sky, a 24 page illustrated guide and CD that includes 13 stories and accompanying songs to inspire parents and teachers when they are outdoors with their children or students. To learn more about Wendolyn and her work, visit www.childrennatureandyou.org

To register:

Register ONLINE by clicking on one of the options below.

Note: Online registrations are processed by PayPal via Conexions. PayPal account is not necessary.

REGISTRATION – Conexions non-member, for the Day ($50)
REGISTRATION – Conexions member for the Day ($45 each)

Download
payment-and-order-form (and fax or mail).

You may also email or call:

logo

A project of Conexions: Partnerships for a Sustainable Future

admin @ 11:10 pm
Filed under: Events
Our Program

Posted on Tuesday 11 November 2008

Our yearlong course consists of one Saturday Exploration and one Monday Enrichment Evening per month. The evening speakers prepare us for the Saturday explorations where we go out in small groups into our bioregion, with a concentration on our own watershed. While we provide wonderful guides and materials, these explorations are designed for each person to make his/her own connection.

As the year progresses, through every season, in every weather, and through the different ecological zones, we become more familiar with our place. Every month we focus on a different theme, and by using different lenses, we develop skill in using all of our senses. Through facilitated exercises we learn to express our connection with our sense of place. And by experiencing this together, we form community, deepening our roots with those around us.

The yearly program starts in May, however, new participants are welcome to join the course in progress, at a prorated fee. Register now or experience us for one month for a $35 guest fee. This includes our Monday enrichment evening, from 7-9 pm at the Conexions Center, 1023 Corporation Way, Palo Alto and our Saturday exploration at one of our local parks. You can also find more information, including the schedule, here. Or contact Judy Cronin at 650-938-9300 x12.

Joanna @ 2:19 pm
Filed under: San Francisquito Explorations
Local Hero Award

Posted on Tuesday 2 September 2008

We are excited to announce that Exploring a Sense of Place and founder Karen Harwell are the subject of the Palo Alto Media Center’s Local Heroes program. Karen was one of five people to receive the award. An in depth look at Exploring a Sense of Place and Karen’s work was aired on the Palo Alto Cable Channel. To view the video click here.

Joanna @ 1:42 pm
Filed under: Latest News