For 50 years, The Ruth Bancroft Garden has showcased the collection and works of Bay Area native, Ruth Bancroft. It is home to a wide array of succulents and has become the finest garden of drought-tolerant plants.
As the weather gets warmer and the sun shines longer, outdoor activities are appearing back on our radar with the return of spring. What better way to decompress on the weekends off-campus than at a dry botanical garden in Walnut Creek? The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a three-and-a-half acre dry garden showcasing the beauty of succulents and drought-tolerant plants. The garden and nursery have showcased the beauty of plants through art and design for over 50 years. It not only upholds the legacy of Ruth Bancroft but has become one of the finest botanical gardens in the Bay Area.
Ruth Petersson was born in 1908 and grew up in Berkeley. She studied as an architecture major at UC Berkeley but quickly switched to teaching once the stock market crashed. As she grew older, Petersson met her husband, Philip Bancroft Jr., in Merced where she taught home economics. After the two married, they decided to start their family in Walnut Creek. Not only did they start a family, Ruth Bancroft instantly found her love for plants through gardening and discovering new species. In 1971, the last orchard tree was cut down, and the three-acre lot was open to new life. Her husband immediately offered the land to her as their home garden was overflowing. With this large space, Bancroft’s knowledge and appreciation grew as she learned landscaping design and plant care throughout all seasons. Ruth Bancroft lived up to 109 years old, but her spirit still fiercely lives through the garden and within the community today.
The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a nonprofit organization, raising funds to preserve the garden and create communal space for Walnut Creek. The garden features plants from all around the world. It is a display of Bancroft’s plant collection that has grown for over 60 years. It still even has the very first succulent she purchased. Check it out the next time you’re in Walnut Creek for a chance to walk through the art, design, and natural beauty of plants and Ruth Bancroft’s passion.
(Image Courtesy sfgate.com)
A short recap on a few of women who have been winning in the entertainment industry. Highlighting Zendaya’s dip back into music, Zoe Kravits’s Catwoman, and Rihanna’s iconic maternity looks.
After Spiderman: No Way Home, Dune, and Euphoria, Zendaya’s talents and abilities have solidified her place in the entertainment industry today. Her versatile acting skills and gravitational energy through big screens have built her reputation as a force to be reckoned with. But her work doesn’t stop there. Following the season finale of Euphoria, Zendaya released the full-length song, I’m Tired, which was featured in episode four of the series. In collaboration with British singer Labrinth, Zendaya makes a small debut towards the end to close out the expressive song. Her soft, delicate voice ties together all of the emotions felt. The response from fans has been nothing but positivity and appreciation for her return to music. In a recent tweet, Zendaya expressed her gratitude explaining that her love for music has always been there, and support of her “tiny toe-dip” back into music was everything to the star.
The Batman reboot has fans raving and a large part is owed to Zoe Kravits in her role of Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman. Her interpretation of the comic book character has caused a stir in the industry but could be the creation of an added face to the LGBTQIA+ community. Catwoman in the original comics has always been portrayed as bisexual. After eight movies and Catwoman’s later, Kravits finally brings Selina Kyle’s sexuality and true form to the big screen. In the most subtle and sultry way, her reference to her friend, Anika, as “baby” was all that comic book fans needed to hear. Kravits’ take on Catwoman may have been the most intriguing and accurate yet, playing a big role in the movie’s immediate success.
Since her pregnancy announcement last month, Rihanna has been glowing. After successes with her lingerie brand Savage X Fenty and beauty line Fenty Beauty, the iconic singer is entering a new era as a mom-to-be. In true Rihanna fashion, carrying a growing baby doesn’t stop the fashionista from serving looks. In the words of Maddy from Euphoria, “I wouldn’t wear any of the nast maternity clothes. I would just be me, plus pregnant.” To start off Women's History Month, Rihanna was spotted at Dior’s runway show in Paris sporting a sheer lace slip, leather coat, and pointed leather heeled boots. Within the next few days, the star posts yet another OOTD showing off her Stella McCartney blue cut-out jumpsuit, peeking out her round belly, paired with pointed heels and layered gold jewelry. Who can do it like Rihanna? Her confidence and glow during this pregnancy inspire many and are rewriting the norms for maternity fashion.
(Images Courtesy The Today Show, Fashionista, Glamour UK)
Remy Zerber and Benjamin Noel
“Being in The BASH was an incredible experience. For those who don’t know, The Bash is the LGBTQ+ cultural night. It celebrates gay pride and all different forms of expression. This year’s theme was “Over the Rainbow,” which highlighted the history and power of the LGBTQ+ flag. Being in this performance made me feel proud of who I am. I enjoyed researching all the disabled queer people for my video. I didn’t know there were other disabled queer people, so it was exciting to get to find and research them.” - Remy Zerber, Culture Columnist
All the other performances were amazing too. Everyone presented a unique display of their experience as a member of this community. There were paintings, songs, journal entries, and even a clown! Aero England’s song was really inspiring and beautiful. It was “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman. Lauren Smith told her touching story of coming out, and the importance of queer spaces that allowed her to express herself freely. Tyra Thompson also shared a powerful coming-out story. She bravely shared her most vulnerable moments. Tyra’s and Lauren’s stories of coming out were very inspiring to me. Saumya Khanna expressed the importance of the Intercultural Center to her. It felt like home in a sometimes hostile community at SMC. Everyone who was in the show did an amazing job, including the crew members. I am glad I met the people I did in this show. The show displayed the community’s strength and showed LGBTQ+ students that they have a home.
The 22nd annual Latinx Cultural Night took place in the Soda Center on March 9th, 2022. With over 100 audience members, the show was a complete sellout. In addition, Saint Mary’s very own Ballet Folkloricó Guadalupano group appeared three times throughout the night between the other SMC students’ performances. Each performance presented different talents, personal commemorations to family, connections to culture, and appreciation for the diverse cultures within Latin America and Latinx communities in the United States.
Christian Ramirez Rodriguez questioned “¿Qué es un Santo?” which translates to “What is a Saint?” which recognizes the significance of the Catholic faith within the context of Latin America. The SMC Merengue group performed an exciting dance choreographed by Teresa Martinez and shared that the merengue song and dance originated from the Dominican Republic but has become popular amongst other communities. The @Smcmemes22 Instagram page creator did a comedic segment on “The Roast of SMC,” stressing SMC’s most relatable and controversial characteristics.
The video titled “Ellas,” put together by Stephanie Ramirez, honored the influential female figures within her own family, such as her grandma, mom, and aunt. What followed was the reading of a personal poem written by Isabella Gutierrez in memory of her late grandmother, and how much of an impact she had on both her childhood and early adulthood. José Miranda, both a dancing member and serving as the co-fundraising chair of Ballet Folkloricó Guadaluano, performed a solo dance in the show’s latter half.
Maya Diáz-Villalta shared a poem written by Gloria Anzaldua titled “La Prieta,'' which describes the pain derived from views on colored skin and feeling alienated from the society they live within. Finally, Cecelia Estrada shared the “Senior Video” commemorating hers and her friend’s time at Saint Mary’s to end the show. It described the good, the bad, and the memorable moments they each experienced, ending with advice for incoming and current students at the institution. Executive team members Co-Chair Stephanie Ramirez, Set Director David Garza, Event Planner Athena Wise, and Publicity Coordinator Cecilia Estrada Navarro put together the event, which the Intercultural Center hosted. The event could not have been accomplished without their dedication and time coordinating the show and set.
(Images Courtesy Writer)
Oakland’s very own festival is finally back. After a two year shut down, the city looks to bring back life and joy with the return of First Fridays.
By Isabelle Delostrinos
It’s no question that the Bay Area has a rich culture. From Berkeley to Oakland and San Francisco, we are neighbors to some of the most unique cities. Just a BART ride away, we have access to the fast pace of Powell Street or the beauty of Lake Merritt. However, one of the most exclusive and popular events the Bay Area is known for only takes place once a month.
Oakland First Fridays is a community event hosted by and for the people of Oakland. Every first Friday of the month, Oakland residents gather at Telegraph Avenue to support local businesses and artists. From food booths, painted canvases, and live music, First Fridays are seen as a festival that uplifts the greatness within our very own communities.
First Fridays became a hit since its first debut in 2011. As popularity grew, the Korean/Northgate Community Benefit District (KONO) acknowledged the importance of the event and took over its operations in 2014. Since then, the community has dedicated every first Friday of the month to their neighbors. This festival looks to break the barriers between local small businesses and their customers. In an era where Prime Delivery and e-commerce exist, small businesses find it difficult to compete with giant corporations. First Fridays give local businesses the chance to showcase their work, all while making genuine connections with their community. Organizers prioritize Oakland-based businesses to ensure each booth is filled with entrepreneurs from the host city. Community-wide initiatives also take place by encouraging event-goers to participate in food, toy, clothing drives, and much more.
The monthly event is one of the most important events the city offers. Not only is it such a special experience, but it keeps the city thriving. With over thousands attending every month, money spent from event guests goes directly back into the community. The past two years of the pandemic heavily impacted marginalized communities like Oakland. First Fridays have become a cornerstone for entrepreneurs and artists to connect and grow their brands. Investing in these businesses reassures them that the city supports their craft and hard work.
If you still need plans for this Friday, round up your group of friends and head over to Telegraph Avenue! Festivities begin at 5 PM and go until 9 PM. The event is free to everyone: just walk up and join the party. You’ll be able to shop for unique crafts and goods, enjoy live entertainment and view art pieces throughout the night. Don’t miss out on this special event and be fully immersed in the rich culture Oakland has.
Directions from campus:
For up-to-date information, follow @oakfirstfridays on Instagram.
To learn more about the event and initiatives head to oaklandfirstfridays.org. There, you can also sign up to be a vendor, performer, or volunteer. You’ll also be able to find the online merchandise shop and gofundme to directly support the event.
An effort to make the required courses more diverse in readings.
By Madison Sciba
As part of the Saint Mary’s curriculum, every student has to take Seminar courses during their college careers. In the past few years, the lack of diversity in the Seminar readings has become a problem. This has led to the Seminar faculty working to change the curriculum to become more diverse. There has been a specific effort to provide more works by Black and African-American writers, authors, and speakers into Seminar.
Speeches and writings from influential African American movement leaders, include Martin Luther King Jr.'s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and On Christian Liberty, Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet,” and Nelson Mandela’s “I am Prepared to Die.” Another important step in diversifying Seminar readings was the inclusion of works by women of color. These works include Toni Morrison’s “Lecture and Speech,” Dana Johnson’s “Melvin in the 6th Grade,” and Maya Angelou’s “On the Pulse of Morning.”
This change in the required Seminar readings comes from a community demand for more opportunities for discussions of race and gender in Seminar. The Seminar website states, “focus on navigating difficult dialogues around race, gender and sexual orientation in Seminar classrooms.” In terms of the push for diversity in Informal Curriculum events, the Seminar website claims, “We will begin to develop a new series of Informal Curriculum events that highlight non-Western texts and perspectives.”
The Saint Mary’s community raised the issue of lack of diversity in the Seminar readings and in response, change is underway.
By Jenevieve Monroe
Afrobeat is a collection of jazz and funk rhythms, extended instrumental solos, and highlife music. This music genre has not only gained immense popularity from pioneering West African pop but has also acted as a form of Nigerian civil protest.
The father of the genre was Fela Kuti, a Nigerian artist and activist who lived his young adult years in the midst of a Civil War (1967-1970). He used the power of community, political discourse, and Afrobeat to challenge the militant coups that arose from colonialist dissension. The impact of Fela Kuti’s legacy is visible to the Bay Area today; the annual “Afrofunk Festival” has made its way to venues in San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles.
One Saint Mary’s course has brought Afrobeat and other non-European musical and dance traditions to the classroom. Professors Sixto Montesinos and Rogelio Lopez Garcia are offering the course “World Music and Dance” (PERFA 014-01) this spring, which educates students on the complexities of musical composition that stem beyond Western music theory.
According to Professor Montesinos, most music theory taught in schools focuses mostly on the musical styles and techniques of 18th-century European composers like Mozart and Beethoven. This eurocentric approach, he says, excludes other interesting and more complex types of music theory like Indian or Indonesian music theories.
“It’s alarming that many musicians have spent their entire lives and careers only studying the styles of 18th-century European composers when there is so much more out there to know!” Montesinos says.
Professor Montesinos finds it surprising that many students do not know who Fela was but hopes that students can appreciate his career and the influence he had in music. Montesinos also hopes that students can appreciate the depths and complexities of African music.
“There are many limiting stereotypes about African music out there that the story and music of Fela debunks. For example, people think African music is only drums. That’s incorrect,” Montesinos says. “There is so much more than drums. Fela’s music combines jazz and also highlife and has so many different instrumentations, saxophone, guitars, trumpets, etc! That’s what this class hopes to accomplish. Debunking stereotypes and focusing truly on the richness of dance and musical traditions not only in Africa but also from other regions explored like Indonesia, Middle East, México.”
COURSE PERFA 014, Professors Montesinsos and Garcia
Afrobeat reverberates throughout Bay Area – East Bay Times
The Politics of Fela Kuti's 'Zombie' by Samuel McIlhagga — Ostrich Records
Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) • (blackpast.org)
SMC Alumni owned Nirvana Soul is the Coffee shop of your dreams
By Kiera O'Hara-Heinz
With trendy decor, a welcoming atmosphere, and delicious drinks, Nirvana Soul, located in Downtown San Jose, is the trendy coffee shop you’ve been searching for.
Founded in September 2020 by SMC alumni Be’Anka Ashaolu ’08 and her sister Jeronica Macey, the shop is guided by the motto of “using the power of coffee and tea to bring people together.” Nirvana Soul is one of only a few Black-owned food and beverage businesses in San Jose. The shop's decor reflects this, with a number of murals depicting sayings like “Black Owned,” other paintings of Black folks, and the Black power fist.
The shop is very aesthetically pleasing and, when I visited, many people could be seen taking pictures for social media. The pink color pallet and the plants lining the walls make Nirvana Soul look like a place right out of a Pinterest board or Instagram feed.
The cafe has a pretty extensive menu with many different iced and hot coffee and tea options, and all the plant-based milks you could dream of. I had the serotonin sunrise, an iced tea drink with jasmine, raspberry, peach teas, and sparkling water. The drink really was serotonin in a cup and it was a refreshing drink for a hot day.
After visiting the coffee shop, I highly recommend you check out the surrounding area. Nirvana Soul is located in the SoFA district and is surrounded by many trendy and artsy businesses. A short walk down the street is the Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (MACLA), an art space dedicated to contemporary Chicano and Latin American art. Their current exhibit, Beyond the Diaspora, explores the Afro-Latino experience through a variety of mediums. The exhibit will run through March 13, 2022. Admission is free though donations are encouraged.
By Remy Zerber
Expressions of Blackness is a cultural night that is put on every year at SMC to celebrate the Black community here on campus. It is a night filled with fun events and performances. A memorable quote that summed up the night is “Home is where you make it,” as the theme of the night was “Homecoming”.
This cultural night had many musical performances. One of the songs they sang was “Clocks” by Coldplay. I can tell why they chose this song because it has a lot to do with the theme of “Home.” This song has many interpretations for what it is about, but one thing is for sure: the singer wants to go home at the end of the song. What home represents is up to interpretation. My interpretation of the song is it is about a relationship and the singer is watching their time together tick by. Home represents the person that he has fallen for.
There was also Nigerian music at the event. The person who played this song was originally from Nigeria, so it reminded him of home. Two other students sang the “Black National Anthem.” This song is about all the suffering the Black community had to go through to finally get their freedom. The next song that was played was “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar. This song is about racism and the Black experience. It connects to the theme of home because the Black community is home for many Black people. The cultural night opened with two people playing the drums, which is very reminiscent of Africa.
In addition to music, many people also told their stories. Some people used nonverbal forms of storytelling. For example, there was a dancer who did an interpretive dance. She swung herself around using her whole body. One performer also said he has lived in many different places so he doesn’t know where his real home is so he calls home wherever he feels at home. This connects to the theme of home. Another student showed a film she made about Rose, one of the first Black women to attend SMC. This was an important milestone for Saint Mary’s.
The Expressions of Blackness Cultural Night was definitely a night to remember with many performances and stories. Home was a big theme throughout the night.
Ryan Ford '23,