Laguna Wilderness Press will publish The Laguna Canyon Project: Refining Artivism this summer 

In 1989, artists, activists, and supporters working together succeeded in preventing construction of a housing community in Laguna Canyon and ensured that the Canyon was designated as undeveloped land in perpetuity. 

That milestone achievement has inspired the creation of a book, The Laguna Canyon Project: Refining Artivism, which tells the story in words and images and will be published by Laguna Wilderness Press this summer.

Liz Goldner, project manager and co-editor of the book, summarizes its contents in her preface as follows: “[The book] describes how this project, created by artists and educators Mark Chamberlain and Jerry Burchfield, evolved in response to the foreboding construction plans. 

“The project further influenced the public’s understanding of the canyon’s ecological importance, sparked communal environmental debates, and ultimately had an impact in the decision making by local and county leaders and by the area’s landowner.”

The word Artivism, combining ‘art’ and ‘activism,’ was coined to describe the collaborative art projects addressing critical environmental and social issues that Chamberlain and, until his death in 2009, Burchfield pursued since the 1970s. 

Click on photo for larger image

Submitted photo

December, 1989, The Tell completed

According to Goldner, the Project had 16 distinct phases, the most influential of which was The Tell, a 636-foot-long photomural erected in 1989 in Sycamore Flats in what is today the 7,000-acre Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. 

“This public art installation, the activism it inspired and its role as the destination for the November 1989 Walk to Save the Canyon are still fresh in the minds of many participants. Most of the contributors to this book helped create The Tell,” Goldner explains. 

The main essay in the book is authored by Mark Chamberlain. He describes how he and Burchfield in 1980 undertook long-term documentation of Laguna Canyon Road, one of the last pristine passages to the Pacific Ocean.

 “Our Tell ultimately became a 636-foot-long sculptural installation. Resembling a giant reclining female figure, it undulated through the landscape, echoing the shape of the surrounding hills; its centerpiece was a stylized Easter Island head,” he said.

According to Chamberlain, “The shape of the mural was based on the profile of a reclining female figure that is in the Laguna Canyon landscape when viewed from the road looking outbound near Sycamore Flats.” 

Click on photo for larger image

Submitted photo

Dedication Day, Aug 19,1989. Left to right: Jerry Burchfield, Lida Lenney (vice mayor of LB), Larry Agran (mayor of Irvine), Bob Gentry (mayor of LB), Cameron Cosgrove, (vice mayor of Irvine), and Mark Chamberlain

“During the summer months, when hundreds of thousands of tourists traveled Laguna Canyon Road to Laguna Beach, The Tell beckoned them off the road,” Chamberlain notes. “Once there, they were welcomed by workers on the project along with members of the Laguna Canyon Conservancy and the Laguna Greenbelt, who eagerly informed them of the issues at stake and solicited their support for the cause.”

Chamberlain offers fascinating details about the imagery contained in the mural, including references to Native American iconography.

Additional essays in the book include Reflections on Photography, the Laguna Wilderness, and the Laguna Canyon Project by Jerry Burchfield, How an Art Project Preserved a Canyon by Leah Vasquez, A Struggle to Envision a Canyon by Mike McGee, Remembering The Tell by Mike Phillips, and How The Tell Helped to Set the Stage and the Negotiations That Followed by Paul Freeman.

“The hope is that this record of their efforts will inspire others to achieve environmental sustainability in their own communities and worldwide,” Goldner says.

The Laguna Canyon Project: Refining Artivism will be published this summer.

Heartway will launch handmade book, Elli’s Ride, at a fundraiser reception on April 23 at Anneliese School


Dr. Andrea Deerheart, the passionate founder of HeartWay, has recently completed a project very dear to her own heart, Elli’s Ride: Death Beyond Imagination.

A book launch and reception will take place on Sunday, April 23, from 2 - 5 p.m. at Anneliese School.  

Deerheart describes HeartWay, the non-profit organization she founded, as being “…dedicated to encouraging a return of intimacy, reverence, and sanctity to death and dying, regardless of age. We envision a world where no one dies alone, in pain or without the presence of love.” Last year, it helped more than 1,500 clients through the process of death, dying, and sorrow.

Click on photo for larger image

Submitted photo

Andrea Deerheart, author of Elli’s Ride and founder of nonprofit Heartway 

According to Deerheart’s invitation to the launch, “Elli’s Ride has been a 10-year labor of love written about an 11-year-old girl’s journey through death, dying, and beyond. We hope you will join us for our book release, reception, and fundraiser.”

“Elli lived in Laguna Beach and attended Anneliese Schools till right before she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma cancer when her family moved to Irvine,” she continues.  “She was my daughter’s best friend and our families were/are very close. We walked by Elli’s side through the almost two years she worked through her cancer, that eventually took her life. She was a teacher, a love, and a precious child. She is with me every day inspiring my life in service, love, honesty, and humor.”

The book follows the story of Elli and her spirit totem elephant, Naaz-e-Jaan (whose name translates to Grace in the Breath of the Soul). On their adventures through far off ancient mystical realms, she learns to embrace life and honor death. 

Elli writes of her adventures in love letters that she places in her mother’s heart pocket in the hopes of comforting her. This powerful tale has been hand crafted into a limited collector’s edition. Only 200 numbered copies have been created and stitched by loving hands. 

Click on photo for larger image

Submitted photo

A handcrafted copy of Elli’s Ride shown above Elli and her mother

Attendees are asked to join the book launch reception for a heartfelt 10-year anniversary celebration of young Elli’s life. Dr. Deerheart and Ladan (Elli’s mother) will be reading passages from Elli’s Ride and personally signing copies of the book. There will be a ceremony underneath Elli’s commemorative flowering plum tree. Attendees will be treated to music, delightful and tasty organic chocolate truffles with hand painted elephants, petit fours, tea and camaraderie.

Deerheart says, “As with Elli’s Ride, the arts, whether literature, poetry, films, or visual arts, make possible a more expanded consciousness and more intimate understanding of what speaks to the central concerns of human existence—life and death, transition and impermanence, uncertainty and meaning, and the many facets of our relationship with Self, others, and the broader community of beings with which we share our existence.” 

For more information and to RSVP for the book launch reception/fundraiser, click

Bel Canto Women’s Choir will highlight Sunday service at LBUMC

Bel Canto Women’s Choir of Azusa Pacific University is set to perform at Laguna Beach United Methodist Church Sunday, March 19, during the church’s 10 a.m. worship service.  

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Bel Canto Women’s Choir will sing this Sunday at 10 a.m. at LBUMC

The Bel Canto Women’s Choir, under the direction of David Hughes, DMA, presents more than 20 performances each year. With more than 40 years of service history, the 50-voice ensemble travels extensively. 

The Choir has performed internationally in places as diverse as Romania, Poland, and South Africa in cooperation with APU’s Center for Student Action.

Caterina Paton, a member of the choir is also a member of LBUMC, which is located at 21632 Wesley Drive. A potluck luncheon will be served following the worship service.  

For additional information, visit the church’s website at

Authors will speak at Laguna Beach Books on March 23 and March 26

On Thurs, March 23 at 6 p.m., Laguna Beach Books welcomes author Susan Meissner. Susan will be discussing her new book, A Bridge Across the Ocean, a compelling novel that follows the lives of three women, past and present, connected by a seventy-year-old tragedy that took place aboard the Queen Mary.

Drawing from memories of June Allen, a passenger on the first voyage of the Queen Mary in 1946, which carried war brides across the Atlantic to their American husbands, the story shifts between the war years in Europe, the 1946 voyage, and present day California. 

Click on photo for larger image

Submitted photo

A Bridge across the Ocean, an historic novel, by Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner is a former managing editor of a weekly newspaper and an award-winning columnist. She is the award-winning author of Secrets of a Charmed Life, A Fall of Marigolds, and Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, among other novels. 

On Sunday, March 26 at 4 p.m., Laguna Beach Books welcomes author Lisa Napoli. Lisa will be discussing her new book, Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald’s Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away.

Ray & Joan is an American tale of corporate intrigue and private passion: a struggling Mad Men–era salesman with a vision for a fast-food franchise that would become one of the world’s most enduring brands, and a beautiful woman willing to risk her marriage and her reputation to promote controversial causes that touched her deeply.

Submitted photo

Ray & Joan, a tale of corporate intrigue and private passion, by Lisa Napoli


Lisa, who has lived for the last dozen years in southern California, was inspired to write this book by a public artwork with a mysterious provenance. In her three decades as a journalist, she’s worked for The New York Times, MSNBC, the public radio show Marketplace, and a variety of other outlets. Her first book, Radio Shangri-La, is about the impact of media culture on the mysterious Kingdom of Bhutan, where she was invited to help start a radio station at the dawn of democratic rule.Laguna Beach Books is located at 1200 So Coast Hwy, Ste 105, 949-494-4779,

Time to do the wave – of jazz: Ocean Institute’s Annual Festival promises swell fun on March 24/25

The Ocean Institute will host its fifteenth Annual Jazz Festival March 24 and 25 at its Dana Point Harbor campus, 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive. 

Themed A Wave of Jazz 2017, the event serves as a celebration of the Ocean Institute as it marks 40 years of excellence in marine science, outdoor education and experiential maritime history education. 

Festival organizers suggest that you dive in to the Wave of Jazz and enjoy two nights of fine dining, as well as musical entertainment provided by world-renowned jazz artists Ray Parker, Jr., Michael Paulo, Gregg Karukas and Kevin Toney.

Click on photo for a larger image

Kids love to get hands-on with sea creatures

And in “breaking” Wave news, Friday’s program begins with an artist meet-and-greet for VIP guests, followed by a wine reception and featured hors d’oeuvres provided by the some of the area’s finest local restaurants, including Craft House, Sundried Tomato Bistro, The Royal Hawaiian, Luciana’s, The Point Restaurant, Jay’s Catering, California Fresh and What a Dish Catering.

A Wave of Jazz—2017 continues Saturday evening with a gala dinner featuring a four-course gourmet culinary experience provided by local four and five-star resorts, including Monarch Beach Resort, The Montage, The Ranch at Laguna Beach and Park Hyatt Aviara Resort.

Both evenings will include silent and live auctions. 

The experience should be, well, immersive.

Submitted photo

The Jazz Festival supports marine science, outdoor education and experiential maritime history

Tickets are on sale now at  Those interested are encouraged to act quickly; both nights are expected to sell out. Friday night ticket levels include Premier ($125) or VIP ($250). Saturday night ticket levels include Individual ($500) or Table of 10 ($5,000). Purchasers of $5,000 tables also will be featured as event sponsors, if they so choose.

The mission of the Ocean Institute is “Using the ocean as our classroom, we inspire children to learn.” 

The Annual Jazz Festival is the most important fundraiser for the Ocean Institute, and all proceeds go directly to its 61 award-winning STEM education programs, as well as the Ocean Institute Adopt-A-Class program, which enables more than 10,000 underserved students from Title One schools across California to participate in Ocean Institute programs free of charge.

Shamrocks: Is wearing them lucky or unlucky? Depends on what century you live in…


Everyone knows the lighter side of shamrocks as symbols worn in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Finding a rare four-leafed clover is said to be a sign of good luck. And apparently, St. Patrick used them to teach people about Christianity, with the three leaves representing the Trinity. 

Celtic children believed that if they carried a shamrock, they could see fairies. Druid priests thought the clovers warded off evil spirits and used them in healing rituals. Love, healing, and fairies.  All good.

We also associate shamrocks with cute leprechauns (though if you’ve seen the movie Leprechaun, perhaps not), and pots of gold. But, as with many symbols, shamrocks have a darker side.

Click on photo for a larger image

S. Laguna Community Park’s Elf looks suitably complexioned for St. Paddy’s Day

In the early 18th century, things took a bad turn when the shamrock became a symbol of Ireland and, by association, Irish nationalism and independence. Patriots started wearing the shamrock and the color green to show their support for nationalism.

British authorities wanted to quash the rebellion and banned people from wearing green or shamrocks as a symbol of their Irish identity. Those who wore it were threatened with death. 

Symbols can indeed take an ugly turn when discrimination against race, religion, nationality or creed results in their use for nefarious governmental purposes.

But that issue with shamrocks is well in the past. These days – luckily, you could say – the color green, and shamrocks, and funny hats just mean that it’s time to party.

See Diane Armitage’s LB Best column on Front Page I to find the best places to have fun in Laguna this Friday!


Shaena Stabler and Stu Saffer are the co-owners. Shaena is the Publisher and Stu is the Editor-in-Chief.

Lynette Brasfield is our Managing Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Dianne Russell, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: for questions about advertising


Email: with news releases, letters, etc