Climate change is here--and there's no turning back. But according to scientists, we can keep global warming to a minimum if developed countries reduce current greenhouse-gas emissions by about 2 percent per year, starting now.
Considering our recent history, that seems like a tall order. Can we do it?
Young people throughout the country think we can, and they're determined to focus the nation on that goal. Hence the name of their campaign, "Focus the Nation," in which students from kindergarten to college--along with the support of civic groups, businesses and faith organizations--are mobilizing America to confront global-warming pollution and make clean-technology investments. Why are young people doing this?
"The youth are, in my opinion, the most important people fighting climate change right now," says UA student activist Jonathan Thomas, "because we're the ones inheriting this planet. No one asked us if we wanted to do this, but I think if the youth unite, we can be the most effective means of protecting this planet for our children."
Tucson's main Focus the Nation activities will take next Thursday, Jan. 31. On the UA Mall, the public can educate themselves at an Outdoor Sustainability Fair, featuring posters reporting on campus initiatives, student art and research projects, and technology and vehicle demonstrations.
At the same time, there will be a Global Warming Teach-In at the Student Union, including lectures by professors from all different disciplines--along with some environmental activists--on topics from "Carbon Offset Solutions" to "Practical Global Warming Solutions for Homeowners."
The events are free and open to the public; visit the Web site to learn about other events and view a schedule. --A.M.
If you can think of a better way to spend $5 than on an evening of great entertainment, all-you-can-eat food, networking, friendship opportunities and--best of all--peace, then stop reading.
But if all that sounds like a good investment, you'd better go to the Tucson Peace Center's spaghetti dinner and fundraiser, one of two important events hosted by the Peace Center each year. While $5 might seem like spare change to some, each attendee's donation will go a long way toward helping the Peace Center achieve its mission: to educate and inform the public about groups and events promoting peace, social justice and a healthy environment.
The Tucson Peace Center first formed back in 1962 in opposition to the Vietnam War. Today, it functions as an umbrella organization, helping about 60 local nonprofits share information, support each other and get the word out about peace through the Tucson Peace Calendar--the Peace Center's publication listing local, peace-related happenings. In addition to hosting the spaghetti dinner and fundraiser, the Peace Center also puts on the Tucson Peace Fair and Music Festival, another big bash coming up in February. While the festival and calendar are free to the public, they both cost money to produce--hence the fundraiser.
This year's dinner will feature live music by local blues diva Mitzi Cowell, who's been playing the guitar since the age of 13--so you can be sure one of her shows is worth more than the $5 cost.
Anyway, who can put a price on peace? "There's too much dang war," says Peace Center president Stuart Thomas. "People should come so the Peace Center can carry on its work. Peace: We do it."
The spaghetti dinner will be vegetarian. And in case you didn't hear us, the whole event is only $5. --A.M.
Russia is associated with a lot of great stuff, from Dostoyevsky to vodka. And with Vladimir Putin designated Time magazine's 2007 Person of the Year, all things Russian are now officially being noticed.
This doesn't change much for the Arizona Balalaika Orchestra and Tucson's Kalinka Russian Dancers--the nonprofit, 30-member orchestra has been playing Russian folk music for more than 27 years, and the Kalinka Russian Dancers have been performing with the orchestra since the '80s. The music, played with instruments like the triangular balalaika, is melodic, haunting and spirited--think Doctor Zhivago. And the dancing is simply spectacular: Combining ballet and character dancing in an athletic, high-energy style, male dancers execute moves like toe-touches, while females do fast, fancy footwork.
This weekend, the orchestra and dancers will unite once again to perform their 28th annual winter "Russian Magic" concert with the Sons of Orpheus Male Choir, the Rusyny Dancers of St. Melanie's Byzantine Catholic Church and two special guest artists: Russian-trained domra player Tamara Volskaya and her husband, Russian bayan accordionist Anatoliy Trofimov. Also performing will be the Kalinka Dancers' "Kalinka kids"--adolescent wonder Kaylene Garcia and her child-prodigy brother, Christopher.
Kalinka dancer Mia Hansen isn't even Russian, but she's more than enthusiastic about the country's folk entertainment.
"When I first saw (Russian folk dancing)," she says, "I watched these girls swirling and these men leaping, and I knew I wanted to learn it, and I did--because Russian music and dance are really beautiful! This is the kind of stuff that makes you want to move."
Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for students. --A.M.
You don't have to be a playwright to contribute to a theatrical script. In fact, writers here in Tucson need folks like you to help them write their plays--and it doesn't require creating a single character, composing a single soliloquy or even picking up a pen. All you have to do is speak out at the Old Pueblo Playwrights' New Play Festival.
Since 1989, members of Old Pueblo Playwrights (OPP)--a nonprofit group of professional and aspiring local playwrights--have been meeting regularly to hear and watch local actors perform their scripts. After each performance, a facilitator leads a critical discussion of the play, so that playwrights can get feedback to improve their work and grow as writers. Usually, these sessions are private. But every year at the New Play Festival, OPP expands their in-house meetings to include interested outsiders, putting on plays for the public to watch, enjoy and form opinions on. After the performances, audience members are led through "talk-back" sessions, allowing them to give the plays' authors their input.
New Play Festival plays are intimate, scripts-in-hand affairs with minimal props, set pieces and lighting effects--but the performances can still be a lot of fun. Take Saturday afternoon's two short plays, both by writer/director Jack Frakes, which have the potential to be hilarious: Stage Fright depicts a public-speaking-phobe getting cold feet and eloquently arguing with his speech coach right before a public talk, while Beyond 1984 tells of a husband, wife and baby sitter becoming increasingly aware that they're under surveillance by a certain presidential administration.
Admission to each of the three performances is $5, and you can get a New Play Festival pass for just $10. Visit the Web site for the festival schedule. --A.M.