Archive for the ‘Bay Area’ Category

6th Annual Black Joy Parade in Oakland Sunday, Feb. 26

Friday, February 24th, 2023

By Harlo Pippenger, Consultant, San Francisco Bay Ferry

San Francisco Bay Ferry is proud to sponsor the 6th Annual Black Joy Parade in Oakland, a hyper-positive celebration of the Black experience and community during Black History Month. Visit their booth at the festival to learn more about getting around the Bay Area and California by ferry.

San Francisco Bay Ferry offers daily service connecting San Francisco to Oakland’s Jack London Square, a short distance from the Black Joy Parade and Festival.

Black Joy Parade. Photo from 2020 event

WHAT: The Black Joy Parade is an annual event featuring a festival and procession that brings together the community to highlight Black joy past, present, and future. The parade includes live music, art, vendors of all kinds, food, games, sponsor activations, dance, and more.

WHO: Black Joy Parade, sponsored by San Francisco Bay Ferry

WHEN: Sunday, February 26, 2023. Parade starts at 12:30pm, festival starts at 12pm.

WHERE: Downtown Oakland, CA. The parade begins at 14th and Franklin Streets in downtown Oakland. Festival entrance is at 19th and Franklin Streets.

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Save Mount Diablo expands free Discover Diablo Hikes and Outings Program for 2023

Sunday, January 15th, 2023

Discover Diablo hikers exploring in Del Puerto Canyon. Photo by Sean Burke.

Begins January 21st

By Laura Kindsvater, Communications Manager, Save Mount Diablo

CONTRA COSTA, STANISLAUS, AND SAN BENITO COUNTIES— Explore some of the East Bay’s premiere hiking and natural areas with Save Mount Diablo in 2023, including places rarely open to the public. The Discover Diablo outings series offers guided hikes, themed walks, and other outdoor activities: mountain biking; rock climbing; trail running; meditation in nature; plein air painting events; and property tours. All are free to the public. Trailblazers of all ages and skill levels are welcome to choose appropriate outings from our extensive offerings.

In response to growing demand, Save Mount Diablo is offering a total of 36 excursions. The ever-popular tarantula walk will be offered twice, and we are offering two plein air painting walks, two meditation hikes, and a trail run in 2023.

We will also be offering rock-climbing outings, mountain-biking events, and bilingual hikes in Spanish and English.

Generously sponsored by the Martinez Refining Company, the 2023 Discover Diablo free public hikes and outings series will begin on January 21.

“Through the Discover Diablo series, people are fortunate to be able to explore and discover the beauty of Mount Diablo with experienced guides,” said Ann Notarangelo, Community Relations Manager for the Martinez Refining Company. “Our refinery has sponsored these hikes since 2017 in the hopes people will enjoy learning more about the mountain, while spending quality time with family and friends.”

Discover Diablo hikers checking out the view from Bob Walker Ridge in Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. Photo by Jennifer Willen

The Discover Diablo program was started by Save Mount Diablo in 2017 to connect local communities with the spectacular natural world of the Mount Diablo area and to build awareness about land conservation.

Hikes and outings take place on one of Save Mount Diablo’s conserved properties or on park lands in the Diablo Range. These include Mount Diablo State Park, East Bay Regional Park District, Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation, Stanislaus County, and National Park Service lands.

Discover Diablo hikes are guided by experts steeped in the natural history and lore of the region, who both educate and entertain while emphasizing the breathtaking beauty that the Diablo Range has to offer.

Save Mount Diablo hopes the Discover Diablo series will spark a passion for the Diablo Range and deepen people’s connections to the land and nature. All Discover Diablo hikes are subject to, and will honor, all applicable COVID-19–related restrictions then in place for our area.

According to Ted Clement, Executive Director of Save Mount Diablo, “It is the goal of the Discover Diablo program to build connections between people, Save Mount Diablo, and the land, helping our communities develop a strong sense of place and a deepened appreciation for our collective backyard. Most importantly, we want to cultivate a love of the land in participants, as that is what it will take to ensure the precious Mount Diablo associated natural areas are taken care of for generations to come.”

There is something for us all to discover in the nooks and crannies surrounding Mount Diablo and within its sustaining Diablo Range, so be sure to hit the trails in 2023 and find your own individual inspiration!

RSVP required. To ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to attend, registration for hikes and outings in March onward will open two months prior to each hike’s date.

See our schedule of upcoming hikes and outings below or view and RSVP online here:

You can also download and print a flyer of the schedule here:

Questions about hike program details and RSVP information: Denise Castro, Education and Outreach Associate, Save Mount Diablo C: 925-286-9327,

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Hikers: Take the 6th Annual San Francisco Bay Area Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge™

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

Join the Challenge

The 6th Annual San Francisco Bay Area Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge™ is a self-paced hiking and trail running challenge up six iconic Bay Area mountains.

You choose whether you want to complete them in six days, six weeks or take the entire year. Set the schedule that works best for you.

The peaks include Mt. Umunhum – elevation 3,486 feet, Mt. Saint Helena – elevation 4,341 feet, Mt. Diablo – elevation 3,849 feet, Mt. Tamalpais – elevation 2,572 feet, Mt. Sizer – elevation 3,215 feet and Rose Peak – elevation 3,817 feet. Plus, new for 2023 a seventh peak, Berryessa Peak – elevation 3,041 feet.

You can climb them in order as you build your strength and endurance or mix it up. The choice is yours. Your registration will help support Big City Mountaineers, so you’ll be doing good for others with each peak you climb.

$50.00 Registration includes:

  • Welcome Packet with instructions on logging your hikes and personalizing your profile
  • Leave No Trace reference card
  • 2023 Bay Area Hiker Tag
  • 2023 NorCal Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge sticker pack
  • Access to the challenger-only hike log. Log your Six-Pack hikes and share photos on Hike them solo, with friends, or with a group. Hike at your own pace and schedule, but hike them between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023.
  • Personalize profile to track your progress.
  • Earn virtual badges for each Six-Pack hike you complete. And you might pick-up a few surprise badges along the way!
  • Connect with other challengers. You can share hike logs, post photos and add comments in the activity stream.
  • Exclusive access to our challengers-only discussion forumwhere you can connect with other challengers and pick up advice for successfully hiking each of the six hikes.
  • Monthly gear giveaways
  • Peak reports and training tips

Hike and log all the Six-Pack peaks between January 1 and December 31, 2023 and you’ll earn the coveted Finisher Pin and a chance to win the grand prize in our gear giveaway.

This registration is for adults 18 years or older. If you are a parent or guardian registering a minor, click here.

For more details and to register for the challenge visit


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Ride transit to ring in the New Year with Clipper® on your phone

Wednesday, December 28th, 2022

Don’t drop the ball on safety, savings or convenience

By John Goodwin, MTC

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and Bay Area transit agencies encourage residents and visitors planning a night on the town to celebrate the new year this weekend to:

  • Travel by bus, train or ferry. Several Bay Area transit agencies — including BART —will extend their usual operating hours Saturday night and early Sunday morning to accommodate New Year’s Eve revelers.
  • Avoid long lines at the station by adding a Clipper card to your phone’s digital wallet ahead of time. No app fee is required, and customers can instantly load cash value with their Apple Wallet or Google Wallet. For those who already have Clipper, make sure you have your round-trip fare loaded before boarding.
  • Go to and visit Clipper’s Apple Pay or Google Pay pages for more information, including step-by-step instructions on how to add a new Clipper card to your iPhone or Android system phone running Android 5 or later.

Clipper will waive the standard $3 new-card fee for customers who choose Clipper on their mobile phone. The $3 fee will be charged to customers who opt for a traditional plastic card. MTC reminds travelers riding on BART that each rider age 5 or older needs their own Clipper card to pay the BART fare.

MTC is the transportation planning, funding and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. MTC operates the Clipper system on behalf of the region’s transit agencies.


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New Year brings new Bay Area toll-payment assistance programs

Tuesday, December 27th, 2022

The John A. Nejedly Bridge in Antioch. Photo from BATA website.

Free crossings for eligible veterans begin Jan. 1, penalty-waiver program coming

Dec. 27, 2022 – The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) and the Golden Gate Bridge District today announced two new bridge toll assistance programs that will benefit customers from lower-income households as well as eligible military veterans, beginning in 2023.

By July 1, 2023, BATA and the Golden Gate Bridge District will institute a policy for toll bridge customers whose household income is no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $55,000 for a family of four) to receive a waiver of any penalties assessed for late or missed payments of toll invoices and toll evasion notices incurred for toll bridge crossings between March 20, 2020 and Jan. 1, 2023. The waiver applies to the Golden Gate Bridge and to the state-owned Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael, San Francisco-Oakland Bay and San Mateo-Hayward bridges. The waiver will not apply to Express Lanes.

The setting sun reflects off of the Carquinez Bridge’s towers. Photo: MTC

The Low-Income COVID Waiver program — created by Assembly Bill 2594, which was authored by San Francisco Assembly member Phil Ting and enacted earlier this year — will allow qualifying motorists to request from FasTrak® a waiver of outstanding bridge toll violation penalties. Waiver recipients will be required to pay tolls and any fees charged by the Department of Motor Vehicles for vehicle registration holds due to the non-payment of penalties.

The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Photo: MTC

Another new state law — AB 2949, authored by Assembly member Alex Lee of San Jose — goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023, granting eligible veterans of the U.S. armed forces free tolls on California toll bridges. These include the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the state-owned Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael, San Francisco-Oakland Bay and San Mateo-Hayward bridges. The free-passage benefit does not apply to Express Lanes.

To be eligible for free travel across California toll bridges, vehicles registered to military veterans must have a license plate with one of the following designations: Congressional Medal of Honor, Disabled Veteran, Legion of Valor, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Ex-Prisoner of War, or Purple Heart.

Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field. By Noah Berger

Eligible veterans do not currently need to have a FasTrak electronic toll payment account to qualify for free passage, although a FasTrak-enrollment requirement will be instituted in the future. To avoid being charged a toll, veterans who already are FasTrak customers must place their FasTrak tag in a Mylar bag when traveling through bridge toll plazas. Customers may request a bag by logging into their FasTrak account, clicking ‘Vehicles and Tags’, and selecting ‘Request Toll Tag Supplies.’ Veterans also may request a Mylar bag by calling the FasTrak customer service center at 877-BAY-TOLL (877-229-8655). These bags are free of charge.

BATA administers all toll revenues from the San Francisco Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges. The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District owns and operates the Golden Gate Bridge.

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BART, Capitol Corridor Authority to hold series of Link21 community events in October

Friday, October 14th, 2022

Source: Link21

To transform passenger rail network in 21-county Nor Cal Megaregion

Link21 is a long-range transportation program sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) to transform the passenger rail network serving the 21-county Northern California Megaregion, which includes the greater San Francisco Bay Area, the Monterey Bay area, the Sacramento area, and the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

Phase 1 of Link21 is currently underway. The public is invited to attend one of several in-person and virtual events this fall to engage with the Link21 team on this critical long-term planning investment in a new train crossing of the Bay and other improvements. Public input on potential rail improvement concepts is critical to the success of the Link21 Program to create a connected, equitable network of train service that cares for the people, environment, and quality of life for generations to come.

Source: Link21

New Transbay Rail Connection

Link21 is planning a new transbay passenger rail connection between Oakland and San Francisco. Travelers will be able to ride comfortably between the Sacramento Area and downtown San Francisco, the Northern San Joaquin Valley, the Peninsula, and the South Bay. Regional Rail riders with destinations across the Bay may be able to take a direct rail connection without transferring to a different service.

Watch experts talk about the benefits of Link21 or read a report on how the new transbay rail crossing will be a game changer for Northern California. – See California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), California State Rail Plan, 2018 and MTC, Horizon, 2019

The Northern California Megaregion is one of the nation’s most dynamic economies with a wide range of geographic, industrial and cultural diversity. Link21 will create a faster, more connected train service.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to design the kind of system that will make rail transit the mode of choice for trips throughout the Megaregion for everyone,” said Sadie Graham, BART’s Link21 Program Director. “We can’t do this alone and need the public to be part of the planning process at every step of this generational undertaking.”

Source: Link21

Three Community Meetings

Three virtual community meetings will be hosted in October to provide the public an opportunity to learn about Program concept development, including results of the service improvements survey, and how all of this information and public input will be used to support technical work and further developing and evaluating concepts. The first meeting will provide a Megaregional overview and benefits focus, while the other two will focus on specific locations.

  • Megaregional Focus: Tuesday, October 18, 5:30–7 p.m.
  • East Bay Focus: Wednesday, October 26, 5:30–7 p.m.
  • San Francisco Focus: Wednesday, November 16, 5:30–7 p.m.

In addition, Link21 will be hosting three virtual office hours to give the public an opportunity to ask questions of the technical teams.­­­

  • Wednesday, October 19: Noon–1 p.m.
  • Monday, October 24: 5:30–6:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 27: 4:30–5:30 p.m.

Register at

Events will be in English with Spanish, and Cantonese translators available. To request American Sign Language and other accommodations, please email or call 855-905-Link (5465) between one and five days in advance of the meeting date.

Can’t Make an Event?

Link21 will also be in local communities to share information and engage with the public. Visit the website for more details. Recordings for all virtual events will also be posted on the website.

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Amtrak San Joaquins will run Special Event Train to August 7th “Battle of the Bay” baseball game

Monday, July 25th, 2022

Deeply discounted; by leaving the car at home, Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants fans can relax, save cash and enjoy the game!

By David Lipari, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority

Antioch residents will be able to take a deeply discounted special event train to the “Battle of the Bay” baseball game between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants on Sunday, August 7th.

Amtrak San Joaquins tickets to the Oakland Coliseum (OAC) will include an automatically applied 50% discount. Travelers can also apply additional discounts, including the Disabled Rider Discount, Veteran & Active Military Discounts, Student Discount, and others available on the Amtrak San Joaquins promotions page.

Amtrak San Joaquins has modified its route and schedule for the Sunday, August 7th Battle of the Bay game between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants, scheduled to begin at 1:07 pm. Train 711 has been modified to travel all the way to the Oakland Coliseum, past its usual stop at Jack London Square and is scheduled to arrive at 10:39 am. After the game, Amtrak Train 718 will depart directly from the Oakland Coliseum at 5:25 pm.

“Amtrak San Joaquins riders utilize our service for a variety of transportation purposes. One of these purposes is to travel to fun, family-oriented events such as the Battle of the Bay,” said David Lipari, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority marketing manager. “With the price of gas so high, people are looking for opportunities to travel, save cash, and still have a fun and memorable experience. We are happy to be able to provide that with our Battle of the Bay special train.”

For an additional fee of only $10, travelers aboard the 711 train can purchase the Battle of the Bay food bundle, which includes a hotdog and 12oz. beer of any choice, available for pickup in the Café Car.

Special Event Train will serve the following counties:

Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings and Kern

Date: Sunday, August 7, 2022


For passengers interested in monitoring capacity levels for trains and buses, travelers can utilize Amtrak’s capacity indicator system. This online tool allows customers to see in real-time the percentage of seats sold for each trip option. This gives customers the opportunity to book a train that is less crowded if they choose or cancel the reservation if needed.

All discounts can be accessed at Passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets prior to boarding at stations, online at, on the Amtrak app, or at a station kiosk.

About the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) Since July 2015, SJJPA has been responsible for the management and administration of Amtrak San Joaquins. SJJPA is governed by Board Members representing each of the ten (10) Member Agencies along the 365-mile San Joaquins Corridor. For more information on SJJPA see

Amtrak San Joaquins is Amtrak’s 6th busiest route with 18 train stations throughout the Central Valley and Bay Area, providing a safe, comfortable and reliable way to travel throughout California. Amtrak San Joaquins is currently running six daily round-trips. In addition to the train service, Amtrak San Joaquins Thruway buses provide connecting service to 135 destinations in California and Nevada including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Napa Valley, Las Vegas and Reno.

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BAY AREA: Joey Travolta’s film camps for special needs students create videos for positive message campaign

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

Two students from Class 1 of Joey Travolta’s Vallejo Film Camp hosted by Touro University of California pitch their idea to him (center in grey shirt) and teacher Roger Welch while their classmates look on and a crew from Travolta’s Inclusion Films, including cameraman Danny Sarokin (left), shoot the proceedings on Thursday, July 14, 2022. Photos by Allen D. Payton

Each class develops theme, pitches Travolta then creates a film for use by Pass It On of The Foundation for a Better Life

By Allen D. Payton

Director, actor and former special education teacher, Joey Travolta held his third of three film camps in Northern California, last week, for students between 18 and 24 years old with an intellectual disability, to create short videos for use by for their positive message campaign in theaters, as well as on TV and billboards.

Each film will be five to seven minutes long and “every story has to have the theme of kindness or doing something good, and the thought is don’t hesitate to pass it on,” Travolta explained.

According to his Inclusion Films’ website, “over the two-week session, campers work together in small groups to develop a script, act, and shoot their film with professional support and equipment. The program encourages communication, confidence, and collaboration through acting and digital filmmaking. Stay tuned for future dates & announcements.”

Joey Travolta questions the students from Class 1 pitching their film idea as teacher Roger Welch and the other students look on and cameraman Danny Sarokin shoots the scene.

Travolta and a crew from his Inclusion Films, which includes neuro diverse adults from his brick-and-mortar school in Bakersfield, were also in Antioch last year filming a brief documentary entitled “Music Heals” for the biennial Stand Down on the Delta for military veterans planned for last fall. But due to COVID, that event didn’t occur, so the film was shown during the Music Heals Concert at El Campanil Theatre earlier this month. (See related articles here, here and here

Travolta and staff are holding the latest camp last week and this week on Mare Island in Vallejo, inside the campus of Touro University of California, following camps with the same theme in Livermore, with partners Futures Explored, in Stockton with the Lodi School District and the first one in Arkansas at the end of April.

The Vallejo camp was supported by the Solano County Office of Education (SCOE) and Susan Labrecque, SCOE Senior Director, Kesha Lovett, SCOE Program Manager for Workforce Development and the entire staff from SCOE Workforce Development Department were on hand to assist the students and watch the process.

“All participants are clients of North Bay Regional Center services which is how the camp is funded, along with the Solano County Office of Education to provide youth with skills that transition into the world of work,” Labrecque explained.

The camp was divided into three groups of students and the classes were each led by a separate teacher. On Thursday, July 14, the students presented their film concepts to Travolta, with two of the classmates chosen to make the pitch.

Class 1 film pitch.

Class 1 Pitch

The first class was led by Roger Welch who’s been teaching at the camps since 2018.

“I’m a family friend and real close with Joey’s sister, Ellen,” he said. “I ran a theater company in Idaho, and she lived in the town and acted in several shows. I got to know the whole family.”

Asked how he connected with the camp Welch said, “when I left that job and was in New York at a dinner with Ellen, Joey, who I’ve known for years, and his wife Wendy, he asked me what I was doing that summer and said, ‘come work for me’ so, I did.”

“I’ve been doing professional theater and film all my life and I’m a teaching artist,” he continued. “I’ve never worked with a neuro diverse population before. But I’ve just worked with them like any other students, using improv as a teaching tool. I’ve found it very challenging but very rewarding.”

“When I’m not doing this, I’m a freelance director for theater all over the country and the director and choreographer of entertainment for the American Queen Voyages,” which is a fleet of river boats on the Mississippi and Columbia Rivers and Great Lakes.

After approval by Travolta of their film concept, students from Class 1 celebrate and congratulate each other.

Two students were chosen to pitch the film concept from their class.

“I’ve only rejected one story. So, good luck,” Travolta said to laughter from the students. He later said that was true and it was because the film’s theme was too depressing.

The first pitch was a sci fi film about friendship and involved a spaceship.

Travolta asked how much it was going to cost him.

The students suggested it could become a series.

“Have you cast this, already?” Travolta asked.

“No,” Welch said.

One of the female students then offered to be an actress in the film. Another student, Sean volunteered to be an actor for it, too.

“I don’t have any say in that,” Travolta responded.

“I don’t like it. I love it!” he then said to cheers and applause from the class.

Class 2 Student Jaylon speaks with teacher Barry Pearl before he and classmate Daniel prepare to pitch to Travolta, as they await his arrival.

Class 2 Pitch

The second class was taught by actor Barry Pearl, who portrayed the part of Doody in the movie “Grease” in which Joey’s younger brother John had the lead role playing opposite Olivia Newton John.

“It’s an amazing program,” Pearl said. “I’ve been with it for nine years.”

The Inclusion Films crew, which includes adult students Travolta’s school in Bakersfield, prepares to shoot the pitch by Class 2.

Two students in his class pitched their film ideas to him and Travolta.

“This is my third year of camp but my first pitch,” said student Jaylon. His pitch partner, Daniel said this is his third pitch.

“I hope Joey approves” he said to Barry.

Travolta then entered the room asking the students which way he should go to get to his chair.

“I’m really excited about this pitch. The first one went well,” Travolta said after he was seated.

Travolta speaks with the students from Class 2 about the film they’re pitching him and Pearl.

“The name of our film is called ‘The Kindness of the Heart’ about two students who don’t have enough money for lunch,” Daniel explained.

“Two other students raise money to help,” Jaylon shared.

Travolta asked where the film would take place. They said it will be in a school in the cafeteria and outside.

Travolta then asked a female student he named “Princess Sophia”, her thoughts.

“I think this is good, Joey Travolta,” she said.

“If Princess Sophia says it’s good, then you’re approved,” he stated to cheers from the two who pitched and the other students from the class who were sitting and watching the pitch.

Class 3 Pitch

The third class was facilitated by Jessica Saul, a teacher with Inclusion Films. Her background is in neurodiverse theater with a company based in New York and she’s working to bring them to California.

She lives in LA and works with the camps. It’s been a wonderful experience because it brings together my two passions of performing and teaching.

“I connected with Joey through an organization called RespectAbility and he was looking for another teacher and here we are,” Saul said.

The film crew and class prepared for the pitch and Travolta’s arrival.

Students Brian and Cassidy from Class 3 pitch their film concept to Travolta and teacher Jessica Saul.

When he entered the room to applause from the students, Travolta walked toward them asking “how ya doing?” He then said, “I have a question before we start” then like a big kid, turned around and asked, “does my butt make these pants look big?” to laughter from the class.

“No answer from me,” replied one student.

The two students to give the pitch, Brian and Cassidy, placed leis around Travolta’s neck saying, “Aloha”.

“The title of this film is called ‘The Competition’,” they said.

“I like that,” Travolta responded, “What kind of competition?”

“It’s in Hawaii. It’s a talent competition,” Brian explained. “Elvis needs to win the competition so he can afford to go to the Berklee School of Music.”

Each story from the classes has an antagonist.

“Mark and Charlie plan to sabotage Elvis and steal his guitar,” said Brian.

“You’re scaring me,” Travolta said.

“You’re not giving me the end, now, right? Travolta asked.

“No,” they responded, then continued explaining the storyline.

Travolta listens to a joke by one of the students in Class 3 who used a special computer to speak for him as the Inclusion Films crew shoots and his classmates listen.

“I gotta tell you, you guys have me on the edge of my seat. That’s because I have a bad back,” Travolta joked.

The students continued with their pitch.

He then asked, “Are you going to use a green screen?”

Cassidy said, “Brian is going to play Elvis.”

“What are you going to do for Hawaii?” Travolta asked.

Saul pointed to the trees outside saying, “they were inspired by the outside.”

Travolta asked, “who’s going to play Elvis?”

“Thank you very much,” Brian responded giving an elvis impression.

He then asked if Travolta wanted to hear him sing Burnin’ Love.

“I’d like that,” Travolta responded. But before he had Brian start, he asked another student to call “action”.

Brian then sang part of the song to cheers from the class, Travolta and Saul.

Travolta responded by singing, “You’re nothing but a hound dog” to laughter from the students.

“I like this a lot,” he said. “You’re utilizing the area, which is very, very practical.”

“So, I have to approve this,” Travolta stated.

As Saul led the sound of a drumroll with hands on thighs, Travolta turned and asked one of the other students for his opinion of the film idea. The student gave a loud approval.

“OK, guys, you’re approved!” Travolta exclaimed to cheers and high fives from the students.

Brian had to then chase down Travolta, who had left the class, to get the back leis which were needed as props for the film.

See video of Class 3 film pitch and approval: Joey Travolta Vallejo Film Camp Class 3 Pitch 07142022 – YouTube

Inclusion Films Crew

The film crew for the day consisted of staff of Inclusion Films some of whom were previous students in Travolta’s classes.

“I had experience in the music industry,” crew member Mobley said. “So, I stepped up and I’ve been doing sound ever since.”

Crew member Brandon said he’s a student at Inclusion Films in Bakersfield. “I’m part of the upper class,” he added.

“Often times the students get positions in the film industry, including films with John,” Pearl said.

Danny Sarokin, Travolta’s lifelong friend, and NYU film school graduate, was a cameraman at the school.

“I grew up with Joey in New Jersey,” he shared. “We were on the wrestling team. I was a freshman, and he was a senior and he kind of took me under his wing. He’s been mentoring me ever since.”

“In the mid-90’s I co-wrote a children’s film called ‘Everyone Loves Mel’ that starred Ernest Borgnine. Joey directed it and was involved in the producing of it,” said Sarokin.

“I was a camera operator on Carol of the Bells and that was a great experience,” he continued, referring to Inclusion Films’ first full-length movie. “In 2018 Joey brought me back and I’ve been working at the summer camps, as a camera man. We get to mentor the kids, and we get to pass it on.”

Sarokin works for Travolta’s school in Bakersfield, teaching screen writing by Zoom as he lives in L.A. He also filled in as an editing teacher.

“We’ve actually filmed the first script that we wrote in the class just recently,” Sarokin shared. “That one is 30 to 40 minutes long. They cut it down to 25 minutes and show it on cable. It’s called Lost Luggage.”

According to the film’s logline which provides the plot, it’s about two African American sisters who find their grandma’s diary in a hidden suitcase in the basement. Upon reading, they learn about her teen romance with a white classmate in a racially charge environment. The sisters try to reunite with this lost love.

According to a Dec. 10, 2021 report by it was filmed at McNair High School in Lodi, California last October and was created with Lodi Unified students.

“Now, they’re in preproduction on the second script we wrote in the school,” Sarokin added.

Travolta Shares About the Camps and His Organization

Travolta takes a moment for a photo with the Herald’s Administrative Assistant (and the publisher’s mother) DeeAnn Payton at the Vallejo film camp.

Following the three class pitches, Travolta took some time to answer questions, mostly asked by the Herald’s administrative assistant, DeeAnn Payton, who was also at the camp and saw the pitches of all three classes.

“Now, they actually make their films on site,” he said. “Each class will show the rough cut of their film at the camp this Friday.”

“Some of these films will be on the Pass It On website,” Travolta continued. “Then we have the big, red-carpet screening. The kids dress up in tuxedos, have limousines and they get little Academy Awards.”

That’s being planned for some time, this fall.

“The camps are for the younger ones and the location in Bakersfield is for adults,” Travolta explained. “We do the training year-round and do movies like Carol of the Bells.”

“They learn soft skills like communication,” he added.

Asked how decided to start the film school and camps, Travolta said, “I was a special ed teacher in 1973 before I got into show business. I’ve been doing this since 2006.”

He also hosts workshops for adults in San Jose, San Diego and San Bernardino with partners Options For All and in Livermore, Sacramento and Stockton with Futures Explored, as well.

“We’re getting a lot of work from the state and regional centers and every time we do a job half the crew is made up of students trained at the various workshops,” Travolta said.

They have seven brick-and-mortar studios in California each one 5,000 to 8,000 square feet in size, that operate year-round with professionals teaching.

“They’re all funded through the Regional Centers,” he said.

“Then once the students have honed their skills, they get work with one of the three production companies” – Futures, Options and Inclusion – Travolta shared.

“It’s a gift for us to work with this population and we probably get more out of it than the kids, and they get a lot out of it,” he added. “I wish I was 20 years younger.”

Travolta has lived in San Francisco since last year when he and Wendy moved up from L.A. to help take care of their grandson who is two years old.

This Friday, the students will present the rough cut of their films to Joey.

Host Touro University of California

Asked how Touro University of California’s campus was selected to host the camp, Provost Sarah Sweitzer, PhD said, “Our connection is actually through SCOE who approached us to host this fantastic camp for our young people with disabilities in Solano County. This is our first summer.”

“Our mission is to serve, lead and teach and our function is to serve as an anchor institution in the North Bay counties,” she continued. “It’s at the heart of our mission to create equity in health and education to close the opportunity gaps, especially for our underserved communities.

“We’re a graduate school for healthcare, education and public health – the heart of the pandemic,” Sweitzer stated.

According to their website Touro is America’s largest private institution of higher and professional education under Jewish auspices with over 19,000 students across 35 schools in four countries and first opened in 1971.

The California campus is a graduate school with about 1,300 students. They’re renovating building number eight and they’re celebrating their 25th anniversary, Sweitzer added.

One of the many positive PassItOn messages.

About Pass It On

According to, for 21 years, the Pass It On campaign promoting positive values has provided uplifting and encouraging messages. It is a project of The Foundation for a Better Life, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

DeeAnn Payton contributed to this report.

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