The idea was to meet Ruth Nolan at Denny’s in Palm Springs. We had a little difficulty finding her at first. I mean how many Denny’s can there be in the desert? Too many! We finally caught up with her, or should I should say she found us wandering around a parking lot at the wrong Interstate 10 exit, and we followed her to our pre-determined getting-to-know-you destination, Denny’s on Indian Canyon Drive. As we followed Ruth down the freeway the subtext and text of our encounter was clearly announced on the bumper of her car: “NO TO BIG SOLAR”.
Ruth Nolan has been working for many years as a poet, environmental activist, editor of the classic anthology No Place For A Puritan, The Literature of California Deserts, professor at College of the Desert and for the past two years has been making it real for 100TPC in Palm Desert.
Ruth Nolan cares deeply about what’s going on in the world. She’s been working hard to stop the intrusive corporate monopoly of big solar energy industry, the massive land grab (with taxpayer dollars) of fragile desert eco-system, and looking for ways to bring desert activists around the country together to create a real force against exploitation of the desert eco-system. How can it be that the solar industry which is supposed to be a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels could become another unsustainable corporate monopoly? I guess it’s not so hard to imagine….
Ruth is thinking that maybe 100TPC can be a vehicle for bringing desert community artists and activists together. Maybe there can be events on September 28 throughout the desert communities of the southwest with music, poetry, and more, workshops and petitions, concerts, a unified voice where thus far the desert activists had been operating in some isolation. Maybe together folks who care about the future of the desert and sustainable energy can make the big difference…more from Ruth in our next post.
We had also planned to meet up with Patricia D’Alessandro, who found out about 100TPC somewhere on the internet and invited us to come stay with her. Patricia even set up a poetry reading for Terri and me at Savage Gallery later that night. But we lost Patricia in our confusion about Indian Drive or Indian Canyon Drive, Gene Autry Trail, Dale Evans Dr., or Roy Rodgers Blvd. (nope, that’s another city) something like turn right on Ramon or Ramona…you see, we remembered to bring everything on our trip, dogs, books, blankets, swimming trunks, poems that needed editing, poems to read, who knows, it might get cold on the way to Hollwyood, Florida, we packed jackets, sweaters, prepared for all meterological possibilities, but left our road atlas in the redwoods. Do you need to know all this? Bottom line, time and space had become a series of irreconcilable anomalies so Patricia gave up looking for us at Denny’s, cancelled lunch and stayed at home to rest up for a big night poetry reading, and we agreed to catch up with her at her home after our meeting with Ruth.
Patricia is an 88 year old whos major mission in life is to convey to as many people as possible that poetry is essential, that poets must read as well as write. A brief bio tells a lot.
Patricia D’Alessandro is a graduate of the University of San Francisco, Class of 1982, receiving a B.S. in Human Relations & Organizational Behavior. Honorable Mention was awarded for production of her Portfolio, which became her first publication, entitled, The Weaving of a Being: A Memoir. She has published four poetry collections since; this is her fifth. She also edited two anthologies of the poetry of underprivileged women who attended her Creative Writing Workshop at the Wellspring Women’s Center in Sacramento, CA. Despite Pat’s move to Coachella Valley in 2005, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, together with the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, awarded her a Lifetime Achievement Award on March 20, 2007 for outstanding volunteer contributions to the Sacramento cultural arts community.
When we walked into Patricia’s home we were immediately struck by the fact that hardly an inch of her living space is not piled up with books, tons of poetry books, biographies, anthologies, art books, her house is wall to wall paintings, drawings, Kenneth Patchen poems, Donald Hall broadsides, Andy Warhol prints, her own photographs and drawings, family photos, an incredible, eclectic tapestry of energy and celebration of art and poetry and life.
Patricia is an amazing person and there is much more to tell…so stay tuned for more on her life and work in a later post…including Terri’s encounter with the golf cart Xmas parade through Patricia’s retirement community neighborhood…
…but for now we continue to the Savage Gallery reading Patricia hosted.
Of course, we got lost looking for the Savage Art Gallery later , no map and our minds in the air, entertaining big thoughts and telling stories, thanks to Ruth Nolan who found us again, who called us on my cell phone to see why we were late, we went up and down Palm Springs streets, this canyon road, Gene Autry Trail, Ramone, Ramona, you get it, more and more lost in art ideas and conversation, looking for the Savage Gallery. Ruth directed us in.
Savage Gallery, a great small gallery with incredible exhibit by Lee Balan and really nice man, a friend of Patricia’s who came for the reading. We were so taken by Lee’s work that we approached him about a feature in the 2013 issue of Big Bridge.
He offered to put in some volunteer work on documenting Palm Spings/Desert Hot Springs 100TPC actions.
We couldn’t have had a better time.
Much more to come from our travels through Vegas and now on to Albuquerque for another gathering of local organizers at the Frontier Restaurant.