All posts filed under: community

A Journey to ‘The Voice’

In 2000, 3 years after I first moved to San Francisco, I met a young girl named Deanne Palaganas. She was in my chorus club at the very first elementary school where I was in residence. She was full of personality, always smiling and she loved to sing! She was one of those kids you never forget. Recently, I ran into her while I was rehearsing a group she was performing with. Out of the blue she asked me if I would consider being her mentor and now Juana’s Voice is mentoring her and helping her prepare to chase her dream! She is scheduled to be in Los Angeles this July to audition for “The Voice”. Deanne is a young woman fierce with ambition and stunningly talented who works incredibly hard, follows through with everything and has the courage to listen to her heart. We are honored to be here with her as she walks this path. Please follow her FB page and send her positive energy as she goes for it!


After months of research and work we have started our non-profit: Juana’s Voice, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We have been fortunate to partner with the Brava Theater for Women in the Arts  in San Francisco to offer classes in expressive arts.

TenderPics in the Tenderloin

When I moved to San Francisco in 1997 the first place I lived was a seedy motel on the border of the Tenderloin and Union Square.  The restroom was down a dark hallway that had peeling 1970’s wallpaper. The room smelled like the last person that had lived there and every sound that was spoken or grunted echoed around me.  In 2002, to take advantage of cheap rent, my best friend moved into an apartment on the fringe of the Tenderloin. From the train station I had to walk eight blocks, through the heart the neighborhood, to get to his apartment. Mostly I remember the smells; pungent urine, sour beer and rancid food. Smells that stuck to my clothes and lingered in my nostrils, leaving me feeling like I needed a hot bath.   In 2009 Shannon worked with writer Sean Owens and composer Don Seaver on a musical dedicated to the seedy history of the Tenderloin. As I sat in the audience and watched these twelve characters (ie: a crooked cop, a drug addict and the …


While we were in NYC we thought it would be fun to spread some words of encouragement and inspiration for the new year. Elizabeth wrote each card by hand, an inspirational phrase on one side and a collage art piece on the other. We put them all over the city, Brooklyn to Park Avenue, with little pieces of red string. We were always looking over our shoulders and giggling at the thought of getting caught. Our sincerest hope is that the person that picked it up was touched in some way. Maybe it helped them believe in themselves. Maybe it made them smile at a stranger. Maybe the holidays weren’t as lonely. And maybe, they turned around and shared it with someone else who needed it.

The Language of Photography

In 2007, Elizabeth and I went to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico with a goal. We wanted to teach digital photography to children in the community. We also wanted to connect them via a blogging to a classroom of children in San Francisco to create a cross-cultural experience. Our San Francisco class agreed and even donated cameras. When we arrived in San Miguel we quickly connected with our community there to see if our project was possible. With the cooperation of the Biblioteca Publica (the public library) we had a space and a group of kids with whom to work. For six weeks we held classes that included photography skills, critiques and field trips. It also included blogging and getting to know the kids in San Francisco through questions and pictures. In the end they had one amazing exhibition in the courtyard of the Biblioteca showing and selling their work. It was a very special experience for all of us. Inspired by this experience, Elizabeth and I have added on a new piece to our …