What to do when there’s ‘nothing’ to do…



If your organization is planning an event of any kind, please email Caitlin at crockett@boulderweekly.com

Joshua Jorel Gutierrez Cameron Leach

Longmont Symphony Orchestra presents: percussionist Cameron Leach. 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, longmontsymphony.org. Tickets are $35 per show, or $149 for the season. Subscribers will receive an email with a private link to view virtual performances. 

In early January, the Longmont Symphony Orchestra (LSO) announced the continuation of its digital concert season for most of 2021, featuring six concerts from both soloists and the Longmont Symphony. During the season, the public will find favorites such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Mozart’s Symphony No. 25, and Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” Symphony, but also lesser known gems including Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances and Walker’s “Lyric for Strings.” The first show of the season, on Saturday, Jan. 16, is percussionist Cameron Leach, a bold performer recognized for his expressive virtuosity, musical athleticism and daring interpretations. 

Black in Boulder: Multigenerational Stories About the Experience of Being Black in Boulder. 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, via Zoom. Registration: bit.ly/3ozWSLu

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a multigenerational lineup of black Boulder residents will come together to share their thoughts and feelings about living in Boulder. This online event will feature a panel of black Boulderites who will share poetry, music and stories.

On the panel is Annett James, local Boulder County NAACP chapter president; Briannah Hill, blaqueer, nonbinary, poet, educator and artist; Pedro Silva, associate pastor at Boulder’s First Congregational Church; Thomas Windham, Ph.D. psychologist and retired educator; and Cinque Mason, local youth activist. Music will be provided by Selasee Atiase and poetry by Norma Johnson, healer, writer, speaker and racial justice facilitator. Other organizers of the event are Michele D. Simpson, CU faculty member and host of KGNU’s Black Talk, who will moderate the panel, and Nii Armah Sowah, director of 1000 Voices Project. Musa Starseed, filmmaker and DJ, will be the videographer.

Lafayette Sustainable Film Series: ‘Catching the Sun.’ 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, lafayetteco.gov. RSVP required. 

The 2015 documentary Catching the Sun follows workers and entrepreneurs in the U.S. and China as they lead the path to a clean energy future. Their successes and failures speak to one of the biggest questions of our time: Will the U.S. be able to build a clean energy economy that works for everyone? There will be a Q&A with Mike Kruger, President and CEO of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association, following the screening. 

Rameshwar Das — ‘Being Ram Dass,’ in Conversation with Sara Davidson. 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, via Zoom, boulderbookstore.net. Tickets are $5 on Eventbrite. 

Perhaps no other teacher has sparked the fires of as many spiritual seekers in the West as Ram Dass. If you’ve ever embraced the phrase “be here now,” practiced meditation or yoga, tried psychedelics or supported anyone in a hospice, prison or a homeless center, then the story of Ram Dass is also part of your story. Set against a backdrop of nine decades of sweeping cultural change, Being Ram Dass shares this modern day luminary’s journey from psychologist to renegade Harvard psychedelics researcher to beloved spiritual icon. Rameshwar Das is a writer and photographer who met Ram Dass in 1967. For this event, he will be in conversation with Sara Davidson. 

The Dairy Art Center presents: From Legacy to Possibility — A Virtual Celebration of MLK Jr. Day. Jan. 17–18, thedairy.org. These events are free. 

To celebrate the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Dairy Arts Center will present live programming throughout the weekend of Jan. 17 and 18, including a public poetry workshop, virtual slam poetry performances, cinema, music and more. Artists will share their personal stories, creative work and artistic accomplishments in a multi-media celebration.

• 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 17: The Catharsis of Storytelling: Virtual Poetry Workshop with Assétou Xango: In this workshop, new writers will get a chance to explore the power of storytelling through poetry, led by Assétou Xango (Ah-say-too SEAN-go), also known as the Dark Goddess Poet. Xango —  a black, pansexual, polyamorous, genderqueer, womxn — uses spoken word to dismantle the harmful, colonial binaries that bind us. In the workshop, Xango aims to show how poetry is one of the most accessible avenues for storytelling. 

• 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18: ‘Every Child is Born a Poet,’ a Virtual Cinema Event: An incendiary mix of documentary, poetry, storytelling, drama and performance, Every Child is Born a Poet explores the life and work of Piri Thomas (b. 1928), the Afro-Cuban-Puerto Rican author of the classic autobiographical novel Down These Mean Streets (1967). 

• 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18: From Legacy to Possibility, a Virtual Performance: A virtual event hosted by poet Briannah Hill, featuring poets Assétou Xango and Hakeem Furious, visual artist Tya Anthony, and musicians Hazel Miller and Julia Kirkwood.


A new path for healing

MESA launches third season of ‘Sex: By Invitation Only’ podcast

by Katie Rhodes

This month, Boulder’s MESA (Moving to End Sexual Assault) program is bringing back its podcast Sex: By Invitation Only, cohosted by Lindsey Breslin and Caroline Harris — and don’t expect these women to shy away from tough subject matter. 

“The idea to create this podcast initially surfaced during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings in 2018,” says Breslin, MESA’s program supervisor. “In listening to Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony, something really rang true to us. She was a survivor just like the women we were working with — this assault had had a tremendous impact on her life. When Trump said publicly that it was a ‘difficult time for men,’ we realized that we were in desperate need of a larger platform to explore national news headlines on sexual violence and also speak about what’s happening in our own community. Podcasting seemed to be a great platform to share our thoughts on activism and social justice, a place to educate people more on the dynamics of sexual violence and the services available, and most of all a safe space that tells people they aren’t alone in their experiences.”

Now in its third season, the podcast covers a wide range of topics related to navigating boundaries, embracing sexuality, understanding consent and dismantling systems of oppression, with the aim of fostering hope, healing and connection through open dialogue and education surrounding sexual violence. Drawing from two seasons’ worth of experience, Breslin and Harris promise to lead listeners into new territory this year while continuing to offer a safe space to discuss sexual violence and all the intersecting issues that come with it.

“Something we’re going to start doing is having a listener write-in option,” says Harris, prevention education specialist at MESA. “We really want to encourage engagement. We want feedback from listeners on what they want to hear and discuss, what’s important to them and what their questions are so we can have an open dialogue while meeting people where they’re at.”

For those worried about the potentially triggering content of such subject matter, Breslin and Harris emphasize that this show is first and foremost about creating a safe platform where victims can connect and step into the light to tell their stories. 

“This isn’t a podcast of just stories of sexual violence,” Breslin says. “We know those can be extremely triggering. We’re making content in a way to give the people who have experienced it a voice. We interview MESA staff about the work we do here in Boulder, we talk to students, teachers — we really want to open it up to the community. We’re also providing trauma therapy and psycho-education through these interviews with guests, and posing important questions like, ‘What’s a normal response to an abnormal experience?’”

This season promises to be different from the last two in a few ways. First, of course, is the write-in option, allowing the cohosts to better interact with their listeners, but they also pledge to end each segment with current local and national stories to help keep people informed and educated, as well as tying in content from MESA’s blog, “tackling hard-hitting topics like oppression and masculinity,” Harris says. 

Episodes will be released the first Friday of every month, with the first already available, exploring what we can learn about consent through experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode, the hosts break down how experiencing the pandemic has attuned us to consensual behavior like wearing masks and social distancing, and how this can be translated into asking for consent and respecting boundaries in sexual relationships.  

ON THE BILL:  Find ‘Sex: By Invitation’ wherever you get your podasts.   MESA 24/7 non-emergency hotline:
303-443-7300; movingtoendsexualassault.org


How do you survive alone?

Boulder author pens middle-grade survival story, ‘ALONE’

by Katie Rhodes

Imagine waking up to find yourself completely alone. Your town is abandoned. No family, no friends, no baristas making coffee or postal service workers walking along their morning route. Empty streets, restaurants, schools and homes. 

This is the world the young protagonist of local author Megan E. Freeman’s new middle-grade novel ALONE wakes up in, in a fictional Northern Colorado town. With no companion other than a Rottweiler named George, and no power, working phone lines or internet access, 12-year-old Maddie must quickly adapt to her new reality and find a way to survive on her own. Leaning into her own wit and perseverance, Maddie pushes through a rough start to get her footing in an unexplainable and unfathomable situation. She passes the months teaching herself survival skills and learning to trust herself, George by her side, and a book (pulled from her seemingly endless library) often in her hands.

Despite Maddie’s ingenuity and strength, the one thing she can’t seem to overcome is the loneliness of her unexplained abandonment, the monotony of existence without human contact or conversation. The real fight to survive, she starts to realize, is going to be a mental one. 

In her debut novel, Freeman explores human resilience and ingenuity in the face of necessity. A survival story more than 10 years in the making, ALONE offers readers the opportunity to question how they might survive in the face of harrowing and dangerous circumstances. 

“The idea for this book came from a conversation that I had in a mother-daughter book club I was in with my daughter,” Freeman explains in a recent phone interview. “We had read Scott Odell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins, a fictionalized survival story of a young woman left alone on an isolated island, but based on true events. The girls in the book club were really intrigued by the idea of living alone, and were fixated on how hard it would be. And then I thought, ‘Imagine if you came home and the entire city was abandoned? You’d have to figure out how to live and you don’t know if or when someone is coming to rescue you.’ I couldn’t shake that question, and I just started writing.”

Freeman, a Boulder native, brings the beautiful and harsh wilderness of Northern Colorado to life in this compelling story, putting her young heroine in the path of natural disasters, unpredictable weather and hungry wild animals — all frightening but very real staples of Colorado’s environment.

“I started writing in 2009 and finished the draft in 2017,” Freeman says. “In the span of that time, in Colorado, we had floods, fires … I remember so clearly hearing stories out of places like Lyons and Jamestown where they were seeing displaced wild animals in unnatural civilian places. There were so many natural challenges happening while I was writing. It provided me a lot of rich fodder of what my young character might be faced with and have to survive. Then you have the fact that this state is so beautiful, no matter where you are. In the book, Maddie gets a lot of comfort and serenity from the natural beauty of Colorado. It’s a really rich palette from which to set a story.”

Although ALONE is designated as a middle-grade novel, Freeman says she didn’t have an agenda in terms of the readership, nor any specific intentions for what the take-away or lessons might be for the readers.

“I was just fascinated by the questions that had arisen from the bigger question: How do you survive alone? I wrote this book to follow my own curiosity, and explore the creativity that emerged from these questions. All I hope kids get out of it is that it helps make them more voracious readers.”

There are also plenty of Easter eggs Freeman included in ALONE — savvy local readers will recognize elements of Boulder County. Despite the fact that all town and location names in the book are fictionalized, they’re still recognizable Boulder landmarks, whether from the landscape or building descriptions. 

While Freeman offers the fun inside opportunity for Colorado readers to recognize parts of their home, ALONE is a story for kids everywhere, offering them the opportunity to step into the shoes of a young survivalist and wonder: How would I survive alone? 

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