Martin Luther King celebration in Alamo

A celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday will be held beginning at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21 at the San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church's Wesley Center, 902 Danville Blvd. in Alamo.

This is the sixth annual celebration led by the Martin Luther King Jr. Peacemakers of the San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church.

The main speaker will be Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine, chair of the interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives, Rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue in Berkeley and author of 11 books, most recently the national bestseller "The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right." There also will be "Songs of Peace and Freedom," as well as free refreshments.

For more information, call 925-837-2763.

Registration underway for 2013 Citizens Institute

Anyone with an interest in Walnut Creek government and the community in general is invited to sign up for the 2013 Walnut Creek Citizens Institute.

Citizens Institute participants learn firsthand how the city operates through tours, interactive exercises and presentations by key staff and City Council members. Since its inception in 2000, nearly 500 residents have participated in the Institute. Program alumni often stay involved with the city, serving on committees and commissions and volunteering for special events or ongoing programs.


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The 2013 Walnut Creek Citizens Institute comprises seven Wednesday evening sessions, from Feb. 20 through April 3, with the final class taking place the morning of Saturday, April 6.

Space is limited to encourage discussion, involvement and interaction. Cost is $25. For a detailed schedule, visit www.walnut-creek.org/institute, or email community@walnut-creek.org.

Civil War songs, poetry event Jan. 23

The Walnut Creek Library Foundation will on Jan. 23 host an evening of music and poetry that speak to the loyalties, heartbreak, soul searching and bravery of the men and women of the American Civil War.

This free event will be held starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Oak View Room of the Walnut Creek Library, 1644 N. Broadway.

The songs and poems of the Civil War reflect the voice of a nation deeply divided and provide Americans with a unique literary heritage. This program features performances of well-known Civil War anthems, such as The Battle Cry of Freedom and Oh, Shenandoah, and poetry of some of the most profound Civil War-era writers, including Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and "Poet Patriot" Walt Whitman. Lesher Center for the Arts favorites Kerri Shawn and Scott Denison will recite the poems, accompanied by live vocals by local artists.

Divided into three sections, Soldiers and Separation, Enemies and Friends, and Lincoln and Requiem, this moving program reminds us of the price of freedom and liberty, which were fought for so valiantly during the four-year Civil War.

This program is the fourth in a monthlong series of special events aligned with the national traveling exhibit, "Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War," on display at the Walnut Creek Library through Feb. 8.

Registration is recommended to reserve a seat; go to www.WCLibrary.org.

Climate change program comes to library Jan. 23

Shelly Ryan of former Vice President Al Gore's Climate Reality Project will present the multimedia program "Climate Change: It's Not Too Hot to Handle" at the meeting of the Diablo Valley Democratic Club at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Ygnacio Valley Library, 2661 Oak Grove Road, Walnut Creek.

The presentation highlights the status of climate change worldwide, measures being taken to remedy the situation and how every individual can make a positive difference.

Guided by the principle that climate change is real and solutions are available, the Climate Reality Project works to bring facts about the climate crisis into the mainstream and help citizens take meaningful steps to solve it. Ryan, who was trained by Gore, has presented environmental, natural history and climate change programs at museums, including Walnut Creek's Lindsay Wildlife Museum and the California Academy of Sciences. She holds a master of arts degree in museum education from John F. Kennedy University.

For more information, call 925-946-0469 or go to www.dvdems.org.

City's 'Spotlight' series continues Feb. 9

Walnut Creek's "Second Saturday Spotlight" program continues Feb. 9 with the "State of the City" address at Lesher Center for the Arts.

It's the second in a planned series of "Spotlight" events that will also allow the public to go to the nerve center of the Lesher Center for the Arts, the city's Corp Yard or the Lindsay Wildlife Museum takes care of injured animals

The "Spotlight" series in Mayor Cindy Silva's primary outreach program to Walnut Creek's residents, said Gayle Vassar, Walnut Creek's communications and outreach manager.

"This is the mayor's way to connect with the community for the year," Vassar said.

Future scheduled "Spotlight" programs are March 9, "Keeping things running smoothly," behind the scenes at the Public Services Maintenance Corp Yard; and April 13, "Walnut Creek's Legacy of Open Space," led by the Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation

The city encourages people to register for each "Spotlight" ahead of time, so the city can best accommodate those who want to come. The online registration system is on the Spotlight web page. That said, drop-ins are welcome, too.

All "Spotlights" will take place the second Saturday of the month from 9 to 10:30 a.m., and will be very informal tours of a community/city gems. To register or for more information, go online to www.ci.walnut-creek.ca.us/spotlight. or call Vassar at 925-943-5895 or email her at vassar@walnut-creek.org

'Walnut Creek on Ice Gala' Jan. 19

The second annual Walnut Creek on Ice Gala will be held on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, beginning at 6:30 p.m., to mark the end of the rink's eighth holiday season of operation.

There will be wine, beer, champagne and a no-host cocktail bar, dinner, and two ice-dancing performances -- one by US professional skaters and another by ABC7 News Anchor Dan Ashley and his skating partner Paulette Bleam. There also will be a performance by the rock band PUSH.

Tickets are $125 per person or $1,150 for table of 10. RSVP by Dec. 28.

The event will be fully tented and heated, and there will be valet parking.

Financial Peace University seminar Jan. 23, 27

Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, a family finance program using common-sense principles and small-group accountability, will be held Jan. 23 and 27 at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, 1801 Lacassie Ave. in Walnut Creek.

Financial Peace University is designed to give people the tools they need to change their behavior and succeed financially.

Lessons include budgeting, relationships and money, getting out of debt, saving for emergencies and investing.

These dates are beginning points for FPU's weekly courses.

For more information on the Walnut Creek sessions, contact Richard Davis at 925-935-1574 for more information or to register. For more information about the program in general, go to www.daveramsey.com.

'Peaceful Schools' conference Feb. 2

The Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center in Walnut Creek will hold its second annual Creating a Peaceful School Conference from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Seven Hills School, 975 N. San Carlos Drive in Walnut Creek.

The conference is designed for anyone who works with young people in grades K-12, including parents, teachers, administrators, classroom aides, school personnel and after-school program providers.

The aim is to help participants develop the skills they need to make the classroom, the school and the community a more peaceful place.

The keynote speaker is Ron Claassen, a professor of peacemaking and conflict studies at Fresno Pacific University and director of the Restorative Discipline Project. The focus of the conference will be the use of restorative justice in the classroom setting.

Workshops and classes will cover a variety of topics.

Registration is $35 through Jan. 7, and $40 thereafter. A catered lunch is included. Continuing education credit will be available through Saint Mary's College for a small additional fee.

Full descriptions of presenters and topics and related information will soon be available online. For more information or to register, go to www.mtdpc.org; call 925-933-7850, or e-mail margli@mtdpc.org.

-- Compiled by Sam Richards