(The Atlantic) "I’ve Seen the Limits of Journalism" by John Temple, Director of UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program

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No. Not again.

That’s how I felt on Saturday when I heard the terrible news from El Paso and then again on Sunday morning when Dayton added a second blow. I imagine I wasn’t alone. Each time the shocking news of another mass shooting arrives, I find myself wanting to turn away.

I was the editor of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver when the Columbine High School shootings gripped the nation in 1999. The Columbine attack was covered live on cable and broadcast television. At the time we thought it would be the mass shooting to end all mass shootings. How could we let anything so horrible happen again? Especially after seeing what we had all seen.

(The New Yorker) Kamala Harris Makes Her Case

Kamala (in yellow) was born in Oakland and attended law school at UC Hastings.

Kamala (in yellow) was born in Oakland and attended law school at UC Hastings.

One day in early June, Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California, tapped the glass of the bakery case at a Blue Bottle coffee shop on a non-iconic block in Beverly Hills. No one seemed to know who she was—another polished professional woman, grabbing an afternoon coffee—which was fine by her. She had chosen the spot, presumably for the anonymity. A few minutes later, her body woman delivered her a cookie: caramel chocolate chip, covered in a light snowfall of flaky salt. As Harris broke off small pieces and popped them in her mouth, we talked about her early life, rummaging through the layers for identifying details. The child of immigrant academics who divorced when she was young—her mother, a cancer researcher, came from India, and her father, an economist, from Jamaica—Harris grew up between Oakland and the Berkeley flats, but also spent time in college towns in the Midwest and a few years in Montreal, where her mother was teaching. “A very vivid memory of my childhood was the Mayflower truck,” she told me. “We moved a lot.” She speaks some French. She loves to cook and enjoys dancing, puns. She tells her own story uneasily. “It’s like extracting stuff from me,” she apologized. “I’m not good at talking about myself.”

(California Sunday) ‘‘You Got Your High School Diploma?’’ What happens when you put a classroom on wheels and park it in the poorest neighborhoods of San Francisco?

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One day late last August, Shelia Hill sat at a table on a sidewalk in Sunnydale, outside a San Francisco city bus that had been painted an exceedingly upbeat shade of apple green, yelling at every car that rolled by.

“YOU GOT YOUR HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA?”

“Hey, how YOU doing? You got a minute?”

Shelia — who is 51 and has bright red hair and who is fond of sharp sweats, lacquered nails, and a pair of Adidas that say love — was sitting with Katie, the bus driver, trying to recruit students. Shelia was doing all the work.

“How’s your day going? Blessed?”

“Hey, YOU got a diploma? You want an application?”

Sunnydale —  the name of a housing project but really the name of a neighborhood — is one of the poorest, most forgotten parts of San Francisco. If Shelia could get people to fill out applications, she could perhaps get them to change their lives, since the bus was a traveling classroom, the latest project of the Five Keys Charter School. Shelia had done it — she’d bucked nearly 40 years of failing at school and earned a high school degree. Though to be honest, she hadn’t done it on her first try. Or her second. Or third. Or fourth try, either. By the time Shelia arrived at the Five Keys classroom at 1099 Sunnydale Avenue, in 2014, she’d not learned how to read in high school and dropped out. She’d not learned how to read at San Francisco City College and dropped out. “The lady told me I was wasting my time,” she says. “That I just need to get a job, let the school thing go.” She’d fallen into drugs, prostitution, bad relationships, and jail.

RIP Jake Phelps, a San Francisco Skateboarding Legend

(Photo by Andrew Paynter, CaliforniaSunday.com)

(Photo by Andrew Paynter, CaliforniaSunday.com)

The New York Times reviews ‘Vice’ and the story of Dick Cheney's America

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Bale, thickening and graying before our eyes, burrows into the personality of a shrewd operator endowed with whatever the opposite of charisma might be. His Cheney lacks any trace of charm, humor or warmth, except sometimes in the company of his family. Dick’s devotion to his wife and their two daughters is genuine, but what motivates him above all is the study and acquisition of power, a vocation in which he has Lynne’s fierce and unstinting support.

The Great Scooter Crisis of 2018

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By Peter Horn

In a rare show of local bureaucratic efficiency, the powers that be in San Francisco heard the desperate cries of their constituents and came together to confront the city’s most pressing issues. Or issue, rather: The Great Scooter Crisis of 2018 (“TGSC2018”).

In a zero-sum resource environment, this act of bravery is not without consequences. All police officers with pre-2010 rent control who’ve managed to maintain an address in the city will be reassigned to the elite Scooter Task Force (“STF”). In a move lauded by local officials as fighting fire with eco-conscious fire, the 2,298-person task force will be given an armory of fully stocked AR-15s and unrestricted use of the city’s 14 police horses normally deployed to city parks in the fight against glass bottle-riddled picnics. They will be given orders to use lethal force when necessary, and if scooter traffic near the Philz truck on Marina Boulevard in the last two weeks is any indication, there will be blood.

With the recent surge in property crimes around the city, the STF is encouraging citizens not to leave valuables in their cars while officers’ resources are occupied by the scooter threat. Citizens should expect additional BART delays as well as a generous amount of public nudity and urination on the trains wholly unrelated to TGSC2018.

Then there’s the question of where to store the abominable things once the threat has been neutralized. Thankfully the city’s leaders had a Plan B after a Mission District homeowners group objected to spray-painting them blue and tossing them in Zuckerberg’s yard. The 95 affordable housing units in the Natalie Grub Commons complex just received its 6,581st lottery application, and it’s going straight to the top of the waiting list.

Critics of the plan will be comforted to know institutional investors have begun to show interest in the Affordable Scooter Storage sector despite its unfortunate abbreviation, and rumor is WeWork is eyeing a WeScoot concept where members pay a premium hourly rate to store their scooters in units with exposed beams and ironic wall murals.

None of these measures, of course, are free, so budget dollars will need to be reallocated from less urgent uses. Homeless shelters and opioid abuse clinics will temporarily shut their doors, while mental health facilities will be converted to post-traumatic scooter centers to give reeling citizens a safe place to work through the stages of Scooter Inconvenience (“SI”).

San Francisco is truly a world class city, complete with its share of world class problems. We can all rest easy knowing our leaders are facing these pressing issues head-on, one two-wheeled menace at a time.

"Sacramento Proud" - A native shares his thoughts on the Stephon Clark tragedy

By Ryan Hanlon | @ryan_hanny 

The Stephon Clark tragedy has shook my community to the core.  Aside from an enlightening stint at UC Berkeley for college, I have spent virtually my whole life in Sacramento.  Naturally, I am a loyal Sacramento Kings fan.  While strong ties to the community certainly grant me an emotional stake on this issue, my qualifications for writing this article end there.  I was raised by a conservative white family in the middle class suburb of Elk Grove.  I am not a police officer, and I have no family or close friends that have served in law enforcement.  I also have never served in the military or been in a combat situation.  Thus, I am lacking perspective on both sides of this equation.  Then again, maybe it is precisely that lack of perspective that affords me the objectivity necessary to write this article. 

On the evening of March 27th, 2018, a good friend and I went to see the Sacramento Kings play the Dallas Mavericks at the Golden 1 Center in Downtown Sacramento.  Why, you might ask?  Good question.  On paper, this tank-fest of a game is about as intriguing as another 50 Shades of Grey sequel, but, as I mentioned, I am a loyal fan.  When we arrived close to game time we were greeted by a notably diverse group of hundreds of citizens protesting the shooting of Stephon Clark. 

To be honest, my immediate reaction was one of annoyance.  Of course I sympathize with Stephon Clark’s family, friends, and community for their tragic loss.  I also recognize that racially charged police violence is a legitimate issue that communities face across the country.  But what the hell do the Sacramento Kings and their fans have to do with this horrible tragedy?  This might be my last chance to see the great Dirk Nowitzki play, and these protesters are denying me that opportunity for something that neither I nor the thousands of other men, women, and children standing dumbfounded outside the arena gates had any part in?

As the protesters continued to stand their ground, the Kings promptly notified fans that they would not be able to get into the arena and that they would be receiving refunds for the price of admission.  My friend and I then went to a local bar where we found other exiled Kings fans.  Over a couple beers and some appetizers, my friend and I began to engage in an in-depth and constructive conversation about what we had just witnessed and the circumstances surrounding it.  Over the course of the night, I couldn’t help but overhear many other Kings fans engaging in similar conversations, though some less constructive than others. 

Some folks openly supported the protest.  Others didn’t seem to mind the protest or the effect it had on their night.  The more common sentiments, however, were along the lines of, "There is a place called the State Capitol! This is not a good way to get their point across." And my first instinct as stated above: “What the hell do the Kings and their fans have to do with this?”  As the beer and conversation continued to flow and the Kings continued to lose the game (or win the draft lottery war, depending on how you look at it), I quickly realized that I was missing the point. 

Because the protest directly affected me, it forced me to think about the issue in a way that a protest marching on the steps of the Capitol never would have.  It forced me to seek out the facts in an effort to develop an informed opinion both on what happened to Stephon Clark and the method of protesting the same.  It made me feel uncomfortable.  And that is the point.  The protest is working - people are talking, and, more importantly, people are listening

Fortunately, one of the most influential voices in my community is setting an example by engaging in constructive conversation about these issues.  While the Sacramento Kings organization has not done much right from a basketball standpoint over the past decade plus, they’ve handled the recent protests with class and grace.  On March 22, 2018, the first night the protest denied fans access to the Kings game, the Kings’ owner, Vivek Ranadive, stepped up and addressed the Kings fans, the protesters, and the NBA by making a simple and straightforward live statement expressing compassion and promoting unity. 

That is a tough task for any owner of a sports franchise, especially considering he couldn’t have had much notice.  He said nothing particularly profound, and he for the most part took the politics out of his message (which is difficult to do), but he squarely addressed the situation, voiced support for the family, and preached solidarity.   Every NFL owner had the opportunity to make a similar impact for their respective communities last NFL season, and while some issued statements and/or stood with players in direct response to President Trump’s lambasting of the NFL for not changing its policy on the anthem protests, none that I am aware of made live public statements to positively address the anthem protest itself.  Sure, there are different facts and dynamics at play in the NFL which do not make the comparison apples to apples (less NFL games, a different demographic of fans, players protesting as opposed to citizens, and a different method of protest), but these complications do not excuse inaction – or worse – condemnation.  Mr. Ranadive may have no idea how to build a front office, but he is miles ahead of the field when it comes to steering a franchise and a community through delicate social issues. 

After the March 27th protest again denied fans access to the Kings game, Mr. Ranadive continued to engage in constructive conversation when he sat down with the leaders of the protests to discuss how to come together and move forward.  The result of that meeting was a partnership between the Sacramento Kings, Sacramento Black Lives Matter, and the Build. Black. Coalition in an unprecedented effort to fundamentally transform Black communities through investment in black youth in Sacramento.  The partnership’s effort to support black youth in Sacramento began promptly this past Friday (March 30, 2018) when current Kings players Vince Carter and Garret Temple and Kings legend Doug Christie appeared at a local event titled “Kings and Queens Rise: A Youth Voice Forum for Healing." Again, the Sacramento Kings lead by example and use their platform to foster togetherness. 

We should all follow the example set by the Sacramento Kings.  We should all engage in this process, not be dismissive of it.  We should all be respectful of and receptive to other people’s viewpoints, not criticize the manner in which they express them.  We should all search for common ground. 

I am not here to tell you what your opinion should be on the issue of racially charged police violence in our country. That is for you to decide.  But keep in mind, despite what the media would have you believe, your opinion does not have to be confined to the extremes of either “fuck the police” or “tough shit, when the police say stop, stop.”  That’s the easy way out.  While I’m on my soapbox, I’d argue that either extreme almost presupposes that you have not thought critically about the issues, reviewed the objective facts, and/or discussed the issue openly and respectfully with others who may disagree with you (posting provocative comments on social media does not count in my book).  You can support some aspects of the protests and disagree with others.  There is room for nuance.  I doubt this article takes an extreme enough position for those who protested at the Kings games on March 22nd and March 27th, and I am certain this article does not satisfy those who left the arena cussing and screaming at the protesters.  But that is just fine. 

What happened to Stephon Clark was undoubtedly horrific and representative of a larger issue in our country.  I do not presume to have all the answers for how to best address this issue.  I do know, however, that any significant social issue cannot be effectively addressed without the leadership of those in positions of power and influence.  While I couldn’t disagree more with President Trump’s characterization of this tragedy as a "local issue," I do agree with how my community and its leaders are working to address it on a local scale.  I can only hope that, when given the opportunity, people and organizations in positions of power in other communities across the country will follow the example set by the Sacramento Kings in the wake of the Stephon Clark tragedy.  Now, more than ever, I am #SacrametoProud

"I Am A God: Prologue" debuts April 5th in the 16th Annual Oakland International Film Festival

Henrik Sertima is a nerdy budding photographer planning to invent and distribute a unique line of film cameras ordained with ancient Egyptian symbols. In the midst of an ordinary day hanging out with his friend Kevin, he sees a supernatural vision. Their whole world is turned upside down after this revealing experience. As Henrik makes progress with his inventions the visions intensify. He becomes determined to find out what these visions mean and what he must do. I AM A GOD is a magically surreal story of self discovery that summons ancient truths.

Get your tickets here. 

For those who can not make the debut, the film will also be showing April 6th - 10pm at Jack London Regal... The perfect way to end your First Friday Festivities. See you there! 

Author Steven Pinker appears on the Joe Rogan Podcast, insists on a positive outlook of the world

Steven Pinker is a cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. His new book "Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress" will be released in February 2018.

Bay Area yoga teacher Jamila Ekukpe seeks to spread a unique perspective with her practice

By Connor Buestad

When you take a yoga class led by Jamila Ekukpe, the first thing you notice is how professional she is as a teacher. Clearly experienced with her craft, Ekukpe welcomes students into her downtown Oakland studio with an aura of confidence that puts one at ease when they lay down their mat for a class. She takes a direct and thoughtful approach throughout, drawing on both her understanding of the human body and her emotional intelligence to lead her classes to a better place each session, both physically and mentally.

Although she could easily be mistaken for yet another highly qualified yoga instructor that Bay Area yogis are lucky to choose from, look deeper and you will find a person that has much more to offer than a series of timed asanas. She has a much deeper message to share.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas by Nigerian parents, Ekukpe had very little yoga influence in her life growing up. It certainly wasn’t a path she envisioned for herself growing up. After graduating from high school, Ekukpe decided that a career in the Air Force would give her a stable career path and a chance to see the world. Unfortunately, that’s not how it played out for her at all. Instead, she was faced with empty promises unfulfilled and a serious back injury that required extensive rehab.

Because the Air Force had given her a taste of life in California, Ekukpe decided to stay and enroll at San Jose State to pursue her degree post service. Upon completion, she found herself in the corporate world of Bay Area real estate. Although successful, Ekukpe found that it didn’t allow her to sufficiently spread her perspectives on both mental and physical fitness. Perspectives and opinions that she takes very seriously.

“In the Air Force, I experienced obstacles with race and gender that I didn’t feel I deserved to face. For a lot of reasons it was unhealthy for me. By the time it was over, I had physical scars from my back injury and some mental scars from the culture there,” she explains.

As Ekukpe continued to rehab from her back injury, she found that yoga was an essential ingredient in getter her back on her feet both physically and emotional. Enamored by the process of healing and growth, Ekukpe began to feel the desire within her to teach yoga herself. She found a teacher training program with Annie Carpenter and hasn’t looked back.

“Teaching yoga really brings out the best in me. It allows me to connect with the public and share my teachings in a way that benefits not only my students, but myself as well. When I walk into a class, some people might make judgements based on how I look or what my background is, but that fades away when a class starts. All that matters is the hour at hand and how it makes people feel. I think that can be very powerful.”

When taking a class with Ekukpe, it is easy to be inspired by her calm confidence that she brings to the room every session. Her physical gifts as a yogi are easy to spot, but her emotional response to her class is equally as valuable. A long path has lead Ekukpe to finally be teaching yoga in the Bay Area. We are lucky to have her and learn from her journey.  

The GOP’s Licensing Deal

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By Peter Horn | @PeterCHorn

They thought they were getting a two-bedroom, two-bathroom slice of the American dream. A condominium built to the specifications of luxury befitting a man whose name nearly always appears in gold.

Sure they saw the warning signs. He’d nearly lost it all in a series of failed Atlantic City casino investments, and did he really call into the New York tabloids under a false alias to brag about his lascivious pursuits?

Maybe he’s flawed, but aren’t we all? And doesn’t that make his return to prominence that much more impressive? That much more relatable? That much more American?

So they looked past the red flags and signed on the dotted line. Trump Ocean Resort Baja. Trump Towers Tampa. Trump Towers Fort Lauderdale. For some, the down payment represented a lifetime’s savings.

Contrary to what they were led to believe, these condo projects were not to be built by Donald Trump. Rather, the giant gold letters in the marketing materials were the product of a licensing deal.

But a pig with lipstick on it is still a pig. And a poorly built condo sporting gold letterhead is still a poorly built condo.

These investors learned the hard way what the GOP soon will: Donald Trump is not a master developer; he is a master of short-term marketing and risk insulation.

When the Republican Party saw him take the stage in front of those pulsing, feverpitched crowds of red baseball caps, it saw an opportunity to rebuild a proud but dated brand. It saw a redevelopment plan.

Sure they saw the warning signs. A sham “university” that preyed upon desperate individuals striving to better their lives. An audio tape bragging about using a position of power to sexually harass women.

But isn’t there something in the bible about casting the first stone? And did you see the size of those crowds?

They will soon learn that, like so many of his recent condominium developments, Donald Trump has no equity stake in the GOP. This wasn’t a redevelopment. It was a short-term licensing deal.

And this licensing deal was no different than the rest: Trump stamped his name, offered a brand infusion by stoking the flames of resentment and animosity, then placed others around him in the first-loss position.

The failure of Obamacare repeal? McConnell. Potential tax reform failure? Cohn and Mnuchin. Russia? Let me give you the number for Jeff Sessions.

This has become Trump’s MO: positioning himself and his family to reap the financial rewards of his personal brand, while spreading the investment risk to all those around him. Capturing the upside, offloading the downside.

So it will be with the GOP. If and when things turn south, others will take the fall. Then when the party is no longer convenient, no longer accretive to the Trump brand, he’ll pull those gold letters down and walk away.

And those who chose to look past the warning signs in hopes of a GOP redevelopment will be forced to pick up the pieces of yet another broken Trump licensing deal.

They won’t like what they see.

You're Going to Die Presents YOU'RE ALIVE at SF's Great American Music Hall

By Alison Sperling | @ali_sperling | alison.sperling@gmail.com

It’s not meant to be a threat – that You’re Going to Die – it’s a fact. The reality that many of us find this fact imminently threatening is the charge and challenge of a bi-monthly performance series held at The Lost Church in San Francisco, the name of which places this fact front and center: “You’re Going to Die” (or, “YG2D” for short). On Friday, August 11th, YG2D will host its largest evening yet at the iconic Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. It’s a show that evidences YG2D’s vital and growing cultural influence in the Bay Area, a show that, especially for newcomers, will be a debut on a main stage in one of the leading cities in the world for the arts.

Over the past eight years, the YG2D movement has been taking shape around the city. It’s a movement centered on mortality – your own, yes – but also the mortality of those we have lost, and of those whom we are terrified to lose to death. It features an open mic packed with no longer than five-minute performances by poets professional and amateur, local musicians, comedians, storytellers of many forms, who each take as their task the subject of death and dying. YG2D also presents curated shows with featured performers ranging from full bands to spoken word, but all talented artists and always entertainment experiences inspired by a shared engagement with mortality. This is the ongoing project of Ned Buskirk, who curates, manages, and hosts the series. If performers go over their allotted time, Ned will come up on stage and hug them as a cue that their time is up. It’s that sort of thing, deeply introspective but wildly, frighteningly, thrillingly shared, a mutually agreed upon public vulnerability.

It was in May of 2009 when Ned and Sara Buskirk opened the doors to their San Francisco apartment for the first open mic that would eventually become the “You’re Going to Die” series. Crowded into their living room, people took turns standing and reading something – a poem, a spoken word piece, a page of Shakespeare, a toilet paper wrapper. I had only just met Ned then, maybe a year before, but it was clear he was extraordinary, adorned in plastic jewelry (no one seems to remember why), as he read a rumination on two black birds he spotted in a distant parking lot, but which turned out to be instead a wind-caught plastic bag dancing upside down on its handles. Acting as both the evening's host and performing as a writer -- a dual role that he would continue to develop as YG2D took shape --  Ned's persona and his writing had us in fits of laughter spontaneously checked by moments of contemplation. Maybe this is the balance that YG2D attempts to strike, a lightness of heart that doesn't refuse or shy away from the heaviness of grief.

Ned smiles at YG2D's first open mic, held inside his apartment in 2009.

Ned smiles at YG2D's first open mic, held inside his apartment in 2009.

If it isn’t already obvious, Ned is a friend of mine. I think he’s my best friend, though he is likely to have other best friends besides me. I admit this because I want to acknowledge my bias about Ned, about YG2D, about the many ways in which I feel invested in this movement, in my friend. [Over the last eight years there have been a number of well-done (more objective) write-ups about YG2D.] Ned has a kind of courage in facing mortality, born perhaps from the loss of his mom in 2003, which has informed YG2D from the start. It’s a courage that translates into the YG2D events and into the countless substantive, intimate relationships he has with community members and friends. He encourages in others an experience in vulnerability, a kind of shared, communal emotion around loss and the ways we might mourn and recover from loss together. He’s the kind of person you trust with your heaviest of feelings, the kind of person who is willing to bear them for others as if they were his own.

For those of us who have been attending YG2D’s since 2009, who have seen the events change and grow, take new forms in new venues, it’s hard not to feel like this August 11th show at the GAMH is a kind of culmination, the pinnacle of an organic, spontaneous night eight years ago in a San Francisco living room. Now, it’s an event that will likely sell out a major Bay Area performance venue. It’s astonishing, what we all can do together, what feelings and what people YG2D has given voice to, what spaces it has filled with those willing to face difficulties together, and with strangers. But YG2D is only getting started, with some big announcements on the way about the movement’s future (follow YG2D on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates). Don’t miss a chance to take part in this fully curated entertainment experience on the biggest stage YG2D has taken yet: “A Mortal Celebration.”

 

Ned onstage at a YG2D event, inside  The Lost Church  in SF.

Ned onstage at a YG2D event, inside The Lost Church in SF.


Complete show information and link to tickets below:

Get your tickets HERE

You're Going to Die Presents...
YOU'RE ALIVE: A Mortal Celebration featuring
Major Powers & The Lo-Fi Symphony
Midtown Social
with special appearances by
Scott Ferreter + Chelsea Coleman
& words from
Angela Hennessy
@
Great American Music Hall
Doors at 8pm
Show at 9pm

You're Going to Die offers a concert series proudly presenting great artists as they deserve to be presented: in the concert context of acknowledging their brilliant beaming mortal magic.
YG2D Presents curated shows steeped in the context of mortality, showcasing inspiringly enlivening musical acts with movingly entertaining spoken word.

On Friday, August 11th @ Great American Music Hall, YG2D proudly presents both friends & inspiring artists, Midtown Social & Major Powers & the Lofi Symphony...

Deeply inspiring & guaranteed to make you sweat just as much as it makes you think, Midtown Social presents a message of solidarity & hope, voiced by a community of people who are as diverse, bold, authentic, & vulnerable as the community in which they were forged. Midtown Social asks us all to come together, to find common ground, love & camaraderie, to fight for our communities, way of life, & rights—and to stand together as one.

Major Powers & The Lo-Fi Symphony plays Adventure Rock™. Imagine Mary Poppins writing songs for Weezer during a cliff diving competition between Freddie Mercury & Tom Waits while Danny Elfman makes out with Indiana Jones during a game of Dungeons & Dragons.

Angela Hennessy is an Oakland-based interdisciplinary artist and Associate Professor at California College of the Arts where she teaches courses on visual and cultural narratives of death and textile theory. Her current project, The School of the Dead, is a program for the decolonization of death and grief through the radical inquiry of aesthetic and social practices that mediate the boundary between the living and the dead.