Category Archives: My Art

Letter A Collage – Made from “Things at Hand”

Well, here’s my collage, the one inspired by my last post.  I made it with images from an old “A” encyclopedia my husband found in a dumpster.


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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.



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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)?


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Inviting Creativity and Insight into the College Classroom

Art as a method of inquiry and reflection became a passion of mine during my graduate studies in Adult Education and Leadership. That’s when I experienced a shift, one that felt like I had learned an entirely new language, one that freed me up to “speak beyond words.” Since then, I continue to experiment and expand arts-based learning in my life and in my  work. For example, in the speech classes I teach at the community college, I invite students to create a ‘visual reflection’ of their experiences and learning. What happens? Creativity and insight flows……


See More Visual Reflections from Speech Class…..





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Public Private Schools

February 18, 2010. Thomas B. Fordham Institute

We identify public schools whose doors are effectively closed to poor children. These institutions—generally found in wealthy urban enclaves or well-heeled suburbs—educate many of the children of America’s elite while proudly waving the “public school” flag. But they hardly embody the “common school” ideal. In fact, by exclusively serving well-off children, they are arguably more private—certainly more exclusive—than many elite private schools, which, after all, generally offer at least some scholarships to low-income students.  Read more…..


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Schools and Segregation

Press Release: New Report Explains that Charter Schools’ Political Success is a Civil Rights Failure

For Immediate Release

Los Angeles—February 4, 2010— Today, the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA issued “Choice Without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards,” a nationwide report based on an analysis of Federal government data and an examination of charter schools in 40 states and the District of Columbia, along with several dozen metropolitan areas with large enrollments of charters.  Read more…..

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In the Year 2010

See “School Restrain, Seclusion Bill….

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