Waking of the Canoes

Image

Spring has arrived and tomorrow we will be re-introducing the Blue Heron canoe to the water. Many Tribes around the PNW are doing the same.

Some Tribes believe that after canoe pulling season, canoes are to be put away to rest for the winter; others say, a canoe never sleeps. Either way, come spring there is a Waking of the Canoe ceremony.  We gather together with our canoes and ask the Creator to bless the vessel and give us safe travels and a good journey.

As I stated before, the waters can be dangerous and adequate preparation involves not just the physical component, but the spiritual as well. One cannot underestimate the power and might of the sea. Our Ancestors knew that very well.

Will you please support my campaign?

http://www.gofundme.com/7mo7qw

Advertisements

My Journey to Bella Bella, B.C.

Dear friends,

I’ve been presented with the opportunity to participate in the 2014 Tribal Canoe Journey to Bella Bella. A once in a lifetime opportunity, this journey will cover 550+ miles crossing the waters of the Pacific to the Heiltsuk Nation in the Central Coast region of British Columbia, Canada.

More than 50 Tribes from as far north as Alaska and as far south as Oregon will be participating in this grand event — all culminating in a week long Potlach where we will share our songs, dances, and build new and lasting friendships.

Being on the water has always been an important part of my life — ultimate peace. Last year, after traveling down the Columbia river on the Chinook Canoe Journey, I realized that I’d been neglecting the very thing that gives me deep fulfillment far too long.

I’ve come to understand that a canoe is not simply an object of transport, rather it is a vessel for healing, empowerment, self-determination, youth and community development. For the youth in particular, canoe journey is a metaphor for our journey through life — providing them with the skills needed to live life to their fullest potential away from alcohol and drugs.

So here’s where I need your help:

Our journey will begin on June 22, departing from the Lummi Nation in WA.

This will not be an easy journey. Paddling for 8-13 hours a day is exhausting and painful both physically and mentally. We rely on the lead puller and skipper to guide us through, but every single person in the canoe plays a crucial role. There are dangers both at sea and on land. The cold temperatures, water, and strong winds are a perfect conditions for hypothermia. In addition, we will paddle through and camp in the Great Bear Rainforest — the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth and  home to grizzly bears.

Participating in Tribal Canoe Journey will keep me focused on the things I’m most passionate about: working with youth, cross-cultural dialogue, music, adventure, and storytelling.

All money raised will go towards:
1. Waterproof cameras: video and still, batteries, SD cards
2. Waterproof clothing and gear
3. Video software

4. Fees related to journey: ferries, support boats (gasoline),
food, ground crew, travel insurance

Simply put, none of this is possible without your support. I’m reaching out to friends, family, and community. Any donation, big or small is GREATLY appreciated and I will certainly pay it forward ten-fold. If you can help, please click the link below!

Al-Mughamara!
-Carla

http://www.gofundme.com/7mo7qw

 

How Education Isn’t Preparing Students For The 21st Century.

A month ago, I was invited to write a blog post for One World Youth Project, an organization based in Washington D.C. linking schools around the world to build generations of discerning, empathetic, and empowered global citizens. Sadly, OWYP suffered budget cuts resulting in the loss of much of the staff and my blog was not published. Many people contributed to it and I would like to share it here.

School

I’m  honored to be serving as guest blogger for One World Youth Project. The topic I’m writing about is controversial and remains at the forefront of the educational debate. Let me just state right now that I like to keep it real. There’s no point in beating around the bush when it comes to important topics such as education. So here we go…

How Education Isn’t Preparing Students For The 21st Century.

As an educator with fifteen years experience, I can’t even begin to write the myriad of ways our current education system is failing our youth, but in an effort to keep it short, I decided to take a poll among my colleagues and evaluate the consensus.

Here’s what they said.

“Test prep is short term retention of facts. Regurgitation of facts can’t solve problems. Problem solving requires creating new pathways to move forward.” Brian Harris, Musician – Portland, OR.

With an emphasis on higher test scores and No Child Left Behind, we’ve ironically left so many children behind with their inability to do one thing…think critically. Much of our youth is unable to think outside the box or as my colleague stated above, “create new pathways to move forward.” This is a huge challenge in today’s younger generation. We see it in the classroom, in the job industry, and in everyday life. They struggle to apply skills in new ways, imagine possbilities, or take risks. Their social and academic growth is stunted.

“Students don’t know how to collaborate or live and thrive as a community.” Nathan Olsen, Musician/Writing Specialist at Heritage School – Salem, OR.

Tests are centered on individual performance and so are many school projects. They focus on the me, myself, and I — leaving kids to fend for themselves. It’s no wonder we don’t know how to live and thrive as community. We can’t think like one. I’m all about independent thinking and empowering our children to be strong individuals, but somewhere along the line we’ve created a chasm within our community. This is one of the reasons cross-cultural dialogue is crucial because developing nations understand the concept of community. Whether out of oppression, necessity, or the simple fact that we’re all in this together, they’ve figured it out.

“There is no love of learning.” Lynn DeMarco, Program Coordinator at Low Income Housing – Seattle, WA

A point so true, yet sad because the kids who have no desire to learn likely did at one point, but once the system decided they weren’t learning fast enough or getting the adequate test scores, it killed off any ounce of desire left. I can’t tell you how many students cross my path every year believing they’re stupid thinking they’re done with learning. Seriously, they resign themselves to the belief that they’ll never be as smart as their peers. To them it’s embarrassing enough being alienated in some remedial learning class, so why try?

Learning becomes a competition rather than a yearning.

This is where creativity in the public schools plays an important role. You see, if creativity wasn’t being stifled to the point of extinction, a child might learn to “create” and foster habits of mind that embrace individual strengths and encourage collaborative learning. The fact is, there will always be someone smarter than you. Every single person develops at a different rate and with different gifts, talents, and skill sets. This isn’t a thing of good, bad, or better — we’re meant to be different and we should celebrate that. Furthermore, fostering creativity fosters a love of learning.

“Lack of courageous conversations about racism and white privilege.” Carla Moreno, Educator/Social Media Consultant/Vocal Coach – Salem, OR

Let’s face it, racism still exists. In my opinion we’ve mastered the art of political correctness at best — and that isn’t a good thing either. Where are the conversations about white privilege and institutional racism? Take a look at the disparity in educational and financial resources for people of color and lower income. Consider the conditions of many of our public schools. How about district rules that require kids to travel halfway across the city to attend school because they didn’t make the list to their neighborhood school. I once had a student who took a bus, train, and taxi to attend school. At the end of the day, he spent about 2.5 hours traveling time. By the time he made it to my afternoon music class, he was stressed, angry, and done.

The list goes on and on, these concerns and others aren’t new in the education community. While blogging forums, articles, education journals, and professional development workshops bring these concerns to light, it’s not enough. It’s so important to realize how all this affects our students, teachers, administrators, community, and society as a whole. In all honesty, we can’t throw the blame solely on the education system, it’s our responsibility as global citizens to prepare the next generation for the 21st century.


Social Media For Musicians: Social Media Etiquette

Image

Social media etiquette is something that slips many people’s minds. Why this is so, I’m not sure, but if you’re trying to expand your online presence for your band, music, or business; it’s important to remember some basic manners. Knowing this may eliminate some misunderstandings and misconceptions about social media, its purpose, use, and effectiveness.

While many of the things listed below seem common sense, somewhere in the pursuit of online freedom of speech, we’ve lost respect and a sense of direction on how to relate with one another. As a result, we harbor negative feelings about social media in general and often misuse a tool that was meant for good.

Social Media Does Not Replace Real Life Relationships.
Although the rise of the internet has changed the way we communicate today, it was never meant to replace real life interactions.

Social media is no different.

In this landscape, people gather together online to share interests and/or activities. Think of it as an online community where each person is represented by their unique profiles, bios, photos, etc. Interaction is still very present and important, or at least should be. Get to know your audience.

Respond For Goodness Sakes!
I’m always amazed at how lax some people can get on this. Gosh, some people just downright forego responding altogether.

This goes back to the first point above: social media does not replace real life relationships!

If you’re in a business and have clients and fans, why in the world would you ignore them? I’m pretty sure this isn’t something you practice in your real-life business affairs. If you fail to respond in a timely manner, you lose out. It’s as simple as that. Not only do you lose out on making new fans and clients, but you jeopardize your credibility and trustworthiness.

Manners Please…
I stand amazed at the liberty some people take in berating others, insulting them, and just being plain rude.

I mean seriously, what do you think you’ll get out of this?

I believe manners are something you learned in kindergarten and it applies to all life situations, people. No one wants an ass for a friend.

Don’t get me wrong, sharing our opinions is not a bad thing, but some people do it with a sense of entitlement, jumping in on a conversation not having built a relationship with anyone and with no regard to people’s feelings. Imagine a stranger on the street throwing insults at you without rhyme or reason and without even knowing who you are.

Manners pave the way to relationships and demonstrates to your fans that you respect and value what they have to say. Most importantly manners, or lack of them, say a lot about you. You’ll make a bigger impact after you’ve spent time letting people get to know you.

By the way if someone posts or tweets a negative comment to you, respond accordingly and respectfully. Use it as an opportunity to reassess your business tactic — of course you can’t please everybody, so just take it with a grain of salt.

Remember The “Social” In Social Media
If all you’re going to do is push your agenda and broadcast your tour dates or sell your music and nothing more then once again, you lose out.

First of all, it’s a pretty selfish thing to seek out people for the sole purpose of promoting your stuff. Is that how you make friends in your everyday life? I don’t think so.

Your fans love your music, but they also want to know what makes you tick. What else do you like to do besides make music? Have a sense of humor and social-ize. See what I did there? 😉

Share things that inspire you, say something new, share someone else’s success story, business, or music. Don’t inundate your fans with your entire album. Create teasers or pick a favorite single and tell a little bit about it. What inspired you to write that song? Ask your fans what songs they’d like to hear from you? Get them to talk about their favorite songs from other artists.

Time Is Of Essence
In the last 5 years, I’ve moved halfway across the country to various cities and states. I’ve done it all by myself too. Naturally, making new friends is hard and building lasting relationships is even harder.

It takes time.

And so in the world of social media, it takes time to build a lasting relationship with your clients and fans. It’s easy to get frustrated and in the land of instant everything, we expect to see results…NOW!

That’s not going to happen and you might as well deal with that fact. This is why it’s important to devote time to really learning the social media landscape, be creative in your posts, listen more, speak less, and engage.

What social media rules do you abide by? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

On Being Able To Say “Farewell, Seattle”

Dear Seattle,

I never thought this day would come. After five years of fun, risky, wonderful, and life changing adventures, the time has come to bid you farewell. It seems like only yesterday I was telling my friends and family in Texas that I was finally going to take the leap of faith and move here to explore new possibilities.

I fell in love with you upon my first visit back in 1999. The stunning views of the Olympic and Cascade mountains were the most magnificent things I’d ever seen. The ice blue color and crashing waves of the Pacific ocean sent chills down my spine. The smell of evergreens, the Space Needle, Mt. Rainier, the ferries, the bookshops, all these things and more left me yearning to be here. So in August of 2007, after 6 months of prayers, planning, and packing I made my new home here in the Emerald City.

Truthfully, other than the job I had lined up, I really didn’t know what else I’d be doing here. Of course, I was met with much resistance from friends and family who thought it preposterous to move 2,000+ miles away and alone. On the other hand, there were those who supported my decision knowing that I was too creative to be stuck in my one teaching job and too adventurous to be stuck living in the South.

I was destined for bigger and better things.

I know I’m only moving down to neighboring Portland, but you’ve played a very important role in my life journey. I take with me some very valuable lessons — lessons I’ll never forget.

I’ve learned how easily we trick ourselves into believing there’s only one “right” way to live life when in fact, it’s only that way within the context of the bubble we live in. Pop that bubble and you quickly realize your way of thinking is a minuscule ideal in the brain of the planet.

I’ve learned to cope with life without my mom after her unexpected death less than a year after moving here. I’ve learned to let go of my guilt, grievances, and deal with the expectations of my Latino community back home.

Among many challenges including, surviving a concussion from a rafting accident and a broken ankle from a solo hike in the woods, I’ve learned that I’m stronger and more resilient than I’ve led myself to believe.

I’ve learned about social justice issues, the state of arts education, and racism in the northwest. I’ve learned that an ultra progressive person can be just as annoying as an ultra conservative one. Just sayin’.

I’ve been introduced to the importance of recycling, new music, new people, walking up hills, bicycling up hills, lots of rain, and of course the coffee culture.

In just five years, I’ve worked as an emcee, a radio dj, a music programmer, a host at a reputable jazz club, a writer, a teacher, a social media consultant, a vocal coach, and even served as an artist-in-service for an initiative set by Congress.

Whew! I’ve been busy.

I’m sure there are some people reading this letter thinking “it’s not like she wouldn’t have these experiences elsewhere” or “there’s nothing unique about her life experiences.” Well, they’re correct, I’m sure I’ll experience many things similar and different somewhere beyond here, but my life experiences need not matter to anyone else other than me. My time here in Seattle is significant because of where I came from, where I am, and where I’m going in my life journey.The fact is, I’ve undergone a major paradigm shift and as a result, I have a better understanding of the greater purpose in being here.

Seattle, my fair city, you’ve served as the place where I would experience growth and transformation. You’ve given me quiet places to pray, breathe, and meditate my life journey. You provided miraculous sunsets over the coast that left me entranced and pondering adventures beyond the horizon. I’ve reinvented myself surrendering to new possibilities and creating endless opportunities. My survival skills have been tested to the core. I’ve learned what true christianity is all about. I’ve learned to work harder, love stronger, and enjoy each day as if it were the last. Most importantly, you’ve introduced me to the man I love and the reason I’m relocating to Portland.

My life is enriched simply because I took the risk — and for that I’m grateful.

Thank you, dearest Seattle. You hold a special place in my heart. I will visit and return to those quiet places that carried me through many life circumstances, but for now I must I bid you a adieu.

Until next time.

Tall Ships Trading – Columbia River, Washington/Oregon

DSCN4623DSCN4483DSCN4617DSCN4603DSCN4601DSCN4591 DSCN4585DSCN4582DSCN4570DSCN4564DSCN4555DSCN4539 DSCN4528DSCN4526DSCN4523DSCN4510DSCN4505DSCN4497 DSCN4490DSCN4481DSCN4476DSCN4468DSCN4462DSCN4453

One of my favorite outdoor activities is kayaking or canoeing. It’s absolutely peaceful being on the water. The serenity is hypnotic and just leaves me in awe of how small I am in the grand scheme of things. I had an opportunity a few years ago to partake of a tradition that re-enacts the trades between the Chinook Nation and Europeans. I hope you’ll take a look at these photos and read my blog about it. Just another reason I love living here. 🙂

Coming Full Circle…

Hello everyone,

The final video of the Twisit Jordan Adventure series is up on my new page, Al-Mughamara. I’ve so enjoyed sharing all the special moments from that journey. I’m happy to say that I honored my commitment to the Jordan Tourism Board and Her Majesty, Queen Rania in documenting my journey.

I’ve made new lifelong friends and learned new things.

Life is beautiful!

Besides a little back-story to the Twisit Jordan Adventure, all 6 videos are posted there as well. So grab a cup of java, relax, and enjoy.

Until the next adventure…