We live in troubling times to say the least, and the arts have always reflected life and given us a means to cope and inspire change. As our collective understanding of healing and wellness mobilize, cultural practices such as arts-infused meditation and nature education have evolved. It’s becoming increasingly clear that these arts and culturally-based practices promise new ways of inspiring personal, environmental and social learning as well as healing and self-expression. In response, as the SHIP’s new Executive Director I designed The Living Classroom Program utilizing its entire 2-acre oak grove and home as an arts destination, an exhibition space as well as an environmental education and nature retreat. This program concept has now evolved as an outreach program aimed at utilizing and engaging our entire community by building expanded partnerships and collaboration projects.


The Living Classroom Program was literally ignited as I started working with the local Native American community establishing a wood-fired clay oven-building project. The goal of the project is to utilize clay soil itself to inspire food systems education by assembling a mentoring team to demonstrate the value of cooking outdoors collectively and increasing food sovereignty awareness. Using food as an arts organizing tool, this initiative resulted in an outdoor cultural cooking collaboration featuring Kumeyaay inspired cuisine presented with indigenous arts performances serving 100 California Native American Elders at San Diego State College, Scripps Cottage on July 11th.

The Living Classroom Program initiative has also expanded our Arts and Mindfulness events thanks to our friend Julie Potiker, an amazing community leader and SHIP supporter. Now this event has evolved into the Arts & Healing Trilogy Workshop/Retreat Series focusing on the timely topic of “Regeneration”.

(Please see our events page HERE to learn more, and you will be amazed at the talented and dynamic people who have come forward to support and evolve the new SHIP so it better serves and represents our community.)

To add to our excitement, last week Nature called as a massive ancient Oak Tree split in two, part falling on SHIP’s house smashing through the roof and the other falling across the deck taking its path back into the earth. Call it a crisis, or a wake up call to reflect. We had to cancel some earned income events and must now restore the house and the outdoor deck. To help us rebuild we are asking for your support – your contributions at this critical time will help us rebuild and expand our programs to better serve the community.

At times organizations must also regenerate themselves creating new leadership and new potential. This fall we will also have some exciting announcements about our residency program and other opportunities for arts learning adventures and collaborations. Stay tuned to learn more about our upcoming events.

Please send donations in any amount today! Help us recreate.

- Nikos Zoggas, Executive Director