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With activism, the environment, history, social change, self‑help, and a bit of whimsy, this season of renewal in bookstores and lecture halls is filled with a plethora of exciting lectures and events. Whether your interest is understanding nearby nature, finding inner happiness, or seeking political justice, pack your notepad, budget for buying new books, and become educated, galvanized, and inspired.

The Lure of Fishing in the Santa Barbara Channel Captain David Bacon runs a six pack charter boat when he’s not telling tales. His public talk at the Maritime Museum will involve sea yarns from the captain’s chair covering the joy of fishing, tackling everything from gear to ocean politics. Thu., Mar. 23, 7pm; Munger Theater, S.B. Maritime Museum; 962 8404.

Adventures of a Hollywood Secretary Hollywood author and documentarian Cari Beauchamp resurrects an epochal Hollywood era as seen from the letters of 1920s Hollywood secretary Valeria Belletti, who worked for Samuel Goldwyn and Cecil B. DeMille. Sun., Mar. 26, 3pm; Chaucer’s Books; 682 6787.

“Reflections on a Wedding Cake” Speaking of Stories has taken a unique twist down a storytelling road in this installment of its popular series. It commissioned tales by contemporary writers — which all include a wedding cake in the middle of the road. The evening’s readers will include popular actors Annabeth Gish and Christopher Lloyd. Mon., Mar. 27, 7:30pm; Lobero Theatre; 963 0761 or speakingofstories.com.

An Evening with Al Franken The Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara presents humorous political commentator Al Franken. Whether you agree or disagree with his point of view, Franken never fails to deliver insight into modern politics, be it truth or lies, with jokes. Fri., Mar. 31, 6:30pm; Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort; 963 6754 x103.

Holy Land Whose Land? The Middle East is filled with one of the most tragic international clashes of the modern era. For those without a background in religious studies or a historical encyclopedia at their fingertips, Dorothy Drummond makes the roots of Middle Eastern conflict understandable by explaining the story behind the struggle. Sat., Apr. 1, 2pm; Borders, downtown Santa Barbara; 899 3668.

Intoxicating Agent We may know Joyce Dudley as one of our county’s deputy district attorneys, but she is also an accomplished novelist. Her second book combines arson, murder, conflict, and love for an arresting tale of justice pursued. Tue., Apr. 4, 7pm; Chaucer’s Books; 682 6787.

The Resurgence of Anti Semitism in Europe In his native France, Bernard Henri Levy is known simply as “BHL,” where he is one of today’s most well known and prolific philosophers and intellectuals. Superstar, maverick, libertine, journalist, filmmaker, and activist, Levy has investigated a variety of social topics including racism, fascism, the death of Daniel Pearl, and war. Mon., Apr. 10, 8pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

Seabirds of the Channel Islands and Santa Barbara We see them daily, admiring them in flight or cursing a seagull snatching a bite of our picnic lunch. The seabirds of our richly diverse area have a fascinating life and history, particularly since thousands nest annually on the protected Channel Islands. Josh Adams’s talk will stimulate appreciation of our feathered friends. Tue., Apr. 11, 7pm; Chase Palm Park.

Mind Change: World Change Dr. Jean Houston takes “Think Globally, Act Locally,” to a new level: consciousness. In this talk, the noted author explores how expansions in consciousness offer unique solutions to current world issues. Mon., Apr. 17, 7:30pm; Lobero Theatre; 687 0812.

Surfing’s Greatest Misadventures Misadventures can be as epic as true adventures when riding waves. Anyone from pro surfers to enthusiasts to journalists contributed gripping true stories to this collection. Big wave surfer and female watercraft driver Shawn Alladio and surfer and biologist Jeff Phillips will be on hand to recount their tales. Want to submit your story for consideration in Book Two? Check out thesurfbook.com. Wed., Apr. 26, 7pm; Borders, downtown Santa Barbara; 899 3668.

Ecological Activism and Community Renewal The current administration and state of the environment makes the present a crucial time for action. Feel stymied? This panel of fierce environmental activists — Vandana Shiva, Resurgence magazine editor Satish Kumar, and deep ecologist and Rainforest Action Network founder John Seed — promises to inspire. Thu., Apr. 27, 7:30pm; \ Thornton Auditorium, SBCC’s Wake Center; 687 0812.

Sustainable Development, Democracy, and Peace There are few better to speak on this subject than Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. This honor was bestowed on her in 2004 in recognition of her efforts to mobilize the women of Africa in planting more than 30 million trees. Fri., Apr. 28, 7pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

The Biology of Belief Cellular biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton elucidated how environment and perception, and indeed our very thoughts, affect our cellular structure and even our genetics in his newly released best selling book, The Biology of Belief. Mon., May 1, 7:30pm; Lobero Theatre; 687 0812.

The Kurds: A People in Search of Their Homeland Even with our attempts at rectifying human rights abuses and making right the wrongs of generations, tragically there are still people displaced and disenfranchised. War correspondent, photojournalist, and Santa Barbara resident Kevin McKiernan’s documentary and new book illustrates the difficulties of the Kurds, today’s largest stateless ethnic group. Tue., May 9, 8pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

Happiness, with Matthieu Ricard and Pico Iyer We have an amazing potential for happiness wired into our very nature. Buddhist monk, author, and former molecular geneticist Matthieu Ricard will discuss how we can use our minds to achieve this potential with the acclaimed author Pico Iyer. Sat., May 13, 3pm; Victoria Hall Theater; 893 3535.

Becoming a Blessing Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen has made it her life work to return heart and soul to medicine. Through her practice as a physician, teaching of young doctors, and books including Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal, her life as both patient and physician explores how we can make an impact. Mon., May 15, 7:30pm; Lobero Theatre; 687 0812.

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