Hot – Coco is Hot – for many reasons…

OF COURSE COCOA is Hot, but when we are talking about the latest Disney film, Coco, yes, that is hot for many reasons as well.  From the beginning I had reservations until I did hear the behind the scenes testimony that took place in the streets of Mexico, to get it right.  Not to stereotype, not to discriminate, not to embellish what news articles portray as Mexico, and yet, I still had my doubts, fears, and anxieties of seeing my first film since returning to the states, and having it be portraying all that was Mexico, and freshly arriving from Mexico and finding a balance somewhere in between.  Yet, I was curious and hopeful that it would be something similar to The Book of Life, which I had no idea of until, ironically, I returned to the states, and fell upon during Dia de los Muertos, but stateside.  I fell in love with the tenets, the colors of the film The Book of Life and for an hour or so, memories of Patzcuaro, Day of the Dead, and things many people only might hear hints of about Mexico seeped through.  Would I be so lucky to feel that glimpse of what I felt from Coco?  I was willing to take the risk.  

It was the first snow I had seen in Delaware in six plus years, and the first snow, (minus Chicago which was THE first snow I had seen since actually moving back in six years in the states), and the first time I experienced the cold on the beach, in Delaware, and I have to tell you, I definitely lost my thick skin.  I recalled the image of those mornings, getting on the metro, seeing hundreds upon hundreds of people, going to work in the morning, dressed in winter wear from head to tow at the mention of 50 degree and had to smile . and realized in a warmth and winter level, no, I wasn’t in Mexico City anymore, lol.

As the day turned to the theatre in Rehoboth, I realized, this indeed was my first film in a theatre since departing from Mexico, and I truly felt it appropriate.  In being honest, in a professional way I was lucky to have slid into a job where I was able to make such a connection to the students so quickly, and maintain a connection in such a short time.  The same went for how organized and how much I knew I needed to jump into to change some elements of the library based on the excellent experience I had in a great library in Mexico City.   I felt I did not have the same luck personally in making this shift in how I felt in the attachments, the way I felt like celebrating, and the sounds, tastes, smells, and general feeling inside when I looked around.  It just was, is, has been a huge shift that is very slow in the making, so jumping in to so many things did/has/will have helped, but still only to a degree as I hoped for when I found myself face to face with a chance to experience what all those experiences felt like in Mexico.

Family – I was not to be disappointed.  Family.  I was not prepared for the familial elements that I found at every market, every corner, every store, every events I experienced in Mexico, to be in Coco. Yet, it was obvious as a theme, as a place-you-will-end-up-if-you-let-it feeling would emerge from the film as I felt in Mexico, yet sure enough it eeked out all over.  From characters that reverted back to how important family is despite the good and bad that happen in the wold, despite the elements of success one hopes to achieve through work, fame, talent, etc family still is present, despite anything, the sense of family lingers for all time, and Coco did that and more.

Music – Unreal.  The mariachi and the countless trips in Xochimilco, the brilliant celebrations that ooze into every pore, the art and honor in singing and the guitar, the trumpet, the violin, everything, it is all there.I realized one of the hardest and most difficult things in returning to the states has been the fact that silence greets me right outside my window, and the “noise” I was missing was the very sounds of the street, the instrumentals celebrating a holiday, a family act, a prominent change in one’s life, and so much more.  Coco surrounds you with this blanket of music that get across how much of a thread music is to all the elements that make each of us human, and spiritual, as the same time.   The individual characteristic/connection to the alebrijes, to Day of the Dead, to an individual, to a degree was lost on me until I was reminded of it in this film, and it goes to show, you carry a knowledge of something, sometimes without even realizing it, until a reminder comes at a time that is the right moment for you.  

Spanish – There was a small amount of Spanish disseminated out, not as much as I hoped/expected, but enough to attract and linger with even the vaguest of Mexican phrases that attach themselves to important symbols and meaning.  I loved the fact these attachments and bits of Spanish were in fact attached to the very references that dealt directly with familial images.  I never felt as much related to a culture as I did in Mexico, it took me by surprise how much family was expressed in a culture, and I doubt I will ever experience that in any country as much as I did in Mexico, that carries with you anywhere in the world as Coco went on to show.

Color – there is NOTHING, I mean nothing like you have ever seen when you are walking through the ofrendas of Day of the Dead and see the alebrijes and the ofrendas, the colors seem more surreal than anything you have ever seen.  Coco was a myriad of colors so deeply thick, I felt I could see hundreds of places I had travelled to in Mexico ten times over if i closed my eyes and I did not have to, Coco provided that to me.  I also felt these colors would not be as believable and bright in the film, had I not been to Mexico already.  The color and vividness of all color depicted  cals out to you just as the country of Mexico does when you are surrounded by it.

The ties that bind – there is undoubtedly the feeling you get, the feeling a movie can only do through tears, remorse, longing, and simply deep-down feeling you connect with when you have felt that before.  The thinking that went into a plot that captures the trickiness that comes with decisions that have to do with your life’s calling, your family, and all in between is readily available for you in Coco.  It is all there, and so much comes out, but I think my amazing opportunity to be a part of Mexican culture, being accepted and welcomed and appreciated, and being treated as family, and seeing it on the screen – depicted to ie the absolute real feeling Coco offers, it is easy to see the producers spent time in Mexico to capture this spirit you feel – in good times, times that test everyone around you, times that push you to your limits into the culture of Mexico itself and wraps itself around you – only a country devoted to family, devoted to the aspects you cannot buy, could such a connection occur.

Have I ever felt like this in the very country I was born, raised, and lived in most of my life?  I have to say, yes I have.  The asset of living in Mexico was to realize the depth of this feeling and how deep this connection can be, when I have often felt many times in the United States it is held back, restricted, and placed limits on.  I realized after living in Mexico for six years that the opportunities to be #1, be the top of a career or be above everyone else and climb any ladders other than a familial/cultural one, is one that wastes the richness that life has to offer.  That is a difficult realization when you have seen that all around you growing up and fed that level of success, until you feel and see it in a completely different culture, something totally different than you have ever known.

I felt that realization again in watching Coco, if only in the brief time that I was in the theatre, and that is priceless, something you cannot review, categorize, or paraphrase. You have to feel it and portray that every day for it to become a reality.  That is what is priceless about the feeling you get from Coco and experiencing it for real in Mexico! – the trick is to carry that in your heart and bring that out every day no matter where you are.  I have been in a VERY lucky position to fall into a host of friends in coming back that allowed me to feel that when i am around them, not something that comes easy, but was lucky enough to remain to me from when I lived in Delaware before, and now I have the chance to fight for the time and moments to let the depth of Mexico enhance those very moments on an even deeper level in returning.

 

 

 

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The Re-Awakening of Self Around Others

Going back to the IWCA Conference in Chicago, I have to admit, I had not heard of the key note speaker, Neisha-Anne Green before, but I did sense alot of buzz around her as the key note speaker.  I had been out of the Writing Center circuit for a bit, but as we settled into her speech, “The Re-Education of Neish-Anne’s Green 2 ”    there were definitely some takeaways:

-The defining moments she describes about a truer Black Lives Matter perception that one that has been painted by the media.  Coming across images of other individuals that decorated campus life with bananas wrapped with a noose, being questioned about why she was parking her car in a college campus spot because many referred to her blackness as not being worthy of such a position and more, there are many referring moments Neisha-Anne Green refers to in being made aware of her lack of whiteness amid a public light.  These are all tragic commentaries on how far the United States should be growing away from and recognizing equality in everyone.  

-I like that Neisha- Anne Green allowed her diction to range from writing identified diction to the slang and occasional crass word we often hear – showing that anyone, everyone, is connected to a discussion on topics that range from race, study, professionalism, and culture.  In between those, we all need to be more supportive of each other.

-Certainly there was the call to be more than a spectator, but being an accomplice, being active in demonstrating rather than active onlooker that would say, “I can’t believe someone would say that to you!” and being the individual questioning the other putting someone down, and questioning THAT action on behalf of someone.  It is so easy to say AFTER the fact of a negative action or comment, “I am sorry they said that or did that to you.”  It is a totally different thing to, in the moment, stand up for someone and defend them and their right to a variety of freedoms in the moment.

-The references to code matching were brilliant, as well as the steps Neisha-Anne Green made to the levels of her awareness of herself, herself as a black tutor and herself as a black writer.  Being an ally opposed to being simply a bystander and spectator as mentioned above, makes all the difference in improving the world today.  This instantly reminded me of the museum display at The Holocaust Museum, where differentiation was made between those that were bystanders, those that were allies, those that were collaborators, those that were perpetrators, and those that were accomplices. 

-The levels of involvement indicated in Neisha-Anne Green’s speech today also hit home- in a word full of diction inappropriate at all levels, from political, to social, to academic, we call can do our part to make an influence and a change.  If everyone took one major step to correct the injustices that we often find towards one another in slander, in print, in the media, in the news, things will and would change, and they can.  These negative aspects do not just stop involving an election, they continue on various mediums as we see every day, from movie magnets, to actresses, to actors, to the stage, to the radio waves, to print, to the academic campus, to everywhere.

-In referring to texts such as Strategies for Writing Center Research (Lenses on Composition Studies)  by Jackie Grutsch McKinney,  I liked that this speech enabled many to go beyond her speech and explore what areas of growth we can find out talents, our strengths, our weaknesses, and move on beyond them even further.  I always find I am never done being educated as long as I do not simply give up that idea.  Neisha-Anne Green helped emphasize this fact for us through a powerful speech that kicked off the International Writing Center Association Conference.  It was up to each attending member to take a piece of her experiences and make every part of our world a better place.

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The Road Not Taken…

Most of you are familiar with, 

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both…”     by Robert Frost.  It was amazing to think this very thought as Repentino. was able to sit down with designer Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 4.40.54 PM Vik Servin in Mexico, with his partner in creative crime,
and from working with Michelle and witnessing Vik in action, these two are the most successful designers because of their commitment to never thinking how to take a shortcut, but how to make anything the best quality they can possible can, and thinking that way from the very beginning.  They stand out because of it.
I love this what is sometimes called “old-fashioned” approach to work, to life, to anything anyone approaches.  it has been my guiding rod towards success, not wanting sometimes to dive into something knowing it would entail a ton of work to truly do it right, and so happy at the end of whatever it might be (an event, a task, a challenge, a goal, a dream)  that I decided to go all into the quality, and not worry about the shortcut or be worried about the most convenient way to approach something.  I realize now that I can never go back and reapproach many of the very things that took a long long time to work through, and also realized, I would not be the person i am today if I had taken the most convenient method.  I have quality students and colleagues around me, past and present that have motivated me to be this way, and I am lucky for it.
Enjoy this first part of a Repentino. interview with artist Vik Servin, and stay tuned for the second part soon!
~

Art for Art’s Sake

As we find ourselves in a world of faster, better, newer, (maybe not so much) and so fast-paced based on technology, demands, wants, and less of needs, it is refreshing to find an individual that resists the very elements we feel crowding in on us everyday, and that individual stands out as a beacon among the so many elements that continue to unfold and press upon us without invite.  When Repentino. sat down with artist Vik Servin, the theme of bringing beauty to all that he sees and manipulates, to make his own statement in such a fast-paced world.

I think It is important to notice Mr. Servin’s beginnings as a cabinet-maker in Australia – because this seems to help encourage the attention to detail that such work takes, as well as the discipline to the very details that lends itself to the aesthetic appeal of cabinets in someone’s own personal domain.  From 1993 to 2000, Vik Servin’s attentions turned to Graphic Design. Servin received a large majority of his knowledge in studying English in Mexico, but had his eye on Australia from an urge his father always had to visit the other side of the world. Determined to land in Australia, Servin obtained a catalog with an offering of Furniture Design, not something he had entertained before and catching his interest.

When Servin discovered someone organizing trips to Australia, and remembering his father’s wish to travel to Australia, sure enough, he took advantage of this opportunity and became part of an extensive educational process in taking his industrial design and combining this with a newly discovered skill and trade of cabinet design.  Things began to work with Vik Servin towards a larger repertoire of art.  Of course, Australia WAS on the other side of the world, and this chance excursion offered a side of design Servin formerly did not have previously, allowing him to enhance his talents and vision of design.

Around 2009, Servin found himself back to Mexico working among furniture Design, and where he began to develop a sense of tenets important to himself and the work he would go on to develop within himself.  The aspect of design to Servin was the most important, and although at times can be a nightmarish process starting from a blank slate to a finished product, and while the idea is definitely not on the same plane as the process, enjoying the result is key. Relishing in the ability to be able to work through the process and the realization that the process IS hard work, the whole process if part of learning, about yourself and the finished product.  It is vital to be aware of what you are doing as you power through this process, you may or may not succeed in what you originally envisioned, but working through the process is the key, being willing to stick to the project and see your way to the end is the vital part, no shortcuts to shortchange the process of seeing it through the end.

Vik Servin acknowledges that most often you might fail, but in order to get it right, you need to come to terms with realizing even though more often you fail, the process of working through this knowledge gets you to progress and figure out the process.

To challenge himself, Servin acknowledges that anyone can take on easy work projects, but he prefers to tackle more complex projects that bring a sense of reward through taking the more difficult path, a mirror of what Robert Frost often suggested.

In designing plastic trays and tables, Vik Servin does see a lot of individuals copying his earlier styles of design, and less a percentage of individuals willing to be concerned with the process and working through a process, as well as learning from the process as an individual works through it.  This further emphasizes the process of what stands out in learning the details and taking the time to do so through the process of work involved with a project. It’s definitely not putting       “…shapes together but making the shapes look good.”

It is often obvious to see the difference in design that seems to spend little if any details to the process that enabled the end product to be produced – these products tend to be just plain, lacking creativity, and not very many exquisite details existing.  Servin can see this, as an artist he does see this lack from the side, the back, from all angles, and that is what matters from a true artists, taking in the whole perspective.  Servin does not shy away from letting potential customers know this in his value to the aesthetics of a final product.

As Servin goes on to provide when he created stools, one of his latest projects, matching personal tastes of the creator as well as meeting the clients halfway to capture the true creative and solid essence of creating and designing.  Trying to resist the fact that furniture has becoming a trend, and putting the emphasis on functional, but not by itself functional.  Being able to resist the trend to turn out as much as possible, volume, and move towards moving past just knowing furniture and working through stages of design, this seems to be lost on many of the designers Vik Servin sees today.  Trained as a cabinet-maker, then moving into design, and then discovering new areas of transforming his work as well as himself is something he sees lost on many designers today.   With so many bands today, the results disappoint Servin, where it seems designers use such vast resources available for bad design, and less on the process of discovery that can enhance the final product to the level of unique and of quality.

Servin acknowledges the design market is very difficult, just as the process of designing Servin has experienced so many times before.  There are numerous clients, the market is becoming and is more industrial currently, and yet, does that leave room for designers to make an impact and carve out unique personalities for themselves?  Join us for part two of this interview to see how Vik Servin takes what he has learned and has moved into an area where designers can avoid pigeon-hole themselves and set themselves apart based on their process and their individual work.

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The Eastern Shore, National Novel Writing Month, & Inviting You in, 50, 000? Alot more is there…

IMG_6791November.  Those of you that know enough of National Novel Writing Month, one thing sticks out to you when you first read about this.  50, 000 words in a month.  No way. Some walk away – but if you think THAT is what makes NANO WRIMO, guess again.  it is a bonus of sort if you restrict days for yourself to reach 50, 000 if not more.  Yet, all is not lost if 50,000 words is not achieved – because so much in between is what matters – and again, the 50,000 words is a goal but not everything.

For example, the people you meet and the places you discover, whether in the story so may writers explore, discover or on  the edge of, or finding the perfect place to be inspired, share, and move forward in your novel – I was lucky enough to find such a place.  

IMG_6790On November 26th, Dawn, a fellow Nano Writer, Dawn, from Delaware and I went into the Main Street Cafe.  The annex onto the size of the restaurant from the outside allows you to wonder how large of an establishment you will enter, but also you see a welcoming mix of holiday that you are sure, and hope – leads to more from within.  

IMG_6788As I went in, meeting the writer I never met before, Dawn, I felt this rushing forward of the interior as I walked into the door, almost as if a shrinking of the room, but, I realized it was the sense of a space fitting to a comfort level.  I almost could SMELL the wood burning, which is based on the wood decor that makes you feel as if you are entering the warmest cabin . Seeing alot of items that jumped out at me as Americana, I found the closest booth but, a personal attraction to all things wood jumped out to me – from the walls, to the floors, to all things that seemed to make up the interior.  After promptly being welcomed and introduced to the menu, I kept expecting the difference in seeing English and Spanish, still an adjustment of moving from Mexico to the states and this still comes back to me. 

Seeing the selection of pancakes, blueberry, I was hooked.  The cordial waitress seemed to be providing list and list of extras that came with the meal, choices of three meats – and I hoped the meal itself would be as enticing as my mind was hearing through my ears.  The orange juice coming in Mason jars matched the style and feel of the decor, and was delicious.  There was a low hum of families and couples taking in the early morning, and everything was relaxed to say the least.  In asking to speak to the manager to obtain some information on this establishment, enjoyed the ease and feel of a small town inside the Main Street Cafe, and it just felt as a sheltered place, away from all the distractions that I could find myself into, to be able concentrate on way neglected period of writing I did find other countless to do’s to interrupt.  There were nearby electric plugs as well to equip writers with devices as needed.

IMG_6775The meal came and wow – enough to cover the plate, I forgot how generous America portion breakfasts could be and this was no exception.  The syrup slid over the hot pancakes and as delicious as you could hope for, and the exact same for the sausage.  It was a challenge to finish simply the order of pancakes and sausage itself. 

 

If this is not filling to you, it is due to it being several days you have not eaten then, otherwise, you will find yourself stuffed. 

After some conversation, I was able to meet IMG_6786Beth Carmac owner.  You immediately received a sense of someone with a very direct purpose, busy, and concerned with many things.  Turns out that would be correct.  Hailing originally from Maryland, affiliations with racehorses in their family, Beth is no stranger to Delaware community.  Once, Carmac managed a restaurant named The Old Country Skillet, and the legacy today has been three former employees now working at The Man Street Cafe in Harrington.  American owned, all homemade meals, Carmac has a to do list that has everything to do with community.  Her involvement and suggestions at City Council meetings, always keep the direct community in mind, and it is satisfying to know a business owner isn’t just about the business at hand, but about the community this business supports.   

Dating back to when this business was Burtons, a slaughter house, and even at one point had sock hops at this establishment. One can see the history of this within the cafe as you sit at a booth to the right.  You are reinforced with the at home feeling at The Main Street Cafe when you see IMG_6784the bar and cashier area, and don’t be afraid to ask what that is made out of., as well as taking in the baked goods within.  All inside has been meticulously  thought of and constructed with care.

The history of the train through Harrington and neighboring towns,  as well as the history, formerly a slaughterhouse, coincides with her philosophy of preserving the past, and reigniting the passion for buildings tat exist already, using what we have, and bring life to buildings and structures that have breathed breath from years’ past.  This is evident in her participation on City Council meetings, pushing for a reignited life for all main streets, and her passion of using creativity to preserve the past.  Her insistence of more individuals taking a heightened interest in their community and having a voice on ideas to improve awareness, coincides with truly making America great with a renewed interest in reinvesting each other in improving community after community by being present and active.  

Having an intense love for cooking, being tied to this location as this is her home above the Main Street Cafe, always been an Eastern Shore girl, with the visions to expand the outside dining area for bands, expanding to a buffet connected to the menu, as well as currently open Friday and Saturdays for dinner, the Main Street Cafe has much to look forward to with the coming Delaware State Fair, definitely being a great place and hub for National Novel Writing members of Delaware, and preserving the very history that surrounds us, there is not much you would WANT to miss in heading to The Main Street Cafe.

When asked what is the coveted dish to test out, Carmac shared us a story of going through 12 gallons of cream of crab soup, in ONE DAY.  Being able to order the cream of crab soup and crab cakes year round, this easily settles that choice from the menu if you are uncertain.  If you mix all these characteristics into one establishment, there is not much more you would need to allow a satisfying experience, add a bit of writing and editing for NANO, and you have quite an experience that if you haven’t checked out Main Street Cafe, you should if you consider the Eastern Shore home or are curious what the Eastern Shore has to offer.

 

Add to this the exquisite homemade jelly and candles available for Christmas, this allows a gift to be given to individuals to tease them in, and after visiting Main Street Cafe, you will be providing a piece of home no matter where they are from.  Back to that element of being active in your community?  After the interview, you would have had a difficult time keeping an eye on Beth Carmac, she was busy taking care of the storefront,on the side of the restaurant with holiday decorations, and mingling with local community members, testament to her belief in being an active participant in the community IMG_6789around you.  Involvement is as involvement does, and it truly seems Main Street Cafe is a hub of all mentioned above, in homemade and NANOWRIMO style.

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PAVEing the way Towards ACtions Needed Behind Sexual Harassment ACcusations

Okay – let’s review the obvious.  Yes there has been rapid -fire calling outs of those long overdue that have been able to get away with countless unequal acts of discrimination and it seems the Harvey Weinstein stimulus event started it all and ever since so many have been added to that list and yes, I think this is just the beginning.  There also on the past has been a huge underestimating the power of women and their contributions, such as Hedy Lamarr.

The other day, in lieu of this wave of changes in so many spotlights, I thought there has been a revelation and freeing of discrimination going on behind the scenes, which is overdue of course, but little had been suggested for solutions.  This is the case on many fronts but little suggestions for solutions or a path forward has been suggested.  I thought of this as I overheard a article/podcast  on Hedy Lamarr  –   who?  That question, to me, became a solution.  One HUGE problem has been there have been SO many women that have been pioneers in so many areas, are ONLY being discovered NOW, and there is a wealth of need to discover the prominent women that have indeed been HUGE influencers of invention, ideas, and innovation. 

In lieu of so many defying code of ethics for so long, it is vital BOTH men and women go back and redefine the power women and men, together, can have with EQUAL recognition of their talents and abilities.  Hedy Lamar was a HUGE popular actress but a MAJOR MAJOR intelligent woman who was responsible for the Secret Communication System, securing information from enemies.    

Using power to protect, reform, and change the world for the better is such a dramatic push instead of associations that strive to fame and looks that lead to discrimination and taking advantage of another.  If I have tried to do anything for my students, it has been to empower the most meek individuals, the less represented as is often blamed on the PIPELINE, and contain students who think they have little or nothing to offer, (often in minorities as well) and to offer them a chance to find their niche and love it, and use it to better the world.  I like this look at Silicon Valley’s diversity in what is know as the Pipeline,  As educators – that should be one of one sole focuses – so any profession can find a way to promote the same in others rather that hurt others or prevent them from finding that niche.

It is SO powerful a symbol in Hedy Lamarr, and countless other women alone, that have existed through the ages unknown that have furthered aspects of our society.  it is time we used this period of revealing injustices to offer solutions and justices that can help us move together as a country and world, and reveal the histories, the solutions, and the promise of abetter future to move on from this and not be stuck revealing in the injustices that have existed for so long.

Today at 8PM we will be discussing one particular platform that begins that road to offering Solutions to the issues in front of us, and I hope this is one of many paths that will begin to reveal themselves as ways the country can begin a process of promoting better practices for a better future.

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Giving TuesDAY is More Than a Transaction

Not sure if you felt the way I did, OVERWHELMED.  When I turned on the radio, Christmas songs.  The knowledge this was Cyber Monday yesterday.  Hearing one of the student say as I was leaving, “You need to get Christmas things in the library”.  And knowing Giving Tuesday is today.  Whoa.  However, when I step into the Vine Morris trail at Chapel Branch, I did, and do feel apart from the craziness.

But, in the total confusion I had all night yesterday of looking through sites, feeling I had to find SOMETHING to take advantage of it being Cyber Monday, I was able to pull away from that panic, MUCH later, and realize – with the advent of Giving Tuesday, the chance to make a huge difference is there, is available, and the opportunity to help charities out that serve the community?  This will overcome the sense of who and what and where do I need to go to get what for for the holidays.  Take time out today to support the very charities that have been reduced in governmental support that means so much to you today.  This is your chance to bring the real meaning of what a holiday was meant to be, today, on Giving Day.

Marlene Mervine – Executive Director – mhmervine@aol.com

Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy   302-337-8847   nrwcde@gmail.com

The Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy Joins the Global #GivingTuesday Movement Pledges to continually preserve lands precious to the education and conservation of nature in Delaware.

The Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. From creating public awareness events like the Benevolence Night at DogFish Head and establishing local 5k’s to raise awareness, we are only beginning to reach audiences with the purposes and results of the NRWC.

Occurring this year on November 28, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the US) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.  The Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy is a citizen-based land conservation objective is to promote protection and balanced use of the watershed’s natural resources in both Delaware and Maryland.  Most of our land protection is achieved through conservation easements, or written agreements between the landowner and our agency ensuring that a property will not be developed.

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” – Theodore Roosevelt

92Y− a cultural center in New York City that, since 1874, has been bringing people together around its core values of community service and giving back − conceptualized #GivingTuesday as a new way of linking individuals and causes to strengthen communities and encourage giving. In 2016, the fifth year of #GivingTuesday, millions of people in 98 countries came together to give back and support the causes they believe in. Over $177 million was raised online to benefit a tremendously broad range of organizations, and much more was given in volunteer hours, donations of food and clothing, and acts of kindness.

“We have been incredibly inspired by the generosity in time, efforts and ideas that have brought our concept for a worldwide movement into reality,” said Henry Timms, founder of #GivingTuesday and executive director of 92Y. “As we embark on our sixth year of #GivingTuesday, we are encouraged by the early response from partners eager to continue making an impact in this global conversation.” Those who are interested in joining The Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy’s #GivingTuesday initiative can visit http://www.nanticokeconservancy.org/ to provide your information on how to be further connected with events that will further the protection of Delaware lands important to you.

For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website (www.givingtuesday.org), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GivingTuesday) or follow @GivingTues and the #GivingTuesday hashtag on social media.

About Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy   –  http://www.nanticokeconservancy.org/

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Community Incidentals

IMG_7012 (1)I dreaded the 6:00 AM alarm on a Saturday, because well I turned into a wimp.  I had become so used to a Mexican cold that never seemed to dip below 45 Fahrenheit, (7.2 Celsius) and knew once I could get past the cold – ll would be well.  It had already been a way more hectic weekend but, what else was new- I had a habit of that on and on.  The arrival of three students from Ohio University that hailed from my home in Mexico, as well as Spain and Columbia was welcoming and probably the best house-warming gift one could ask for on the first Thanksgiving after six years abroad, creating the community environment in a new house was the best way to continue a very eventful 2017.  As these students were today in Ocean City, I, too, had one thin on my mind – the 2017 HEROn Run/Walk at The Vince Morris Trail at Chapel Branch.  My stomach was in knots knowing I was an amateur at this again  after so long, and wanted to reference Coach Morris in the best possible way, trying to think of any loose ends as I stumbled through morning routines fighting off a brick 31 degree Fahrenheit morning.

Having prepared all items the night before, I quickly jumped into the car, and made my way to Chapel Branch about 45 minutes sooner than i had announced needing to get acquainted with the cold at Chapel on my own terms for over such a long time.  I thought the random thoughts that led me to this event day.  Did you know Coach Doakes helped come up with the original suggestion from the NRWC’s Marlene Mervine of the Heron event name, and slightly shifting the meaning to HEROn ?   It made sense. Coach Morris was a hero to so many, and I witnessed the hero that Coach Doakes, Morris, Perciful, Smith, and Hood performed with youth that many had given up on.  They performed a magic that only they could pull off in the pool, on the track, in the wood, on the court, and so many individuals never witnessed the transformation of a student turned athlete – and what a transition they missed in not seeing this occur between these coaches.  These coaches were the true heroes in giving something that could not be given just in the classroom, and they created communities upon communities.  

When I looked at the second definition of Incidental, I found “liable to happen as a consequence of (an activity).”  I often thought I never could have predicted the profound effect that was liable to happen, thanks to these coaches and the impressions they left on so many individuals .  These impressions will never leave their souls, their spirit, their minds and bodies. Too many times, myself included, I have been frustrated with what I considered a dead-end when it came to education not serving the basic needs of so many youth, and thank God every day I had come across individuals as these coaches that kept saving so many youth so many times over, and over, and over.  If you ever have realized the personal time these coaches have put in on their own time, often times that ranged into the dark hours of the evening, then you realized who the true heroes always were – this event was not only for the sacrifices that Coach Vince Morris left to others, but to these disciples of self-sacrifice that continued to carry on his legacy.  Seeing Coach Colbourn arrived solidified the encouragement and energy that unique coaches bring out to further their community outside the confines of their school alone.

As these thought rumbled through my mind, and I found myself putting sand down on the long bridge on the trail, walking and measuring the initial entry onto the trail, counting feet, setting up blankets for the awards on the table, Cory Darden arrived and I could not help but think of all the memories that occurred when Cory was involved.  From Battle of the Bands, to Key Club to now being the lone initial morning waker and trail blazer at Chapel, he reinforced his values to so many community needs, from the Clean Up day where he brought volunteers from SSA to the trail, to the current day allowing this event to happen with his presence and time, the second definition of Incidental came back to me and seeing how the energy and devotion to community Cory brought were liable to cause a better community, and how much one person can influence another, and another, it was easy to see Coach Vince Morris walking beside Cory that morning in every step we took.  I can’t begin to express how grateful I was for individuals like Cory, the Coaches, the businesses that believed in an event to strengthen the community, as well as NRWC to follow through with the hours outside and behind the scenes to show their belief in they community they live in and what it can become.

From the board members of the NRWC that came, to the participants that believed in the roles we all play, the day matched the sunshine that began to warm us all.  Not finding the words when someone placed a hat that Vince used to always wear, i simply began to choke on my words and had to say nothing.  Every step I walked I thought how unworthy I was to try and follow the steps of such a great man as Coach Morris, but how grateful I was to be surrounded by so many people who believed in what their community could be.  From Ms Lynne Betts who had already been recognized with the 2017 Community Service Award and the countless memories I had of her energy to repair and upkeep parts of the Vince Morris Trial, to the thankless job of preserving and continuing with such limited funding the preservation of so much natural land in Delaware thanks to the NRWC board, Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 10.03.55 PM to the countless generosity to the sponsors of this community for similar community events, 2017 HEROn 5k Sponsors,

to the participants who brought their families, children, and wives,  5k results – November 25 2017,  I realized the incidentals that come from such an event, are not a surprise when you are familiar with the devotion these individuals bring and always brought to a community.

Add to that actually SEEING Coach Jacqueline Morris, and HEARING Coach Perciful retell the pirate mask story, and FEELING the encouragement Coach Doakes, Hood, and Smith brought to an event without uttering a word, it isn’t an accident we all were til gathering at Chapel Branch and it would only be time before the numbers would grow again and a new feeling of discovery and attachment would be made to The Vince Morris Trail at Chapel Branch.  

The youth present, the families, the connected attachments to this community, the individuals who came to support the natural and familial ties to the land like neighbors found in Glen Mellin who had done so much research and historical “digging” in this community, to long time walkers and participants at the Chapel Branch trail, their obvious incidentals were because of the belief that communities can be saved from the throes of destruction, but even more so when a collective unit of individuals band together and begin something new. 

As the day ends, and individuals dispersed, and Coach Doakes remained way after everyone left to help search for something lost on the grass,  as is his style, now and always, I thought of an ironic thought.  Was it coincidence, that the creator at R & T Nautical of the Heron trophies, his last name was Morris?  It just seemed that not only this whole day, but so much of what has occurred to have us find ourselves full circle, is somewhat of an incidental, but one that defies explanation.  It was beyond a good day for so many “incidental” reasons.

Coaches and athletes reunite years later

Coaches reunite with their athletes, and reinspire.

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Two Distinct Voices Pushing the Possibilities…

There are many things that you often think about AFTER Thanksgiving and can be thankful for – three distinct experiences stand out to me and I am sure these will joggle some memories each of you might have.

Roughly over a month ago, when I was going CRAZY rushing around establishing support from local businesses for the Woodbridge 2017 Homecoming Dance, I stopped in at T.S.  Smith  & Sons Farms. Famous apple cinnamon donuts, awesome dried Kiwi, amazing tomatoes, and dropping off a thank you letter for the use of a trailer for the Homecoming they provided for us for the Homecoming parade.  What was amazing was everywhere I went across town,  and ran into students, past and present, and seeing them all part of the very establishments and community businesses that support so many student activities here, wow.  That fact alone is awesome to see, is rare except in some small towns, and love that I realize and see this in action in Delaware where identities of students and the family businesses still support each other, their local schools, and their local events.

Then I stopped at The Teacher’s Cupboard , 26380 Seaford Road Seaford, DE 19973 in Seaford, Delaware. WOW.  Amazing place, and I remember this educator’s supply store from when I was first starting teaching in Seaford, and it was 100% comforting to see this establishment still here with the advent of so many competing educator supply stores, and yet, this unique and personalized educator’s supply store is PREMIER in personality, uniqueness, and gifts to provide an educator for Christmas

.  The manager, Karen Bradley, is amazing and we talked for awhile.  She manages a school beside the Teacher’s Cupboard, but mentioned a few times no one is interested in the supplies they have, and I felt awful if that was truly the case. The teacher’s Cupboard is just a magic store of educational ideas, and if you know a teacher, or can support this business in any way, you should without hesitation.  You can call and make an appointment, and I found myself not wanting to leave the conversation we were having about education, as well as leave the comfortable feeling of being surrounded by so many supplies for all thing education. She without hesitation helped donate a gift certificate to the 2017 HEROn 5k for November 25th, and despite feeling she is falling into the category of being forgotten by people at large, opened her heart.  I hope you will visit this amazing store and manager as well.

Finally, one of the best before a 5k moments happened today while visiting The Vince Morris Trail at Chapel Branch.  First coming down after tracking the one mile route for walkers, I saw someone who looked vaguely familiar, and sure enough, Mr. Ken Covey, walking the perimeter and checking the grounds prepping for tomorrow, as well as donating a service certificate for the 5k registrants.  As I continued to walk, I came across two abandoned tents/shelters, which I took down and dragged to the entrance, and on the last leg came across Mr. Bill Beiser, (Class of 1947) and turns out, a local legend and then some of marathons (1978) and Chapel Branch..  When he told me he was 89 years old, I fell over, he looked every day the age of 60 tops.  We small talked and learned we both had become familiar with Mexico, and he knew of the Vince Morris trail at Chapel Branch before most people even began to walk and run it – on top of knowing Coach Vince Morris, as well as knowing Coach Perciful, and being one of the first marathon resident in the Seaford area – he is an amazing individual.  I promptly invited him for tomorrow’s 5k, and wondered at how great a day it was that we were standing there in Chapel Branch, reminisced about some amazing history involved the trail itself, and Heroes that kept that history alive.  Hence the 2017 HEROn 5k Run/walk tomorrow.  Not a bad way to start the pre prep journey, and much to be thankful for!

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Th – angst- giving? No problem.

Thanksgiving 2017.  In the states.  So much has changed in so little time, wow.  SO MUCH.  It is surreal as I look back and see a year ago I was on a beach, thinking, “This isn’t your typical Thanksgiving…”  and yet – let’s jump right in…

I have realized while there are a TON – TON of things to be angsty about, in fact, that is okay.  It is, because for how many things are to be angsty about, there are that many individuals who can counter those angsty events by ACTION.  True that, even if you do not believe, that fact is there.  How do I know?  YEARS of being angst-prone and finding ways through the messes.

From years of conquering community problem through community projects, to figuring out methods of making corners meet that simply do not seem to have any corners, to how does something stand out to affect the public good and involve others, to turning someone’s head to get their attention to simply making a difference, every single angsty-like issue, problem, and dilemma has a way out.  Even if it is not apparent.

Wednesday, you might have heard of the Cannon Ball run – amazing film, and an amazing idea, I might have t take up that idea something, LOL.  Well, for the 2017 HEROn 5k Run/walk, it was Cannonball Run Day.   First, we needed to grab unique trophies to keep up our record of providing unusual and unique commemoration of our event.  Since this IS the HEROn Run/Walk, well you have it, we need a few HERONs.  The try and grab the live ones seemed slightly out our our ability.  (We considered it.)   However, over 7 years ago, there was and IS a  birding festival held in Kiptopeke State Park and I had obtained a sculpture of a heron somewhere around there, and it was an unique find.

Amazingly still, I unpacked this 6 years later when I returned to the states, and thought, we need to find it.  Thanks to colleagues and others, after a few days of trekking through the internet and realizing we still had the name of the inventor on the bottom, we found IMG_6697it at R & T Nautical in Cape Charles, VA.  Heck yes, we arranged the creation and reunited with the owner, and in a leave at 8:30 AM, grab the trophies, and return for the second leg of the 5k scavenger hunt, we did it!  Back by 1:30 – the 2 hour and 45 minute run for trophies, well it was a hair on the edge of your skin run down and back, but DONE and allowed us to proceed onto the second leg of our 5k preparations.  (I think there is something 1000% more rewarding bu going to local artists, and finding items for gifting, utilizing for events and purposes to avoid the consumerism of MORE MORE MORE.  I was amazing that in 2 hours and 45 minutes, I had gone out of Delaware, through Maryland, and into Virginia, and back again, all under 6 hours, and heck, we had something from Heronsover 7 years ago brought back – heck YES!

Second leg, I had been out of the country long enough to not be familiar with where to best get running bibs, so I had relied on Falls Road Running Store countless times to save us out of a jam.  Years later, they still remained for us a constant supporter when we needed them.  Baltimore.  I had not been there for several years but, it being 3:00 PM, I knew I had to get there soon before the end closing for numbers. I cruised to Baltimore 2 hours after the Virginia trek, and clocking in just under 5:30 PM, with it being dark, made it!  I found that the numbers I needed would be able to me picked up at the MAC, but panicked, where is the MAC?  (I would find out it was the Maryland Athletic Club)  It was only about 25 minutes, so graciously taking some information on Falls Road Running Store, I headed to my next destination.  Seeing Baltimore and Baltimore Harbor again was amazing, it is an amazing place. Though unplanned, I found myself  there, found a parking garage, sprinted to the MAC, asked about numbers, but since they were doing the Gobble Wobble, I think I might have confused them at the Falls Road location asking for numbers for THAT event versus just picking up extra numbers they would have from previous events.  YET, they came through amazingly and provided me with running numbers AMID the huge event they were putting on, and did so in amazingly style.  I was thinking for the 5 minutes while getting ready to accept the donations, how exceptionally unusual it was that earlier this AM I found myself in Cape Charles, VA, then Delaware, and now in Baltimore Harbor, all places I had not found myself in for YEARS.

Yet, there is the backdrop story,  This is the kicker.  When I came to Mexico this year, a friend from Mexico City, who thrived in reading and studying poetry, was going to Ohio University to study.  We posed hey, it would be cool if we could get you to my place in Delaware to spend Thanksgiving – well it happened.  Not think on this.  They arrived by Greyhound (Violeta and two friends) from Athens, Ohio, to Union Station, in D.C., somewhere like 4:50 AM – and had been in D.C. all the day during my Cannonball Run tasks, and I was now heading from Baltimore Harbor to grab them in D.C the night before Thanksgiving, so they could experience a Thanksgiving and not of course by themselves (which sucks).  THEY would have travelled from Athens, Ohio, to Pittsburgh, to Washington D.C., to Maryland, to Delaware as well.  And did.  All I have to say, when grabbing them on the corner of Macy’s in D.C. after a crazy tripping day of my own, and finally getting them into Royal Farms to grab anything we could find (chicken, potatoes, Mac & Cheese, milkshakes, EVERYTHING, ANYTHING) after not eating really all day, and finding ourselves all together in Delaware, we all looked back and thought, WHAT just happened? Really?  What JUST happened in 24 hours?  It seemed kind of well, CRAZY?  IMPOSSIBLE?

Yet, this is the takeaway, there are amazing things that occur, you can never feel, obtain, and experience i the rush of trying to do the impossible, and sometimes, not all the time, sometimes, it is just worth it.  I have seen that in my students take on ideas, then become projects that no one even imagined, and seeing them run through to success!  YES!  By the way, oddly enough, on Wednesday, November 22nd, we also found out from

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 2.45.17 PMColumbia University, that the 2016-2017 Repentino. – GOLD RECIPIENT AGAIN!  The staff in Mexico, and from all over the world making up last year’s staff DID IT AGAIN – so again, pockets of amazingness between the pockets of angst, impossible verdicts, and openings for opportunity that are everywhere.

Yes I struggle with adapting back to the United States after learning so much about myself and another country by being in a another country, that in itself is worth VOLUMES before you retire, because you learn SO MUCH about yourself and others you simply DID NOT REALIZE.  It goes on to affect alot of things thereafter as well.  

As we settle down to bring back a GREAT tradition of the 5k Series runs in Seaford DE, we all get a chance to see glimmers of hope, making the impossible news in the news reports we get seems a little brighter, and ultimately, it rests with each of us and what we each are willing to do, WE, not them, not anyone else, but US, and WHAT WE are willing to do to make a difference and change the status of things that are just not right.

I am thankful for my family who has continued to support me abroad and locally, and I do not need to go outside that term family, as my students, my immediate family, and newly-made friends slowly slip into one category, making the expectation of that turkey to come even better.  

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I loved the opportunity to share how this day can be something that normally was never vocalized, but could be, and shared around the world when we most need it – Hope you get involved in this and send yours in – and most of all, HAVE A GREAT THANKSGIVING!

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s All Relative.

What does having pink Eye, a hacking cough, a raging fever, and Chicago have in common?  I wondered the same thing as I readied myself for presenting on a panel in Chicago, at the International Writing Center Conference November 10, 11th, and 12th. 

How surreal I thought, this was my third time going to Chicago as a presenter from ALA, NCTE, and now IWCA – and whoa, I NEVER would have thought Chicago would become as familiar to me as New York, or anywhere, to that matter.  Yet I love it all revolves around literacy, reading, and educating, and passing on strategies to others.  AND reuniting with an amazing colleague of mine, Natalie Dorfeld AND having the opportunity to present on a panel with her – my first in who knows how log (six years? from living in Mexico?! )

I grabbed the pink eye drops, I loaded myself with cold medicine, I left at 3:30 AM and hustled to BWI and snagged my space on the plane and made it to Chicago and – yeah.  SNOW.  TONS OF SNOW. LOL.  Amazing.  On many levels.  It seemed even surreal to see Natalie stride into the Sheraton like we just had done this six years ago and seemed that it was maybe a few months, lol.  Meeting her friend Jeni also on our panel, it was awesome and just natural to see how we just hopped into the roles of presenting and were confident it would just occur successfully and would be amazing- I like that.

What is the purpose of presenting and traveling to conferences?  For some, just a joyride where they do very little and bring back even less.  Yet, the individuals that truly get it have a chance to network, give back, and grow from the experiences that we continue to

——Spies-Like-Us 2017——

Jennifer ToneyIWCA Fall 2017 Powerpoint

Beat Poets . . (Natalie’s amazing presentation)

accrue in education, and find the nooks and crannies of info that people are practicing every day and make extraordinary things happen, motivating you to do extraordinary things where you are.

The coolest thing was the theme, of Spies, and setting up our presentation about being double agents, how educators have to play multiple roles constantly.  Maybe the coolest thing was the chance I had to play a small part in passing a password to someone, receive a clue, get a puzzle piece, and on throughout the conference, and how others played this to the “T” and did it so well.  LOVED.

Recalling the setup for the conference I think the literal “feet” we cut out, and we laid down, leading to our conference just was a pre warmup for how easy we fell into the way we presented our info, and were able to cover everything from elementary, to high school to college in one presentation, and how awesome it was to receive questions and inquiries, right back about what we do creatively and how we invent and reinvent ourselves every day – that separates as from teachers and being educators.

I have to devote a whole blog post to the keynote speaker, Neisha-Anne Green – I was taken aback, frozen, and accepted alot of content she provided and wow, heavy stuff.  Can’t go into here, separate blog post.  Must.  Will.  Stay tuned for that because it was powerful.

I loved seeing the amazing view from Natalie’s brother’s amazing suite in Chicago, loved the discovery of foods only found in Chicago, loved the feel of having something to share with others in a city, and country foreign to me (yes, the U.S. is still a little foreign to me after six years in Mexico).

AND WHOA.  I picked up the BEST coat EVER for winter, as I have enough winter clothes to fit into my hand upon coming to Chicago, so I went to Target and no kidding.  HANDS DOWN the warmest coat I found to date, it AMAZING.  This is all I 

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 9.21.51 PM

 

 

know about it.  Made by Champion, sold at Target, Polyester lining, 100% Nylon Shell face, made in Vietnam, you put it on and it hugs you closely and does not let ANY cold in AT ALL.  Yes I wish I could have found a jacket made in the U.S. that made me feel this warm, and doing so in Chicago – this was one of the best finds ever. Water repellent, snug, warm, and just – thank you Chicago.

I liked returning knowing the Conference was amazing due to the individuals I presented with, as well as the dynamic people I met in workshops, those working in Writing Centers, and just overall, meeting so many people rising about the mundane paces of life to do some pretty extraordinary things every day.

So the pink eye disappeared, the cold slowly receded, and as I was the last to return to Delaware, the horizon was bright.  Thanksgiving, I am lucky enough to have friends I presented poetry with at the American Legion IN MEXICO, now studying here in Ohio, and hosting them for their FIRST THANKSGIVING in the states at my place, with my dogs FROM MEXICO, and just – wow, things have a way of turning on their heels and leaving you wondering HOW this is all happening. 

Saturday is the return of a Seaford run a thon series (The 2017 HEROn 5k walk/run) we started before I left for Mexico, and being able to see some amazing coaches that changed the lives of so many and representing the venerable Coach Vince Morris, and just yeah some things are a blur but it takes awhile for you to catch up to the blur of how great things are and unexpected they can be.

Everyone should do this activity for their Thanksgiving – 

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– https://www.npr.org/2017/11/18/564829155/this-thanksgiving-try-storycorps-oral-history-project

 Looking at so much around me, there are so many individuals out of touch with the human experience and a human connection, and yet, we have the chance to appreciate the constant pockets of friendship and express them in ways every day – we should take advantage of that every single day.

That in itself is enough to be thankful for, and there is only more to come. 

 

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