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August 2016 
Mark Your Calendars: Fall 2016 Dates

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Registration for Fall courses is currently open. Browse course listings.

Come to an Info Session!
Berkeley: Tuesday, September 6
10:00 a.m. - noon (doors open at 9:30)
Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St.

Lafayette: Thursday, September 8
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3941 Mt Diablo Blvd

Please note that not all of our instructors will present at the info sessions. We recommend checking olli.berkeley.edu in early September for a list of speakers.

The term starts September 26 and runs through November 4.

Fall 2016 Speaker Series

History, politics, current events, literature: it's all covered in our Fall Speaker Series. All lectures are held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Freight and Salvage (2020 Addison St. in Berkeley).

October 5
Supreme Court 2016
Jesse Choper and Marshall Krause

October 12
OLLI faculty writers

October 19
A Sense of Justice
Ericka Huggins

October 26
L ooking Back on the Spanish Civil War
Adam Hochschild

These lectures are free for OLLI @Berkeley members as well as UC Berkeley students, faculty and staff. $10 for the general public.

Faculty Profile: Christopher "Toby" McLeod

by Jennifer Monahan, OLLI Staff

Christopher McLeod directs the Sacred Land Film Project in Berkeley. His most recent project, the four-part film series  Standing on Sacred Ground , has been shown on dozens of PBS stations since its release in Fall 2013 and was the result of five years of filming around the world. His 40-year film career also includes Poison in the Rockies , and The Cracking of Glen Canyon Damn with Edward Abbey and Earth First! He has an M.J. from UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. from Yale. His upcoming course "Standing on Sacred Ground" will be his first time teaching with OLLI @Berkeley. 

McLeod filming in Ethiopia

You have been making documentaries about sacred spaces, land use and indigenous peoples for over 30 years. In that time, which issues have improved and which have become more urgent?
When I started, sacred sites and indigenous peoples were more or less invisible, and that's no longer the case. These days, outsiders will ask questions about how to behave at sacred sites and whether they should even go. Twenty years ago, nobody would have asked that.

So these sites and cultural practices are more visible, and they receive more respect as a result. We're seeing more laws and policies that acknowledge sacred places and try to enforce real protection, and native peoples are more empowered in requesting that their traditions and lands be respected. We have also seen an interest in rejuvenating native languages and cultural practices. We see more mapping of indigenous territories and stronger efforts to protect them, with some success stories like the Kayapo in Brazil. So there are examples of good news.  

At the same time, consumer demand and industrialization are both accelerating, which means that activities like mining and fracking keep expanding into remote areas. And then there's climate change, which is the cumulative result of consumer demand and which will have a massive impact on sacred lands everywhere.

The purpose of my films is to tell stories, to connect cultures, to share successes and disasters, and to build awareness of these places and why they should be respected.

Your first documentary was a nine-minute short featuring Edward Abbey and Earth First! What was it like to work with them?
At the time I was a graduate student in the School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, and I was working on a film about coal and uranium mining in Hopi country. My topic was mining; I knew nothing about native lands. I had read Edward Abbey's classic book, The Monkey Wrench Gang , and I gave copies to my two film partners because I considered our filmmaking to be a form of monkey-wrenching: we were throwing an information wrench into the machine. I wanted to interview Abbey for our film, so I sent him a letter requesting an interview and asking whether it could take place on the Colorado Plateau instead of at his home near Tucson. Abbey wrote back -- one of his famous white postcards -- saying: "Yes. Meet me at Lone Rock campground nine miles north of Glen Canyon Dam on the spring equinox. We have something planned."

A few weeks later as we drove in, the Earth First folks said, "Who are these guys?" and Abbey replied "They're my film crew." We hadn't known we were his film crew.  We spent a couple days there amidst a pretty wild party atmosphere at the campsite. They were getting ready to unroll a 350-foot strip of black plastic down the face of Glen Canyon Dam to look like a giant crack.

So we filmed their guerilla-theater action, and we interviewed Abbey with the dam in the background. Earth First! used our film all that summer. It was in 1981 -- when James Watt was Secretary of the Interior -- and that was basically the beginning of Earth First! as a radical environmental movement.

Not only was it helpful for me to make a short film prior to finishing my thesis film -- I learned a lot -- but it allowed me to focus on Abbey in a way that wouldn't have been possible in the context of the documentary film on mining. He was just so quirky and funny and offbeat, and it would have been a real disservice to give him two 25-second sound bites in an hour-long film.

In your five years traveling the world to film Standing on Sacred Ground, are there people, places or experiences that really stood out for you?
We filmed in eight locations in seven countries, so it's hard to narrow down the list. But here are two examples...

I started visiting the Winnemem Wintu in the early 1990s, when they were fighting the construction of a ski resort on Mount Shasta. At the time, all of the younger members of the tribe were opposed to filming, but their elder Florence Jones said yes. At age 86, she knew that this was an opportunity to tell her story and document and preserve traditions. We filmed ceremonies that had never been filmed before. It was a very collaborative process: we filmed, then showed them footage and got feedback, then showed a rough cut and got feedback, then showed the finished product... and they liked it! The distribution process was collaborative as well: instead of just screening the film ( In the Light of Reverence ) and quickly moving on to the next project, we spent four years doing screenings, and we stayed in contact the whole time. When we started Standing on Sacred Ground in 2007, the Winnemem Wintu, and their new leader Caleen Sisk, were fighting the federal government plans to increase the height of Shasta Dam, which would increase the storage capacity of Shasta Lake but also flood more of the Winnemem lands and drown many sacred sites. It was a natural choice to tell this next chapter of their story and continue a powerful collaboration.

Another story that stands out is when we were in Papua New Guinea. Elders in Bosmun village told me we could film a canoe ceremony, but at the time they didn't mention that they hadn't done one in a decade. Part of the ceremony involves playing two transcendental flutes, but they didn't have any flute players in the village so they had to bring in a couple of flute players from up the river. Afterwards, several villagers decided to relearn the instrument and they went to a 72-year old master to teach them. Some time later I got an email saying that Bosmun had just initiated 12 flute players after a year of training, and I recently got another email saying they now had 8 more. They credit our filming in the village with inspiring the revival of this tradition. As a filmmaker you're always worried about unintended consequences of your presence; in this case it was nice to see a positive outcome.

What are you looking forward to in teaching this class?
All my films are educational, and every screening is an educational opportunity whether it's at a university, an elementary school, or a theater. Beyond making the films we have compiled educational materials that teachers can access on our website. That said, this is my first time planning a sequence of classes aimed at generating a discussion that we can build on week after week. Also, an OLLI audience will have seen these issues evolve over time, so they'll be bringing that context and set of experiences into the classroom.

Member Perspective: 
Hearing in OLLI Classrooms

by Jane Neilson, OLLI member

If you wear a hearing aid and use a telecoil setting, you can improve your learning experience in OLLI classrooms 41B and Freight & Salvage. I speak from experience.

I was born with a moderate hearing loss in the upper frequencies. This is the range that most often affects people as they age. We have trouble with words ending or beginning with s, f, t, th and breathy sounds. We hear sounds but can't always tell what is being said. Hearing aids can be programmed to address a user's specific hearing deficiencies and they can be programmed with a telecoil option.

It wasn't until I was 30 that I got my first hearing aid. In the 40 years since, I can truly say the technology has dramatically advanced, which brings me back to the telecoil or t-coil. Originally developed for use with the telephone, it now has a much broader application. In fact, I do not use my t-coil for telephone use at all, but depend on it in venues set up for its use such as Freight & Salvage, OLLI classroom 41B and the American Conservatory Theater (with a neck loop).

A telecoil is a small copper coil that is an option on most hearing aids (and is built into cochlear implant processors.) The telecoil is activated by a t-switch on the hearing device or remote. In 41B and F&S it bridges the distance between you and the sound source. By contrast, increasing the volume on your hearing aid won't necessarily increase the clarity of what you hear. That's because hearing aids can't completely separate the sounds you want to hear from the background noise, or pick up all the sounds coming from a distant source. But the telecoil can deliver the OLLI teacher's speech directly from their microphone to the small copper wire located inside the hearing aid. A hearing loop, a wire that circles a room, is connected to the sound system, and delivers customized sound to the listener.  At Freight & Salvage you can actually see  the  copper outline embedded in the floor  in  the lower section  where  the t-coil  works . Look for a stripe that spans the entire width and depth of the lower section. You must sit inside this perimeter. If you sit in the upper level section, the t-coil option can't be activated. 

I have discovered that even in a small room like 41B or a venue with excellent acoustics like Freight & Salvage my experience is enhanced using the telecoil. I am more relaxed since there is less struggle about hearing everything. As a bonus, I have found that the music events I attend at Freight & Salvage are enhanced.

I think many OLLI members are new to hearing aids. They don't know their features or how best to use them. They may not know about the telecoil option. Others are not even aware of their hearing losses. They have become used to their situation and developed coping mechanisms such as turning their better ear toward a speaker. I encourage all OLLI members to get smarter about hearing loss. Check with your audiologist about hearing aids and telecoil programming and how hearing assistive technology can help.

OLLI teachers also have a responsibility. Even in a small classroom with a voice that carries, you need to use a microphone. If you are the kind of teacher who walks around, you need a microphone that walks with you. You need to place your hand-held, headset, or lapel microphone to the side or slightly below your mouth, so that it picks up your voice but not your explosions of breath. We will also hear you better if you look at us and minimize reading from your notes with your head lowered.

Thanks to Patricia Cross who advocated for the implementation of assistive listening devices at OLLI and donated funding to make it happen.

Travel Study

Cuba with Cal Discoveries and Alex Saragoza
square in cuba See Cuba before it changes! Cal Discoveries, which has organized several OLLI trips in the past, is offering a tour of Cuba from January 5 through January 13. Alex Saragoza, former director of the Center for Latin American Studies at UC Berkeley, will be guest lecturer on the tour... which complements Professor Saragoza's fall course on Contemporary Cuba. Download a trip brochure for details.

Travel Study with OLLI at University of Alaska Fairbanks
balinese dancers The OLLI at University of Alaska Fairbanks has an extensive travel program that they are opening up to other OLLIs.  They offer summer trips in Alaska in partnership with the National Park Service; international travel programs for 2016 - 2017 include trips to Ireland, Bali, and Cuba. View their online descriptions to learn more, or contact them at summer@alaska.edu  or  866-404-7021

Research Opportunities

From time to time, the OLLI Advisory Research and Evaluation Team (ARET) lets OLLI members know about research participation opportunities. In all cases, the research has been reviewed and approved by ARET.   

UC Berkeley is conducting research focused on reducing caregiver burden associated with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia (ADRD) through the development of home sensing equipment to aid in the detection of potential safety concerns in homes. This is a three-month pilot study aimed at using software to identify certain safety-critical events. Participants will be asked to allow small cameras and wireless sensors to be placed in the home to collect data to test how well software algorithms can detect:
  • when the individual with dementia has left the residence alone
  • when an individual has fallen down
  • when the sink or bath is overflowing
  • when the stove has been left on unattended
If you are interested in participating, please review the  study notification document and contact the study organizers directly. OLLI will not be an intermediary between interested members and the study team. 

Learn more about OLLI research opportunities

Faculty News

The San Francisco Chronicle Pink Section recently devoted a full-length feature article to Mark Streshinsky and the West Edge Opera Company. View article, and don't miss the photos of West Edge's performance space in a former train station in Oakland.

Kathryn  Roszak convenes a new  Next Step Movement class for seniors starting 9/30 from  9 a.m.-10 a.m.  at 1201 University Ave in Berkeley. Roszak also creates a new film this  fall funded in part by Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation and will
present: "Don't Move Until I Come Back: The Future of Frankenstein/Ms.
Robot" as part of WestWave Dance Festival 9/16 in S.F. Email Kathryn  for
news on this and a special gathering celebrating Women and the Arts.