Friday, February 28, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Bushman & Street Performers

Today's post is inspired by the recent passing of Greg Jacobs, who worked as the Bushman at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco for over 20 years.

photo by Aida Daay
He would carefully select and weave together tree branches then sit behind the leaves, hidden only to the most distracted people. As tourists passed, he would shout and move the bushes to startle them. Greg had no end of creative banter to encourage people to donate for the entertainment he provided, "I made you holler, give me a dollar".  Those trying to snap a free photo would hear, "If I took a picture of your bush, I'd pay you."

I got to know him working down at the Wharf, rolling by his spot with my group of tourists on segways. He would shout to them, "Tip my wife we've got 13 kids." Later I told them, "I don't know why he says that we only have 6." He made the best Wharf husband.

While the people he scared had a love or hate relationship with him. He was beloved by me and the other people that work at the Wharf. You can see why by watching this 10 minute documentary I made two years ago.

I will miss him and want to use this Feel Good Friday to celebrate not only Greg, but all the other street performers that put their talent and energy out there every day with no guarantees of recognition or reward.

If you live in the Bay Area, you've seen them at the Wharf, outside the theater, or in the BART stations. You can also find them in front of every major tourist attraction and landmark, worldwide. They sing songs, do magic tricks, paint themselves silver, drum on plastic buckets, play steel drums, twist balloons into flowers and get this song stuck in your head.

So the next time you see someone busking for their rent money, take a moment to watch, listen or participate. If you can toss a few bucks in their hat, even better. You never know when it will end.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Washed Ashore

It's time to return to a favorite subject this Feel Good Friday. People turning plastic from the ocean into art to educate others about plastic pollution.

Our first ever FGF post was about Tess Felix, an artist in Stinson Beach collecting plastic that washed up on shore and turning it into art. In the second Inspiration Safari episode we talked to Roz Savage, a woman who rowed the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans solo to bring attention to plastic pollution.

Today we're going to talk about Washed Ashore, a project that lets volunteers create large sculptures from plastic trash from the Oregon coast.

Their mission, as stated on their website, is "to educate and create awareness about marine debris and plastic pollution through art."

Founded and run by artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi, Washed Ashore is doing just that. In their first year, over 1000 volunteers to cleaned up 7000 pounds of trash and turned it into 18 large scale sculptures! In 2011 the exhibit came to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.

If, like me, you missed the exhibit when it came to California, there's hope. You can watch a 4 minute video explaining the project or a 10 minute excerpt from a longer documentary. More photos can be found on the Washed Ashore website and you can like their Facebook page to stay up on the latest and greatest news.

As fantastic as all this art looks and as wonderful it is at getting the message about plastic pollution out, I look forward to the day when the artists run out of materials.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Poemgrams

Happy Feel Good Valentine's Friday!

As you know by now, I like to use the Feel Good Friday posts to talk about the little guy. To share a story you may not have heard of before. Well today, I'm mixing it up and giving a shout out to PayPal. Here's why.

For the last eight days, I have been one of 12 poets taking part in a the Poemgrams project. People would send in email requests or chat with us live and we created personalized poems on demand, for free just in time for Valentine's Day.

The response was fantastic and it certainly kept me on my toes. I wrote 221 poems in 6 days - more poems than I have written in my entire life up to this point. Although mine were all of the rhyming Dr. Seuss variety, I still had two men tell me my poem brought a tear to their eye and one deployed solider say it was like I read his mind. Poetry is powerful, y'all.

Today, an improviser will be in San Francisco reading poems live for a select few. This will be filmed and, I'm sure, available online soon enough.

While I can't share the poems I wrote for any of the people, I will share a poem a man asked me to write about Diet Coke, his eternal happiness.

Diet Coke, I love you,
what more can I say?

I need to have you in me,
each and every day.

I'm going to tell you something,
even though it's sappy.

Diet Coke, you make me,
eternally happy.

If you'd like to read more about this project, follow the link to this Wired magazine article.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Surfing for Change

Ready to hang 10 this Feel Good Friday? Me too.

Meet, Kyle Theirmann, a 21 year old pro surfer who has created an organization called Surfing for Change. As he says on his Facebook page, "Surfing for Change is on a mission to shatter the myth that activists don't have any fun."

After learning that a coal powered plant on a beach in Chile was being funded by Bank of America, Kyle made a short video encouraging people to move their money from BofA into local banks so that money lent out would stay in local communities. He shared the video in his surfing community and they helped spread the word. 
350 million dollars worth of moved money later, Kyle makes a point to create a short film about a social or environmental issue on each of his surfing trips. He focuses on the power we have to create a better world through everyday actions that we take.

To learn more about Kyle and Surfing for Change, you can watch his 6 minute Tedx video to hear how he got started. His full catalog of videos can be found on his website and you can read an article Kyle wrote about the problem of trash in Bali for the Huffington Post (and watch a 13 minute doc) at this link.

As always, you can stay in the loop by liking his Facebook pageCowabunga, dude!