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Literature, Personal Growth & Writing Workshops

Writing Workshop w/ Deena Metzger: The Literature of Restoration


In this day-long workshop, renowned elder Deena Metzger will teach about the cutting edge of language and the creative process from her fifty years of writing and publishing.  Deena’s many books include poetry, drama, fiction and non-fiction. She is a master writing teacher who challenges and supports participants to enter new territory in their writing. Her exceptional workshops in Topanga Canyon are always full.

According to Deena, everyone has a story which calls to be known and written – a heart story that can guide us, comprised of many other interlocking stories rising from the imagination. The story is revealed through the writing experience, like a council that holds all the voices, including our ancestors and descendants.

In her work on The Literature of Restoration, Deena writes, “Language embodies a culture’s perception of the nature of the world. This is communicated to us when we are children learning the basic meanings, implicit and explicit, of each word.  As we mature, we learn that words are resonant with complex associations and allusions – undertones and overtones.  When we are born into a particular language and culture, we absorb values, possibilities and restrictions inherent within the language structure we are given. For those writing in English, the language carries invisible assumptions about the nature of the world which constrict and confine our thinking.

“With the fate of the Earth and all of life at stake, we are called to open up our writing so that language and literature can be peacemakers.  We hope to restore and piece together the broken, burned shards of once-vital histories, to dare to know what we know, to see and understand with our hands and feet what is irrefutable, to listen to the ancestors and the future, to the dreams and the signs, old syllables and unborn orations, birdsong, whale song and howl, the glorious and tormented recitations of wind, water, light and earth, to bring together a luminous grammar of connection so that through such shared conversations and our own emergent literature and culture, we make ourselves places to live that will outlive and help us move beyond these times."


Please bring your writing materials. 

Tea, fruit, bagels, cheese spreads, gluten-free crackers and healthy snacks will be available all day.

We will break for lunch and dinner. There are affordable places nearby to eat, or you can bring brown bag food. 
Refrigeration will be available. 

The Cabrillo Horticultural Center is a lovely venue with sweeping views of the Santa Cruz County coastline.

Sat., October 14
9:30 am - 8 pm
Room: Horticulture 5005

Fee: $165

register online


Deena Metzger is most recently the author of A Rain of Night Birds, and writer of twenty influential books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. She is a radical thinker on behalf of the natural world and planetary survival, a teacher of writing and healing practices for 50 years, and a writer and activist profoundly concerned with peacemaking, restoration, and sanctuary for a beleaguered world. Her work examines the tragic failure of contemporary culture and provides guidance for personal, political, environmental and spiritual healing. Her novel La Negra y Blanca won the 2012 Oakland Pen Award for Literature. Metzger is most recognized for her image in Hella Hamid’s photograph in 1977 sometimes referred to as “The Warrior,” in which Metzger stands naked, post-mastectomy, in a celebratory pose.


SoulCollage®: For the Love of Images and the Changes They Bring

soul 2

Give expression to your life story in all its beauty and complexity! SoulCollage® is a flexible and profound expressive arts method through which you make your own unique cards for personal reading. Anyone who has a love of images and is looking for an intuitive process for change and growth will find this process meaningful. Your cards give voice to all of who you are and even offer expression to the qualities you want to bring into your life!

In its 13th year offered at Cabrillo Extension, SoulCollage® originated right here in Santa Cruz County by local author Seena Frost and is now in 39 countries around the world! Come experience for yourself what has inspired thousands: a method deeply personal, incredibly fun, and perfect for the quiet individualist as well as the one who loves community. As simple as the ingredients of cut images, a pair of scissors, and some glue, this process is considered by many to be transformational and vitally expressive, even with zero art experience!

This is a course for beginners as well as those already familiar with SoulCollage® who will enjoy having time to review concepts and create several new cards in a relaxing and lovely environment. Participants will be able to immediately apply what they learn during this creative day together. Anyone can make SoulCollage® cards!

Sat., March 24
10 am - 4 pm
Room: Horticulture 5005

Register by Jan. 29: $78
Register after Jan. 29: $88
plus $20 materials fee payable to instructor in class

Follow this link to our Class Resources page, which includes materials lists and other important information about classes.

register online


Lauren Mari-Navarro is a trained facilitator of the SoulCollage® Method encouraging creativity and self-discovery. Lauren has her own private counseling practice in Santa Cruz County.


Memoir Writing: Exploring Memories & Meaning


In this workshop you will explore some of the poignant memories and stories that have shaped your life. With innovative exercises for eliciting memories and writing memoirs, you will discover stories that may surprise you with their power for self-discovery. As you reflect upon the events that make up your life, you will notice the continuous thread that weaves through your experiences, deepening an understanding of who you are, and offering a sense of clarity, meaning, and purpose for your life.

Sat., March 10
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Room: Horticulture 5005

Register by Jan. 29: $78
Register after Jan. 29: $85

Plus a $5 materials fee payable in class

register online

Lauren Mari-Navarro, is a trained facilitator of the Soul Collage® Method encouraging creativity and self-discovery. She has a private practice in the Santa Cruz community.


The Writer's Journey


Many of us hold a deep dream of wanting to write. We want to write so we can understand ourselves more deeply and so that we can be seen. We sense that there are stories living inside of us that need to be told, but in our busy lives, we have not been able to create the time, space or circumstances in which to do so. This one-day workshop will give you that time. During our day of writing together and reading aloud, you will tap into your creativity, explore your wild mind, and learn the basic tools you need to develop a rich, vital writing life.

The Writer’s Journey is rooted in writing practice, developed by Natalie Goldberg in her classic book, Writing Down the Bones. The class is appropriate for both beginning and experienced writers.

Students should bring a lunch.

Sat., Sept. 16
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Room: Horticulture 5001
Register by Sept. 11: $78
Register after Sept. 11: $90

register online

Laura Davis is the author of 7 non-fiction books, including The Courage to Heal, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be and I Thought We’d Never Speak Again. She teaches weekly writing workshops and has been mentoring and supporting writers for the past 16 years.


Backyard Astronomer


night sky

Learn how to identify the stars and constellations seen in our local skies in this fun hands-on workshop. Using the Cabrillo planetarium and observatory you will see the wonders of the universe and learn about astronomy history, methods, equipment, and recent discoveries. Get a sense of distances to planets, stars and galaxies. Learn about Black holes, dark matter and the expanding universe.

Participants should dress warmly for outdoor observation at the observatory. Participants should dress warmly for outdoor observation at the observatory. In case of rain or fog, class will use the planetarium sky.

This class is appropriate for students aged 10 to adult.

2 Fri., Oct. 20 & 27
6:30 - 9:30 pm
Room: 707

Register by Sept. 11: $58
Register after Sept. 11: $65
plus $5 materials fee at registration

register online


Karl von Ahnen has been an amateur astronomer and telescope user since age 12. He served as lab instructor-assistant in the Cabrillo Astronomy Department for many years, and is the Director of the Fujitsu Planetarium at De Anza College, one of the largest school planetariums in the country.


Chi Aura Integration - Level I


Chi-Aura Integration is a complementary alternative healing method using the vital life force. Chi-Aura is a set of skills used to read the health of the body and facilitate healing and balance. This method can be used by individuals for self-healing or by the practitioner in relationship with their patients. By learning how to relax into a state of mind that is able to "read" the energy field of the body and to work hands-on with the out -of-balance conditions which lead to illness, the nurse to patient relationship can be greatly enhanced by incorporating these skills.

This 2-day workshop will teach techniques that will elicit the relaxation response and help develop the "Awakened Mind State". You will learn to perform the specific Chi-Aura Integration hand positions learning specific acupoints, energy centers and parts of the body to release muscle tension and induce the relaxation response to promote healing. Chi-Aura Integration is relevant to nursing because it develops the nurse's ability to improve their effectiveness in treating clients.

This course is approved for 18 CEU's for Nurses, 14 CEU's for massage therapists, and 15 CEH's for acupuncturists. A free downloadable manual is available to registered students before class.

Sat. & Sun., April 28 & 29
9:00 am - 5:30 pm
Room 406

Register by Mar. 26: $145
Register after Mar. 26: $158
includes manual

Click here for Chi Aura Intergration Student Information

register online


Timothy Dunphy has taught Chi-Aura Integration for over 22 years in the US and Europe, enhancing participant's personal growth and their therapeutic relationship to others.


How to Use a Smartphone

If you bought a smartphone for someone, expect to get some calls with questions like, “What’s an app?”, or “Why does my battery run out so quickly?”, or “How do I upload videos to the Facebook?”

Explore the basic functionality of your new smartphone. Learn common tasks like sending a text message, watching a video clip on YouTube, or surfing the Web. This workshop also covers fundamentals like configuring the security options, adjusting the brightness of the display, and setting the device up to work with a wireless network.

Bring your iPhone, Android, Blackberry, or other smartphone to class with your charger.  

Sat., April 14
2:00 - 5:00 pm
Room: 318

Register by Mar. 26: $42
Register after Mar. 26: $48

register online

Carol Jensen - see bio below


The Radical Poetic Imagination



One need not be a poet to enjoy the experience of setting your imagination free! This two- week- end workshop focuses on the expression of the expanded imagination through poetry. It is ideal for anyone of any age who is interested in expanding the scope of their imagination.

Students will participate in generative exercises at each stage of exploration. We will seek to answer some questions, and discuss the historical development of the Radical Poetic Imagination, including the historical and cultural context, groundbreaking work of poets through history, and the development of modern, free poetic expression. The imaginative journey then moves on to French Avant-Garde, Dada and continental Surrealism. We will culminate the exploration of the liberated imagination in the Spanish poets of the Civil War, 20th Century Latin American Poetry, the Beat Movement and the best of contemporary, innovative work, incorporating painting, photography, film, performance art, theatre, and advertising.

Anyone with an interest in expanded vision through all mediums, including dream and reverie, will find The Radical Imagination exhilarating.

Students should bring a journal or notebook, a favorite pen, dress comfortably, and bring a lunch and a drink. No experience writing or performing is necessary.

10 am - 2 pm
Room: 313

Register by June 5: $180
Register after June 5: $195

register online

Janet Hamill is the author of seven books of poetry and short fiction, and has been nominated for the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Prize. She is a strong advocate for the spoken word and has read at Bumbershoot Festival, The Andy Warhol Museum, and many other US and international venues. She is the founder and co-director of Megaphone, a monthly literary series.



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