The Spirit that Drives Us

Flavia PotenzaBy Flavia Potenza

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The Spirit that Drives Us
Photo Courtesy of Nira Lichten Former Topangan Nira Lichten, who declares herself a graphic designer—not a journalist, writer, photographer, or even aspires to any of those professions—took on the task when we asked her to create a photo montage of the astonishing photos she took of the protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in her new hometown of Haifa, Israel. Here she is in one of the happier moments with a four-legged protester who for a moment made her forget her sore feet after the miles she walked to join the fight for democracy. All of us who know and miss Nira, recognize and welcome that smile.
It’s not just a Topanga thing, but a human calling to step into the breach when times are hard or something is wrong. We, here, probably have more chances to put that instinct into play, what with the constant threat of fires, more recently floods, falling rocks and trees, oh, and a pandemic. That truly showed the Topangan spirit. As proud as we at this end of The Canyon Chronicle are of the Topanga community, we are even prouder to share with our readers Nira’s account, “Eyes on Israel,” of that spirit manifesting thousands of miles away in her photo montage and diary of the protests in Israel. She was well out of her comfort zone and yet brought it to life for us. (Pages 8-9). Something of that manifests in all the articles in this issue. In the News section Annemarie Donkin brought in a press release announcing a Gun Violence Prevention plan by LA County Department of Public Health and community partners. Joel Bellman brings his astute insight into the misguided effort to ban books and gays. There’s even “Poetry in the News”to begin Poetry Month with Kathy Gibboney waxing poetic about the Tennessee 3 debacle. The monthly “Schoolhouse Scoop” keeps us apprised of what’s going on in our public school. Paula LaBrot is in India where she was invited to teach a media literacy class at The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT). We received her first missive from there... even after losing her computer on the flight over. Our latest contributor, Sarah Spitz is “Out and About” with Arts events we’d never know about or know in depth because of her lifetime of experience covering the arts. A new writer, Chris Conway, has opened the door to what has become a pet project of mine, a series about cannabis sativa, hemp. I was never interested in getting high, but THC has its place. As does CBD. As does cannabis manufacturing of building products to replace trees to build houses that are more fire resistant when built with hemp products, such as hemp blocks and hemp plywood, than with cement and wood. Hemp farming is also a boon in the fight against climate change where the fast-growing plant puts more nutrients into the ground and takes more CO2 out of the air in its short growing time between planting in May and harvesting in November. It’s a delight to cover some of the events that have returned as life begins to settle down. Our kids get to perform in plays, learn science and art, love their teachers. Our two places of worship are offering study groups and classes in their philosophies and beliefs. In fact, Rabbi Mendy Piekarski, the son-in-law of Rabbi Dovid Weiss and his wife Dina, writes an ongoing column, “Soul & Coffee,” with stories and questions that ask us to think about how we want to live. The Canyon Chronicle is such a little newspaper but its pages express such an abundance of life and the spirit that drives it, thanks to those who fill its pages. The gratitude never stops.
Flavia Potenza

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Thinking Out Loud

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