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Happy 2019!

Happy New Year. Thank you for reading. As an artist I have those depressive moments where I exclaim from my bed “I didn’t do anything last year. No book came out. I suck!” But the older, wiser me says scroll through your iCalendar. Surely, you did something? Surely, you learned something? Experienced something?

I am reminded of the time my friend Dena and I climbed Mt. Lassen peak but did not make it to the last 900 feet. Instead she stared at me a moment, both of us dizzy from altitude and said, “You know it’s really a patriarchal thing to feel like we need to reach the top of the peak to conqueror it…” We looked at each other and did the properly matriarchal thing to do: declare the journey and experience to be worthy of acknowledgement of our efforts and walked down the mountain side and went to brunch in Chester instead.

As I look around at people’s posts on blogs and social media there’s much bemoaning 2018 as a horrible year. Well, yes, I can see why one would think that given the state of the world and all the darkness that has befallen us given that the dementors and the shitgibbon are running the government (I don’t think Trump is smart enough to be Voldemort in this scenario more like Pettigrew if somehow he got power). 2018 sucks for anyone effected by America’s foreign or domestic policy and certainly for plants and animals and all living things touched by Republican armageddon enthusiasts.

But 2018 had some really high points for me personally. Better relationships with my kids. Getting engaged to a man that just blows me away with his kindness and love and passions. Better relationship with my mom. Even better communication with my ex. All things are possible.

Our fledgling production company put on Vagina Monologues in February, For Colored Girls, in November and in between we did a comedy show, halloween vaudeville show, a reading of my play that will premiere in April 2019 and a Christmas show. That there is a busy schedule for three women (Tina Terrazas, Donna Williamson, and I) who people thought couldn’t take on starting a theatre troupe. How do ya like us now, naysayers? We have a cool spring line up to: a fan tribute to Hamilton, a broken hearted anti valentine show and the world premiere of my play Serious Moonlight in April and then we are CLOSED TILL November when we put on the Laramie Project. Viva Pachuca Productions Viva!

No, my two books are not out yet BUT there were many writing projects I was quite proud of. Including Serious Moonlight which will be produced in April and I was part of Santa Cruz Noir and got to meet Susie Bright and become friends with Susie. I was so happy to work with her as an editor.–and do a reading in Santa Cruz and go back to the sights in my story Monarchs & Maidens. There are not, sadly, as many butterflies as there used to be.

And then of course the man asked me to marry him and that’s its own sort of joy and scariness. Stay tuned for June 2019. This means of course I will be spending more time in the county I said I’d never live in again. Never say never–Orange County here I come–sometimes. I try and not write about loved ones. Although the man has made it into a lot of sappy tanka poems. SIGH.

One of the big highlights of my year was also being an actor/singer and in front of the camera instead of behind the scenes–and with that meeting cool and interesting people. Like the cast and crew of Heidi Moore’s new TROMA film Kill Dolly Kill filmed in Indiana! My first trip to Indiana! I met so many sweet kind and cool nerdy people. It was a wonderful quick trip. And then in October Diego and I were part of a web series here in Indian Valley.

I’ve also learned a good deal about pushing my limits. I ran for office on the principle that the incumbent who was appointed should have to actually campaign–especially since he had no background experience for the position. I lost of course. But it was good to get in the game again after so long and I loved having to make the man have to actually work for it instead of having it completely handed to him.

I can take down drywall now for example and am helping redesign and decorate a house for the first time. I love that out of the incident of the house fire we are building a new house where we will be the first one’s to ever live in it.

Really most of this year for me was about building friendships and trust and not being afraid to be myself as an artist and also as just me. Between Pachuca Productions, falling in love, raising teens, and living with my mother this year I’ve learned so much about relationships and how vital it is to connect to people—especially now when this whole world seems to be about misconnection or rewarding the inept and the greedy.

Yes, 2018 was scary. I live about 90 minutes from the Camp Fire. Climate change is very obvious in the mountains. Yes, national politics are horrendous. But 2018 showed me love, hope, and resistance. And for that I am grateful.

I look forward to 2019. There were a couple of things on my resolution ish list that I hadn’t gotten to–like learning to quilt and make paper and those two FUCKING books and the podcast I was starting to work on. And getting married to a human that matches me like no other human ever has.

May we all find what we are looking for. May we meet and help each other keep light in the world amongst all the darkness.

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FRC & Its Lack of Diversity

FRC welcomes trustees Saxton, McNett and Elliott

Take a look at the photo with this article. Do you know what that is? That’s a 21st century photo taken of a board of trustees from a California community college and its president. California. The most diverse state in the nation.

Notice anything peculiar or odd?

A complete disregard for its ethnically diverse student body?

The socioeconomic diversity of its body? (Retired baby boomer pensions abound in this photo, ya’ll).

The gender inequity? (Especially at a school with way more women than men).

Ladies and gentlemen what we have here is a (what is the plural count noun for this) a tittle of trustees, a board of boys, a jury of geriatrics — the majority of whom have NO background in education relevant to the 21st century.

Plumas County voters love to shoot themselves in the foot–that’s kinda what we do here. This time around two out of three of these ran unopposed—-including a man named Trent Saxton–whose made himself known in the county as a homophobic misogynist racist via his frequent missives to the newspapers Letters to the Editor. His belief system clearly is at odds with the California Community College mandate, yet there he sits.

The third man, Guy McNett, I ran against and lost 3 to 1 (much like all other progressive things in the county–Trump’s guy LaMalfa won over the brilliant Audrey Denny by the same margin so I’m in great loser company).

He’s not Betsy DeVos evil or anything, but he knows about the same about community college as she does. During debates with him he’d lose his place and train of thought; he was unable to answer straight forward questions most people with even a hint of college educational background could answer. But hey, he shows up to all the football games. I should note that he was originally appointed to this board—over another woman with a solid background in educational administration.

This is what happens in rural communities sometimes. You don’t get the best and the brightest: you get the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. And they mean oh so well and they really do like that free lunch once a month. You get the ones who like parade floats and football games making huge decisions about education.

Enrollment on campus is down 28%. There are very little classes to chose from and no one wants to work there any more. On top of that , Mike Eisner is running the college Disney style.

Why do I care? I totally shouldn’t care. I’m glad not to work there. Glad to be supported in the work I do now in the places I work now.

But the college is in our backyard. We taxpayers–I think–should have a right to ask for accountability and diversity that reflects our community and the college’s student body. I have two teens who are going to follow the trend of other kids bound for community college in our area: go someplace else online or even make an hour + trek to other community colleges to feel welcomed, to find needed classes at times that work for lower socioeconomic students both in high school and adults.

See that’s what they’re missing here. It’s fine and dandy to recruit sports players and horse enthusiasts around the country to come to a town in the middle of nowhere and to schedule classes around them and tailored to their interests. But what about students from here? What do they get?

They get that photo above. They get people not in tune with the needs of today’s community college students from an entirely different social class. Not unlike my last post on not getting hurt again by trying to save people who don’t want to be saved. I think I’m going to make a new year’s resolution not to try to save institutions that don’t want to be saved either.

But so many of you emailed me with the link to this photo…thank you for calling it to my attention.

Eventually the California Community College Chancellor’s office might get interested into why former employees sue this institution so frequently. Or they might wonder how in California there is hardly any diversity among the faculty–given that most of the faculty come from somewhere else so it’s not because they are pulling from the county’s homogeneity.

They are not, in their present policies, following their own mission nor are they sustainable.

Good riddance, Feather River College and your continued elitist, white supremacy and your continued march towards mediocrity.

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St. Nicholas Day Thoughts (not about st. nicholas but of parenting and such).

It’s the morning of our first real snow in Plumas County—though by midday it will be melting as it does in our new climate reality. Nothing holds forever. Nothing sticks.

I am sitting in my former living room with my son who will go to work in a few hours and our remaining family cat, Ivy (Mars disappeared in May of this year). My ex-husband still lives here as does my daughter. My decorating eye slightly challenged at the bacheloresque decor and my daughter’s look of all this is temporary I will leave you people soon vibe.

Last year it was the end of the world not to remain together. This year we live the reality of so many Americans. There is strength in numbers.

There’s a calm about this. It isn’t impending anymore. It just is. I have to remember that just like separate checking accounts, my life is separate and only slightly tethered now by children. I’ve just fed the kids some favorite dishes. She’s off to shower. My son turns on the giant netflix screen. I make a makeshift cozy sleeping area out of a love seat and ottoman. We are still influx. I’m not all together sure which Christmas decorations wound up at which house. We had to throw out some boxes last year. A family of mice had taken up residence in them.

We’re watching season 2 of Luke Cage and he’s more than peeved that there is no season 3 as it’s a Netflix cancel. He makes a comment. We have a similar sense of humor that would get either of us on a watch list if taken seriously. We don’t take it seriously.

They remarks these days the way teenagers are apt to do. Question their surroundings, their upbringing, take everything for granted, and complain about how bad their cushy American lives are. They are not silver spooners however–and feel the American class system acutely as it hits them once in awhile.

I try to let it pass by me without comment. For this I’m scolded for being lenient. To me I am surviving. Picking my battles, The mother of teenagers job is to see people through to 18 alive and relatively unharmed. And everyone’s grades are high enough and extra curriculars interesting enough to get them into something somewhere when they graduate. I want them to explore the world but not so much that they wind up in rehab pre-college. I keep a watchful eye on those that would help dim their lights. And that they are relatively good people who can stand up for themselves and others.

It is with–of course–mixed success and many abject failures that one mothers teens correctly–whatever that is. Weird stuff sets me off. When they have unmeaningful conversations in horrific slang –when the social justice I’ve taught them is coming only half way through–when they piss off their grandmother who has not kept up on the psychology of  what one says and doesn’t say to teenagers.

Lots of forgiveness is needed in raising teens–as well as the willingness to call them out. There are however, many gifts that even as belligerent teens they’ve given to me and made me proud and quite possibly as if I’ve done a good job. They are often lazy and non compliant. But they seem to always rise to the occasions when I need them.

Like last night with my migraine. Like sticking up for kids of color when they are bullied at school.  Standing with LGBTQ kids and being out spoken about it. That makes me feel good. They are good with most of their elders too.

St. Nicholas Day. Tonight they will find oranges and something chocolate. We will start Sunday’s tamale prep tonight too. Our lives are changing.if we parents can let go of control we never had to begin with long enough we’ll know that this is okay. This is how its done.

They are almost 14 and almost 16. There is very little we can hide from them now. They know our secret. That we are human and that we aren’t just here to sacrifice ourselves for them. That we need love and strength and support as well.

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Thoughts on Student Needs

I took a weekend off and went to teach a seminar workshop in Santa Cruz where I met some really inspiring UCSC students. I love getting the opportunity to return to teaching now and then—it keeps the teaching chops alive and it also means I keep abreast of student concerns and needs across the state. Since 2015, I’ve had the opportunity to go around the state and speak at community colleges, Cal States, UCs and private colleges on subjects near and dear to my heart.

Student concerns and what boards and admin think are student concerns sometimes overlap but often they do not. It’s a great reminder and eye opener. The UCSC students were clearly enjoying their community (albeit an expensive one) and they were navigating the far away from home and culture aspect of being in college.

I thought of our students here. I thought of how great it would be if the board and admin took the whole student into consideration. I’m going to preface what I say next in the context of what I learned from teaching in Japan. Sports are a part of daily life, sure, but they cannot be the sole reason for existence. A prison program is a noble and in the case of our school—a lucrative adventure. But these cannot take the place of academics and certainly should not be prioritized (in the case of prison) above those students who have not committed crimes. We need balance and right now we are out of balance. 
It took a few days for things to sink in deep, but I was really troubled during our league of women voters forum when my opponent said that FRC had vocational education because it had a fine arts degree.
I liken his statements to someone saying because they offer a biology program students with botany degrees will become medical doctors. Sure there’s a base relationship (Biology 101) but those are two very different paths. Our board needs to understand that the critical fundamentals of arts classes do not mean they are off the hook for providing vocational education. Graphic Design—a popular major in the 1990s is not the future of all art degrees. Talk to an artist if you’re confused, I want to tell my opponent.
FRC has a great art teacher and department head—I know—I lobbied to get him here in the first place. 
Listen to students. They are graduating into this 21st century economy. Provide what will make their economic futures viable. Also remember to educate the whole student. As an artist myself, I highly value my education and the critical and creative thinking it brought me. 
And that’s what’s needed on the board. #featherrivercollege#votegarcia4frcboardtrustee

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Tell YOUR TRUSTEE TO VOTE NO!

Please read below and please get ahold of your FRC Board Members and urge him to vote NO on the Trutna power grab. The vote is going down next Thursday to make sure Trutna has the votes wrapped up before the election. If you’re in Quincy your rep is John Sheehan. East Quincy Bill Elliot. Please urge all three of these yes men to vote NO -if you care about public access to the college board and if you care about education.
I’m putting aside running for office for a minute and want to discuss something important to those who live in the FRC community college district.
President Trutna has proposed that the policy of open public access to the board be changed to require that ALL requests to address the Board must be addressed to him alone, and that he alone will decide whether or not the request will be honored. —This is not how a public college operates.
Last night at the League of Women Voters Forum Candidate McNett demonstrated that he did not understand that there was no need to change the ed code. That the ed code as is allows the public to access the board. He did not understand that if he cares about the community he needs to vote NO on the Trutna power grab.
Next Thursday away from public view, the FRC Board will vote on Trutna’s proposal to limit public access to address concerns to the board. Trutna tried this measure this spring in the academic senate and the teachers and staff did not want his overreach. The meeting will take place far from Quincy in Chester. Please contact ALL YOUR BOARD MEMBERS AND TELL THEM TO VOTE NO ON STRIPPING PUBLC ACCESS TO THE BOARD. But especially let Guy McNett know that you are not cool with limiting democracy and access to the college board.


This is exactly why I’m running for office—to demand accountability, transparency, and fiscal responsibility at the college.

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Running on Inspiration

Happy Friday. This seat on the board of trustees that I’m running for is of course a non partisan one. I’m struck however with a few observations on that.

This season I’ve had the opportunity to see both people running for Congress in our district up close and personal. The differences between them couldn’t be more striking and I definitely felt way more of a kinship with one than the other.

One treated me with dignity and respect when I met them and asked what challenges I saw here in Plumas County. The other got my name wrong–called me Maria–and gave me the sense that I wasn’t worth their time and that they knew best. There’s that Pat . Pat . On the head. AGAIN. Made me feel like an assault victim at a congressional hearing.

I knew most definitely who I’d be voting for after my interactions with both of them.

I have strived from the beginning of the campaign to be like the former and not the latter. While I have opinions based on research and experience as to what I think the best choices for the community college district is– I recognize that you all live here and you also have ideas and needs regarding what you think is best.

I promise to listen and come about a consensus that works for all of us. I don’t like being pat on the head and being told that someone else knows what’s best for me and my family and I’m going to take a leap here and say you don’t like that either.

When you elect me to the board, you elect all of us. You put the community back in community college. You send a message to FRC that this seat will not be bought to do the bidding of the president without question. You send a message that you want the college to take the needs of students into consideration not just the select few. No Pat-Pat on the head. No one saying they know what’s best and that what we want isn’t realistic. You put us all back into the democratic process when you vote Garcia 4 FRC Board Trustee.

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Stop the FRC President Power Grab

  Feather River College has, like most community colleges, a very open approach to the public addressing its concerns to the Board of Trustees. A community college by definition should function to serve the needs of the community in which it resides.

  In accordance with Government Code Section 54954.3; 54957.5; Education Code 72121.5 the public may address the board one of two ways.

  One. At each regularly scheduled meeting, the public can submit a written request that summarizes the item and provides the name of the requestor and any affiliations to the board president and president. Though no actions can be taken by the board on an item submitted by the public in this late manner, discussion can take place and awareness of an issue can take place.

  Two. Members of the public can also place an item on the prepared agenda ahead of time at least five working days ahead of the meeting for both discussion and action.

  But Feather River College president, Dr. Kevin Trutna, is  seeking a rewriting of this very code to where all items submitted by the public must go strictly through him only and not to the board first at all. He alone would deem whether or not such items were worthy of discussion in a public forum. In a public document that our current board of Trustees has read, Trutna seeks to change the language to read that he alone will “judge whether the request is or is not a matter directly related to community college district business.”

  This sounds like a blatant disregard for the needs of the community. So often lately we’ve seen people in power decide that a matter is not worthy of discussion—even when it directly effects students—particularly when it effects students not in the same elite demographic of the president—or a board.

  Where is the democratic process here? Where are the checks and balances in governance in this nefarious request of the president of the college? Why would a public institution or the board that governs it, fall for a clear power grab like this one?

  I strongly urge my opponent in the Board of Trustees election, Guy McNett, to stand up for his constituents and vote no against such a power grab that seeks to destroy public input at our community college.

McNett claims he’s working in the best interests of students and Indian Valley–and the entire county. Let’s see him stand up for all of us and vote against Trutna’s desires to consolidate power and silence our community.

  The purpose of a governing board at a community college is not to rubber stamp what the superintendent or president decrees, but to make sure the best policy possible is moving forward for the good of all students, instructors, staff, and the community needs in a sustainable manner.

Please do your job, McNett, and vote no on the Trutna power grab.

–Margaret Garcia

@votegarcia4frcboardtrustee

“put community back in community college”

.

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Election Poem # 1

Vote 4 Garcia

She really knows her stuff

She taught all your kids

And she’s pretty tough—

She’s the Bernie to Your Hillary

She’s the Beto to your Cruz

If you don’t vote for her,

it’s you who’s gonna lose

Cuz she ain’t no rubber stamp

And she ain’t in no one’s camp

Except the students and the teachers

And the community and staff.

If you want a woman on the board

Whose experience strikes a chord

Who has the knowledge and skill to call the shots

Then Vote Garcia—

To hold them good ol boys accountable– a lot!

 (ouch really bad rhyme).

Vote  Garcia on Nov 6th (or sooner ! Mail in ballot!)

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Remembering the Why

 When you’ve taught at the same community college for 11 years you often wonder after your students graduate, did I make a difference?

I mean it’s one thing to meet the student learning outcomes, but it’s quite another to instill the idea of life long learning and it’s also difficult but so necessary at the community college level to explain to students—especially those moms who’ve been in the workforce awhile and are going to college for the first time in their 30s–that they can do it.

Such was the case of Dawn who I had as a student somewhere around 2011. We surprised each other the other day as I had to come in to the health department for a routine TB test for work and she was the one reading my test. She had her own office even.

Beaming with pride. Both of us.  

We both cried.

She made it to the other side. She was the first one in her family to go to school and she paved the way. Her three kids are now also in college.

There were hugs and tears all the way around. Yesterday as I was driving to the Bay Area I had one of those imposter syndrome moments of self-doubt.  There are people I respect and admire who have signs for my opponent in their front lawns. They are of course not clued in with the college and are casting their votes with the establishment regardless of my experience or credentials or the issues. They are voting out of pressure to conform.

Yesterday I drove to San Francisco International airport and back to pick up my mother as she returned home from a trip to Boston. Long drives give you too much time to think.

I took a deep breath on the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday. I had to ask myself again—why am I running? Last year when I thought about it I tried to find other people to run and everyone I encouraged turned around and told me I was the best person for the job. I should do it.

Dawn said my class in 2011 is what kept her going. My reading assignments and my encouragement. It sounded like she couldn’t let me down by not keeping to her goals. She kept them and more so.

This morning as we were all hugs and tears I realized that Dawn—and all the students like Dawn—are what keep me going.  I’m in this race because I want the best possible educational experience for students like Dawn and her family. I want them  to know that the homegrown Plumas County citizens who were told college wasn’t for them—have a right to it—and that they can achieve no matter what age they are and how much money they don’t have.

The opportunity for college should belong to all of us. The chance to run for office should also belong to all of us.

I chose the right slogan for the campaign. Putting the community back in community college.

Thanks for the reminder this morning, Dawn, that despite not being an elite member of the political good ol boys network of Plumas County? I belong too.

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#DearProfessorFord

I originally wrote this on my FB page but thought it was worth repeating and expanding here. 

Trigger Warning:

Here’s the thing. You don’t forget being attacked. You remember every last physical detail –not the date, not whose house. You remember the smell of his hair and his sweat. You remember it down to what his finger nails felt like on your skin. You remember the weight of the body you couldn’t lift off of yours. But at the same time that you have these memories, you want to live your life and not dwell in the freak zone of the memory that can kill your soul. When you one day have a relationship and someone says a word or holds your hand in a certain way your whole body remembers even if you are trying to forget. And you try not to tell people because you are trying to flee that space not live in it.

I remember the first time I saw my attacker’s profile come up on FB. I froze. I could hear my heart beat louder and louder. I looked at his page a moment. He’s not a ghost in my journal. He’s still alive. Average joe shmoo with joe shmoo job. old. balding. didn’t look like much happened in his life. Good I thought. I’ m glad your life wasn’t much. But if I’d have seen his profile and learned that this predator was about to sit on a court to sit in judgement about what I can and cannot do with my own body? I’d send a letter to Feinstein too.

#landstuhlBRD82 #stopkavanaugh #13yearsold #stillremember#DearProfessorFord