Time to celebrate Spring with Holi

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This pic is most likely after I had a second bucket of water poured all over me – obviously California is no longer in drought and we had a very wet Holi celebration at my friends house this year. The Holi colour was incredible so much neon and so much fun! We started with an amazing spread of food with a potluck of many delicacies. I found a delicious vegan rice paper roll recipe with a chickpea spread on the inside of the rolls with cabbage, carrots, tomato, avocado and mint yummo!

Here is where it all started where we are nice and dry and we are just getting started with the colour and the next second everyone was covering each other in Holi colour!

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The kids were in two minds about the festivities but in the end it looks like they had a grand old time with the water guns and all the colour. It was so good the sun was out though we did need a bit more heat after getting covered in water.

There were so many funny moments with the hose, water guns and buckets of water. According to my friend ‘Resistance is Futile’ when playing Holi and it was not very funny when I got drenched. The kids first got me by wetting my pants and then it was all over once I had a bucket or two poured down my back, brrrr. After the first bucket of water, it felt like I had jumped in a pool and then it was all over!

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It was so much fun and I cannot wait to do it again though I will have to wait until next year! This is a picture of the aftermath back at home with lots of colour all over me – such a great combination of colours and a splendid way to spend a Saturday afternoon with friends.

We are a community

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Last week was the final week of our Arts Focus classes at our school, it is always a fun ride for the 12 weeks of the year with the art show after the first session of 6 weeks. Following on is the second six-week session, and the art show will be on view at City Hall beginning next week. I have my class of 26 kids artwork on show, and this time I managed to get a broad range of pieces from hats, fabric collages, pipe cleaner dolls, embroidery, Felt LED cuffs and Felt Animals. The quilts are just beautiful with is super cool cat fabric and a dragon quilt as well – thanks to the parent volunteers of the sewing team who choose and sew up the quilts for this session. The quilt will be offered for bids at the Silent Auction to the parents of the kiddos who were in the sewing class.

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I always enjoy what the kids create, and this time we had some extra time, and they could make another project focussing on their stitch work and embellishing. The hat and the bunny were created by kindergarten children who used their stitches in an interesting way. The bear in the centre pic is made by a 2nd grader who took great pride in her work. I love to see anyone enjoying the needle arts and to see kids stretch themselves by experimenting is such a joyful experience!

Speaking of seeing experimental needle arts in action…  Monday I taught a sewing workshop at the Mountain View Public Library on making a small purse from repurposed interior design fabric from FabMo. The fun part is always seeing what fabrics people choose for the purses – this project only needed 3 pieces. I like to see how people matched or mismatched their fabric to get the desired effect. I have worked with these fabrics for a long time, and it took me ages to feel free working with a tonal collection of fabrics or even just mixing the patterns. The class was 12 adults and about a quarter of the class completed the project in the 1.5-hour class – a lot of time was spent deliberating on the fabric choice! Still, once it is on the sewing machine, this project is a breeze.

I will leave this week with my International Women’s day, A day without a woman picture. The Pussyhat project wanted to see some hats up on their website for the day, so I found my rainbow and pink pussyhat. To go with the rainbow theme, I found this delightful picture my daughter made for me years ago with rainbows and black crows. It seemed relevant for the moment showing that no matter how many black crows (or darkness) is on the horizon there is always love and rainbows. I enjoy being part of a community be it at the library or my school, and we work together for the common good of all – now and always. Peace xo

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An RV in the Redwoods

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After a couple of weeks of preparing for a couple of exams and finally completing them, it was time for a bit of rest and relaxation. Timing was perfect as California State Parks Foundation invited us (as Legacy donors) to a morning with the elephant seals on Saturday, so we booked an RV in the redwoods with Air BnB in Bonny Doon which was 30 minutes away from Ano Nuevo State Park where we went on our elephant seal tour.

We managed to find some delicious pie fro Pie Ranch – a place I have wanted to check out for ages and whose philosophy towards food is totally aligned with mine. And of course we had to buy some pie – we scored the lemon and the honey oat which were both super tasty with a cup of tea. We enjoyed the time in the RV catching up on knitting, reading, playing Nintendo, listening to audio books and generally relaxing under the redwoods.

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Saturday morning we had our early morning hike to Ano Nuevo State Park to check out the elephant seals. We had a funny and knowledgeable docent Ben who gave us the full history and life cycle of elephant seals and how their numbers went from near extinction to what they are now close to 2,000 seals just on this stretch of this State Park!

I had my 28-105mm lens to capture these guys – we got so close to them, and I managed to get some incredible shots. Of course, a telephoto would have been the best as I had lens envy every time I saw one sitting atop a tripod. But still, our docent said we did not really need it, as there were so many and they were so close to people. I was so happy to get some beautiful shots of these vulnerable creatures. There are many ways they are vulnerable ad they risk getting eaten by white sharks on their migratory route, the males have to prove their dominance amongst the harem of lady seals, the females develop a baby every year by mating with many males, the weaners are left on the beach to practice swimming and then they too will migrate miles and miles through treacherous shark infested waters to eat deep-sea fish and squid and hopefully come back to the same beach, the saddest seals are the  non-dominant males; they will just starve themselves to a certain point on the beach until they feel it’s time to go and eat and then come back for another mating season – the life of an elephant seal, who knew…

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On top of all the fun of seeing the elephant seals and the area being a wildlife refuge we saw so many birds and among them the great pelicans in their flying formation. The views over the dunes and around the sand were just breathtaking, and we were very lucky to score some sunshine on our walk with the seals.

California State Parks Foundation had set up a luncheon for us back at the barn, and we had the option of going back via the beautiful beach but to stay back 25 feet away from the elephant seals. We found one, and he looked like a rock on the beach. The beach was just so beautiful with its many rock collections and colours. The bonus was getting back to the barn was crossing New Years Creek without getting wet feet! Even though the water did not look very deep – you had to navigate your way around without getting too wet which added to the excitement.

We finished our hike just after lunch, so we had a whole afternoon to chill out, so we wandered over to Pescadero Marsh to see if we could find any birds. The kids were a bit excited and scared them off, so we decided it was a good place just to chill out on the grass and watch the clouds in the sunny afternoon sky.

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The evening after our trip out to Ano Nuevo and Pescadero ended with some rain, so we relaxed in the RV enjoying the sounds of the rain through the redwoods and on the roof. Such a perfect family getaway amongst nature.

A week of films and Lake Chabot

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Last week was Ski Week a week off school just for fun – for everyone in the Bay Area, this is your chance to go skiing with everyone else in the Bay Area, whoo hoo! Unfortunately, it was not so exciting for us last week as I had to study for a literacy and a math exam and both the kiddos were sick, boo! So towards the end of the week, the kids had gifted me their germs, and I was down, and so were my study plans!!

Most of the week it was raining so we started the week off with the Lego Batman movie which was a lot of fun, though not as good as the Lego movie. Tuesday we saw A Dog’s Purpose which was beautiful and made me cry throughout the whole film even though I knew what was going to happen! Any film with animals being harmed or dying is difficult for me, and I knew it was going to be a hard film to watch as the trailer made me cry. And as I was feeling pretty crappy by the end of the week I went to see La La Land instead of going to yoga class Saturday morning. I really enjoyed it as it resonates with you afterwards. I enjoyed the spectacular cinematography, music and dance routines, so much of it to love and the costume design of Emma Stone’s wardrobe was stunning and so yellow – my favourite colour.

 

So with such a lazy week of attempted study and sickness and movies, we really wanted to go outside in the sunshine on Sunday. I had a long-standing date with our friends from Oakland, and we had planned a rainy day activity to the Exploratorium, but we were not too keen to spend $100 plus for a day out. Lucky for us it was a sunny Sunday, and we were busily texting and calling Sunday morning to reschedule our plans to an outside activity. As some of the roads had been closed off due to the storms our first choice, Sunol was not accessible, and in the end, we stuck with some East Bay Parks to find a central location for both of us to drive to. We really enjoyed the hike around Lake Chabot Regional Park as it was an easy drive for us and there are many rolling green hills to wander around chatting and catching up on what has been going on in our lives.

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The kids even gained some energy being outside in the sunshine and enjoying the time with their long time friend from the East Bay, they were powered by jelly beans.

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Lots of Turkey Vultures were to be found flying around the lake and look at those green hills.

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We ended up doing a 3-mile hike – not a big hike for us, but we really enjoyed being outside in the sun and soaking up some Vitamin D.

We wandered through lots of oak woodland as we hopped off the main trail to go up into the hills above the main trail. The guys led us on some random trail for a bit of excitement, but hey it actually did lead us back to the main trail! I loved the shape of the big old oak trees up on the hills with lots of amazing green grass with thanks to the rain. The rain also filled up the lake above some of the banks to see the jetty and the seats nearby underwater. Lots of fishing opportunities to be had here with some quiet little fishing piers to check out along the way.

Thank goodness for blue skies and sunny Sundays, I loved the day out and felt so much better. As you can see the kids still enjoyed a workout after our little hike at the exercise area by the lake. This is a super special place to hang out for the day, and I am so happy that we were out and about with our friends enjoying the sunshine!

Exploring Beauty

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With all the wonderful rain we have been having our Sunday family day was an inside affair with a trip to the San Jose Museum of Art to check out the Beauty exhibition. I have been studying for an exam on literacy and math as part of the degree program I am undertaking for Education – apparently, it is a new initiative by the Australian Government to examine the skills of potential educators. A lot of the work is for me to revise a lot of the concepts and will come in handy for my next units of math and science and thank goodness for Khan Academy helping me understand some of the math concepts that have completely left my mind.

Rather than spending my weekend away revising on the computer, I granted myself a break in exchange for working in the evenings. It was so refreshing going to a gallery and checking out art that I can totally relate to in this exhibit covered the gamut of design including industrial, textile, scientific, graphic, fine art, fashion, technological and architectural.  The exhibit was the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial and brought together innovative designers from around the world and really appealed to my design background. I especially loved the fine arts, technological and fashion design.

A couple of my favourite pieces included some 3D printing inspired by the interior of bones. To the right is an amazing blown glass sculpture with incredible detail which to me looks like intestines.

As I love textiles and fashion I enjoy checking out the innovation in the industry I found these a the show. A jacquard woven wool tapestry with incredible detail by the Finnish designer Kustaa Saski using a combination of rubber, acrylic, lurex, and phosphorescent yarn with mohair and cashmere wool.

The white crochet armour was so detailed I wonder about the math that went into designing the pattern. Next to the crochet was this incredible printing technique by a company out of the Netherlands, Vlisco who specialise in Dutch wax prints popular in West and Central Africa and made using an industrialised version of the Indonesian batik process. The prints are created in conjunction with local African traders who suggest colorways or themes to Vlisco. I really enjoyed seeing this much colour together, and I had always enjoyed African textiles when my friend married her husband from Mali she came back to Australia with this incredible collection of clothes from Africa that I absolutely adored.

The skirt with the pyjama top was breathtaking with that amount of fabric on the skirt, and the design of the top is something I would love to create for a summer top. I loved the details in the skirt with the changes in colour gradations, and I just love the combination of colours! The final pic

The image with the detail was created by a student from Central St Martin’s in London who uses plastic in her work – the skirt was made of ruffles of plastic including the detail on the blouse creating a three-dimensional effect.

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The exhibition continued upstairs where I found a collection the Haas Brothers from Los Angeles. This was the first time I had seen their work, so the impact of the colour attracted me to investigate further. Their collection was entitled the Afreaks series created in conjunction with the Haas Sisters in South Africa – using a specific beading technique. Their work is highly sought after and these guys are true renaissance men with their knowledge of various artistic and traditional techniques.

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To complete the visit to the gallery the San Jose Museum of Art has an exhibition entitled Your Mind, This Moment – art and the practice of attention. This is a peaceful part of the gallery that encourages you to sit down and admire the art and embrace the space of meditation.

Our family day out was enjoyed by the kids and as this was the last day of the Beauty exhibit we were very lucky to have had the opportunity to see it. The kids always rush through exhibitions, but at least there were some interactive pieces for them to enjoy and introduce them to art and technology. Hopefully, we can have more of this art here in this valley as it is something that I feel I have to travel to the city to get my fix of inspiration!

The views from up high!

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Finally, I had a free weekend to relax with friends and the family as I have finished my essay writing at the moment, so it’s time to catch up on my To Do list! The weekend was absolutely stunning with its sunshine and warmth – not enough to take off your cardigan yet, though! I spent time hanging out down at the park knitting with my friend and the kids created a tree sculpture in the sandpit dedicated to the environment entitled ‘Protect the Trees’. They kept on finding pieces of foliage and rocks and twigs around the park to add to their group installation.

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Sunday being our family day we went out for a hike up to Sierra Azul Preserve in Los Gatos. Another hike we haven’t visited in our 10 years of living here. Little did we know what to expect once we started hiking…

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Look for the hangar in the centre of the pic, and we find our house

 

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A perfect place for a picnic or to camp – though you would have to haul it up here!
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A dragon cloud
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Walking in the woods

 

 

We ended up hiking 4.5 miles up the hill as you can see from the pictures we were looking over the whole valley from where we were from Palo Alto to San Jose. The urban sprawl at its finest on this beautiful and bright day. It was a great hike for exercise walking for miles uphill though the kids constantly wanted to stop!

 

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“No!! We can’t walk another step!!”
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“This is boring, my legs are tired,” say the kids!

 

It was too hard for them to walk up and up and up. In the end, we decided to walk to the oak tree on the trail which was 2.25 miles, and from there the kids were a bit annoyed as it really was not that exciting for them to see the oak tree.

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The good thing was that once the hike was done and we saw the tree we went back downhill – it is hard on your legs and knees. I would totally recommend this hike for a family who wants a bit more of a workout on a hike as it is all uphill to the top the views are perfect on a bright day, and it is so good to see the valley from up high!!

Oh, and the bonus was that I watched two really wonderful films – Hello my name is Doris and Girl Asleep. Both quirky and a lot of fun. A favourite character was Doris as she was an older lady with such a crazy fashion sense who is cracking onto her co-worker. This leads to some funny scenes and the best being when she joined him for a gig out to see an electro-pop band, that outfit is the best!

Girl Asleep is an Australian film set in the 1970s so I loved the film from the beginning seeing the clothes and the 1970s cars in Australia. My favourite sequence of the film is when Greta had her 15th birthday party and everyone who came danced their way into the room and then it was all on – a scene of dancers at the party, I gave this film 5 stars just for this scene of 1970s dancing!

Serendipity

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Happenstance – serendipity, all those wonderful unexplainable events that happen in your life that generally are good intentions. This is what happened with this skirt as I happened to take a break from essay writing this week to fix a pair of pants. When I am with my new sewing machine, it starts to take me on a bit a creative ride, and as I am just sitting next to it writing assessments at the moment, it was a great excuse to make something. So I went through my basket of unfinished objects and found the top of a pair of jeans that I was going to make into a bag. I love those bags, but unfortunately, even though they were such a novelty they made a great talking point at craft fairs, though no one was very keen to purchase one – live and learn on that one! Anyhow this skirt came to be via a pair of old jeans and an unfinished skirt I made for Missy when she was a baby?!? I like how it has turned out, but the problem with this is that it is a little big still it was the joy of making something that made me happy yesterday!

What other joy and happiness came to me this week? Tuesday I was teaching at the local library my usual monthly event started up for this year – we will be doing the last class in June and starting up again after the summer. This month is a Valentine craft, and we made felt heart pins from a bunch of buttons, trim and embroidery floss. The tutorial is here on this site if you would like to make one of your own. What the world needs now is love so it was a perfect craft to do and everyone was very creative with their hearts and most of the class of 14 made 2 each. Next month we will be making a clutch from repurposed 8″ squares of interior design fabric – gotta start writing the tutorial soon!

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I also was very lucky to be looking after my friend’s cat for the weekend this little black guy is such a love bug and really appreciated the pats and the company when his humans were away. Any excuse to be with animals for me at the moment, they are so loving!

And another wonderful random act of happenstance happened on Friday when I rewarded myself a trip downtown to Oren’s Hummus Shop for lunch with a friend who I hardly see anymore because she is studying too! I love the falafel there, and the hummus is so creamy and delicious. Afterwards, we were so full we went for a wander downtown and went to City Hall to check out this inspiring CSMA (Community School of Music and Art) Art Exhibit. The classes are taught by CSMA teachers in local schools including our school. The work from our 5th-grade class was artwork inspired by human rights and boy they were powerful! The art teacher created the watercolour with the V to discuss tenants rights here in our own city. The ‘Measure V’ bill for rent stabilisation, is still under contention (the latest news it is being challenged by landlord advocates!) FYI the rent here is already way above market rate, and still, they want more!! I have lost many friends who have moved out of the area because it is so expensive to live here yes close to $2,000 for a 650 square foot, 1 bedroom apartment per month – insane!

Sorry, I digress… anyway my friend, and I was really inspired by the artwork by the children at City Hall and how powerful art can be in the classroom for reflecting on what is going on in the world. My favourite piece is this white woven wall hanging with the many textures, I am a textile lover, that I might have to get my yarn and roving out and make one in colour! We will see as I have many other things to do in the meantime… including studying for my maths and literacy exam for my teaching degree!!

It’s a sun sunny day!

 

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Enjoying the rays with the family

 

As the rain has been keeping us inside most of the time for the last couple of weeks! Sunday was literally a sunny day so we took full advantage of the morning and went for a wander to explore more of the bay. Over the week a friend of mine told me about a park with amazing views of San Francisco, Oakland and the bay where she volunteers to feed a feral cat colony! I was so excited so we went on a mission to look for it via Seal Point Park and it is right next door to Ryder Park – named after my nephew! It is a dog park with a hill with sweeping views of the Bay all around. Plus the added bonus is that the trail is perfect for riding so one day we will have to catch the Caltrain over there as it is 12 minutes away from the stop – it is a 21-mile bike ride via the Bay trail from Shoreline Park, whew I get sore legs thinking about it!

The pics above are from the top of the hill and looking down onto the sights, like San Francisco on the left behind all the fog. On the right is a pic of some of the sculptures along the trail.

Now, this is what we need more of here where I live super cool looking interactive sculptures. The two discs act like an echo chamber and it’s so good to go in there and sing! This lotus looking sculpture looks like it would spin if it is windy!

 

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A giant pokemon in real life in front of the binoculars
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Attack of the wild fennel
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The San Mateo Bridge and a fishing bridge (the old bridge!)

 

We decided to go and find Project Baycat to see if we could see any cats but unfortunately, they had partied Saturday night and there were no cats to be found. I will just have to go with my friend when she volunteers – I can’t wait! Still, it was a lovely morning to spend with the family in the sunshine.

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A beautiful Hindu statue of Vishu, the protector and preserver of the universe, and when someone places his statue at a particular location, it means they’re asking him to watch over the place and its inhabitants, and to ensure harmony – sweet!

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And did I say planes – all of the planes that come into SFO fly directly overhead so if you are into watching some planes, check out this Seal Point Park right next to Ryder Park – the water park in the summer!

 

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The bearded chicken!

 

And speaking of volunteering – this bearded chicken was left by the farm where our coop is and she has been adopted to our flock! In times like these, giving back at a local level is the best thing. I donated cat food to Project Bay Cat and I am still making pussyhats for my friends who supply the yarn and they donate to a non-profit for the hat. My favourite gig of the week volunteering with the kids and teaching them sewing. It is the best thing to see them create with a needle and thread, and a lot of the time I even learn from them!

 

We are women – now hear us ROAR!

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Saturday marked a huge event for the knitting activists AKA Craftivists in all of us! I made a total of 13 pussyhats (and still counting!) for the Women’s March. Knitting 6 for the group I marched with and another 2 were sent to Washington DC for women in the march and a friend wanted one made so she bought me the yarn and I knitted it for her, I knitted for my neighbor and ladies in my exercise class and I am still knitting one for a good friend in Oakland. If anyone wanted to offer me money for the yarn and knitting them, I said to them please donate to a cause that you believe in such as the ACLU. I love how knitting is subversive and how these hats created an impact for the wearer, it said this is what I believe and what I stand for and was handmade with love!

I have been knitting the hats in a bulky yarn and on Saturday evening I watched the film  ‘Hunt for the Wilder people’.  I had the hat finished by the end of the film. I really loved that film as it was hilarious, the characters were quirky and the acting was superb, something I really needed after a day marching and feeling the energy of the crowd! To top off this wonderful New Zealand film the scenery was just breathtaking, I so want to visit New Zealand one day! Hopefully soon, when we finally get back home to Australia.

 

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A couple of the crew here with pink pussyhats on, waiting for the march to begin!
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More pussyhats and the huge crowd of people bottlenecked heading towards the rally in Cesar Chavez Park

 

The activist in me is alive and furious now after this Women’s March, and I promise to do whatever I can to help the resistance against the tyrant that is now the President of the US. I could not vote in this country as I am not a citizen but the whole world feels for the total lack of morals this man has for anyone but himself. It is really difficult to comprehend the craziness that is happening at the moment but we all know that we have to face the fact that this madman is in a place of power and will do whatever he and his band of cronies can do to support the capitalist regime of destruction.

I read an article in Bustle about ‘What to Tell People Who Say You have to Accept the …… Presidency Now’ (sorry I don’t want that name on my blog). In the article, this point rang true to me and that is the fact that, “I condemn ……. as a human being”. His opinions and his concept of “great” has nothing to do with the progress of the future and living in a society that accepts all people. A billionaire has no concept of wanting anything but more for himself and everything HE alone stands for – America is not a wasteland – it is a place full of creative, energetic, human beings wanting to do good for the world and in general. Americans (here on da West Coast anyway) are really caring people, who really do want to make a difference! But now I am living in this bubble on the West that is called Silicon Valley, and I am surrounded by so many cultures, this is what has made me stay here for all this time. Our elementary school had so many countries represented on International Day ranging from Japan to Israel to India to the UK and beyond, the food was amazing!

 

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We got this – let’s use our bodies, minds and power as a democracy!

 

Coming from Australia, I am used to living in an area that is a melting pot of cultures and people from many countries.I have come from Australia is a place where your neighbours do not get harassed because they wear traditional clothing. A place where your neighbour who is an Italian grandma, has a pet rooster and likes to have a chat about the kids in her strong Italian accent. WE accept people for who they are and assimilate them to our communities and our into our lives. This is what being human is about, because living in a global world means to accept others no matter where they came from. We need to listen to their stories and you may find that their stories relate to your lives some way, stop listen and do not be afraid. We all need this in our lives, who wants to live under a dictatorship fueled by hate and supremacy? Not ME and the millions of other people who marched around the WORLD.

As to why I marched on Saturday 21st, 2017 – women’s rights, people’s rights, diversity, protection of our mother earth, acceptance, truth, justice, science, education, respect, being human and most of all love. Let us continue to fight for our rights for freedom and justice, to live in peace with each other and for each other.

This is what democracy looks like!

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