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The Snoopy Plate Program Benefits California Museums

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A program that has been years in the making combines two of my favorite things: Snoopy and museums.

The Snoopy Plate Program is the brainchild of the California Association of Museums. These special interest license plates raise funds for a grant program to benefit CA museums, to be administered by the California Cultural and Historical Endowment (a state agency). Continue reading

Hai Ho! Hai Ho! It’s Off to Taiko We Go! – In Mt. Shasta: Taiko Classes for Youth

© Lisa Shara; Published at North State Parent

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Taiko is an ancient Japanese style of drumming that, in the last half century, has undergone an evolution into an ensemble performing art. If you’ve been fortunate enough to have seen a taiko performance, you may already be hooked on the excitement, skill and team work exemplified.

Julie Bennett has been a member of Northern California’s Shasta Taiko ensemble for 16 years. The ensemble was formed by Jeanne Mercer and Russel Baba over 25 years ago.  Last February Julie began fulfilling a personal dream: “I have wanted to teach taiko to children for a long time,” she says. “Having seen taiko performers who have grown up in the world of drumming, I realize how it can impact a child’s growth and talent, and motivate them to pursue their artistic passions.”

art-115-taiko3“The young people I see in taiko today are centered, focused, extremely dedicated and disciplined.  I am so impressed with their maturity and abilities,” says Julie. In her classes, students work together as a team through exercise, creativity and rhythmic awareness, as well as solo improvisation. Keller King, age 6, was a student in Julie’s first children’s class series. He says, “Taiko was really fun. We learned patterns, how to count to ten in Japanese, and drum beats.”

Movement is an important aspect of taiko, explains Julie. “Taiko is based on the elements of nature: the taiko stance or “kata” (body position) Continue reading

Localicious: For the Love of Ghee

© Lisa Shara and Hannah Kraemer. Published at North State Parent.

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What’s better than butter? Butter made from organic, pasture-raised cows already has a dense profile of health-giving nutrients, and it’s hard to deny the love for a food that leaves a warm and satisfying taste. Perhaps the question is: how can we make butter better?

The answer is ghee. Take butter, melt and simmer it to naturally purify it, and ghee is what you get!

Originating in India, ghee is a type of clarified butter that has been around for centuries. Although the production may vary from place to place, ghee is valued as a necessary staple in the typical Indian diet. In India and Tibet, ghee has been long revered for its healing properties. Continue reading

Frank Yamma “Nguta Waljilpa”

One of my favorite songs (became part of the soundtrack of my life some years back), written and sung by Frank Yamma. “Nguta Waljilpa” is found on Frank’s album “Countryman” released late 2010/early 2011. Son of the late singer/songwriter Issac Yamma (1940-1990), Frank speaks five languages. He sings primarily in Pitjantjatjara (Central Australia’s Western Dessert) and English. “Unesco considers Pitjantjatjara to be a “vulnerable” language, Austlang considers Pitjantjatjara to be “definitely endangered” (grade 3).”

Recording has some issues (sounds like ceiling fans are making a whooshing noise), but love that this was recorded at all – The Festival Youth Choir performs Ngura Watjilpa at the opening of the 2011 Castlemaine State Festival.

For those with facebook, one other touching acoustic performance:

Shasta Garden Railway Society: An Addictive Hobby

© Lisa Shara; Published in North State Parent, November 2014

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Mike Evans says the beginning of his fascination with model trains began when he was about 4 years old and he “inherited” his older brother’s Lionel train set. Now an active member of the Shasta Garden Railway Society (SGRS), Mike attempts to describe just how addicting model railroading can be, laughingly describing it as “a viral infection.” Trains played a memorable role in his childhood. He recalls his dad’s weekly train commutes, leaving Redding, CA, on Sunday nights to get to his to job in Oakland, and returning home Friday nights. And then there were the special days of January, when, after the majority of the neighborhood kids had received model trains for Christmas, they would come over, bringing their tracks and trains, and “we would run trains throughout the entire house, playing for hours and hours.” Continue reading

Families in Business: Apple Blossom Baby

© Lisa Shara; Published in North State Parent, May 2014

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As with many other small business owners, it was family – their own and others – that motivated Darci and James Crossin to create Apple Blossom Baby, located in Chico. “We wanted a local place that sold everything we had to order online,” explains Darci. “Since we couldn’t find one, in a sleep-deprived moment, Apple Blossom was born!” Continue reading

Just Believe – Artistic Sibling Duo Unites Community In Music And Dance

© Lisa Shara; Published in North State Parent January 2014
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In Chico, the powerhouse brother-sister team of Sarah Blakley and Jeff Schneeweis brings a strong mix of creative talents to their new company, Believe Productions. The duo developed separate careers in the arts, and say they have always been inspired by each other’s work. It’s no stretch to understand why.

Blakley works as a choreographer, director and dance educator. She owns and operates Hype Dance Studio in Chico, recently celebrating its 10th anniversary. Along with a staff of 13, she provides classes for all levels of dancers. Blakley also founded and directs the award-winning Fusion Dance Company, providing dancers additional professional-level training. She choreographs for music videos, commercials, industrials, and for professional sports organizations. Currently she is choreographer for the NBA Sacramento Kings Dancers, and has been both a dancer and choreographer for the NBA Golden State Warriors Dance Team.

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Schneeweis is a singer, songwriter, musician and producer. In addition to vocals, he plays drums, guitar and keyboard. He owns Old Sailor Studios, a recording studio in Chico, and is a member of two bands: Number One Gun, a Christian rock band, and The Make, an indie pop group. Also a diverse solo artist, Schneeweis has released original music throughout his career. His eclectic and heartfelt versions of popular songs have become immensely popular on YouTube. Continue reading

How Does a Small Town & Small School Make Room for Music Education?

© Lisa Shara; Published in North State Parent January 2014

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McCloud is a small rural town on the southern slope of Mount Shasta. It’s also an exemplary model of promoting arts in education – each year the town proves that communities and educators can work together to keep music alive in public schools.

McCloud Elementary School, in collaboration with arts non-profit Young Imaginations, provides music education to its student body of approximately 85 children. Principal Shelley Cain makes sure time is scheduled for weekly music classes. Students in grades 4–8 attend choral classes, and many also attend an after-school SAFE instrumental program designed for their age group. For its younger students, ages 3-8, classes are based on Kodály and Orff methodologies and introduce children to singing, playing instruments, and the mysteries of reading music.

At McCloud’s high school, music education includes a class where students learn piano/keyboard skills and music literacy; additionally the school has a student rock band, led by staff member Jeffrey Westcott. Continue reading

Where Adventure, Dreams, and Inspiration Begin – Raven and the Unicorn Children’s Theater

By Lisa Shara and Daria O’Brien; Published in North State Parent, January 2014

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The Raven and the Unicorn Children’s Theater is a proposed 800-seat theater designed specifically for child-centered performing arts programs and educational opportunities. The theater will be the only Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum-level certified children’s theater in the world, demonstrating environmentally sustainable construction and technologies. Continue reading