When you're sitting in your cozy house this winter, eating holiday treats and spending time with your family, it's worth remembering that there are a lot of people out on the streets, in the cold, who don't have any of that stuff. And not only do those people have it hard while they're alive--often, when they die, nobody even cares.
But the Primavera Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating homelessness and poverty, are doing their best to remedy the situation. Every winter solstice for the past 20 years, they've been holding a memorial service to honor the lives of all the homeless people who've died on the streets of our city.
"The homeless memorial provides us the opportunity to acknowledge the intrinsic worth of every individual," says Sarah Murphy, the Primavera Foundation's marketing director. "It's important to remember that most of these deaths are preventable. If Tucson makes affordable housing, living wages and accessible health care its top priorities, we won't have to hold memorial services for people who died without housing. ... Hopefully, this service will ... open more eyes and hearts to the less fortunate in our community."
The service will include speeches by Primavera's Diana Robledo and Sammy Jones, both of whom have had personal experiences with homelessness. And the event won't be all sad--some great live jazz music will be provided by Eldridge Green, a program participant in Primavera's relief and referral program. A gospel group is also expected to perform.
In Pima County, as many as 4,000 people are estimated to be homeless on any given night--with more than 2,400 unsheltered. It's time we noticed them! And this service--held on the day this paper officially hits the streets--is a perfect chance for reflection on our own more fortunate circumstances. It's free; bring flowers if you'd like. --A.M.
Here's some crappy news about global climate change: We can't stop it. It's already happening. But according to most scientists, the Earth hasn't quite reached "the tipping point," the moment when climate change becomes completely out of control. Obviously, it's time to start mending our ways.
Rising Tide North America, a continental activist network confronting the causes of climate change, is ready. They're about to embark on their 2007 Roadshow, during which they'll tour the country in a bus powered by recycled vegetable oil, mobilizing communities against the fossil-fuel industry. But in order to make this trip, they need some money--so they're hosting a fundraising party that will be educational, motivational and fun.
The most educational part of the event will be a multimedia presentation by Rising Tide activist Ethan Green and meteorologist, stormchaser and videographer Storm Waters, who's been working for the environment and social justice for the last 15 years. The presentation will include scenes from a documentary about the toxic pollution, loss of land and extreme poverty caused by oil and coal exploitation in Venezuela. Also on the program will be actual storm footage shot by Waters and a slide-show presented by Green on the ecological disaster resulting from mountaintop-removal mining in Southern Appalachia.
Other invited speakers include Native American elders from several tribes, who will give an indigenous perspective of climate change in the Southwest. Five local bands will also play a mix of rap, funk, progressive, experimental and alternative music.
The event, including a home-cooked vegetarian meal, will cost $5. "Climate change is real," says Waters. --A.M.
When you first saw the movie Die Hard, what was the first thing you thought about? Meditation? Selflessness? Enlightenment? I doubt it.
But those things, apparently, are what came to the mind of Zachary Wolf, a local meditation teacher at Three Jewels Buddhist community center. At least that's the way he made it sound to the center's director, Allison Dey. "The Die Hard way of seeing things has to do with the sense of personal responsibility the Bruce Willis character ... takes for the safety and happiness of others," Dey says. "... In Buddhism, this would be called the 'bodhisattva motivation,' which is driven by the wish to achieve a state of enlightenment in order to really be able to help others."
In fact, this motivation is often the primary goal of Buddhist meditation. But Americans don't always understand things from an Eastern perspective, and we certainly seem to value Bruce Willis' machismo. So Die Hard makes a very a good parable.
"Anyone interested in Buddhism who doesn't understand what's been taught by Asian teachers would benefit from coming to this type of exploration," Dey asserts. "Karma, emptiness and other Buddhist (concepts have) little meaning for the Westerner, yet we have a wealth of culturally current and meaningful examples of these concepts at hand."
Translating Eastern ideas into simple, practical ways for us to improve our well-being is what Three Jewels is all about. They have lots of other wellness groups for both children and adults, including the Tibetan-style "Yoga for Slackers" class and an astrology group called "What the !%#@ Is This Star Crap All About?" All of these classes are free. But they're funded entirely by the money attendees drop in their rent jar, so donations are more than welcome. --A.M.
Sometimes, all the holiday cheer can be a little too much. Not to be a Scrooge, but it often makes me a little nauseated. Am I the only one who feels this way?
Apparently not! There are a lot of us not-so-joyful folks around Tucson, and the Loft Cinema feels our pain. So this year, they've created a new, different and blatantly wrong Christmas tradition called "Santa Gone Wild." First, they'll screen Terry Zwigoff's Bad Santa, a modern-day holiday tale starring Billy Bob Thornton as a depraved mall Santa who drinks, swears, makes lewd comments and likes to beat up elves. Then you can watch the 1974 horror film Silent Night, Bloody Night, in which cult actress Mary Woronov plays an escaped lunatic terrorizing the inhabitants of a New England town during Christmas. Between films, there will be live music by Tucson's disturbing blues-rock band the Mission Creeps. And if you arrive early, before the first movie, you can have your picture taken on the lap of the Loft's very own "Bad Santa." (It's not guaranteed you'll get anything on your Christmas list, but if you buy Santa a beer, he might be nice to you.)
"We don't necessarily dislike the holidays," says Loft program director Jeff Yanc. "We just wanted to do something different. Because all this stuff is a little darker and maybe in bad taste, it'll make people think and question what the holidays are all about. ... We've already had a lot of Grinchy people thank us for doing this."
The event kicks off with Bad Santa at 10, and Silent Night, Bloody Night will be shown at midnight. Admission is $5 for each film or $8 for both. And if you can't get enough Christmas-themed horror, Christmas Evil will be screened this week, too. Check www.loftcinema.com for details and additional screening times of these films. --A.M.