Monday, January 30, 2012

New Stuff: FYI

Just FYI for anyone who follows all the crazy antics of trying to open a museum:

This week we started a Facebook site

And the blog is now focused on all the stuff that is going on:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

First Public Event at IV Desert Museum

This week marks exactly twelve months that I have been at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum. During most of that time I have been the only employee and have been writing plans to open the museum. On Saturday, we held our first public event, a "Star Gazing in the Desert" event. We had four amateur astronomers come out to the museum to set up telescopes. Saturday was a dark sky night, and it is really dark in the parking lot of the museum. When we planned the event a couple months ago, we set a goal of having 20 people show up.

I started to get nervous on Wednesday when Davis brought a flyer home from school that a friend gave to him. The friend had no association with the museum, and he did not know that Davis was connected to the museum. He just said it looked like a cool event and thought Davis would want to go. A local business who was sponsoring the event put out an email and told me they had 8 people had responded the next day saying their families would be there.

I met with staff and told them we should rethink what we were going to do. We replanned for 50 people. On Friday we set up the building. On Saturday morning I bought more drinks and refreshments.

At 3:45 two students came from the local community college. They said that their environmental science teacher told them to come. If they took a picture at the event they would get extra credit in the class. Then people kept coming, and coming, and coming. At 5:30 we had 78 people in the building. The final attendance count was 135.

There is an anticipation of the museum opening that is peculating just under the radar here. I said a year ago that I thought we had a twelve month window to do something, before the momentum would fade. This week we are going to have to rethink our plan and strategy. Things are going to start moving really fast.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Zero Waste Society

This weekend I hung out a little bit with Vince and Ivan. I hike with Vince and I just met Ivan at an art gallery opening on Friday. Vince runs a series of community gardens. One is two blocks from the house. He preaches the future of a "zero waste society." This resonates with my "use it twice" philosophy I developed on Grand Turk and still preach both at the museum and at home.

Vince gardens with a regenerative agriculture process. This means that everything he uses comes out of the 12x40 garden bed that sits beside a parking lot - from seed to compost.

I call this type of gardening "post-organic." Now that organic farming has been taken by commercial corporations it has little meaning. But regenerative agriculture does not fit cleanly on a box. I have been taking basil, peppers, and several types of greens out of the garden. Deneen won't eat them. She says they taste like dirt. I tell her its not that they taste like dirt. They just don't taste like chemicals and pesticides.

Oh, sorry, she says the reason is not that they taste like dirt. They taste like grass.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I went across the border to Tecate today. Two museum trustees and myself had meetings with people from institutions in Mexico. We are looking for a partner for a cultural exchange grant we are working on. Tecate was halfway between Ensenada and El Centro so everyone drove and we sat in a cafe for five hours discussing possible programs.

I applied for this grant in 2007 as my first grant with the Turks and Caicos National Museum. We were the alternate - the fifth grant out of four that were awarded.

At the Imperial Valley Desert Museum we are working on a cross border cultural exchange using Ipads. For several years there was an active youth exchange program between the Native American tribes on both sides of the border. The area is much different today. It is very difficult to get groups of youth under-18 across the border and there is a lot of fear. The program we are working on seeks to exchange artists who work in traditional crafts. The youth exchange will happen by giving kids on both sides of the border Ipads and having them participate with each other using Skype.

We had great meetings today and I believe found our partner. This weekend I will write the grant.

I think I found my new international museum project. I wish I would have been learning Spanish this whole last year.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hiking Around the New Year

This week is Martin's last week before he goes back to college. We have been trying to hike as much as possible, but through the museum we have been on a couple pretty cool hikes looking for Tenahas, or water tanks. These are areas where water naturally collects during this time of year. The native inhabitants of the desert knew where these were, and the trails through the mountains often placed in areas where water was available.

You can find the water tanks by following the signs. Green plants, birds, animal tracks, fecal matter, and bees. With one hiking group we searched all day and never found the tenaha we were looking for. The next week we went out with Chuck, a museum trustee, and we found six or seven in a small amount of time.

There is also the tale tell sign that you are near a traditional tenaha that has been used historically as a water source in the desert - broken pottery.

On the way home we also stopped by the water holes that are used today. Five Palms is a natural warm spring where 92 degree water comes out of the ground and has created a two foot pool of warm water in the middle of the desert.

We spent about 30 minutes soaking in the evening on New Years Day.

At the BLM Campground called Hot Springs there is a 116 degree mineral spring that is pumped into a concrete pool. You can only soak a few minutes at a time here, but it is a very relaxing few minutes.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Years Eve

This year for New Year's Eve we took a journey across the border into Algodones, Mexico. We did a progressive dinner taco cart to taco cart, and ate tacos until we could not eat anything else.

That's not even true, because on the way out Lucas said "I think I could only eat two more tacos."

Our afternoon started out at Manolos Tacos. They have a sign that says "Best Tacos in Town." Everyone thought they were pretty good. Lucas thought they were great.

We walked down the street and a little off the beaten path. We came across a young guy frying fish tacos on a cart in front of a house. We had fish tacos and shrimp tacos.

A couple blocks later we came across a taqueria grilling chicken on the street. We stopped to get one taco, but the proprietor invited us in to sit down. We bought additional tacos, a piece of grilled chicken with four tortilla shells, and several cokes. Our bill was $9.50.

Around the corner we came to another open fronted taqueria with a cart parked inside. They were grilling carne asada quesadillas. We ordered two with a very large bowl of guacamole.

We had thought that New Years Eve would be busy across the border. We wanted to leave before it got too late. Near the border we stopped some guy to ask why no one was around. "The party starts at 8:00 and will go all night," he said.

The border closes at 10:00PM and reopens at 6:00AM.

"There will be people laying all over the street by morning," he continued.

As we left we drove by a two mile long line of cars waiting to cross the border. The party was getting ready to start.