On July 28, please join us on The Ecology Center farm in San Juan Capistrano for a free OUTDOOR screening of the Saging The World documentary and live musical performances from @ 7-10 PM. Be sure to bring a blanket, a sweater, a camp chair (low back preferred) and some snacks, and experience an evening of community under the stars. Everyone’s invited!

Samantha Morales-Johnson, Gabrielino-Tongva, in a field of flowering white sage

Schedule: Thursday, July 28, @ 7-10 PM (CORRECTED DATE)
7:00     Check out the farm, instructional areas, farm tours, music
8:00     Acjachemen Tushmal Singers/Tushmaluum Helekatuum, or the Hummingbirds that Sing.
8:30     Saging the World screening
9:00     Q + A with film participants Heidi Lucero, Adelia Sandoval, and others

The Ecology Center
32701 Alipaz St
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675 

Photo top of post: Norma Meza Calles, Kumeyaay (film still) in Baja, California, Mexico

Saging the World Official Trailer
CNPS White Sage Campaign


Supplemental Information: The Saging the World documentary is an urgent call to address what is happening with white sage. California Native people and others have been working tirelessly for decades to stop the destruction and cultural appropriation of white sage.

Nick Rocha, Gabrielino-Shoshone, at the Etiwanda Preserve speaking about his mother, Vera Rocha, a sage protector. (film still)
The mural of Vera Rocha, Gabrielino Nation: Spirit of the Sage, is a tribute to her decades-long work to preserve white sage and other native plants of profound importance to California Indians. You can visit the mural painted by artists Johanna Poethig and Roberto Salas, in San Pedro, CA. (film still)
photo credit: Johanna Poethig
Rico Ramirez, Gabrielino-Shoshone, standing in the poached white sage fields in the Etiwanda Preserve. He is the grandson of Vera Rocha. In his essay, “Spirit of the Sage Needs Protection,” in CNPS’s Flora Magazine, Spring issue 2022, Rico writes that his grandparents “were activiely involved in protecting the white sage scrublands and other sensitive natural resources from overdevelopment during the 1980’s and 1990’s. . . . They helped fight for, and support, the establishment of the Etiwanda Preserve. . . . Let’s protect white sage so that the future of sacred cultural practices can continue to protect those who appreciate the medicine the most.” (film still from Saging the World documentary footage)

Today, with the exponential growth of an international market for white sage fueled by social media, even places such as the Etiwanda Preserve, where protections are in place, are being decimated by large-scale theft.

This is what poaching looks like: @ 800 pounds of white sage from the North Etiwanda Preserve. Ranger Ron Goodman confiscated these duffle bags stuffed with sage from poachers, which is an all too common occurrence at the Preserve and elsewhere. photo credit: Ron Goodman
Trend smudging and cultural appropriation help fuel the market for poached white sage. (film still)
Heidi Lucero, Acjachemen and Mutsun Ohlone, in her traditional Acjachemen gathering area for white sage. She no longer gathers her sage here because of the serious poaching of the plant throughout southern California for the international market. She now grows her own white sage at her home for her own personal use and for friends and family. (film still)

For more information about how you can help protect white sage, check out the:
California Native Plant Society White Sage Campaign website

Saging the World just received (July 25) the Best Environmental Film award for June 2022. Congratulations to everyone involved with the creation of this film!

Note: My friend, Amy Rouillard, texted me to say she had visions of me walking the red carpet with a glamorous updo. I told her that this award is not from the Cannes Film Festival, which is the really famous one. This award is from the Cannes World Film Festival. So, no carpet, no updo. But we’re all very honored to receive it.

Saging the World also recently won the Rosemary Gladstar Grand Prize Award for Best in Festival for the International Herb Symposium Film and Photography Festival.

Posted by deborah small


  1. Really looking forward to this tonight. On my way right now.
    By the way, if you miss tonight’s screening there will hopefully be another in early November at Tree of Life Nursery, a short dive up the Ortega Hwy, also in San Juan Capistrano. Check for further updates at OCCNPS.org.

    Ron Vanderhoff
    CA Native Plant Society, OC



    1. Hi Ron, it was great to meet you at the screening. I’m very excited about Saging the World’s future with you, OCCNPS and Tree of Life . . .



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