by Sven Eberlein

On a recent reunion trip to Schroon Lake in Northern New York, my friends and I took a day hike along the northern end of the lake toward Pharaoh Lake. I don’t know if it was just that time of year or if the moist post-hurricane Irene setting had anything to do with it, but within just a few hundred yards from the road we found ourselves in a sea of mushrooms, the likes of which I had never seen before.

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Amanita mushroom near Schroon Lake in Northern New York.

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“Who was the idiot who approved an art show by that woman, Franke James?”

Memorable words from one of Canada’s top officials on hearing that the Canadian Embassy in Croatia had offered support for Franke’s art show.

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From Dear Prime Minister, by Franke James

Well, you’d think the government of a major western democracy would have better things to do than to sabotage and try to silence their most creative people, but, oh well, think again. Mind you, we’re not talking about any dark or satanic scribbles, but some of the most witty and self-reflective series of visual environmental commentary I’ve ever seen. And yes, Franke is one of the most delightful human beings ever, not just because I’ve had inspiring email exchanges with her, but because she does truly uplifting things like having dinner with a stranger. Check out any of her amazing visual essays, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

So what’s going on? Well, the Canadian Government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, has been actively working to shut down Franke’s solo European art exhibition, which was set to tour 20 cities in Europe. I say “was” because the latest update is that Franke’s show got canceled after the government persuaded her corporate sponsor to cancel their $75,000 sponsorship, and the Croatian NGO who was organizing Franke’s “What can one person do?” art show to raise environmental awareness with youth and inspire teens to make their own climate change art was pulled into the crossfires of Canadian politics when they discovered that Franke was on the Canadian Government’s blacklist.

Blacklist??? WTF? What is this, 1953?

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Happy Solstice, everyone!

The longest, most sunlight-filled day in the Northern Hemisphere feels like a good occasion to talk about visions. Visions by nature are somewhere in the distance, perhaps reachable, perhaps not. Where we stand right now is the result of past visions, some of them good, some of them bad, much of it in the eye of the beholder. Without vision, however, we stand still. This might be preferable to moving in the direction of blurred or destructive visions, but as change is the only constant in life, the best way to nurture and guide that change is to add our own vision to the grand pool of dreams and ideas.

As I’m looking toward the horizon, I see many things, some of them clearly, others a bit out of focus. I see views that may materialize by taking a couple of firm steps toward them, and others that may take quite a leap of faith. Today, on this solstice, I’m feeling inspired to take a big leap, a step so giant that it has room for a thousand “buts” and “dream ons,” a vision that sounds either too good to be true or too far out to be taken seriously. But what’s reality other than a current condition we all tacitly agree upon, for no other reason than the perception that everyone else acts as if that condition is “normal?”

So here it is, my solstice vision, with visuals and sounds to help look and carry us past the horizon:

What If Music Ruled the World?

Sunday Streets, The Mission, May 8, 2011
Drum and dance circle on Valencia St, photo Debra Baida

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by Sven Eberlein

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A couple of days ago the 6th annual Bicycle Music Festival, the largest 100% bicycle-powered music festival in the world, took place in San Francisco. Starting at Old Cabin Meadow in Golden Gate Park, the event then went mobile with a Live on Bike performance ride from Golden Gate Park to Potrero Hill, with the night time portion of the event happening at the Showplace Triangle at 16th & Wisconsin.

I was there for the Old Cabin Meadow part of the festival and soaked in the vibe of this truly amazing event.

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The mission of the Bicycle Music Festival is to promote sustainable culture in general and bicycle culture in particular, by physically engaging and immersing our community in the magic of bike culture, and cultivating and nurturing a network of local sustainable musicians, through our staging of free, community participatory, bicycle-based music events.

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Pretty awesome vid of local musicians and actual daily life in Jerusalem. If you like images of war, this is not for you. (hat tip to Brett)

The creator of this video says he wandered around Jerusalem, met with musicians, and filmed them. That to me sounds like the perfect recipe to start any kind of peace process…

Kutiman -Thru Jerusalem
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Jun 152011

The Fun Theory is a really cool project predicated on the idea that people are more likely to change their behavior if the reward is inspiring and uplifting. Sure, you can threaten and scare people into changing their ways but it’ll be a constant struggle and people will in fact get very creative in resisting and defying you, not even necessarily because they disagree with your message or goal but because nobody likes to be told what to do and how to behave.

Check out the site, but here’s an old favorite of people choosing to walk up the stairs because they get to play “foot piano” which is truly an example of sowing seeds for creative change.

Piano stairs - TheFunTheory.com - Rolighetsteorin.se
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by Sven Eberlein

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For the past three months, my daily walk down the street has been seasoned by a small but quite lovely addition to the neighborhood. Whenever I’d cross the street at Valencia and 21st, a friendly, almost fairy-like voice would ring from around the corner, beckoning me with a cherubic “Hello Sir, would you like to try some soup?”

While fate conspired for me to have just eaten or be on the way to a dinner every time I passed by, there still was such a magnetic pull in that voice, something that made me want to stop and be in the presence of whatever it was that was breaking my routine. In an almost cartoonish rendering of myself, my legs, stoically programmed to take me to my predetermined destination as quickly as possible, kept plowing ahead while my upper body housing the sensory headquarters kept hovering on the corner, lured by the sweet and mysterious offer, expanding my conflicted character like a gigantic imaginary elastic band.

Each time the old faithful legs prevailed, and after a momentary space and time-defying suspension in mid-air to bathe in the possibility of divine soup from a random stranger, the eternally curious and sensuous noggin snapped out of its state of wonderment, hurriedly catching up with the duty-bound part of myself.

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This is a really cool montage of bikes and people who love biking:

Another cool catch from Sunday Streets. Love their version of Ring of Fire. These guys were parked on a sidewalk on Valencia Street between 20th and 21st. Featuring some nice crowd shots, including a little girl chasing bubbles.

La Familia Peña Govea plays Ring of Fire
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May 102011

Here’s another great musical discovery from this week’s Sunday Streets. The band’s name is Con Brio (meaning with spirit, or with vigor), and they were the perfectly spirited match for a spirited event. People of all ages and backgrounds in the streets, on wheels and on foot, taking in the groovy, funky and sometimes raunchy sounds. I’d apologize for the sometimes gusty crackles if they didn’t actually match the mood. This song is called Ghostrider, and I highly recommend checking out the studio version as well.

Con Brio Live at Sunday Streets in San Francisco's Mission District
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