End of Fall 2011 and Spring 2012

May 19, 2012 by

The school year has passed really quickly in the 5th and 6th grade classroom, and our 6th graders are getting ready to move on to the middle school class next year. Before they go, we wanted to post our spring’s work to the blog for your listening pleasure: the METAS 2012 mixtape. Click here to download, and leave a comment to tell us what you think!

Fall 2011

September 20, 2011 by

The fall semester started even before school began… with OPENeducation at the Berkeley Art Museum — another collaboration with OPENrestaurant around food, art, and education.

Sponsored by The Edible Schoolyard Foundation, OPENeducation looked at education projects that focus on food – including METAS!

Working with artist Alison Pebworth, students from Metas squeezed fresh lemons and made alternative sodas and beverages for visitors all day – from watermelon-mint-lemon cooler to honey-lemon-bayleaf-verbena-ade.

Parents worked hard all morning, making aguas frescas their way – delicious! The crowds were welcomed as they walked in by parents’ and students’ smiling faces and glasses of refreshing strawberry, melon, and horchata – a healthy alternative to canned and bottled drinks.

Over 4000 people came to Berkeley Art Museum that day to enjoy the workshops, which included goat-milking, beekeeping, bread-baking in wood ovens on site, a seed exchange and library of books from Moe’s bookstore, and nine other stations where people made food, ate, and learned together.

Metas 2010 – 2011

September 20, 2011 by

During 2010 – 2011 Metas approached food issues from all sides – from growing seeds to changing diets to soda can math, we looked at the effect food has on our lives and our communities.


In February, we called elected officials together to talk with us about the state of wellness in Richmond, San Pablo, and nearby towns and cities.

Gayle McLaughlin, Mayor of Richmond; Leonard McNeil, councilmember and former mayor of San Pablo; and Cecilia Valdez, the vice-mayor of San Pablo, spoke with students from METAS in the Fireside Room at Contra Costa College.

Leonard McNeil talks about San Pablo’s initiatives for parks, recreation, and youth sports. Note healthy apple snack next to tennis shoe at lower right!

Cecilia Valdez introduces local initiatives to make San Pablo a better place for gardens, parks, and access to healthy lifestyle choices.

Students in the high school class prepared questions for the panel; they led the younger students in the question and answer session after the panelists introduced themselves.

The video team records it all from the back. Videographer Jason Boyce, a co-teacher for the spring semester in the high school class, taught shooting skills to Blanca, Jacqueline, and Jennifer so that they could record the conversation themselves.

Mayor McLaughlin, Councilmember McNeil, and Vice-Mayor Valdez invited us to keep them posted on the progress of our conversation around food. The coming year’s garden projects should yield some results for us to report!


In December, we celebrated, with a few new additions…

Jesus Ruiz and his dad on guitar (OK, this has happened before, but Jesus is more skilled every year), and the biggest change – Metas high school class serving up their own healthy food at the winter celebration. Usually the parents handle it all, and it’s delicious, nutritious, and filling. This time, the high school class offered a lighter option – soft tacos with lots of vegetables and fresh fillings.


In November, we boarded Jens-Peter Jungclaussen’s biofueled bus to OPENwater in Alameda to meet with scientists from the Exploratorium, and chefs and artists from OPENwater who installed a restaurant-in-relief in St George Spirits to make a classroom and thinking space to talk about salt and water and the economics of food.

The driver turned over the bus music system to the group as we passed EBMUD’s water treatment plant…

Jenny and Blanca stirred the pot with the chefs from OPENrestaurant, challenging them to do the math: can people like us afford to eat at a restaurant that works like this – one with a greywater treatment pond and garden on site, one where scientists and artists work together to make dinner happen every night?

Washing up in the Mokelumne River water cycle dishwashing station

Meeting the shellfish, the urchins, and other catches of the day brought in by Monterey Fish Company


It all starts in the garden, where the food grows.

Visiting the garden space in September with the bio club, we found oregano, thyme, cilantro, basil, and many other edibles buried under dry grass and scrubby weeds.


And as always, tutoring. 2 hours every 2 weeks, tons of students, dozens of committed tutors, uncountable improved grades. Changing lives, one person at a time….

Site-Seeing: MetaPuentes at Richmond Main Street Initiative

July 17, 2010 by

Curator Anyka Barber invited MetaPuentes to translate our work into window treatments for Richmond Main Street Initiative‘s storefront windows. From now until August 28, you can see banners of our work hanging at RMSI’s downtown offices at 1000 Macdonald Avenue. Where We’re From, an oral history/poetry collaboration between artist and author Summer Brenner and Community Works, working with students at Richmond and Kappa High Schools and their communities of elders, is also on view at 1002 Macdonald Avenue as a part of RMSI’s summer exhibition Site-Seeing.

Banners going up at Richmond Main Street Initiative

For this installation, we laser-cut vellum banners with reproductions of the doors we made for houses in Colima. We also reconfigured some of our project documentation to see whether the images and stories from Colima would translate to the downtown environment of Richmond, California. See what you think:

Banner: A friend picks you up...

Banner with Cruz Sanchez' story

Cruz Sachez banner detail

Installation open 24 hours a day at Richmond Main Street Initiative, 1000 Macdonald Avenue, Richmond, CA.

No Right Angles: UC Berkeley’s 2010 MFA Exhibition

July 17, 2010 by

Throughout the spring and early summer of 2010, students from Metas at Contra Costa College collaborated with me (Amanda Eicher) as a part of my thesis research in UC Berkeley’s Art Practice Department.

Cuauhtemoc and friends at Metas

Cuauhtemoc and friends at Metas

Works ready to be installed at Berkeley Art Museum

Artworks ready to be installed at Berkeley Art Museum

For the graduate exhibition, we showed evidence of the conversations we’ve been having all semester – talks about home, safety, violence, mentorship, finding one’s voice, and how to confront the biggest issues teens are facing right now. These talks were designed to stretch from Richmond, California to Colima, El Salvador via text messaging – however, much of the work of discovering what we had to say took place in the classroom and, ultimately, in the museum.

Notes from Colima to Metas participants

Chat request from Colima, El Salvador

Finding out that one of the shared issues between Richmond and Colima – gangs – was having a particularly harsh effect in a neighborhood in Colima where houses had no real doors, we decided to use the sculptural medium of doors to document conversation with – and our messages for – participating teens in El Salvador. Ten donated doors from Ohmega Salvage were fitted to doorways in Colima houses, embossed with words from our conversations, and finished for exhibition in the museum. We also decided to show writings from El Salvador and Richmond in the museum, along with the large templates of doorway openings complete with notes on family’s individual needs.

Graphic designs from the conversations and writings…

were translated by parents and friends, then embossed on the wooden doors (writing by Allen Pablo)…

Embossed text on wooden doors

which were then painted and installed in the museum.

Letters embossed on white door

Detail of Cruz Sanchez’ door

Morena Batres and Noemy Sanchez' front door

Morena Batres and Noemy Sanchez’ front door as installed at Berkeley Art Museum

Paper documents from MetaPuentes conversations

Installation view of chat invitations between Richmond and Colima participants; door template for Morena Batres and Noemy Sanchez’ house (Photograph courtesy of Berkeley Art Museum; copyright Sibila Savage)

Installation view of doors and documentation, Berkeley Art Museum

Installation view of doors, documentation at Berkeley Art Museum (Photograph courtesy of Berkeley Art Museum; copyright Sibila Savage)

The installation went well with the help of Berkeley Art Museum and fellow grads from the MFA program! However, the students at Metas were right in the middle of finals and graduation, so they didn’t install during the school days; instead they came for the artist talks and the openings, to present their observations live.

Meditation at Berkeley Art Museum

July 17, 2010 by

All the posts on meditation (please scroll down to read some of these writings) ended up being part of the content for a meditation and performance at the Berkeley Art Museum by MetaPuentes participants, as a part of the No Right Angles exhibition, UC Berkeley’s 2010 MFA show.

MetaPuentes participants leading meditation at Berkeley Art Museum

MetaPuentes women preparing the crowd for a group meditation

Mayra Padilla, Metas Director

Mayra Padilla, director of Metas at Contra Costa College, talking about meditation as a tool for self-awareness and how the high school group at Metas have used it over the past two years

Pamela Tapia at Berkeley Art Museum

A (sadly very blurry!) Pamela Tapia leading the group meditation at Berkeley Art Museum

Cynthia Ochoa at Berkeley Art Museum

Cynthia Ochoa (with Jennifer Sanchez, left), reading original work on friendship as a part of the group meditation

Maria Carranza and Abigail Corona at Berkeley Art Museum

Abigail Corona and Maria Carranza reading original writing at Berkeley Art Museum.

After students read their writings, they accepted questions from the crowd. They eloquently responded to inquiries about their writing, their identities as artists, and their connection to the works in the exhibition and our work with teens in El Salvador with answers that wowed the crowd and moved them to tears.
Many thanks to my mother, Jane Magee Mitchell, for taking photos during a very long day of museum-going!

Many thanks, too, to a terrific crowd which included local artists and anthropologists as well as parents of Berkeley MFA graduates and Metas participants. We are so lucky to have the luxury of support from our families and friends!


May 15, 2010 by

Meditation. Its a place where people become

 relax. It is a place where it brings you to your

 happy place. Meditatio helps you not get stressed

 out. Meditation can bring you to anywhere your 

 heart dear wants. Meditation brings focus in life.

Meditation is the process of another healthier step

in you life.Meditation helps me find myself from

my inner core. Meditation is the reason why I am

not stressed out anymore. During Meditation, I am

very powerful and very bold. Meditation helps me

not to be shy during school, or help me become successful

in my future and life. Meditation is very great for yhe

mind and also for your soul. Meditation is wonderful.


May 15, 2010 by

Meditation……. What is it? What does it do? Meditations helps you relax. It takes all of the stress away and help you focus more on just in the present. I just tried it and it help me find myself and just notice everything in life. It shows me a totaly different world.


“Go on loving yourself, & in the end, your biggest fears become your biggest strengths =)”

May 15, 2010 by

A group of four Metas students wrote quotes and phrases, meant to teach us a life lesson. Reading the quotes and phrases outloud, to the rest of the metas group, I felt like I was being heard. Not just was I being heard, but so were those students who wrote it. All  these phrases were very touching and they were written for you to think about life’s surprises and life experiences. Some were very simple while others were a little bit longer, but they all spread the same message of being loved and enjoying the life you have. Most of the phrases shows the reality of life, and what many people think is important in life, and what is important in REALITY. One of the quotes that showed just that was, “Money can buy you everything, but everything turns into nothing if you don’t have the most important thing: LOVE <3.”


May 15, 2010 by

Meditation is the key to inerpeace. Or so I’ve been told.As we were meditating i was taken to a place, my place, a place that is mine and mine alone. Without meditating i never would’ve found this place.  There I felt relaxed and i felt that i have found a place that i can go no matter how hard the times get. It is mine and mine alone so that i can change it to the way that makes me feel safe, the way that makes me feel relaxed, the way in which i feel that i found a place that i belong and stay for as long as i want.

This is my place. Anyone can just go there but I am the only one that can stay. I can go anywhere or do anything there and I can be myself no matter what. In my place of meditation i don’t need to be someone else or to act like someone else to fit in where i don’t want to. Meditating is the key to inerpeace, because inerpeace is when you are you. When you dont need to be anyone else. Where you tell you self who you want to be.

I have found myself.