The moon is like a womb
that holds a growing fetus
in an amniotic fluid filled sky
Colleen Redman___________dVerse Poets Pub
The moon is like a womb
that holds a growing fetus
in an amniotic fluid filled sky
Colleen Redman___________dVerse Poets Pub
Caught in the coop!
Birds of a feather cackle together.
A broccoli omelet is all it’s cracked up to be.
The pecking order according to Liam.
_____________Our World Tuesday
~ The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on June 13, 2013
As one of the 45 county destinations featuring fine arts, artisan crafts, farm products, and more, the center will host a community open house throughout the three-day tour weekend. The “Opening the Doors Wide,” open house schedule will include tours of the facility and hands-on participatory demonstrations, including a massage sampling with a focus on fathers for Father’s Day. Informative talks (beginning daily at 2:00) will focus on acupuncture and the Asian bodywork style known as Tuina. There will also be opportunities to participate in the martial arts taught at the center.
“Having the open house is an opportunity to reach out to the community,” said Jody Franko (pictured above), the center’s Administrative Director. She described Chinese Medicine as a system designed to increase vitality, mobility and well-being through the use of acupuncture, targeted body work, medicinal herbs and internal martial arts, which the practitioners and many of the center’s clients practice as a component of a holistic medicine approach.
Chinese Medicine is not foreign medicine. It’s traditional and not unlike the folk medicine that was practiced in this region for many generations, Franko explained. “It’s based on the ways of nature and on observations that date back over 3,000 years ago of how the body works and how to maintain its healthy state.”
Franko, who runs the center’s day-to-day operations and develops programming, explained that BRCCM’s main focus has been martial arts classes, the Tuina School and the clinic, but now the center is broadening its focus with new initiatives to better serve the community and support the center’s sustainability.
One of those initiatives is the Heaven & EarthMedicinal HerbGarden, which will be featured at the open house and is now in its third year of growth. The center currently uses the herbs it grows and is developing plans for local and national distribution, which will provide opportunities to partner with local farmers, as well as enhance quality control over herbs that have traditionally been purchased from China.
“Herbs are one element of care recommended at the center to bring the body back into its natural state,” said Franko, who added that some of the herbs already grow here and that the center is working with national leaders to identify others than will grow well and non-invasively.
Teacher/ practitioner Jason Redinbo brought Chinese Medicine and martial arts to Floyd County. It was well received because people saw how effective it was, recalled Franko. Request for care was soon beyond the scope of one practitioner, so Redinbo began taking apprentices. In 2006 the BRCCM was founded as a public non-profit and the facility was built.
The Ancestral Mountain Tuina School was established soon after the formation of BRCCM. The school has graduated three classes, about 20 state certified Tuina practitioners. Currently four full-time practitioners, two of whom are acupuncturists, work out of the center. Several graduates work part-time at BRCCM.
One of the ways the center is diversifying is to make the facility available for rent for weddings and other events. Franko believes that the peacefulness of the building and property is part of the healing experience. “It’s a very a special place where you can hear birdsong and no traffic, and it’s only 10 minutes from town.”
With beautiful custom woodwork throughout the building, the center houses three clinical rooms, a timber-framed great room, a reception foyer, a kitchen and meeting space. There is also a barn on the landscaped acreage.
Currently, the center is working to identify areas that can serve the health needs of the community, beginning with the exploration and development of family health and women’s health programs. They are also working with leaders in the community to explore the use of auricular acupuncture, which has been very successful in the cessation of addictions.
Eli Schwartz-Gralla, the center’s current executive director, trained with the second generation of Redinbo’s apprentices. As a practitioner he has done everything from providing palliative care for people with terminal illnesses like cancer to working with clients with bad backs, stress overload or chronic pain due to injuries from office or farm work. He also teaches martial arts.
As director, Schwartz-Gralla works closely with the BRCCM board and oversees financing. “And sometimes I can be found pulling up weeds in the garden,” he said. With a new five-month old baby girl, Schwartz-Gralla and his partner Yarrow Delauney-Yard (also a BRCCM practitioner) can now claim three generations who are successfully using Chinese Medicine as their primary form of health care.
Schwartz-Gralla is looking forward to the Artisan Trail open house and encourages every one to come out. “It’s an opportunity for everyone who has ever had questions about what we do, or why people speak so highly of the center, to come out and see for themselves and have a personal interaction,” he said.
Note: Open House hours are Friday and Saturday 10-5pm and Sunday 12-5pm. A detailed schedule of events can be found at www.BRCCM.org or on the Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine Facebook page or call (540) 651-2682 for more information. More information on the Floyd Artisan Trail is HERE.
1. Written on an old scrap that I just dug out from a pile of papers: You don’t have to inject patience, just withdraw the irritation. The patience is there naturally.
2. Some things I don’t have much patience for, including when my fourth grade flip flopped on a picture taking day: HERE.
3. A recent story in The Local Quarterly about Floyd and the Crooked Road mentions unincorporated communities that the road passes through with names inspired by moonshining, like Lick Skillet, Boom Furnace, and Busthead, which, according to legend, ‘refers to local moonshiners’ homemade hooch, which won pre-Prohibition notoriety for being strong enough to “bust your head.”’ It reminded me of the road nearby, which is said to also have a name related to the moonshine days, called Shooting Creek.
4. I don’t go into Downtown Floyd shops nearly as much as I would like to but they’re always there ready and waiting, the way my freezer keeps everything cold in case I want an ice cube or how my water heater keeps running just in case I want a hot bath, which all seems really decadent.
6. I call Floyd’s own Tom Ryan a satirist, but he refers to himself as a porch monkey. He’s been up to more Tom Foolery with the November issue of the Floyd Enquirer. Tom is a bartender at Floyd’s Pine Tavern. One of his latest Enquirer headlines reads “The Buddhism of Bartending: How May I Serve You?” He invites readers to the Tavern to hear the “live broadcast” and suggests they subscribe to The Floyd Enquirer because he has eyebrows better than Garrison Keillor. – excerpt from Tomfoolery, written after the sudden death of Floyd’s iconic owner of The Republic of Floyd Emporium.
7. Tom’s store was reopened recently by friends and family with a motto prominently hung on the wall that begins: “Never forget why we are doing this. Don’t try to be Tom. It cannot be done!” Read more about the grand re-opening at Blue Ridge Muse HERE.
8. In the same way I know a coyote is coy (because his name tells me so), I know the planet is for plants and the forest is for rest.
9. Language is a kind of math. One letter added or taken away can dramatically change an equation. Writing is a like a scientific experiment with millions of theories to test, millions of combinations to figure with millions of results. A finished poem is like a tested theory, a solved problem, one with a common denominator and an unknown x factor to consider.
10. For me, the gauge of a good song is if it makes me want to either dance or write poetry.
11. There is a third option and I was reminded it last week while covering Floyd’s 11 day inaugural classical music concert, where the high quality of music triggered little movies scenes in my head and had me relaxed and on the edge of my seat at the same time.
12. It turns out that our chickens like popcorn almost as much as oatmeal. Watch Liam defend his bowlful of popped corn HERE.
13. Last night’s dream: A dark-haired woman with really long painted fingernails came up behind me on a bicycle. She sort of hugged me and said, ‘Only good things happen to good people.’ I said, ‘No good and bad things happened to good and bad people.’ She quickly brushed me off, as if she didn’t want to spend any time with that idea or me, and rode off. Later, I was walking around downtown (sort of) Floyd looking for my car because I forgot where I parked it. I ran into a friend I know and told him what the woman said. He said, ‘That’s bullshit.’
I love poems infused with history
worked into the present day topic
Like rocks overturned we return to our worms
unearth our wounds for good irrigation
Burrowed in journals are rich story castings
lineage lines that link generations
Like mineral veins of precious inheritance
I’m mining the evidence of my ancestral descent
Leaving my fingerprints on poems written down
like roots taking hold in a plot thickened
I’m turning the pages like turning the soil
to know what is growing in me
________________________dVerse Poets Pub
I save old pieces of poems the way a junkyard owner saves old cars for parts. It makes sense that poets recycle, since poetry is a form of conservation, a shorthand of language. Writers use everything around them. They draw from what they know, and conserve their words to make their writing more efficient. We “whittle life down into manageable parts,” is the way the writer, played by Meryl Streep, in the movie “Adaptation” put it.
You can’t stick old pieces of poems anywhere though. You have to wait for a perfect match. A poem is a family of words that are all related, either directly (rhymes, assonance, alliteration) or remotely. Dominant sounds fade-out and re-emerge like ancestors passing on traits. One word is born from the other.
Sometimes you can get away with adding a line to a poem that comes from somewhere else, but it has to belong, like a long lost relative. You can’t add a line to a poem just because it sounds good, because you’re looking for a place to put it, or because you like the meaning. You wouldn’t add a complete stranger to a family and expect everyone to get along right away, would you?
I wrote the above while out on a walk, after being reminded by the muse about the importance of outdoor spaces. I know enough not to go out without stuffing scrap paper and pen into my pocket. I didn’t get very far before I found myself pulling them out. Leaning against my neighbor’s mailbox, as though it were a desk, I scribbled out the gist, imagining that I looked very official, like someone taking readings. (Or, as my son Josh would put it “taking names,” which means “I’m really serious now.”) But then I walked back to the house, talking out loud to myself, something I don’t imagine that official people do.
I went out on the walk because my writing was stuck. I couldn’t find an ending to a story before this one. I went to find an ending and found a new story instead. I’m not surprised, though, because I know that one story leads to the next, just as one word in a poem is born from the other.
I don’t try too hard to make use of old poem parts because I know that the source where writing comes from is ultimately limitless. But I don’t take a good line for granted, either, and whenever one turns up, I feel a sense of wonder. Some I recognize right away and know exactly where they go. Others, I file away in one of my journals, to be dug up at a later date.
“Our real poems are already in us and all we can do is dig.” Jonathan Galassi
~ From Muses Like Moonlight, a collection of poetry and essays from 2004.
The following is a press release on the new Blue Mountain School that my husband Joe Klein (pictured center) is director of. It is interspersed with photos of a teen mixer that took place in May for potential students. Since then, Ezekiel Fugate, has been hired as a lead teacher and in depth story appeared in The Floyd Press, which you can read HERE.
A new alternative high school that empowers youth to live out a values-based and purpose-driven lifestyle will begin classes this fall under the direction of Licensed Professional Counselor, Joe Klein. The Blue Mountain High School (BMHS) will be located at the Floyd EcoVillage and will be a welcoming and inclusive place for teens from all backgrounds to receive a contemplative, progressive and place-based education that nurtures the body, mind and soul.
The BMHS curriculum integrates academic disciplines with hands-on service learning and entrepreneurial projects to promote self-awareness, respect and reverence for life, financial and ecological literacy, critical thinking and wise decision making skills. Every student will be supported to develop a personalized education plan and receive regular career pathways counseling. Self-directed work habits will be fostered through a mix of independent study and teacher lead courses with small class size.
The focus on individual development will be balanced with work in teams and service activities that help teen-aged students feel connected to something greater than themselves. BMHS students will learn first-hand how the way to happiness, meaning and fulfillment in life goes deeper than chasing or achieving material success.
Students who plan to apply for college will be helped to stand out in the admissions process by compiling an impressive portfolio of projects completed as well as receiving strong support for SAT practice and achieving Advanced Placement (AP) credits. Students who are passionate to explore a field of work, art or music will be connected with local mentors and apprentice opportunities.
Host families may also be needed for students from other areas that may apply to BMHS so contact Joe if you may be able to host a teen Sept 1- June 1. Check out their new webpage HERE. Joe can be contacted at 540-745-4434 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
~ The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on June 6, 2013
The inaugural season of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Music Festival (VBRMF) was kicked off with a brass fanfare at the Artisan Market Friday evening. Playing alongside the Market Pavilion, a group of academy student musicians and faculty mentors added a new flavor to the jamboree scene and drew an enthusiastic crowd. The informal, free concert was the first of eleven festival days of orchestra concerts and chamber ensemble performances scheduled at various venues around the county.
At the “Baroque Fireworks” Festival Gala Opening, held at the EcoVillage the following evening, the festival’s artistic director and conductor, Maestro David Wiley welcomed an audience of well over 200. Wiley, who is the music director and conductor of the Roanoke Symphony and New York’s Long Island Philharmonic Orchestras, referred to the festival as an accessible, warm and a come as you are event. “It’s a sustainable model that is exciting for Floyd,” he said, thanking the musicians and the community of support for helping to make it happen.
A masterful performance of Vivaldi and Bach by festival academy faculty in the Celebration Hall was received with hushed attention and rousing applause. During the intermission, Wiley expressed his joy and gratitude at seeing the festival becoming a reality. “I couldn’t be more ecstatic, with the level of playing, the turnout, and the way people have opened their hearts and homes to support us,” he said.
The indoor performance was followed by an outdoor concert at the EcoVillage’s Lakeside Pavilion. Academy fellows joined faculty masters for a stirring performance of Bach’s Orchestra Suite and Handel, selections from Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks
During the reception that followed the concerts, festival attendees enjoyed refreshments from Natasha’s Cafe and were abuzz with excitement about the festival. Floyd Countian June Damanti was one of many who expressed her deep appreciation for the music, saying that she especially loved hearing it in the outdoor setting. “I felt like I was at Wolf Trap (National Park for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.) This is Floyd’s version of Wolf Trap,” she said.
“Wonderful! It couldn’t have been more perfect,” said Grace Van Dyk. Van Dyk, who moved from Florida to the county in 2010 to live with her daughter and son-in-law, purchased a festival pass and says she plans to attend practices and classes, as well as the concerts. “I don’t know much about music, but I love to learn,” Van Dyk said. She has been studying the festival program and learning from two of the festival academy fellows who are staying in her home.
Festival director Jennifer Brooke explained that the 28 academy fellows auditioned for the opportunity to participate in the festival and to work with the festival’s 18 professional, master musicians. Many fellows are from Virginia and states around the country, and some hail from as far away as South Africa, Shanghai and South Korea. They, and some of the mentors, are staying at homes around the county with the EcoVillage serving as their festival base, where they go for daily breakfast and rehearsal.
Other scheduled concerts throughout the week include performances at Natasha’s Café, Chateau Morrisette and The Jacksonville Center. A Sunday Symphony Orchestra at Floyd Elementary School, conducted by Wiley, featured Jeff Midkiff (a past band member of The Lonesome River Boys) on mandolin performing his Concerto for Mandolin and Orchestra, “From the Blue Ridge.” A premiere performance of a piece titled Fanfare for Floyd, composed by Steven Brown, was also featured.
With four (three as of this posting) more days of music scheduled, there is still time to catch some festival highlights. A family concert performed by festival faculty and conducted by Maestro Wiley, who is always inspired and animated, is scheduled at the June Bug Center today from 3:30 to 4:30. With a price set to attract families ($11 per family or $14 at the door), the concert, named Classical Meets Jazz in the Mountains, promises to be an experience that will appeal to all ages.
Along with informal concerts at Dogtown/Sun Hall and the Farmers Market, there is a final chamber ensemble concert at the EcoVillage on Saturday afternoon (2:00) and an evening (6:00) concert by the festival symphony orchestra that will feature academy fellows, “concerto competition winners.” A final concert, Beethoven and Elgar Close the Festival, will take place at the Floyd County High School on Sunday at 3:00 with a pre-concert talk at 2:00.
Note: Visit the VBRMF webpage for a detailed concert schedule. Tickets are available at The Jacksonville Center or by phone at 540-745-2784.
1. This week, I learned all kinds of things, like what vegetables hold more pesticide residue than others, the discovery of a species of giant bug that scientists had thought was extinct, a new literary magazine to consider submitting poetry to, and that the man and woman who did the voices of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse were married in real life
2. I JUST LEARNED THAT THE WORD “SCAREHEAD” MEANS A HEADLINE OF EXCEPTIONALLY LARGE PRINT.
3. I like the word stolid, which means not easily stirred or moved mentally, because it’s like a combination of solid and stoic.
4. I love that a smile is an instant face-lift.
5. Being a homebody writer is like making yogurt. I can work at home for several days in row, but then eventually the words won’t gel and I have to go out and find some live culture to stir into the mix.
6. I love taking pictures of umbrellas, so I couldn’t be too disappointed when I was covering the Floyd High School Graduation, taking pictures outside after the ceremony, and it started to rain. But the pictures I took of parking lot full of colorful umbrellas paled in comparison to THIS umbrella art installation.
7. On David Wiley conducting at the EcoVillage for Floyd’s Blue Ridge Music Festival’s Gala Opening: If music is a religion than David is a preacher, a conduit for the sound of divine.
8. On The Recipe playing at Dogtown Friday night: One of the Recipe’s secret ingredients is Floyd’s own fiddle player Mike Mitchell.
9. At Floydfest this year my son Josh is presenting a daily collage workshop at the teen Imagine Tent that my husband Joe runs. See HERE.
10. I just typed Floydfast instead of Floyfest. Is that a Floydian slip?
11. A Man and His Pot Won’t be Driven Apart HERE.
12. Instead of saying “say cheese,” my sister had to say “say underwear” to get her young son to smile for a picture.
13. Did you smile yet?
~ The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on May 30, 2013.
A debut screening of a documentary film, titled A Matter of Art, was held at Natasha’s Café on the evening of May 13th. Produced and directed by Parv Sethi, the film highlights twelve Floyd artists and includes footage of performances.
The behind-the-scenes interviews, featured in the film, give insight into the artistic process and the lifestyle of the artists. They were conducted by writer/poet Mara Robbins, who is seen on the film performing a spoken word poem, also titled A Matter of Art.
Sethi, a Radford University professor, spoke to an audience of attendees about moving to the area from Chicago a couple of decades ago and discovering the Friday Night Jamboree with his children, which is when the seed for the documentary project took root.
He was impressed with what the artists of Floyd were producing, and he thought, “I would love to know more. Why is that people come to live in this little place and what keeps them here, what are their challenges, failures and successes?”
After seeing one of Robbins’ spoken word performances – which Sethi referred to as a “force of nature” – he struck up a conversation that led to their collaboration.
Themes in the film include art as social activism, therapeutic healing and community building, as well as art for the sake of beauty and practicality. The artists included in the documentary are potter Jayn Avery, painter Lora Giessler, dancer Leia Jones, musician and Heart of the Child music education director Kari Kovick, musician and luthier Michael Kovick, actor and children’s theater director Rose McCutchan, musician Matt Memitt, crafter and massage therapist Elisha Reygle, painter and dancer Emily Williamson, and musicians Keema Waterfield and John Wilson.
The DVD of the about 3 hours has a menu that allows viewers to select artists and special features. Slide shows of Sethi’s striking photos of the artists are also included in the DVD and were on display at the screening, creating an art within art focus.
What’s up next? “I just received word that the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, would like to have a screening in June,” Sethi reported the day after the Floyd screening.
Post Notes: A theatrical trailer of the film can be viewed HERE. The DVD is available locally at the Harvest Moon, Black Water Loft and the Floyd Country Store. For more information contact Sethi at Parvphoto@yahoo.com.
This pot is going places. Watch the whole story below.
_____________Our World Tuesday
This Friday was also the opening day of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Music Festival, bringing eleven days of classical music to the musical mix that Floyd is known for.
A brass ensemble of up-and-coming, stand-out musicians played with mentor professionals, first at the Market Pavilion and then at the Warren Lineberry Park.
Check out the VBRMF’s website for a detailed schedule of the upcoming concerts at various county venues.
Look for more photos of the festival in this week’s Floyd Press.
___________________________Sunday Shadow Shots
~ The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on May 30, 2013.
By Monday, May 20th, word had spread near and far that longtime Floyd resident Rio Semione had passed away suddenly in her Weddle Street home on Saturday evening. Friends began bringing flowers, creating a memorial tribute on her front porch. Many had seen her the night before at the downtown Jamboree scene and reported that she was happy and had plans to go dancing at the Pine Tavern Saturday night
An outpouring of postings on Semione’s Facebook page from New York to Key West, Texas, Ecuador and places in between began on Monday and included song links, shared memories, letters and dreams from friends from various walks of life. Some reposted Semione’s outstanding photography, including photos of her pumpkin carvings, some of which were featured in a Roanoke Times soundslide in 2006 HERE.
“We Love You Rio,” the marquee at the Sun Music Hall/Dogtown Roadhouse announced. At one time, Semione was an events planner for the Sun Music Hall, located in the Winter Sun building and owned by her longtime friend Anga Miller. Semione also booked and promoted an Open Mic at The Pine Tavern during the 90’s. She currently worked part-time for her friends at Bell Gallery & Garden and provided part-time hourly support for an individual with a disability.
Tad Dickens, who covers music for the Roanoke Times, remembered Semione on his blog on Monday, saying that her abrupt passing felt surreal. “She had a lot of spirit and a legitimate point of view on music and culture,” said Dickens, who knew Semione as the longtime artist relations representative at Floydfest.
Born Carole Marie Semione in Gloversville, New York, Semione had just celebrated her 60th birthday on April 7th. She loved Floyd and lived in the county for more than three decades. In 2009 she was interviewed for The Floyd Press about her contributions to The Floyd Compass, a visitor’s guide that is no longer in publication. Semione – who did the cover art for the premiere issue, wrote Compass stories, created the centerfold map of Floyd and Fun Facts about the town – said then, “I love the idea of sharing what’s special about Floyd with the world.”
Semione lived in Greenville, North Carolina, before coming to Floyd. She also lived briefly in Chapel Hill. A mother and grandmother, she is survived by her daughter Emily Harris of Willis, her granddaughter Ashley Carlson, her father Joseph Semione of Gloversville, New York, and her mother, listed by Semione in a Facebook photo as
About 20 close friends and family members gathered at Semione’s home on Sunday to share memories, give support to each other and begin to sort through Semione’s personal belongings and her legacy of art. There were old photo albums to reminisce through, a collection of Semione’s hats, and some of her handcrafted calendars that she produced through the 90’s. Filled with her art, local poetry, folk traditions, moon phases, astrology, garden tips and more, the calendars brought many of her interests together.
“She had a strong sense of the sacred,” said Toni Lamberti, who recalled that Semione helped lead a memorial ceremony the day before her birthday for Lamberti’s partner and Semione’s longtime friend, Pat Fenn, who passed away in February, 2013.
Floydfest founder Kris Hodges spoke about how he and Semione were schooled in music and art together by A’Court Bason (who was in attendance) at Travianna Farm, where Semione lived for many years. He spoke of her rock solid wisdom and how she carried an important Floydfest thread that has been with him since the start of the festival, twelve years ago.
“Johnny Clegg was her favorite musician,” remembered Paula Bason, adding that, “she loved angels and eagles,” both of which were often represented in her art.
Several friends spoke of Semione’s reverence for the moon, her fun-loving humor and gypsy nature, as well as her musical talents. Some remembered her talent for singing. Melody Cochran recalled that Semione recently performed percussion with A’Court Bason on Windfall’s newest CD, Floyd Time.
“Rio really loved everybody. Everybody loved Rio,” summed up Triona Bason. Bason fondly recalled how much she and Semione laughed whenever they spent time together.
Note: A Life Celebration for Rio Semione will take place at the Dogtown Roadhouse on June 23rd (a full moon), beginning at 3:00 p.m. There will be a potluck meal, live music and an altar for photos and flowers, which friends are encouraged to pick and bring.
Photos: 1. Rio Semione with her dog Lila (who preceded her in death), posted by Semione on Facebook in 2011. 2. A memorial gathering of family and friends at Semione’s home. 3. Semione’s daughter Emily Harris (right) and granddaughter Ashley Carlson attended the Sunday gathering. 4. A 1994 calendar that Semione handmade and produced. Her artwork is featured on the cover. 5. An example of Semione’s carved pumpkin art. 6. This photo of Semione and her friend Anga Miller, taken in 1977 on there way to California by hitchhike, is representative of Semione’s gyspy spirit. It was posted by her on Facebook in a retrospective album.
1. I think THIS home movie of my grandsons Bryce and Liam is a good ad for the arts, drawing and dancing, what could be more fun?
2. I love to dance and when I go out dancing I like to dance next to people who also love to dance because it raises my game, as in the case with THIS little boy whose grandpa took this video that I just happened to be in.
3. My version of bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan is mowing the lawn, doing an interview for an article and planting corn all in one day.
4. It’s so weird that most blog spam comments are also compliments!
5. Writing is an art but it’s also like a science and writers are like the nutty professors of the word lab, the scientists looking for answers without knowing the questions. They start out not knowing exactly what they’re looking for. Combustion? A cure? Something that propels their learning forward? They’re compelled to spend hours in the word lab exploring the math of letters because adjective + noun + verb = more than the sum of its parts.
6. Great line recently seen on Facebook that I could totally relate to: I must admit it felt a little strange to eat fried chicken on the back porch with the hens free-ranging in the yard.
7. You know those science fiction companies in movies that want to clone and control everything? Remember the Schwarzenegger movie Total Recall where the powers that be had a monopoly on breathable air? I think those premises are not so far off what is happening today with Monsanto patenting their GMO seeds and suing farmers for doing what has been done since time immemorial, saving seeds and freely replanting them.
8. As a poet, the moon is my favorite live model. See the latest HERE.
9. I have a friend who used to have a vanity license plate that said “sacred.” Once she got two tickets in one day but one got thrown out because the cop wrote “scared” on the report.
10. The world’s largest flower HERE.
11. That was actually the tallest, the largest is HERE.
12. My new favorite quote that I wish I wrote: “For every 3 hours I spend with company I must spend 8 hours alone.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
13. Every day that we have a voice, sight, and are able to move, we should sing, dance, and read something that stirs our spirit. ~ My friend Patry Francis on Facebook
pinned to black satin
in a gown of sequined sky
Colleen Redman _____________dVerse Poets Pub
~ The following first appeared in the spring issue of It’s All About Her, a regional newspaper insert magazine.
When Karen Day relocated to Floyd from Greenville, North Carolina, in 2005, she and her husband, McCabe Coolidge, settled in a remote part of the county, living in a rustic cabin off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a good place to regroup after the activity of Day’s previous job as a Unitarian minister of a congregation, but it wasn’t long before the couple’s interest in community led to another move, closer to town.
“I realized I was hungry for community and to talk with people who are really rooted here,” says Day, who grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, on family farmland. Her grandparents had farmed the land, but her own family didn’t even have a garden. “I felt a sense of loss.”
Both Day and Coolidge have a long history of jobs in human services, working in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, community centers and for anti-hunger initiatives. Day’s favorite part of her minister’s job was working in the community and building relationships. She knew she wanted to get back to that but gave herself time to see what the needs were in Floyd.
The sun poured in through the windows at PLENTY! headquarters as Day explained how the non-profit organization that she and her husband founded started from a seed and grew. From a table in PLENTY!’s country kitchen, she talked about how the organization has drawn a wealth of opportunities and volunteer help, step by step. Day believes that PLENTY volunteers have been plentiful because PLENTY! projects are fun and bring people together. “People want to help if you make it easy for them to,” she says.
In 2008 Coolidge, a potter, got some people together and started Floyd’s first Empty Bowls, an international project to fight hunger. For $10 attendees of Floyd’s annual Empty Bowls pick out a bowl made and donated by local potters and fill it with homemade soup. Proceeds from the well attended community shared meals go to Floyd’s New River Community Action Center’s Backpack Program, which sends weekend backpacks full of food home with school children who qualify for the USDA free and reduced lunch program.
Around the same time the first annual Floyd Empty Bowls began, Day was thinning out beet greens at a local organic farm where she and Coolidge had a CSA (community supported agriculture) share. The owner of the CSA suggested she take the surplus beet greens to the Community Action Center. “We thought it would be great if people could get fresh produce that others can’t use,” Day remembers.
But the Community Action Center didn’t have a cooler and couldn’t handle fresh produce, which is how the idea for the first PLENTY! project, Portable Produce, came about. What started as the delivery of fresh produce by Day and Coolidge to people in the community who did not have transportation has grown into a volunteer operation of seven weekly delivery routes and as many twenty volunteer drivers (many who work in teams).
Day considers what PLENTY! does as neighborly, rather than helping the needy. “We want to extend the tradition that’s always been here of helping each other.” She smiles as she describes the cycle of giving and receiving that everyone involved benefits from. “It feeds me to sit in a widow’s living room and hear her stories of what it was like to grow up in Indian Valley, Willis or Meadows of Dan.
She didn’t want to stop seeing PLENTY! produce recipients when the growing season was over, so Day started Souper Douper, a monthly fellowship meal that PLENTY! volunteers make and deliver to homes. Unlike a soup line, everyone sits at the table together, Day says. She describes a recent Souper Douper soup making morning when 15 volunteers showed up. “We don’t need that many people to make soup, but they like hanging out together.”
PLENTY’S first Wonder Garden program began in 2009 at Floyd Elementary School and later at Willis Elementary. With the help of PLENTY volunteers, kindergarteners and lower elementary students plant and harvest vegetables in raised gardening beds at the school. The children also participate in a class where they learn about plants and enjoy fresh food tastings, “to know what it’s like to eat from the garden,” Day says.
Alexis Bressler (pictured below on the right, next to McCabe) met Day and Coolidge when they spoke at a Virginia Tech “Civic Agriculture and Food Systems” class that Bressler was in. She was impressed with PLENTY!’s community model and eventually joined the team as a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA intern . Today, she coordinates PLENTY’s garden programs, which includes a Community Garden that first broke ground in the spring of 2010 on a donated plot of land, adjacent to PLENTY! headquarters.
Community gardeners from the nearby Pine Ridge Apartments were happy for an opportunity to grow their own tomatoes, cucumbers for pickles and more. Some of the senior residents at the apartment complex, which provides housing for the elderly and people with disabilities, have had gardens all their lives. They were disappointed with the no gardening rule at the apartments and the Community Garden was the perfect solution. Opening day for the garden this year is April 13th. More than a dozen gardeners will be working 19 10 x 10 plots or putting their green thumbs into a community plot.
Another landmark development for PLENTY! was the opening of its Fresh Food Bank in the fall of 2011. Day explained how local church food banks are only open once a month and accessing food at the Community Action Center involves an application process. The PLENTY! food bank, which stocks non-perishable staples as well as fresh food, can serve people with more immediate needs. It has a walk in cooler and is located in a rented garage next to the PLENTY! office.
Other PLENTY! projects include Healthy Snacks, provided at snack time to school children who might not otherwise have them, and the Sun Bonnet Gang. The Sun Bonnet Gang involves an outing to the Saturday Floyd Farmers Market, where PLENTY! provides transportation and shopping coupons and everyone wears bonnets. “Our mission is not just to feed people. It’s about nurturing community,” Day emphasizes.
In warm weather The Souper Douper Wednesday gatherings morph into PLENTY! Good Free Lunch when the food bank garage is transformed into a café and the menu includes plenty of homegrown ingredients. This is also the first season for the new PLENTY! farm, 17 acres along the Little River where Day envisions picnics by the river, grandmas telling stories and children popping cherry tomatoes into their mouths. Two local farmers have agreed to manage the farm, growing for market and for PLENTY! projects on a couple of the acres.
Day, who acts as the group’s volunteer coordinator, as well as its co-director, came up with the name PLENTY! Although the group operates on shoestring budget and sometimes worries that there won’t be enough food to fill delivery bags, someone or something always comes forth to redistribute the bounty. “We rely on generosity,” she says. “The surprising thing is that there really is plenty. It’s about trust that there can be enough if we tap into what we can give and how we can receive from each other.” Colleen Redman
Note: Day invites people to grow a row for PLENTY, to consider making a donation or helping out at any of their many programs. She can be contacted at email@example.com. Visit the PLENTY! website at plentylocal.org.