Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanks Blue Mountain!

After ten productive months, we are posting our final blog entry about the Up from the UnderStory project. This university-community project brought rural youth and adults from the towns of Glencoe, Wilseyville, West Point, and Railroad Flat together with UC Davis scholars and students. Together, they created photos, maps, videos and this blog telling the story of the area’s community renewal.

As we wrap up the project, we’d like to recognize all the time and energy so many of you put in to making this project a big success!

Lets start by thanking the youth, who came together weekly to learn how to use media to document community renewal projects and share them with the community:


And kudos to the adult storytellers who shared their history, culture, and hopes with the youth media team. It is these folks’ community renewal efforts that the youth profiled in their photos and digital stories:
Maryann Gravitt
Ernie LaCarra-Babor
Pat McGreevy
Holly Mines
Carol Oz
John Peletti
Cyndee Pryor
Joyce Rummerfield
Fred Velasquez
Steve Wilensky

Thanks also to the Community & Youth Advisory Groups that help shape and guide the project:

Arvada Fisher
Karan Bowsher
Briana Creekmore
Mark Dyken
Mike Kriletich
Catherine Lambie
Linda Toren
David Sackman

Briana Creekmore
Bob Dean
Ernie LeCarra-Babor
Pat McGreevy
Venita Meyers
Holly Mines
Vicki Snead
Rick Torgerson
Steve Wilensky
Alan Willard

Appreciation also to the UC Davis scholars and students who contributed to the project:

Ryan Galt, Assistant Professor: Community Development
Julie Sze, Assistant Professor: American Studies
Julie Wyman, Assistant Professor: Technocultural Studies
Michael Ziser, Assistant Professor: English

Teresa Eggers, Graduate Student: Technocultural Studies
Denise Nicole Green, Graduate Student: Textiles and Clothing
Vendana Nagaraj, Graduate Student: Anthropology
Amy Spinetta, Graduate Student: Dramatic Art
Rebekah Wilson, Graduate Student
Adrian Yen, Graduate Student: Anthropology

Melissa Chordas, Graduate Student: Creative Writing
Jonathan London, Director: Center for Regional Change
jesikah maria ross, Project Director
Whitney Wilcox, Graduate Student: Community Development

Up from the UnderStory had a wide range of impacts on the variety of participants involved. Young people described the project as providing powerful learning and developmental experiences including: increased self-confidence, public speaking abilities, knowledge of their community, and pride in the role as a media maker, leadership capacities, and a sense of self as a full member of the community.

“The best part of the project was meeting everyone on the team. I wouldn’t have had the courage to walk up to Ariel and say lets be friends.” (Danielle).

Young people also commented on the community building experience of the program and the value in making new friendships with youth from other backgrounds and parts of the community. The gained relationships provided them with a sense of pride.

“A project like this gives us older folks a wonderful opportunity to interact with young people we wouldn’t otherwise know. Acting as friends and guides, we can help them see the rich resources we have in Blue Mountain and perhaps encourage them to join us in activities that improve the quality of life for all of us here” (Community member).

Community members commented on their excitement about how the project told important and sometimes forgotten stories about their community. They saw value in how the project brought together generations, presented the community to the broader county, regional, and state audiences; and the collaborative relationships that were developed with members from UC Davis.

“I just wanted to thank the students and participants in this project for bringing the community together in such an outstanding way.” (Dawn Frye)

“At first I had some trepidation about partnering with UC Davis, but I like how you’ve gotten out of the Ivory Tower and into the community. I now think differently about UC Davis” (Steve Wilensky)

Community storytellers highlighted the value of unrecognized relationships in the Blue Mountain region and with the University, and how the community was offered the opportunity to come together to celebrate itself and reveal the deep ties that existed.

“College is a scary word. But this project has really opened my mind about the possibility of going to college.” (Ariel)

Advisors appreciated the skills and capacities imparted by the youth through the project. They were excited about an increased curiosity and awareness about post-secondary education, often seen by these rural and geographically isolated youth as an insurmountable hurdle.

“People had gotten in the habit of feeling bad, because of the negative images from surrounding communities. But the videos and digital stories stirred deep feelings of respect about our community and its residents. This video can help to fight stereotypes and increase visibility within our community” (Community Advisor).

The project successfully renewed community pride through deep feelings of respect among Blue Mountain residents. The stereotypes and misperceptions by surrounding communities had left a negative mark on West Point and its three neighboring communities. The media product proved to be of enormous value in fighting these stereotypes and in increasing the community’s visibility.

“I see nine individuals that with some help created something very unique and beneficial. Where there are nine, there are at least two more behind each one of you that can do this! This project makes me proud of young people” (Community member).

“I am in awe at the job (the students) did. Most of these students are not high achievers and yet they excelled at this program” (Community Member).

“Before this project I didn’t know all these different community organizations and projects existed. Learning about them really expanded my appreciation for everyone in the community and how everyone is trying to make it a better place” (Danielle)

UC Davis faculty members felt it was a positive experience, because of the personal connections and ability of exploration in their given interest areas. Through the project they discovered mutual research interests across disciplines that may spark interdisciplinary collaborations or co-authored publications.

“ARC provided the opportunity to attempt my first foray into leading a community-mapping workshop. I see great opportunities for these types of workshops as the starting points of projects that document local circumstances, resources, and issues for the benefit of community members” (Ryan Galt).

We think Cathrine Lambie, Co-director of the Blue Mountain Coalition for Youth and Families, summed it up: “Up from the Understory was a great opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of our youth and see how people are working together to improve our community. Hearing these stories can help us build momentum to keep making Blue Mountain a better place.”

Up from the UnderStory was the pilot project that launched the UC Davis initiative, The Art of Regional Change. Working with Blue Mountain residents set the bar for the continuing work we will do to create and implement meaningful and useful media arts projects that bring together scholars, students and communities to advance positive social change.

We are currently building a website that will feature the Up from the UnderStory project, including a showcse all of the community videos. Visit in March ‘09 to see your community’s stories, comment on them and share the with others.

Thanks again so very much.

jesikah maria ross, Project Director

Melissa Chordas, Project Assistant

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Moke River Cleanup Yields Six Truckloads Of Trash, TSPN

The blow article is written by Alex Lane and was published on October 29, 2008. I wanted to share it on this blog, because this is an excellent example of Community effort!

[Forwarded by the Foothill Conservancy]

Six truckloads of trash were removed from three locations along the Mokelumne River during the 2008 Mokelumne River Cleanup last weekend. Cosponsored by the Foothill Conservancy, New York Fitness and the East Bay Municipal Services District, the event was coordinated as part of the ongoing efforts to maintain the natural beauty of the Mokelumne river. “It was a gorgeous fall day by the river, and people worked very hard,” said Cleanup Coordinator Karen Friis, a retired teacher and Conservancy member. She added: “We’d like to thank everyone who came and donated all or part of their Saturday to clean up the Mokelumne and help our community.”

The six truckloads of trash removed this year included beer and soda cans, bottles, broken glass, paper, fast-food trash, tires, car parts and batteries, large furniture items, household garbage, disposable diapers, fencing, pallets, CDs, computer accessories, clothing, and countless cigarette butts. “It’s a shame we have to do the cleanup at all. Maybe one day everyone will understand that leaving their picnic trash or dumping garbage along the river hurts fish, wildlife, water quality and other people,” said Foothill Conservancy Vice President Pete Bell. Many of the other event volunteers were folks with close ties to the river. They included kayakers, recreation enthusiasts; members of the Foothill Conservancy, Mokelumne Trailbusters, and Mother Lode Rockcrawlers; and teams from Rites of Passage in Calaveras County. They worked near Middle Bar Road, along Electra Road, and at the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork Mokelumne crossings of State Highway 26. Bell added that there were places they still didn’t get to Saturday, saying: “ “We just ran out of time. We hope we can get back there with a crew before long.”

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Community Garden Event in San Andreas!

At this Open Garden Day Master Gardeners will have information available on why fall is a great time to plant. It’s also a perfect time to start a vegetable garden of winter crops. What are winter crops?

Come and find out.

In addition, advice will be provided on cleaning up garden debris and using it to make compost.

The November 22 Open Garden Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at the Government Center, 891 Mountain Ranch Road, San Andreas.

Gardening information is offered free of charge. In addition, the learning center will be staffed by Master Gardeners who will answer questions and give out handy reference “Quick Tips” cards on controlling snails and slugs.

Tours of the demonstration garden will also be available.

When the garden is not open, home gardening assistance is offered by Master Gardeners through the Help Line: 754-2880. The public may call the number, leave a message regarding the problem, and a Master Gardener will return the call.

For additional details contact the UC Cooperative Extension office at 754-6477.

planter w/ columbine, coralbells

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

ARCist published in Newsweek

Guess what?!

One of the UC Davis faculty fellows: Julie Sze, that worked with us on the Up from the UnderStory project has been interviewed and published in Newsweek!

Julie Sze talks about how pollution affects communities and how communities work to deal with pollution on a local level.

Click on the link to check out her interview:

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

What does your Community like to do for the fall?

Fall is in the air! Enjoy the change in season with some family fun filled activities:
Does anyone know about any Fall/Harvest Activities that are scheduled for the Blue Mountain Area?

Go Apple Picking
Apple picking is a wonderful family day trip option for those looking to enjoy a fun outing. You'll find that most orchards offer much more than just apple-picking so look for an array of family activities such as guided tours and tractor or horse-drawn rides through the orchard. And, don't forget to sample (and purchase) yummy apple products such as cider, jellies, jams, pies and more! Click Here for A List of Upcoming Events at Apple Hill

Jump in the Leaves

If you have a yard full of leaves that need raking, there are plenty of ways to play away a fall day at home: jump in the leaves! Rake them into a huge stack and leap in!

Go for a Fall Hike

Fall is an ideal time for exploring. Discovering some of the hiking trails in and around your community is a great way to spend time together. The air is crisp and cool, the trails are dry and the fall foliage colors are simply breathtaking. Click Here for some trails in Calaveras County
Let the Community know about some of your favorite trails!

Make Your Own Halloween Costume

Before you know it, Halloween will be here! Have you figured out what your Halloween costume will be?

Visit a Farm

Farms are all about making fall memories. Look for some special activities such as losing yourself in a Corn Maze, picking out your favorite pumpkin in the Pumpkin Patch or going on a Hay Ride.

Collect Leaves

Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year. Why not capture that beauty by collecting and preserving colored leaves. Make sure they are dry and flat, then press them between two sheets of newspaper. Place heavy books on top of the leaves and allow them to flatten and dry for 24 hours. Place your leaves in an album. Then, have fun going online or through reference books to identify them!

Decorate a Pumpkin

Go to your nearest farm or pumpkin patch and gather the pumpkins of your choice. Pumpkins are no longer just for spooky Halloween jack-o-lanterns. Find decorating ideas for your home that go way beyond traditional Halloween pumpkin carving - add gourds, squash, and dried corn!

Fall Treats

Make fall treats at home with the kids. Try a traditional favorite or a new experimental recipe. Fall is all about old-fashioned fudge, gingerbread, pumpkin bread or pie, candy apples, and hot apple cider. Click here for Fabulous Fall Treats.

What else do you enjoy doing in the fall? Feel free to post comments and pictures of your fun filled fall activities!

Happy Fall everyone!

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Monday, October 6, 2008

A Reflection by Julie Sze

I became an ARCista because the program offered what is all-to-rare at the university, a chance
to reflect with colleagues on issues and topics of mutual concern, as well as an opportunity to
engage with an ongoing project so our conversations were not so abstract as to be meaningless.
I also joined the group because the ideas behind ARC (Art of Regional Change) were connected to another humanities based exhibition project that I am involved with, supporting a photo exhibit/ online curriculum focused on women environmental justice leaders in the Central Valley. That project, like the Calaveras project, is centered in communities and with populations that are generally culturally and politically disenfranchised. Thus, I was interested in the challenges and opportunities in working in such a community. As an ARCista, I met with the group monthly, blogged for the first time (with mixed results) and absorbed many of the lessons from the Calaveras project. the experience benefited me greatly, it put many of the concerns I'm interested in, both through my individual research, and my work on campus/community collaboration in a broader conversation. I also learned and was so impressed by the youth at the final public event. Their poise, humor, and self-reflection was so mature, that it reinvigorated for me the importance of this kind of work.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Reflecting on ARC-ista-hood, 2008 by Julie Wyman

Creative – Complicated – Connecting - Pro-active – Practical – Political: These were some of my first impressions when I first read about the Art of Regional Change’s pilot project: “Up from the Understory.” The idea of a community media project set within the context of academia appealed to me with its promise of both efficacy (with its relevance to the communities served by this project) and examination.

In both media and activist projects, what often gets lost is the “bigger-picture” perspective. As filmmakers and activists we move with great momentum towards our screening, protest, event, etc, and have little time during or after the process to reflect together on the process, our position as makers/ activists, and the outcome of our endeavors. But academics are experts at stepping back and examining critically even the things we cherish. The possibility of bringing this multi-layered production model into the classroom also appealed to me – and seemed to offer, in effect, a higher-stakes example of the model of filmmaking that I generally try to present to students. The ARC’s “Up from the Understory,” was conceived of as a community media project that includes a big picture perspective, from the framework of the ARC fellows to the various advisory committees from the participating communities. So I gladly took the opportunity to participate, and also to bring my graduate seminar into the project, with hopes that we could both do, study, and, teach, the process of an examined model of community media production.

In my graduate seminar, “Anthropology 210: Projects in Documentary and Ethnographic Film,” a small group of students from several fields (Anthopology, Textiles, Performance Studies, Art Studio, and Technocultural Studies), explored ethical issues of documentary filmmaking. We considered the filmmaker’s presence and its effect on the documented situation, as well as the investments of both documentarians and subjects in the act of representation.

Our invitation into “Up from the Understory,” was specifically an invitation to collaborate with the local community, rather than to simply observe and tell a story that seemed relevant to us. We were assigned to work with a small group of Blue Mountain community leaders to produce a short video that provided historical context to the revitalization video stories that the youth produced. The local committee provided us a script, and we revised and responded to it. The first draft that we received from the community read as a very detached, “voice of god” narrated story, locating the “Understory” somewhere up in the sky and working, we thought, against the goals of the project. My students and I communicated via email and skype with community members to brainstorm, developing ideas imagery and narratives that felt as personal and grounded in the local landscape and history as possible. We recruited community members to recount the stages of the area’s history of boom/ bust cycles and revitalization from their homes and other local spots, and we asked for photographs, graphics, and other imagery that would illustrate and enrich the history.

Our production consisted of a single long day; five students and I traveled out to Calaveras County and broke into two crews who covered a huge amount of filming in several different locations. Our resulting footage provided us with fodder for several weeks of work, editing and shaping the material into a short 7 minute video that accomplished the community’s goals while satisfying our aesthetic desires.

The editing process unfolded, as it often does, as a series of lessons about shooting, directing, collaborating, and storytelling. Working alongside the group of beginning student filmmakers, I saw that the stakes of classroom collaboration and community involvement made the problems of editing all the more urgent for the students to solve.

But the final stage of this spring’s “Understory” project – the meetings between the Calaveras community members, media-making youth, and the UCD faculty and graduate students, was undeniably the most meaningful for all groups. At the local presentation, youth spoke meaningfully to community leaders, describing the unique issues that they face as Calaveras County’s next generation. At UC Davis, a similarly poignant and fruitful conversation was started between UCD faculty, grads, and the Calaveras youth. It was at these moments, intended as celebration/ completion of the project, that I felt that the current Understory had really begun to come Up.

My lessons in working on this project, and my suggestions for the continuation of ARC community projects, have to do, therefore, with value of communication and collaboration across generations and demographic categories. The bigger picture perspective, in other words, that ARC’s model offers is not merely a model of faculty examining and discussing the community media production. Rather, I would suggest and look forward to a timeline that allows for more materialization of the rich possibilities of rural youth collaborating with UCD students, of local community leaders collaborating with UCD faculty, and of discussions about the task of representation occurring among all four of these groups.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Reflections by Ryan Galt

Some reflections on my participation in the Art of Regional Change project

Ryan E. Galt

Department of Human and Community Development

& Agricultural Sustainability Institute

I was drawn to the Art of Regional Change project for a number of reasons. First, I am a large fan of visualizing information, so I found the project title and mission intriguing. Second, I was also interested in engaging with people in the humanities. As a geographer I was used to engaging with humanities-oriented scholars, such as Bill Cronon and Yi-Fu Tuan, in my previous department. My current appointment in community development and the Agricultural Sustainability Institute generally had limited my interactions on campus to social scientists and biophysical scientists. This seemed an important opportunity to build a larger community of research and practice for the present project and into the future. Third, I had heard great things about jesikah maria ross and her work, and this presented an opportunity to engage with her. Fourth, the project also created an opportunity for me to work together with my colleague Jonathan London, who is director for the Center for the Study of Regional Change and a faculty member in my department. As this was my first year at UC Davis, I had not had many chances to get involved with projects of my colleagues.

My research project involved the creation of a map showing the distribution of organic farms by county in California (Figure 1). I used data from the 2002 US Census of Agriculture. This choropleth map is unique in that it portrays organic farms relative to the total number of farms in the county. Most maps tend to show just absolute number of organic farms, giving no indication as to whether this represents a large proportion of total farms or not. Absolute numbers are also included on the map through numerical data. I had hoped to compare the distribution of organic farms between 1997 and 2002 and perhaps even 2007 to see areas of high growth, low growth, etc., but quickly discovered that the 1997 US Census of Agriculture did not collect data on organic farms. And it turned out that the map creation came too soon since USDA announced that the results of the 2007 census will not be available until February 2009. Thus, the maps of change in organic farms over time will be created early next year.

One of my larger goals was to use this statewide map as an inset map for a more detailed map of agriculture in Calaveras County and the surrounding Sierra Nevada foothills, but I have not been able to complete this map yet. That will likely be rolled into a future project since I now have a graduate student working in the area. The map will, however, serve as an entry point for a much larger project tentatively titled “An Atlas of California Agriculture.” This will be a multi-year project stretching into the foreseeable future, and my participation in ARC thankfully got me started.

My participation in the project also involved two standout events. The first was the community mapping workshop that Mike Ziser and I led. jesikah advertised the workshop to a number of community members and also arranged to have a number of laptops available so we could all work together on a project. For the workshop, I presented a brief introduction to cartography, and Mike presented on bioregionalism. We then broke the participants into groups to brainstorm both the “what” (topics, data) and the “why” of what they might want to map for the West Point community. Each group then shared their ideas, and then all workshop participants worked to organize the ideas into potential thematic maps to be constructed. We then took a stab at using the My Maps feature of Google Maps, a tool that makes collaborative cartography possible (some photos of the workshop are available at the Up From the UnderStory blog: It is my understanding that materials from this workshop will be available through the Davis Humanities Institute website or that of the Center for the Study of Regional Change.

The other standout event for me was the visit to UC Davis of the youth from the Up From the UnderStory project, which involved faculty for an informal lunch and as viewers and commentators on their projects. Talking about their projects, their plans for the future, and playing games over lunch was really a joy. Particularly rewarding for me was getting to talk with one of the students who will be attending Modesto Junior College, my alma mater, next year. The youth presentations of their projects in the afternoon were truly outstanding. Although I had only some direct engagement with the youth involved through the project’s great blog and meeting many in West Point, I was very proud to be part of the project.

The benefits of my participation in this first of ARC projects were many. First, it provided me resources to begin work on a larger, multi-year research project. Second, I believe future engagements with ARC and community youth will continue because of the connections I have made with other ARC members. Third, it provided the opportunity to attempt my first foray into leading a community mapping workshop. I see great opportunities for these types of workshops as the starting points of community projects that document local circumstances, resources, and issues for the benefit of community members.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Getting Started with Blogging


I'm Linda Toren a member of the West Point community for the past 30 years. I've been a teacher at the elementary school for the last 23 years and have just retired.

Until now, my work within the community has been primarily through the school. I love being around kids - teaching and learning - so I've started a Writer's Club at the Blue Mountain Coalition for Youth. Elementary kids have met in August and September and will meet again in December. We will work hard after the New Year on writing and art projects. Our goal is to produce a literary journal by June 2009. We alreadt have some finished stories and art to go with them. Look for them on the BMCFY website soon. I would be happy to work with teens and young adults who would like to try their hand at writing. The club is flexible and can set a time that works for them.

I have also worked with Miwok youth for the past twenty years. We will be meeting at the Youth Center starting January 2009 to work on two main projects - 1. art related to native themes and 2. revision of our earlier work with a language dictionary.

I would love to get a Book Club started for teens and young adults. This would be a chance to read and discuss literature and issues of importance. Let me know if there is anyone interested in joining or getting involved.

This is my first time blogging and I'm looking forward to the conversations.

Linda Toren

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Up from the UnderStory Blog Debuts as a Community Blog!

Even though the Up from the UnderStory project wrapped up, there is still the opportunity to acknowledge and participate in community revitalization through the Up from the UnderStory blog. During the Up from the UnderStory project (March-June 2008) each young participant contributed to our project blog to share her/his images and discoveries as well as invite ongoing feedback and discussion of their work. With the wrap-up of the project we would like to keep the blog alive by making it an active Blue Mountain Community Blog. The best way to keep a blog alive is to encourage community participation.

You might be wondering what exactly is a community blog and how can I become involved? A Community blog showcases local news, events, and regional issues that affect the quality of life for those living or working in the Blue Mountain area. It is like an electronic community bulletin board that can be accessed by anyone who has computer access and is interested in the well-being of the community. A community blog can become successful if different community members post entries (text and pictures are welcome) and comment regularly about the life and goings on in the Blue Mountain area. If you are interested about becoming a blogger please email me at and let me know you are interested in posting on the Up from the UnderStory blog.

Shortly after you email me you will receive an invitation email from blogger that will provide you with step-by-step instructions on setting up your blogger profile. Once you have set-up your profile you are all set to post! Introduce yourself, let others know about community events, and local community efforts. Remember anyone with access to a computer can blog. It is simple, easy, and FUN.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Project Reflection from Mike Ziser

I began my involvement in the Up From the UnderStory project hoping to learn something about how my passive study of the practices and principles of literary bioregionalism might be converted into an active program for encouraging a new generation of literary localists. As it turned out, I not only learned a great deal about how my expertise and the University’s resources might be harnessed in such a project, but also found myself forced to reconsider key elements of my original understanding of what bioregionalism means.

I want first to say that participating in the ARC initiative was personally very gratifying; I have rarely felt so certain that my knowledge and the University’s resources were being used in a way that made good on the UC’s (and my) responsibilities to the general public. Besides being a genuinely moving instance of public outreach and engagement, the campus presentation of student documentary and the panel discussion also brought me two significant intellectual findings.

The first was the potential for bioregional projects to play an important role in the intergenerational transfer of community knowledge. I have up to this point usually thought of bioregionalism in terms of its role in defining, differentiating, and interpreting microcultures and environments, with the payoff being the possibility of new conceptions of ecological place and political space. But as became clear both when I saw (in the documentary) the results of the student interviews of their community elders and saw (in person) the way the Calaveras community was using the UnderStory process as a channel for communication between at least three generations, it was brought home to me that a big part of the value of bioregional projects lies in the way they provide opportunities for communication that have largely disappeared from our shared culture.

The second finding related to the proper medium for bioregionalism. As might be expected of an English professor, my main experience of bioregionalism was in the first-person singular written accounts—poetry and prose—often recorded in magazines, newspapers, and (more seldom) books. This is the world of Gary Snyder, Freeman House, Gerald Haslam, David Mas Masumoto, Charlie Soderquist, and Mike Madison, to name but a few locally important figures. I had, I am now embarrassed to say, never given much thought to powerful ways that the first-person literary tradition restricts what can be represented about a community. The UnderStory project opened my eyes to the way that multi-author collaborations using other media—oral interviews, filmmaking, etc.—do not just translate the bioregional literary tradition: they transform it. Because of the widespread availability of these new media tools, bioregionalist projects will begin to become even more complex representations of multi-layered relationships. At the extreme end of this new phenomenon, bioregionalism may begin to be expressed through the anonymous, multi-author manipulation of maps that are in the public domain. Professor Galt’s and my workshop on countermapping demonstrated to us as much as to our Calaveras audience the untapped potential of technologies like GoogleMaps and Wikipedia to aggregate and expand knowledge bioregionally. If and when this potential is tapped by local communities, we will have truly entered a new era of bioregionalism, and because of the Art for Regional Change program I think I and other involved scholars will possess a rare and valuable front-seat at the creation.

As I hope is now evident, the Up From the UnderStory project and the ARC initiative more broadly have some real academic payoffs. Combined with the obvious value of the public outreach they also provide, and in light of the existence in California of hundreds more communities like the Blue Mountain region of Calaveras County, these initiatives should be considered a high priority for encouragement and support in coming years. Many thanks to the co-ordinators for allowing me the privilege of participating in this initial experiment.

M. Ziser

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Sustainability & Creativity

Alan sent in an additional musing on the post he made a couple of weeks back on sustainability. Here he brings in the creative/arts component. Have a look and let us know what YOU think.

Also, in the coming weeks we will be setting up a few community bloggers to drive the content on this blog. Alan, of course, is one of them. Rick Torgerson (West Point News) has also volunteered. Anyone else want to post announcements, news and views on community revitalization in the Blue Mountain area every now and again? If so, let me know (

From Alan...

It seems the more I think about it the more fleshing out I want to do. I only mention in passing the importance of art and creativity and our support for those things. It occurs to me that if sustainability is to have any heart, if it is to be inspiring then the arts and creativity will be integral for any community to attract and keep individuals and families who can keep it alive. It will be active community minded people who will make self reliance work. Creativity is what makes those people work. Creativity is a currency and the larger our account the longer we last.

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