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Greetings and Happy Easter if you celebrate that. Most schools are out on Friday so I hope you enjoy three days of family fun! There are a lot of events going on this weekend, so check out some ideas below. Here’s your chance to have a voice in making changes in our community: hop online and participate in the Houston-Galveston Regional Plan MindMixer, an online conversation about clean air and water, good jobs, safe and attractive neighborhoods, transportation choices, and open spaces and parks. Once on their site, you have a choice to vote on various ideas and to submit your own – what a great and easy way to create changes together!

I write about movies in 002+ Magazine so I’m a big fan of movies and try to see as many as I can. I recently saw THE HUNGER GAMES and was very disturbed by it – starting with the storyline and ending with the graphic nature of the film. I’m not a prude by any means and I encourage my kids to think for themselves and to make informed decisions about choices in their lives, including cultural activities such as movies. But I have to say that I am very sad that a story about kids killing kids is so popular right now. The themes of abuse of governmental control and fighting back and being true to yourself are good ones, but I feel those kinds of lessons can be presented in a different way with a different tale. The film is extremely violent at times and it doubly disturbed me that the violence was set against a backdrop of beautiful nature, something nobody seems to have picked up on. I will admit that my 12 year-old saw it (unfortunately before I screened it – it was a bad mommy moment!) and he said he liked it and the way that the lead character stayed true to herself and triumphed because of that – and we had a good conversation about the film. But if I had seen it first, I would not have let him go. He doesn’t need to see bloody bricks being used to kill people and dead kids lying around. I’ve had many friends defend the film for a variety of reasons, including the questions and conversations it inspires as well as its costumes (yes, they’re gorgeous and creative) and the style of the film (again, gorgeous). And there are conversations all over the internet about the film (here’s one that makes the case that the movie is good for kids) but I stand by my concern about where we are going with this kind of art. I’m an artist myself and don’t expect art to always be easy and peaceful – in fact, art is meant to grab you, make you think, and create a connection between viewer and maker. But this film and the book are being marketed to kids and I have a problem with that. The human brain isn’t fully developed until 25 years old (at least) so as parents, we need to step in as the backup pre-frontal cortex and help our kids make wise choices about what they see. I recommend that you think twice – or view the film first – before letting your kids see THE HUNGER GAMES.

Serving as an antidote to THE HUNGER GAMES, I was thrilled to be able to see I AM, HAPPY, and MR. HAPPY MAN – all uplifting documentaries screened this past weekend at the wildly successful inaugural presentation of Mountainfilm on Tour in Houston. I AM and HAPPY turn their lens on the topic of happiness and human contentment and I was fascinated by their discoveries – the main one being that competition and division in our culture create fundamental dissatisfaction in all of us. Most of us know that, but the films delve deeper into this issue by talking to a wide variety of people – psychologists, peacemakers, scientists and more. One of the stand-out moments for me was in HAPPY when a comedian is talking to middle school kids about bullying and he brings a kid in front of a crowd of his peers who breaks down when talking about being bullied. I’ll be organizing screenings in Houston of HAPPY, which the filmmaker would like to get into schools, churches and youth groups across the country, so contact me if you’re interested in setting up a screening for your group. Speaking of bullying, I’m going to an advanced screening of BULLY tomorrow so will report on that film next week. BULLY was originally rated R because of graphic language on a bus, but after pressure via a petition and by Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and Justin Bieber, Weinstein Company is releasing it without a rating. It opens here next weekend. If you’re looking for some film fun this weekend, check out my quick list of family-friendly movies in town this weekend. And I’m pleased to announce that girls from the Girls Rock Camp will be the opening act for the "I Can Do Anything!" shorts film screening I curated for the Aurora Picture Show that will be at Discovery Green on Friday, June 8, at 7pm. Mark your calendar now and plan to join us this summer!

Take a trip and visit me in social media land. You can find GISH PICKS and THE SUMMER BOOK on Facebook and I am now tweeting about cool things in Houston each day using #houstongems as the hashtag (if you’re a tweeter peep, you’ll know what that means) so “like” my pages and follow me on twitter to become a tourist in your own town.

And if you want me to excite the parents at your company about summer fun, contact me and let’s make that happen. I’ve spoken to church groups, businesses, parenting organizations, schools, and many more varieties of organizations, so I’d be happy to speak to your group. They’ll have so much fun they’ll forget they’re at work!

So what’s YOUR pick this weekend? Get out there and do it and GO.FIND.FUN!

Events for the Weekend of April 6, 2012

Papermaking with Kathy Gurwell


This Saturday, April 7, from 11am-3pm, please join Houston Center for Contemporary Craft for Hands-On Houston, a free, craft-activity open house on the first Saturday of every month. Kids will get to discover the fascinating art of making paper with local artist Kathy Gurwell as they learn how to “pull” a white sheet of handmade paper made from 100% cotton fiber. Moulds and deckles (the screens and frames used in paper making) will be provided. Be forewarned that kids will get wet up to their elbows, as they dip their mould and deckle into a large vat of water! Participants will be able to take home their wet sheet of paper on a piece of aluminum. A second vat will offer younger children the opportunity to create fun paper shapes by pouring white-cotton pulp into cookie-cutter moulds. All materials and supplies will be provided, and all ages are welcome.

Note: For safety, everyone needs to please wear rubber-soled shoes, as the floors will get wet during the papermaking process. The Museum also recommends wearing a sleeveless shirt.

(Above: Papermaking with Kathy Gurwell. Images courtesy the artist).

Earth Day Houston 2012


Believe it or not, according to a study commissioned by Siemens, Houston ranks 16th as the greenest city in the U.S.! (Yes, I fell out of my chair too…). We Houstonians love Mother Earth so much that we are kicking off the first of several Earth Day events this weekend (Earth Day is April 22 and I’ll do a roundup of events in a later edition…). This Saturday, April 7 from 10am-4pm, Air Alliance Houston is presenting the fourth annual Waste Management Earth Day Houston at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney in downtown Houston. This earth-lovin’ annual event is a one-day eco celebration focusing on the merits of mindful, sustainable living while educating and encouraging Houstonians to preserve, conserve and enhance our city and the Earth. Planned activities at Earth Day include interactive environmental awareness activities hosted by more than 30 green non profits highlighting land, air, water, sustainability and wildlife habitat. Urban Harvest Farmers Market will be open in support of locally-grown produce, and Waste Management will host a recycling bin art contest. In addition, Houston-area high schools will "paint the town green" with a display of artistic renditions of 6-yard Waste Management dumpsters. Kids can enjoy the H-E-B Kids Energy Zone and Stage providing kids’ entertainment and recycled art with City ArtWorks, including 4000 recycled plastic water bottles provided by Waste Management to transform the bottles into a flower painting activity. Discovery Greens’ popular water feature and playscape are also available to energize kids of all ages.

Admission is free and paid parking is available at surrounding parking lots and street side.

Film Reel


Looking for fun kid movies this weekend? The Alamo Drafthouse is kicking off a series of free flicks at the lovely and historic Market Square Park, starting this Friday, April 6 at 8pm with MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN. They’ll be braving the outdoors through July 11 – bring your blankets, picnics, and happy smiles. Another outdoors venue, Discovery Green, is hosting their ongoing “IKEA Houston Screen on the Green” series with the food-filled film, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, on Saturday, April 7 at 8:30pm. For the more sophisticated ones in the bunch, DG is also hosting their ongoing Houston Public Media Silent Film Concert Series on Friday night, 8pm, with films by George Melies, the wizard of movies whose story was told in HUGO. And, as always, Galveston’s Moody Gardens offers films, as does the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which occasionally screens “Family Flicks” and films for kids. Their next screening for kids will be the Houston Public Library Reel Teen Film Festival 2012 on Thursday, May 31 at 6:30pm.

Ashley Judd


On Thursday, April 26, celebrated and acclaimed actor Ashley Judd will share her unique story of a different type of recovery during the Waggoners Foundation Speaker Series 29th annual Spring Luncheon, hosted by The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston. Ashley has starred in 20 films as well as the new ABC -TV series, "Missing." Ashley’s talk will bring a new perspective to this speaker series since it’s not about personal use of substances but rather about recovery from the painful issues that develop around unhealthy family systems. In 2006, Ashley attended an intensive inpatient treatment program to address unresolved childhood grief that manifested as depression and codependency. She now rejoices in a recovering way of life by sharing her experience, strength and hope: "I had no idea there was help for someone like me, without an identifiable addiction or dependency. It is thus very important to me to speak without shame and stigma about depression, codependency and adult child issues, because I have now been taught we are only as sick as our secrets. Because someone carried the message of recovery to me, and helped me begin to learn about family systems and how affected I was by other people's addictions of various kinds, I have learned that I, too, can recover! Who knew?! It is a wonderful, miraculous thing!" Ashley has since graduated with an MPA from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where she was awarded the Dean's Scholar Award for her work in the Harvard Law class, "Gender Violence: Law and Social Justice." She is an advocate and activist, serving on the Board of Directors of Population Services International, Defenders of Wildlife and others. Her bestselling memoir, All That Is Bitter and Sweet, was released in April 2011. Ashley and husband Dario Franchitti, a two-time Indy Racing League and two-time Indy 500 champion, reside on their farm in central Tennessee.

The Waggoners Foundation Speaker Series 29th annual Spring Luncheon is sponsored by June and Virgil Waggoner, whose personal tragedy--the loss of son Jay to alcoholism over 10 years ago--became the inspiration behind their support of The Council's luncheon series. Addiction affects one in four Houstonians and is included among cancer and heart disease as one of our nation's most fatal diseases.

Tickets start at $300/each and the luncheon takes place at the Hilton-Americas Houston on Thursday, April 26 at 11:15am.

GISH PICKS is a free weekly email in which I highlight family-oriented cultural events, products or services. Please note that I "highlight" events, but I don't know if they are appropriate for your particular children, so choose wisely based on age, maturity and interests. I know many of you go to events based on GISH PICKS recommendations; PLEASE remember to tell the organization that you are there because of us. Word-of-mouth like yours helps our business to grow. In the same spirit, please also feel free to share GISH PICKS with friends and families.

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The purpose of GISH PICKS is to help parents become aware of all the fun things they can do with their children in Houston and the surrounding area, so GO FIND FUN! Please do give me feedback and ideas, as you are out there in the trenches also looking for interesting things for your family and I want to hear what you find.

If you are having trouble getting to a website listed here, try hitting the "Ctrl" button and left-clicking on the web address, which should make it "live".

For more about my personal, business, and family enrichment company, Gish Creative, and the services we offer, please click here. You are on this list because I thought this e-newsletter would be helpful to you or because you signed up for it. Please feel free to tell your friends to subscribe by clicking here.
My goal is to serve as an information resource for Houston parents through my various endeavors, including:

  • GISH PICKS, which is online and emailed out to thousands of parents and caregivers;

  • THE SUMMER BOOK®: A GUIDE TO HOUSTON DAY CAMPS AND CLASSES FOR KIDS AND TEENS which comes out annually in March and is sold at bookstores all over Houston, including Barnes and Noble; and

  • OTHER SERVICES including SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS, INTERACTIVE WORKSHOPS, PRIVATE CONSULTATIONS, and ART PROGRAMS that cover topics such as summertime fun, passion-finding (for adults, children and families), marketing, historic preservation, art classes, and activism. All of these services can be tailored for any audience and budget.

Sarah Gish
Gish Creative
1940-A Fountainview, PMB 116
Houston, Texas 77057
phone/fax: 713.482.7065


© 2012 Sarah Gish

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