Carol D. Bradley
“Culture – the way we express ourselves and understand each other – can bind us together as one world.”
Our world is experiencing a transformation. Looking away from events, positive and otherwise, is difficult. Demonstrations by many local businesses demanding officials allow them to reopen have sprung up around our communities.
Many of our Lakeside venues have been slowly coming back to life. We had a soft opening, where officials inspected various locations to ensure standards and COVID-19 health protocols are being met. Restaurants are now able to open their doors with limited capacity and shorter hours, provided they meet safe protocols—masks, distancing, kitchen cleanliness.
I felt sprung from jail, albeit gingerly. I followed all guidelines and attended a few live music venues, saw some friends who felt sprung along with me, air hugs all around. No masks can cover the kind eyes and friendly smiles of people here at Lakeside.
Our popular Open Circle presentations have been suspended. Here is their usual inclusion in Lakeside Living for your information:
“The Lake Chapala Society hosts Open Circle Sundays at 10AM, a popular community gathering in Ajijic to enjoy a diverse range of presentations.
For more information see their website: opencircleajijic.org.
During the month of July, Open Circle will remain closed for outdoor monthly gatherings, but will provide weekly videos of the past most highly rated presentations. These are accessible at opencircleajijic.org. On the docket are:
Mexican Grace, testimonials by local residents acknowledging the extraordinary kindness rendered by our Mexican compadres in times of need
Boom! The Next 10 Years, a forecast by Ken Corbin prior to the advent of COVID-19
Why Education Reform Is Killing America’s Schools, based on the experience and penetrating observations of veteran school teacher David Ellison
How the US and Mexico Came Together to Defeat the Last Empire in the Americas, presented by award-winning historian Dr. Michael Hogan and based on his new book Guns, Grit, and Glory
That Aging Thing, presented by professional counselor and Open Circle moderator Kat Miller
We are also privileged to present a series of five comprehensive written reports by Dr. Todd Stong. First intended to be part of his live annual lecture at Open Circle in March 2020, these reports are on subjects currently most pressing to Dr. Stong. They will appear as he makes them available. Currently on line at opencircleajijic.org are Parts I and II. Part I deals with Lakeside Conditions, including the health of the lake, well water, wastewater treatment, etc. Part II is devoted to Childhood Kidney Disease, which afflicts many children in the villages to the east of Chapala. This area is second in the world for rate of affliction. Learn why and what might remedy this sad and unnecessary situation.
By Rachel McMillen
Change is a constant in our lives. That’s a maxim we have all become more aware of as COVID-19 has infiltrated every area of our lives, but exactly what changes there will be as we slowly emerge from our respective havens is still a matter of conjecture.
Here at Lakeside, one of those changes will be Open Circle, although it will not be the first time this popular event has changed. First organized in 1995 by Joan and Roy Forman as New Dimensions, it was held in their home every Sunday morning and emphasized spirituality and various aspects of Buddhism, Sufism and Christianity. Then, in 2001, it changed its name to Open Circle and moved to other homes and restaurants. Shortly thereafter Marianne and Michael Warren approached LCS to see if the organization could utilize the patio area and a rental agreement was drawn up.
For several years Marianne Warren, Hilary Stewardson, Derek Firth and Jim Spivey coordinated the weekly programs until, in 2011, Jim Spivey assumed total responsibility for the event. In 2015, when poor health dictated he could no longer continue, things changed again and Jim passed the reins over to David Bryen and Margaret Van Every, both regular attendees and supporters.
David and Margaret have long been part of the fabric of Lakeside, both being published writers and Margaret also an accomplished musician, and they wanted to free the event from the restrictive rules it operated under and open it up to the community. In order to do this, they immediately established the Open Circle Steering Committee and asked for volunteers.
They also asked for input from the Open Circle audience, which resulted in the original spiritual/metaphysical focus of the program expanding to include more art, music, science, psychology, natural history, health, and Mexican history. The result was obvious and has proved both satisfying and rewarding for both of them. Last year more than 13,000 people came to OC, the highest number being 550 for a presentation by David Truly in February.
Another success in 2019 was the Mexican Grace program for which nine members of the OC audience pre-auditioned and subsequently presented a five-minute story of moments when they experienced an example of Mexican Grace. The program’s highlight was when a group of Mexican senior citizens, in full traditional regalia, danced for the attendees, who in turn lifted tequila-filled shot glasses and toasted Mexico.
Open Circle, the largest and longest-running expat program in Mexico, with a reputation that has spread far beyond Jalisco, was the first to suspend its activities when COVID-19 arrived, realizing the physical characteristics of the meeting area would not allow for the safe distancing required to protect those participating.
With the respite that decision brought, both David and Margaret decided it was time to pass the torch yet again, and the steering committee in turn realized that it was time to find a new organization to carry the event forward. So it is that LCS, the leading support organization for both expats and the Lakeside community in general, which has spent these past few months re-evaluating its own programs and re-designing the campus to better accommodate classes, presentations and meetings, will include Open Circle under its umbrella when its doors re-open.
Both the board of LCS and Executive Director Steve Balfour are grateful for the work the steering committee has done and are looking forward to continuing the tradition of Open Circle and maintaining both the spirit and the energy that has made this weekly event such a unique and quality forum.
NOTE: There is a plaque commemorating Marianne Warren in the ground near the Ken Gosh Pavilion. Not only was she instrumental in getting Open Circle started, she also organized and gave lectures, including the Neill James lecture series.
Live Music is anxiously returning to Lakeside. Please visit your favorite venue, safely attired and distanced, of course. They are allowed limited capacity and need to sell out to make all their hard work worthwhile. Please tip the musicians and be generous with the wait staff. They have been without work for many weeks and need your support now more than ever.
The dynamic duo Black String performs at various venues Lakeside. Like them on Facebook, or any other of our wonderful musicians, to see where they are performing next.
Daniel Cordero, one of Lakeside’s finest musicians was at the Iron Horse Bar on June 7th. Daniel was joined by a new artist to Lakeside, Monique Miller, who sang “Me and Bobby McGee.” Not many can do justice to Queen Janis, but Monique delighted everyone in attendance.
I will keep tabs on our theatre and arts organizations to find any news on reopening. Stay tuned, readers. Lakeside Living does not know what life will look like as we pass through this together. We wish you all good health and happy survival.