March 2019

Thirty locals attended February’s Inter-Canyon League meeting, its board diminished in person, if not in spirit. Activist and former ICL board member Janet Wilson, an award-winning journalist (Los Angeles Times, Foothills Sentry), reluctantly stepped back from some of her community and civic commitments to focus on a new gig as The Desert Sun’s new senior environment and investigations reporter. Veteran ICL board member and now president, Geoff Sarkissian, embraced the opportunity of a slow news night and relatively short agenda at the community center to facilitate a warm welcome, those attending either reflecting on long canyon residence or, for at least half in the Hunt Building, introducing themselves as new or newish canyonites.  

The civic get-to-know-you turned, happily, into storytelling, with a classic crowd-pleasing 1969 flood evacuation adventure tale delivered by the reliably charming artist and activist Judy Myers (pregnant young woman, Marines, helicopter and gratitude!) and news of story-collecting from ICL History Committee Chair Melody McWilliams. That local archives project has taken on preservation, curation and housing of 150 years’ worth of maps, photographs, audio recordings, newspaper articles, reports, artwork, books and more. They’ve collected blueprints and historic artifacts from the Blue Light Mine, including an old helmet light, as well as every iconic Silverado Country Fair poster, 1971 founding to the present. Their careful work includes organizing and categorizing, then logging into a database and, finally, digitizing and storing in the archives for long-term protection. The committee asked the Silverado-Modjeska Recreation and Parks District Board for a permanent archives site, and awaits a scheduled March 19 vote.  

Word up!
With plenty of talkative long-time residents recently standing around, looking and marveling at the creek’s rising, mud sliding, and rocks tumbling down, there’s been much vivid recalling of past big weather events, human and natural-world canyon moments and terrific gossip. Here’s a pitch to memorialize those stories and anecdotes, and achieve immortality, too. Remember when it snowed? Remember the big poppy blossom? Recall when the creek almost took out the bridge? Okay, sure, that was a few weeks ago. But if you’ve got more distant, if impressive, episodes of an oral history to share, now’s your moment. Library of the Canyons Librarian Jon Gilliom is coordinating Orange County participation in this year’s California Listens project, an intensive two-day workshop facilitated by and made possible with a grant from the California State Library. StoryCenter staff help participants create a short film, relating personal stories about life in our region, to be shared online and preserved in a statewide video archive.  

Better than only congratulating Jon would be sending your RSVP now, since Gilliom, eager to contribute canyon stories, hosts the workshop at his (our) branch on Tuesday, April 23 and Wednesday, April 24. You’ll learn how to compose your tale as a script, edit video and get production support for your digital autobiography of Santa Ana Mountains life. Participants must attend both days (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.), with lunch provided.  Space is limited to 10 individuals. Apply online by April 1 at or (714) 649-2216.

Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary invites you to celebrate its 90th year with reliably engaging family-friendly nature education programming, including birding and photography, docent-led insect and butterfly walks, habitation restoration, art classes and flora and fauna-themed scavenger hunts. See

Chili out
Organizers are planning now for the annual chili cook-off benefiting Silverado Children’s Center, this year on Sunday, May 19 at the Circle S - Jackson Ranch. Contact SCC Director Laurie Briggs at (714) 649-2214 to share your chili or sell crafts or other wares. Donated auction items welcome, and volunteers needed.

Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother …
Emergency preparedness puts the lie to “better late than never,” with the ICL, Fire Safe Council, Fire Authority and Sheriff’s doing their best, with help from Modjeska’s Bruce Newell, to ready us for the next inevitable natural or human-inspired threat to safety and security. 

The second in a series of “Staying Alive in the Canyons” preparedness workshops is Sunday, March 10, 2-4 p.m. at Silverado Fire Station 14. Says Newell, “The goal is to tap the minds and experience in our communities to produce working action plans for everyone. No PowerPoint! Long-term residents need to share their wisdom, and newer residents need to know when to stay, when to go, how to cope.” Disco attire optional. 

Ex Libris Silverado Canyon
Thanks to a fellow canyons bibliophile for the gift of a recent biography of Silverado school teacher, artist and writer Clara Mason Fox (1873-1959). In Distant Indigo: Clara Mason Fox: Pioneer, Painter, Poet of Orange County, Lorraine Passero recounts Fox’s story, as apprehended in verse and painting, with reproductions of her botanical watercolors, pencil and tempera works on paper. Available, of course, at your (our) public library.

Canyon Beat:

Poppies in the Snow