City Week

Overcoming Border Misinformation

Border Issues Fair
9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 19
Desert Hills Lutheran Church
2150 S. Camino Del Sol, Green Valley

Political opinions aside, most will agree on one thing: Unnecessary deaths aren't good. And hundreds of people die each year as they attempt to illegally cross the border. That makes immigration a very important issue, so it's good to be informed about it--not just through the media, but through people who show that they care about other people.

There can be no doubt that the Santa Cruz Valley Border Issues Coalition--an interfaith Green Valley group formed to help stop border deaths--cares about people. And as their name implies, they care about immigration issues. That's why they're sponsoring "Close Encounter on the Border," a border-issues fair with food, entertainment and presenters speaking their minds about what's at stake in the immigration debate.

The first to speak will be Tohono O'Odham human-rights advocate Mike Wilson, who will give a talk titled "No Exemptions From Accountability." Next, journalist Mike Marizco--a frequent Tucson Weekly contributor--will address the problems of border security, human and drug trafficking, and organized crime. Finally, UA teacher Ana Ochoa O'Leary will present an overview of the threats immigrant women face when they journey north.

Later, all three presenters will join two ministers in a panel discussion.

"There's so much misinformation about immigration issues floating around," says co-organizer Shura Wallin, of the Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans. "But the people we have speaking are well-informed, and regardless of whether one agrees with them, I think one should approach these things with an open mind and heart rather than fear. I'm hopeful people who attend will be further ahead in understanding the issue."

Live music will be provided by the Santa Cruz River Band, and a $10 suggested donation includes all the speakers, entertainment and a Mexican lunch. --A.M.

The Joy of Toy Trains

Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum Winter Show and Sale
9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 19
Quality Inn Event Center
1365 W. Grant Road

With all the high-tech video games, remote-controlled vehicles and Barbie-doll mansions in stores today, kids seldom get the chance to develop a taste for good, old-fashioned toys--like model trains.

They don't know what they're missing.

Luckily, the guys at the Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum, Tucson's nonprofit, volunteer-run model-railroad museum, are here to show anyone, young or old, who missed the toy-train parade. Most of the people behind the museum, admits volunteer public-relations manager Bob Benzinger, are older guys "who grew up in the '50s and had toy trains under the Christmas tree when they were little kids." Now, they spread the joy of collecting, setting up and operating miniature trains by running the museum, conducting workshops to teach kids about model trains, and hosting events like this weekend's toy-train show and swap meet.

This year, the toy-train show will feature more than 100 tables of model trains and model-railroad items, with trains ranging from those the size of your little finger to "great big ones." Several train layouts will be operating live, and some great door prizes--sure to be train-related--will be given out, too.

"It's a great opportunity to see trains running and see what's for sale and talk to people about trains," says Benzinger. "And remember our motto: 'Kids love toy trains.' Or our other motto: 'Toy trains are fun.' ... But we basically do it because it's fun."

Admission to the event will be $5 for adults, but children younger than 13 are free with an adult. --A.M.

The Grand Canyon Captured

Bruce Aiken Book-Signing and Discussion
4:30 to 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 24
UA Bookstore
1209 E. University Blvd.

Bruce Aiken moved to the Grand Canyon in 1973, setting up his home not just near the canyon, or even at its edge--but deep inside it. He and his wife raised their children at the idyllic setting of Roaring Springs, 4,000 feet below the canyon's North Rim. For more than 30 years, he studied the area's biology, observed its geology and personally explored the canyon's every nook and cranny.

In other words, Aiken didn't just live in the Grand Canyon--he lived it.

He also painted it. In fact, the reason he moved to Arizona from New York was to be inspired by the dramatic landscapes his Southwest-born mother often described to him during his childhood. When Aiken first saw the Grand Canyon, he was understandably intimidated, but he soon got to know it better than almost anyone else. His art reflects that.

Two years ago, Aiken and his family left Roaring Springs to live a more conventional existence--but the artist couldn't shake his intimacy with the Grand Canyon if he tried. He continues to pursue his painting in a Flagstaff art studio and has exhibited his work all over Arizona and elsewhere. Now, he's developed Bruce Aiken's Grand Canyon: An Intimate Affair, a book chronicling his development as a painter, his move to Arizona and, of course, his life in the Grand Canyon. And next Thursday, he'll bring his version of the canyon to Tucson with a slideshow, discussion and book-signing sponsored by the University of Arizona Press.

"We're proud to promote a book that artfully embraces one of the truly magnificent natural wonders of the world," says UA Press publicity manager Holly Dolan. "Aiken is the foremost recognized Grand Canyon artist and this book eloquently captures, in words and paintings, a part of Arizona and the beauty the state holds."

The event is free. --A.M.

Disproving God?

Victor Stenger Talk on Science and God
1:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 20
Holiday Inn
4550 S. Palo Verde Road
648-7231 or 297-9919

Physicist, astronomer, philosopher and author Victor J. Stenger has strong beliefs about God. That is, he strongly believes that God doesn't exist--at least not in the Judaic-Christian-Islamic sense.

Ever since Darwin rocked the creationist boat with evolution, many have argued that there must have been an omnipotent being who set up the laws of physics to allow for the evolution of life. But Stenger's 2007 book God: The Failed Hypothesis goes further than denying that science supports the existence of God--Stenger actually argues that God is disproven by solid empirical evidence. Not only does the universe show no verification of God's existence, Stenger insists, but it looks definitively as it should look, assuming there is no God.

"The God that most people believe in is an important part of the universe," Stenger says. "He listens to every thought, tells people how to behave, created the universe. You would see evidence of such a god in cosmology and biology. But the more we look at living things, the more we find we can explain them without having to introduce God."

While Stenger is zealous about his ideas, he doesn't expect to make the faithful change their minds--faith, after all, isn't based on scientific conventions. Stenger just wants you to hear his argument. "I think a logical person should listen to both sides of the issue and decide for themselves," he explains. "If you do that, you'll find that you really can't make a good scientific case for God."

This lecture, sponsored by the nonprofit Southern Arizona Community of the Center for Inquiry, promises to hold interest for all. The event is free. --A.M.