Blog post from July 11, 2011 about the holy running man
[in case the link doesn’t work, because I’m trying to import content from blogger to wordpress…]
Running w/ Prayer
There is this gentleman in our neighborhood I see at various times while driving. If I were to guess his age, I’d say somewhere between 25-32(ish). He has a full, untrimmed beard: his head has a close to scalp cut. He doesn’t wear official running clothes. I often see him with long shorts, or cut off pants, ratty t-shirt, black socks and curious shoes. I think they’re really old; either shoes he wears to work, or running shoes that are more than 12 years old.
His running pace is slow, plodding, thoughtful. He’s not training for a race. He is always holding something in his hand.
It’s a holy book. I make no assumptions of bible, psalm or Koran. The book is weathered, older than his shoes. It’s small enough to be held open in one hand. He reads a little, then refocuses his eyes on the pavement for a few strides. Returning back to the book, he might be reading more, or he may be checking the words as he tries to memorize the passage.
He runs in all times of day, in all kinds of weather. Hi space never changes, his hand never empty. He frequents the same sidewalks. Perhaps he keeps the same route to safely return to the book. Does he know the cracks and uneven slates of sidewalk as well as he knows that book?
When I first noticed his regular appearance in the neighborhood, I thought of Forrest Gump.
Is he running with, for, or about devotion? Is running to be saved?
October 13, 2016. Finally talked to him:
“And how is life today?”
He has an accent. I think.
February 3, 2017. We pass each other again. From the opposite side of the street, I yelled,
“My name is Silagh.”
“My name is Aladdin. Just like the movie.”
“It’s great to see you out running all the time.”
“It always makes my day go better.” [He keeps running in the opposite direction of my walk] “Have a beautiful day.”
I’d been wanting to do this for a while now. I finally got to volunteer for a show at the Godfrey Daniels listening room yesterday. The team was short on hands, so I had to wait for Dave Fry to focus on the bands’ needs before he had a chance to instruct me.
The band was from DC; Chaise Lounge. Upright bass, drum kit, keyboard, trombone, saxophone/clarinet and a singer = stage extensions on both sides needed. Hearing their sound check told me I was in for a musical treat. But here’s the real thing. When you witness a sound check, you can learn about the personalities of the group. Sometimes, you hear things… These folks were genuinely sweet and excited to play for an enthusiastic crowd.
Godfrey’s artists are usually like these folks. They are good people dedicated to making great music. The regular audience is the same; good people who support musicians by braving cold temperatures to hear live music in an intimate setting.
How great is this audience? Folks found their way with able assistance from the other volunteer there, Michael Duck. Between Mike, Dave and me, we were able to manage the crowd pretty well until the concessions needed some more help. Two folks who came to the show and are also volunteers stepped up to manage it. Rick Weaver and Marcie Lightwood – more good people in our musical community.
The audience was so patient with me. I was so grateful that I asked Michael to thank them for me before he introduced the band.
Knowing nothing about the band, I had a chance to sneak some research after the show started and I stayed in the lobby to welcome late comers or do any other task needed during the show. Another fun fact about the band, the keyboardist is Easton, PA native Charlie Barnett. Charlie’s mom was in the audience and she brought a few friends with her. I know what a kick it is to have your mom hear you perform – warms the heart to see a noble lady glowing with parental pride.
Enough about me – this band is awesome! What a great sound and so stylish. And funny. I found this video of one of Charlie’s original tunes, “Tick Tock.” Marilyn’s intro is a great sample of how these musicians get along.
After the show, a few folks lingered to chat with Charlie while the rest of the band packed up and the volunteers cleared chairs and cleaned up. Lots of smiles. Lots of love.
I hope to be able to volunteer again soon. Golly, I like living in Bethlehem.
As the fall semester winds down, I’m getting excited for the next semester course to begin. I’ll be making a big change this time; taking the Tuesday/Thursday 75 minute seminars into a once-a-week course meeting 3 hours on Monday evenings. The sessions will definitely need more engagement activities. I’m really looking forward to challenging the pedagogical approach as well as opening up the classroom for more exploration and individual interests.
Also new this year, I was able to successfully gain some funding to support the “hands-on” festival activities through Lehigh’s Core Competencies grant. Last year the students designed the inaugural arts fair at Farrington Square. They discovered entrepreneurial opportunities to raise awareness of the creative capital within the student body, as well as bring more ideas to increase Lehigh participation in the annual Spring on the SouthSide festival. We’ll continue that activity, and I’ll be sure to introduce the festival earlier in the semester; as recommended by last year’s group.
Also looking forward to seeing how the students connect the concepts of Richard Florida’s Creative Class*, the criteria of annual “best places to live” lists, as well as ideas of of Scott Timberg’s work; which I brought to the course for the first time last year. It was the follow-up work I’d been seeking since Florida’s ideas (even the updates) needed another perspective. Of course there will be other articles, and this time; a bit more attention to the ideas associated with creative placemaking. One of the learning outcomes for the students is to be able to articulate the difference between Creative Class and Creative Placemaking.
I’ll be inviting local artists of various forms, and others who work in the arts industry to talk about their professional portfolios, and how they establish themselves as entrepreneurial creatives in the Lehigh Valley. We’ll continue to venture on a few site visits to deepen their understanding of the Bethlehem’s cultural assets and what kind of entrepreneurial actions launched and sustains them.
The learning objectives for ENTP123 remain pretty much the same; but the content and discussions will always change to respond any new development that may happen throughout the semester. What I hope for the students is that they apply themselves to think about how a community values the arts, and what their role in sustaining cultural assets could be. I hope they leave the course with lots of questions, curiosity about the cultural assets for any community they will live in after graduation, and a sense of direction for engaging in that community’s cultural assets for their own well being.
As the students continue to practice their their art (whether vocation or avocational), engage in 21st century issues, aspire to be a civic leader, an aware citizen, or even a future parent, having a sense of connection to a place makes living there much greater.
*Richard Florida’s white paper on “The Creative Class.” Students in ENTP123 will be reading the newest edition of the book.
The last seven weeks at Lehigh have been… weird. With no assignments other than, “pack up your office,” my days have been filled with focusing on the benchmarking research of other arts integration programs in higher ed, as I’ve done throughout my time at Lehigh. I’ve also been tossing old files and taking note of so many accomplishments.
Hundreds of students, faculty, staff and citizens have been a part of making and witnessing art. Pictures, mementos, books (OMG, so many books) and reference materials on creative placemaking, educational policy, student engagement in the arts, and audience development are too valuable to toss. Making space in my tiny home office has offered even more challenges.
Another focus has been preparing for an exit interview with a high level administrator; someone who was actually curious about what I’ve learned through my work at Lehigh. I was able to lean on a few trusted advisors to help me prepare for this moment. I could write a separate blog about how to own your emotions in an exit interview.
For this post, I’m going to share the key points of what I shared in the meeting. Why? Because I’m damned proud of what I did at Lehigh, and I hope that readers gain a little bit of institutional history.
Lehigh University – 2002 Preliminary Report from the Dean’s Committee on Re-visioning the Arts at Lehigh
In the 2001 spring semester, the College of Arts and Sciences Dean [at the time, that was Bobb Carson; three deans ago] asked a group of faculty and administrators to participate in a group first known as the Arts Conception Committee. The charge to the committee grew out of the 2000 Strategic Plan for the College of Arts and Sciences which stated that “a fundamental challenge for the College is to establish the importance of perspective, values, and creativity intrinsic to the Arts and the Humanities, in a culture absorbed with material possession and entertainment rather than self-development.”
The committee decided to focus on ways to promote and institutionalize some of the excitement and energy associated with a more fully integral approach to the arts, education, and the larger community. The committee formulated a working mission statement:
“Lehigh University must make apparent to all its members – but especially to its students – the importance of the perspective, the values, the creativity, and the intellectual discipline of the Arts and the Humanities. To foster such experiences, the University must communicate more effectively the excellence of many exciting programs, develop new institutional structures that allow for a more integral approach to the arts and education, and also promote the development of new and innovative curricular and non-curricular activities which serve to connect Lehigh with the community at large.” In general, the committee sought ways to make the arts more present and vital with the Lehigh academy, campus environment and in the South Bethlehem arts district.
The recommendations for implementing a vision of an arts integration initiative were organized into three broad categories. Short and long term actions were specified within each of the categories:
Enhance communication and promotion regarding existing programs and activities:
- Increase efforts to involve more students in Zoellner activities (reduce ticket prices, special incentives to instructors, promotion arts/ academic integration, create a fund to allow faculty to take students to arts/cultural events at reduced prices
- Develop and online calendar of arts events that includes all arts activities on campus (curricular, presenter series, and student affairs programming), and in the South Bethlehem arts district, and the larger Lehigh Valley, as well as indicating arts related academic offerings (lectures, symposia, workshops, etc.)
- Develop online and portable maps of arts locations on and off campus. Develop on and off campus tours of arts centers
- Develop more outreach programs for area children and make an effort to partner with south side organizations
- Identify alumni who have some specific and significant interest in the arts; increase involvement with the Lehigh Board of Trustees with arts related development
- Include a special PreLUsion program for incoming first year students interested in an arts introduction to campus and community.
- Build increased awareness of arts and arts/academic issues into admissions office activities
- Official Lehigh marketing and branding material that highlight aspects of the arts at Lehigh.
- Create a new position of Arts Coordinator to serve as catalyst for more intra-faculty/student collaboration in the integration of the arts with various academic disciplines.
- The Arts Coordinator would report to the Provost and work in consultation with a steering committee which included the head of the Humanities center, Zoellner and LUAG administrators, arts faculty, and a representative from the engineering and business colleges
- Join the Imagining America consortium
- Create and arts integration fund to support travel, expenses or possibly new courses
- Create and artist in residence fund
- Create a community partnership fund
- Work toward a week-long Arts Experience Festival
- Develop and off campus Cooperative Artists in Residence Facility
- Explore Teaching Museum/Gallery
- Work toward making a Lehigh campus sculptural park
Programmatic and Curricular
[In the model of the Humanities Center and Women’s Studies program]
- Develop signature “integration” courses specifically designed as arts/academic cross-disciplinary/ cross-college integration courses.
- Initiate a multi-disciplinary/cross-college design course which involves students and faculty in overall public arts planning for the campus and community.
- Work to make new arts/academic related courses permanent in the curriculum.
- Develop new and financially self-supporting “in the field” courses that take advantage of south side arts institutions and Lehigh’s proximity to world arts centers
- Develop viable arts related degree programs such as an “arts management/administration” BA program.
- Bolster institutional commitment to the visual arts/ graphic design/ photography.
With these goals, and later with Lehigh’s 2009 strategic plan (note component 4: Partnering in the Renaissance of the Local Community) I worked on many activities, initiatives and partnerships. Since I was not assigned a faculty title with this position, I worked in administrative-appropriate structures and encouraged faculty consideration where possible. I also responded to and supported other campus and curricular initiatives where they aligned with the short and long term goals set by this committee. Perhaps the “spaghetti approach to find what worked, what didn’t” was the best way to describe the investigations. During the years of the 20/20 ArtsLehigh initiative, annual reports were offered. When ArtsLehigh ended, the only annual report I offered was in my annual GPS review, as my reporting structure shifted. Even though my reporting line changed, my job description didn’t. I was still accountable for many campus-wide student engagement goals and in community relations.
Where budget wasn’t a factor of sustainability, I was able to meet many of the goals. Since social media wasn’t a known entity in 2002, I became an early adopter in developing social media strategies to not only reach the objectives, but also to track engagement and to listen to student and community interests. I also invested a significant amount of time participating in student affairs programs to meet the student engagement objectives, especially in new student orientation programs. In order to support faculty teaching and research goals, I read faculty CVs and became familiar with regularly offered courses in multiple area studies that aligned with the presenting and visual arts activities on campus. I became a living rolodex of potential course-, campus program-, and community partners for various guest artists, theatrical works, musical programs, and exhibits.
When I began adjunct faculty teaching in the Baker Institute in 2010, much of my field work as an arts administrator became the syllabus in two courses; Entrepreneurial Communications for Creative Industries (ENTP 040) and Art Entrepreneurship Community (ENTP 123). I brought my research of communication strategies and creative placemaking into the each course. Students were also given many hands-on activities to apply concepts to their own investigations.
As a cohort of the Leadership Lehigh Valley program in 2012, I was motivated to earn an Educational Leadership degree. It wasn’t that I sought a 3rd masters degree, I already have a doctorate. I wanted to retool my awareness of educational policy and further investigate the needs of our local schools in order to better serve them through the arts in partnership with our local arts resources. Through the program, I met local and state-wide school administrators and educational policy makers that provided deep insight into the budgetary challenges our local schools face. I also developed relationships with many area educators by attending their programs and learning about the disparity in our local school systems.
I attended many Lehigh reunion activities to listen to alumni. I served on cultural arts boards. I volunteered for many local festivals. I attended hundreds of local arts and cultural events both on campus and in the South Bethlehem Arts District. I learned a great deal of campus-community arts scene B.Z. (Before Zoellner). I witnessed the social and economic changes brought by the Steelstacks, the Sands Event Center, and PPL in Allentown. I listened to local artists; working with them on arts-in school initiatives.
To illustrate the various institutional areas of my work, I offer two images. The first image is my reporting structure. The second image is the six areas of the institution in which I regularly engaged.
Since this post is already extensive, I will be offering six separate posts for each of the institutional areas in which the work I did will be articulated with more program/activity description and learning outcomes. Please note, the organizational reporting line only named one of five subcategories within one of six institutional structures: College of Arts & Sciences, College of Business & Economics, College of Education, Student Affairs, Communications, and Community Relations.
The next posts are offered to share insights I gained in eleven years of service to Lehigh University. My final report and the following 6 posts will include examples and links to previous posts on multiple blogs. These posts will also serve the next steps of my career; which will extend more than 20 years of field work in arts integration in secondary schools, higher ed, community relations, and creative placemaking. My expertise as an artist, an educator, and arts administrator doesn’t condense neatly into a one-page resume.
#1/7 #HigherEdArtsIntegration, #CommunityEngagement, #StudentEngagement #CreativePlacemaking
One of the most rewarding parts of my work in arts engagement and community affairs is getting into the community to know more about the arts scene, and the many people engaged in it. Four years ago, I started visiting multiple high school theatre programs in order to learn more about what our area students are doing. I wanted to see what resources are available to them, and how Lehigh University might be able to support these efforts.
Lehigh’s arts center presents at least one Broadway touring company every season. The arts center’s last featured Broadway show was Bullets Over Broadway, which featured the choreography of Susan Strohman. Since I’ve seen a number of high school productions in which the dancing reflected well-known Broadway choreographers like Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins, I’ve been sharing information about the campus arts center shows with high school choreographers to inspire their work with students.
Two years ago, we had a drop-in Broadway show that took a couple of rehearsal days in the campus arts center. The show’s producers offered a peek into their rehearsal process to local high school students. It was at that moment the relationships I had already built with teachers were a huge asset. All that time going into the community; supporting THEIR programs, and bringing a Lehigh presence by just being there was well spent. One needs to have relationships already built in order to take fullest advantage of sudden opportunity.
But I also started to learn more about the students. Most of the high school theatre productions provide a program (handbill) in which the students’ biographies include what they wish to pursue after high school. Some of them list an aspirational goal to study sciences and theatre. Some of them share they are coming to Lehigh. I’ve made an effort to reach these students to welcome them to campus, and to encourage them to pursue their passions while they are here. Some students come to campus to hear lectures and learn that Lehigh has much to offer them WHILE they are still in high school. I actually had one local high school say, “I wasn’t considering Lehigh before. I had no idea Lehigh offered so much.”
The bios also revealed more of the disparity between schools; some students studied vocal and dance lessons for years with local youth arts training programs or private teachers. What didn’t surprised me was that private lessons were not the key to a quality production. It was the passion the musical theatre directors instilled in the students. A foot might not be fully extended, but you don’t care about that when you witness the closing night speeches by graduating seniors. There are some real heroes in this community. You’ll find them behind the scenes at your local high school; encouraging students to take a chance and find their moment in the spotlight.
Last year, through various conversations with teachers and attending another local school activity, I met a student who aspires to be a filmmaker. She has some incredible skills; not only in editing, but also in storytelling. She produced a video in which you hear from the students of her high school’s latest musical theatre production. I hope you have a chance to watch this.
Keep an eye on this student. She’s already amazing.