Direct Experience, the creative productions of Zalman Berkowitz

Alas De Alma

Hi, I’m Zalman.

I was raised by a single mom, an only child.

My mom’s name was Alma which in spanish means soul. If you drop the first and last letters off my name, you get hers. In a sense my mother is the soul within my name. I don’t think she planned it that way, though it is one of many ways I describe my relationship with my mother.

Alma was a ‘peace-nik’ one of those radical hippies protesting nukes and promoting human rights and organic food, living as a vegetarian. She was righteous and cool and an active organizer in her community.

Mom passed while she was still pretty young (in her early 60s, from cancer). We were very close. While I can’t really describe what that transition was like for me, if you have had that experience, then you know. My momma shared so many gifts with me, and I still feel her presence and influence in my life.

Her passing touched her communities in lots of ways, though at the time many of us felt like we needed a way to celebrate her life. When I asked her how she wanted to be memorialized, she said “throw me a party” so with plenty of help, that’s what we did. It still tickles me that even from beyond this physical life, she found a way to bring folks together to celebrate and explore our sensing of the world and our environment(s).

Alas de Alma is a memorial site at an artisan community in the Santa Cruz River Valley. The site is impermanent and reshaped by the natural elements that surround it. From season to season a few of us will visit to say hello, enjoy the beautiful countryside and do a little “yard work”. I think momma would dig it.



Visit the Alas de Alma community website here


Video of Alas De Alma community site dedication