In the Old Testament, there's a bit about the borders of Israel expanding to accommodate every Jew wishing to reside there. Whatever you may think of this little nugget of biblical entitlement, the land of milk and honey itself -- just like the lands of wine and cheese, ice and snow, and mayo and mustard -- has not been able to expand enough to avoid all of the accompanying environmental contamination. Dr. Alon Tal has been looking into this particular tragedy for some time, having founded the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, and authoring Pollution in a Promised Land: An Environmental History of Israel. Tal gives a somewhat hopeful talk on the subject, titled "Pollution in a Promised Land: How Zionism Launched Israel into Its Current Environmental Crisis, and How It Can Save It," at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley, from 7-9 p.m. Info: JFED.org
Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women has enthralled readers (girls, especially) since its publication in 1868. Its four noble, impoverished young heroines undergo enough big tragedies and small victories -- and offer enough pluck and platitudes -- to have inspired at least five big-screen versions and eight television movies. But what the March sisters need to stay fresh, says CTA Crossroads Theatre, is not the latest big-name movie stars and ever more ginormous budgets. What they need to do is sing, and that's exactly what happens in CTA's original play, Little Women -- The Musical, playing Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. through March 12 (and at 2 p.m. on Saturdays March 5 and 12). 1277 Boulevard Way in Walnut Creek. Info: 925-944-0597 or CTACrossroads.org
How will the First Friday Niles Art Walks set themselves apart from the greater Bay Area's yearly proliferation of art festivals and open studios? Well, this month, the fair's participating artists are doing something only they can do -- well, without people thinking they're weird, anyway. The painters, jewelers, and glassworkers exhibiting in Fremont's historic Niles district will be showcasing images of the area itself, including the funky cottages, foothills, and vintage architecture unique to the area. The walks take place on the first Friday of each month, from 5-8 p.m. Maps can be picked up the afternoon of the walk at Corrie Glass, 37683 Niles Blvd. Call 510-793-8782 for further details.
If you've lived in the East Bay for a while, you've probably seen the Boaz Accordions bumper sticker reading: "Subvert the Dominant Paradigm: Play Accordion." May we humbly suggest that you subvert said standard even further? You may have to cross county lines to do it -- all the way down to Santa Cruz County between Boulder Creek and Ben Lomond, even, for Ukulele Babylon, tonight at the Brookdale Lodge. The elegant inn is known for the natural brook running through its dining room and not a few purported hauntings; but the vaporous little girl in formalwear is sure to cut a rug, not rattle her chains, when the sounds of Tippy Canoe, the Oliver Brown Trio, Tiki King and Idol Pleasures, the UkeAholics, and Beau Vine (The Atomic Bard) plinka-plink-plunka through the halls. The live music will be preceded by a showing of William Preston Robertson and Sean Anderson's alt-uke documentary Rock That Uke, and all this tiny, bubbly fun can be yours for just $8 in advance, $10 at the door. (Plus gas money and, if you wish, a room at the lodge, starting at $79 a night.) 7 p.m. Write firstname.lastname@example.org, call 831-338-6433, or visit BrookdaleLodge.com
Till National Dance Week starts on April 22, there's no better place to get your fill of dance on the cheap than at the second annual Dance IS Festival, happening Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and winding down this Sunday at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts (2640 College Ave., Berkeley). Today's program features such student and professional companies as the En Pointe Youth Dance Company, Berkeley Ballet Theater, Dance Ceres and the Stanford Dance Division, Serene Dance Collective (SFSU), AXIS Dance Company, and Dance Naganuma. $15 for adults, $10 kids and students. Info: JuliaMorgan.org or 925-789-1300.
We'd like to take a moment to talk to the girls who dig girls out there: Have you ever gotten in trouble with your significant other for thinking that "tantric" was just a guy in Miami looking to drop a twenty on a date? This evening from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Change Makers for Women hosts Pamela Madison's Intro to Lesbian Tantra, affording participants the chance, for half that price, to learn how to integrate sexuality and spirituality through these ancient Indian love rituals. Couples and singles are welcome, and you must wear comfy, loose clothing to really get it right. The bookstore and community center is at 6536 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Preregister there or at 510-655-2405. Info: PamelaMadison.com and 866-Q-TANTRA.
Forget Goofus. In the O.G. version of the classic Highlights magazine cartoon feature, Gallant was the cool one, indulging in frequent fisticuffs in a tireless defense of the underdog. And while he was quickly made cautious and square for modern parents' sensibilities, the Two Gallants obviously know how to keep it just rough enough to please. The young SF-based band walk just the right line between melodic swing and bad blues fang, and, thanks to its drum-and-guitars set-up, that line draws an intimate circle. The Gallants are in a touring way right now, just returned from dates in the Midwest with East Bay neighbors Rogue Wave and about to embark for SoCal and then the SXSW fest in Austin. But you can spend a school night with them and Crystal Skulls, and probably one other act, at LoBot Gallery, 1800 Campbell St., West Oakland. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. and costs $6. LoBotGallery.com
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