Category Archives: Community

Be Good to Yourself – Be Your Own Best Friend

Patty Foote, a student in my public speaking course wrote the following essay in preparation for her ‘Persuasive’ Speech delivered to the member of her class (115 so1) at Southern State Community College in June 2011. Originally posted on the class blog. With Patty’s permission and my GREAT JOY, I’m re-posting it here.


I knew from the beginning of the quarter what I would want my persuasive speech to be, and now that I have gotten to know everyone somewhat and got a glimpse into your lives, I know this is the perfect choice for this audience – YOU!


As I have listened to all of you the past two months, I have no other message that I think is more important.  I have done a good deal of reflection since going back to school.  When I listened to your own stories and reflections, I can identify and connect with many of you.  Trust me, I have many more years of life experience than all of you and I have spent years of what you might call just surviving because I did not know my value, or I let someone else define it.  I am far from that road I was on and still traveling away from it.

I will discuss these points; I like to call them valuable thought lessons.

Thought lesson 1 – You are Important

Thought lesson 2 – You Deserve the Best in your Life

Thought lesson 3 – Learn from your Past

Thought lesson 4 – Be Good to Yourself, Be Your Own Best Friend

You are Important

There is only one you on this planet, Earth.  You have talents, gifts and ideas that no one else has or can offer to this world.  You are unique and no one can take your place.  Don’t let anyone in your present, your past or your future dictate who you are and where you are going.  The people that surround you will be better off because you are in their life.  You are Important. Remember that!

You Deserve the Best in your Life

The Best contains all your goals, your dreams and any star that you dare to reach out and grasp.  Don’t settle for less than what you wish for.  Write your goals and your dreams down and go after them.  If you don’t know what your goals are right now and are finding your way, that’s okay.  Just wait on it – it will come.  It’s okay to be uncertain.  Live everyday being confident in who you are.  Just live everyday the best you can.

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Filed under Community, Teaching

Sisterhood of the Traveling Journal

I wrote about the April 2011 collage workshop in my previous post.  What I didn’t say was what else happened during that workshop. Besides making creative collages and new friends, something else happened. A serindipidous self-organizing community grew from one artist frustration with shared journals. Once her story was told, several women in the room shouted out their commitment to shared journaling with “count me in!” That gave birth to  “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Journal.” *

Here’s my first entry.

Want to join the sisterhood?

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Filed under Art and Learning, Community, Events, My Art

Make Do, Do it Yourself or Do Without

Several years ago, I found a book in my attic. It was “The Man who Moved a Mountain” by Richard C. Davids  published in 1970.   I have no idea how it got there. I must have placed it there myself at some point although I have no recollection of doing so. Anyway, I read the book, or at least parts of it.  It’s a biography of Reverend Bob Childress of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. My mother was born in Virginia, near Haysi in an area she called Booger Bottom. I’ve always suspected she made up the part about being born in Booger Bottom but I can’t be sure.  I must say that the name she claims for her birthplace works in that it gets everyone’s attention (which is rather ingenious) and my mom always loved attention. She still does at age 86. So, I ask, why not make up a fascinating name for your birthplace? Booger Bottom is much more interesting than West Union, where I was born. Perhaps, I should rethink MY birthplace. Maybe I was born in Tranquility or maybe I was born in Sunshine (both real places just right up the road from me…..really!). I’ll keep working on this storyline…..

Back to the book. I actually don’t remember much about the specifics of Davids’ book with the exception of this one phrase  –  “Make do, do it yourself, or do without.” This phrase expressed either a “deficit” or a “quality” about mountain people depending on how one viewed a lifestyle.  But, when I first read those words,  I felt as though I better understood my family, my husband and my neighbors all of whom can claim hillbilly heritage. This heritage brought with it a way of living in which folks took pride in making do with what they had and, I might add, making do with a certain individual ‘flair” , an often unappreciated ingenuity.

Maybe this is why I love collage so much? Collage is about using what is at hand to make something new. Take a close up view of “A Community of Light” and you’ll see that I used very old quilt fabric donated from the fabric collection of a dear friend, neighbor and quilt maker, Mrs. Hughes.

But, it’s more than “using” what’s at hand, it’s believing that everything we need is right before us.  We don’t need more stuff, we just need to develop or trust our creativity and ingenuity and become aware of all that surrounds us.

Which brings me to what I want to read next. It’s a new, free pamphlet titled “How to be Ingenious”  from RSA. 

Here’s the first thing I notice in the pamphlet description: When in the face of constrained resources, some people demonstrate ingenuity; they are able to do unexpectedly more for less.

I know some of these people. I live among them here in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. So, besides reading this pamphlet, I think I’ll return to my roots. I’m going to call my mom, visit my neighbors and make a new collage out of things at hand.



Filed under Art and Learning, Community, My Art

Making a Difference

Message in a Cup

Stop by Girl Undiscovered, visit for a while and engage in a discussion about the meaning of community and our place in it. Here’s an excerpt from her latest post.

Does it really make a difference what I do?

Does what I do matter?”

What purpose could I serve to the world?”

Who cares if I don’t do my best? It won’t make a difference anyway…”

I am not important enough, so why bother?

I have already screwed up too badly, I can’t fix it.

No matter what we do, no matter how good or how horrible, as long as we are alive we will always be a part of humanity. Somehow, in the biggest or smallest form, WE are contributors to society! Every choice we make, every set of words we say, everything we create in our lives, can make a difference. In fact, I venture to say that it WILL make a difference, even if it is not always a difference that we can see. Sometimes it is a difference you feel, or you may not even feel it at all. You just have to believe that it is out there.

You have the power inside you to make choices every day. You have the choice to think positively, or to think negatively. You have the choice to do your best, or to stop trying. You have the choice to help others, or to hurt them. I hope that if you have ever thought any of those thoughts I opened this blog with that you and I together can change our mindsets. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we thought these thoughts instead?

It does matter, and I matter.”

I may not be able to change the world, but I can help my neighbor.”

Things that I do and say can make a difference, I just have to try.”

I am important to society, even if it is only in a small way.”

No matter how badly I have screwed up, I have the power inside me to change things.”



Filed under Community

Embrace Our Vulnerabilties and Imperfections

Love this article by Brene Brown. She suggests we need new ways of thinking about vulnerability and imperfections.  I agree.

The Cruelty Crisis: Bullying Isn’t a School Problem, It’s a National Pastime


“If we want to reclaim courage and compassion in our families, schools, organizations, and communities, we must open our hearts and minds to a new way of thinking about vulnerability and imperfection. Our imperfections are not flaws; they are what connect us to each other and to our humanity. Vulnerability may be at the core of fear and uncertainty, but it is also the birthplace of courage and compassion – exactly what we need to help us stop lashing out and start engaging with the world from a place of worthiness; a place where empathy and kindness matter.” Brené Brown


Filed under Community, Teaching

Resilient Community

My last post illustrated the idea of belonging in community and valuing our interactions and conversations with our neighbors. This morning’s email delivered a link to Fall 2010 issue of Yes! magazine focusing on resiliency and why we should care. The page “How Resilient are You?” caught my attention with a “test” that begins with neighbors.

1) I have friends and acquaintances in my local community. (I know their faces (and hopefully their names) not just their facebook pages)

2) I am comfortable asking my neighbors if I can borrow stuff (eg. tools, ingredients). (and visa versa)

3) I could easily call on my nearby friends and neighbors for help in an emergency.

*Our neighbor Mark called on his way to work this morning to warn us of bad weather heading our way. Thanks Mark.

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Small but Important Elements of Being with Others

Kate & Ollie

In Community: The Structure of Belonging, Peter Block wrote that the key to creating or transforming community is to see the power in the small but important elements of being with others. Community and belonging have been at the center of my interest for quite some time and I’m learning to pay attention to and learn from present day interactions that provide keys to creating and transforming community. But, I’ve not thought much about past interactions from my childhood. When I did, my neighbors Kate and Ollie came to mind.

My visits with Kate and Ollie were filled with conversation.  Each time I knocked on their door, Ollie would graciously welcome me inside even though my visits were random and unannounced.  I would sit in their overstuffed chair, we would talk about our day. Kate was not well. I remember how lovingly Ollie cared for her.

What memories do you have of your neighbors? Did you have a neighbor that made you feel especially welcome?  How did you connect with or get to know your neighbor(s)?


Filed under Art and Learning, Community, Misc, My Art