Wilma Mankiller is in the National Women's Hall of Fame for some very good reasons--her courage being the first that comes to mind.
Mankiller--whose family name, the University of Missouri's Web site states, "is probably an old military title that was given to the person in charge of protecting the village"--was born in 1945 in Tahlequah, Okla. Years later, Mankiller would say, "Prior to my election, young Cherokee girls would never have thought that they might grow up and become chief." The election Mankiller was referencing was to principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, a position that no woman had ever held prior to Mankiller and one that left her responsible for more than 140,000 people, 1,200 employees and an annual budget of more than $75 million.
Although her candidacy was opposed by some individuals who objected to being led by a woman (Mankiller reportedly received death threats during her campaign), it was far from the first time she faced a challenge. Her family was forced by the U.S. government to relocate to California when Mankiller was young; she nearly lost her leg in a car accident in 1979 and was handed a neuromuscular disease to deal with a year later. None of this stopped her from becoming a powerful visionary who tackled tribal health care, education, women's issues, government, employment and more.
Mankiller--who has said, "I believe in the old Cherokee injunction to 'be of a good mind.' Today, it's called positive thinking"--is also a mother, grandmother and both the subject and author of several books, from which she will read during the Monday event.
The inaugural meeting of the Sonoran Desert Kids Club promises three hours of action-packed, outdoor fun; at the end of the program, kids age 5 to 12 emerge as bona fide Junior Rangers. (In the interest of full disclosure, I confess that I, myself, became an official Junior Ranger at the age of 26, thanks to a good-natured park ranger in New Mexico. The hat was too small, but it was a formative experience.)
"It's the first gathering we've done with the Sonoran Desert Kids," says Program Coordinator and Environmental Education Specialist Barbara Kuelbs. "We'll get an activity book, talk to a ranger to learn what it's like to do that job, learn about the life cycle of a saguaro cactus, draw our favorite cactus, do some wildlife activities, hike up to see some petroglyphs--maybe we'll even make our own petroglyphs in clay. Kids should bring their own sack lunches, and after lunch, they'll get a certificate and a patch for completing the program." ("Patch?" I said to Kuelbs. "I didn't get a patch.")
Kuelbs plans to take the SDKC to a different location each month.
"I want to move around Tucson," she says, "take kids to Colossal Cave, Agua Caliente, the Tucson Botanical Gardens, the Sonoran Arthropod Institute. ... We're really into partnering with to other organizations, like how we were invited to the Sonoran National Monument to do the Junior Ranger program this time."
The program is free; call for more information.
Curtiss Clayton is very cool, but unless you're serious about film, you probably don't know who he is. If you have decent taste in movies, however--or, at least, taste similar to mine--chances are good he's made several of your Top 10 picks for "best film" even better.
Clayton slogged through a handful of lean years in Los Angeles before getting the job that would assure he'd never want for work again: editor of Drugstore Cowboy. (His previous work on Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers hadn't garnered him the recognition it should have.) "After that," Clayton says, "the phone started to ring."
He went on to work on films such as Buffalo '66 and My Own Private Idaho (as well as Unlawful Entry, Brokedown Palace, To Die For and others). His first full-length directorial debut, Rick--starring Bill Pullman and Agnes Bruckner (who Clayton says "should be getting all the parts they're currently calling Scarlett Johansson for")--was written by Daniel Handler, also known as best-selling children's book author Lemony Snicket.
Pullman--in a film that carries the tagline "Envy, lust, murder ... business as usual"--plays Rick, an executive at a struggling company whose teenage daughter, played by Bruckner, is being seduced by Rick's boss. (If opera fans are hearing strains of Verdi's Rigoletto, it's not mere coincidence.) Dylan Baker plays Buck, a hit man whose specialty is executives.
Rick will screen at the Loft Cinema as part of their Sundance Channel film series, with Clayton himself in attendance.
Described as "a carnival for unrepresented, misrepresented, underrepresented, misconstrued patriots," the Sunday event will feature live music, games, booths, performance art, giveaway art, puppets, poetry and refreshments.
"A lot of people don't feel like the administration is representing them anymore," says organizer Heidi MacDonald. "There was a bunch of us--a bunch of artists, some writers, some performance artists--who wanted to do something, so we got together and said, 'Hey, why not a carnival?'"
Unlike some of the other election-related activities around town--voter registration drives, etc. --this event, organized by the Day-After Group, is far from nonpartisan.
"Our main thrust is to get people energized for getting Bush re-defeated," says MacDonald. "It's also about promoting peace, but there's a political bent to everything."
For example, you could, if you so desired, throw a pie at a picture of George W. Bush, and MacDonald will be running a game she calls "Baghdad Bingo."
"I'm going to be in complete control of everything; I'm going to decide where you sit, what kind of scores you get. ... I might have to detain some people; put them at another table, that sort of thing. But everyone will get a prize," she hastens to add.
With several stages, MacDonald says the carnival will have "a lot of things happening simultaneously. On the main stage, you'll have some musicians performing, and on the side stage, you'll have poetry or performance art. We're hoping to get a big mix of people and have a good old time; we just choose to err on the side of absurdity."