Interview: Gail Needleman: Music Is Something You Do Gail Needleman teaches music at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. Her work as a writer and teacher addresses the essential role of music in the moral and spiritual development of children. She is the recipient of the Parsons Fellowship from the Library of Congress for research in American folk music, and is the co-creator of the American Folk Song Collection website, a pioneering online resource of American folk songs for teaching music to children. We met at her home to talk about music...   Richard Whittaker:  How did music enter your life? What were the early ... Apr 16, 2012, 189020 reads


Interview: Godfrey Reggio: A Call for Another Way of Living One Friday morning I happened to tune in to KQED’s morning program Forum where an interview with Phillip Glass and Godfrey Reggio was underway. They were in town for a weekend showing at Davies Symphony Hall of Reggio’s Qatsi Trilogy: Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi. Phillip Glass, along with his ensemble, would be performing the music he had composed for the films.          Koyaanisqatsi left a deep impression on me when I’d first seen it in 1983, as did Powaqqatsi, which came out five years later. This full-length, commercial ... Feb 18, 2006, 46026 reads


Manuel Klarmann—Eaternity: One can never predict who might show up at one of the weekly Awakin circles in Santa Clara. Awakin circles, which have spread all over the world, are one of the longest-standing of ServiceSpace’s several projects. There are many rewarding aspects of attending one of these circles; one of these is listening as each person in turn has a chance to share his or her thoughts. The level of sincerity the circle fosters is always touching and frequently afterwards, before heading home, I can’t resist approaching one or two strangers to learn more about them. It’s how I met ... Jan 13, 2016, 8179 reads


Remembering Robert Lax—A Conversation with Steve Georgiou: My introduction to S. T. Georgiou came via his most recent book: In the Beginning Was Love: Contemplative Words of Robert Lax. The name rang a bell. It was buried in memory, but wrapped in an aura connected with Thomas Merton. I’d never followed up on Lax and had forgotten about him long ago. So I was surprised to find myself suddenly alert in front of that name.      The book had arrived with Georgiou’s handwritten note. Perhaps I’d take an interest. It happened that I was headed for a getaway. Perfect. In addition to the beauty of the northern Oregon ... May 11, 2017, 4629 reads


A Conversation with Michael Penn, PhD: On Hopelessness and Hope Awakin Calls are a global tele-interview series and podcast hosted by ServiceSpace. Each call features a moderated conversation with a guest who contributes uniquely to the world. Awakin calls are ad-free, available at no charge, and anyone can participate in them real-time. Introduction (excerpt) Around the age of 22, a near death experience transformed Doctor Michael Penn into a seeker. Following this profound encounter with his own mortality, he began an extensive study of sacred texts and the works of the founders of the world’s religions.      Today, ... Jul 7, 2018, 4361 reads


Interview with Ronald Hobbs: I first met Ronald Hobbs over thirty years ago. In those days, in the late sixties, should the conversation have taken a certain turn, I might have laid a claim to poetry. I'd read at the “I and Thou” on Haight Street, run an open-mike poetry program in the basement of a Presbyterian church, and even had won a prize in San Francisco’s Ina Coolbrith Circle’s poetry competition.  Ron was in another league, however. In the mid 1960s he had established himself in the New York poetry scene. He had done actual campus tours to read his own published work. He ... Jul 23, 2004, 9418 reads


Mark Bulwinkle—What Drives Us?: by Richard Whittaker Mark Bulwinkle at his studio in West Oakland, CA 1997 While Mark Bulwinkle was a student at the University of Pittsburgh his eyes were opened to the world of art. In 1972, four years after his BA and after a year spent in New York, he moved to the Bay Area where he continued his art education at the San Francisco Art Institute. At SFAI, he managed to complete  his MFA in only eight months. It was a pretty quick trip to the degree, I suggested. "Well, I’d been doing a lot of work," he said. A substantial understatement, no doubt. A friend of mine happened to have ... Mar 2, 1998, 7607 reads


The Sound of One Hand Clapping: An Interview with Terrance Meyer  One morning I looked up from my cup of tea in a local coffee shop and was surprised to see a man at work on a little painting sitting at a table nearby. Such a sight was a first for me in this particular neighborhood. I walked over, took a peek, and was surprised again. It was really good. I complimented him on his work and we struck up a conversation.        He was just passing through, he told me. He’d been in Seattle and had come down to the Bay Area where he was staying for a few days with a friend. It didn’t sound like his accomodations were any ... Oct 2, 1999, 28049 reads


A Conversation with Doug Burgess: Weeds On the walls of the photo lab in west Berkeley where I take my black and white film for processing, there’s always a photo exhibit on display. This one came with a xeroxed eleven page catalog: "Weeds" by Doug Burgess, in which he describes weeds as our constant companions. He adds, "The relationship between weeds and people may be one of our most enduring relationships with the natural world.”  As a kid, like Burgess, I too was given the task of removing weeds from the front lawn, but Burgess’ career of weed-pulling extended through his teen-age ... Dec 4, 2002, 8734 reads


Pottery and the Ancient Life: A Conversation with Michael Miller I met Michael Miller through John Toki. He called me one day around noon and said, "Richard, there’s a guy giving a presentation to my class who I think you’d like. I know this is late notice. He’ll be here in an hour. Any chance you can make it?" I did make it.      Here’s a brief note Toki wrote about this potter from Louisiana: Michael Miller’s first slide at his lecture on the wood kiln firing process at the California College of the Arts Ceramics Department was of a tent. I thought it was a unique first image for a slide ... Apr 2, 2007, 10523 reads


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 721525 views

The Dumpster      “We can’t use these. They look like ... Read More 141234 views

Cotton and Silk Vorbeck quilt, detail I’m working on the last panel of a pair of ... Read More 8389 views

Say Grace I am deeply delighted to live on a planet that is so big and varied that I can ... Read More 5569 views

A Conversation with Silas Hagerty I met Silas, a young man in his twenties from New England, at a ... Read More 61397 views


A Man Impossible to Classify One of my first experiences in San Francisco was of being flagged down by a ... Read More 721525 views

Interview with Bill Douglass—Jimbo's Bop City and Other Tales At the time I'd first gotten to know the widely respected jazz musician Bill ... Read More 363680 views

Greeting the Light It was thanks to artist Walter Gabrielson that I was able to get in touch with ... Read More 294026 views

Interview: Gail Needleman Gail Needleman teaches music at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. ... Read More 189020 views

Interview: Stephen De Staebler John Toki encouraged me to interview his old friend and mentor, sculptor Stephen ... Read More 150429 views