Getting a chance to play
educator for a day
SWOS … I have a soft-spot in my resume for education. My original thought was that I would be a teacher. I rose through the pre-school ranks and became the director of the John Adams site in San Francisco’s exemplary Parent Education Pre-school Program back in the Seventies. I even attended U.C. Berkeley night school to get a lifetime California Teaching Credential (the last year that they gave those out) … But I moved to Colorado, and had to find other work, as all the local pre-school jobs were taken when I came to town. But I always harbored a desire to spend some time in a classroom with a group of kids – one of the most important jobs one can have in a community … Thanks to some friends in Cortez, I got invited to teach a class at the Southwest Open School several years ago. I was deeply impressed … These were the kids who’d had troubles in regular high school classes and had gotten the boot, or had dropped out and wanted to try again, or any number of special situations that an innovative charter school was willing to address … My contact was a teacher, Sam “I Am” Carter – a charismatic educator with an easy manner but tough love standards that he held his students to. I lectured on poetry the first time. Next year it was politics. Then, anarchy (a favorite concept) … Soon I’d become a regular visitor, and I met the equally charismatic Judy Hite, the director, and Jennifer Chappell, her assistant … A couple years back the students even requested that I give their senior commencement speech. I was deeply touched. I canceled a regional political meeting I’d been scheduled to attend in Montana. Speaking to the SWOS graduating class was too important to miss, in my book … This year they wanted me to be part of a Portfolio Review team that they solicited from community members – there were musicians, ranchers, educators and politicos (like myself). A group of us got to listen to a graduating senior give a verbal presentation of their written Portfolio – a kind of senior project outlining all they’d done that year. It was fascinating. One fellow had done a haiku in Russian (exactly 17 syllables, and he actually pronounced the Russian correctly). Another was a dazzling artist, and his tessellated sketch of an eye had me intrigued. Another did a very good research paper on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 … And when we all assembled in the common room of one of the trailers that make up the school buildings in this shoestring operation (they recently lost a bond issue in Montezuma County to expand the facility), it was a happy bedlam of cheers and noisemakers. Lots of Diné and Hispanics and Anglos all mixed up, celebrating together. The good feelings were addictive. I think I’m becoming a SWOSaholic.
CAW … Dr. Patricia Limerick heads up the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado in Boulder. We met years ago at the first Headwaters conference at Western State College in Gunnison (its name recently changed to Western State Colorado University), and we’ve remained friends ever since. Last year she invited me to come lecture one of her classes about my brand of Green politics out on the Western Slope. The class seemed to like it, and so Patty invited me back again this year … It’s a darn long drive to Boulder for an hour lecture, but having once entertained the idea of becoming a college professor, lecturing to a couple hundred students was a challenge and a treat … This time Patty made it easier by asking me questions the students had prepared and we had a lively session of back and forth on lots of sensitive issues from politics to poetry to mushroom festivals. In the end, I was humbled with a standing ovation, which was both unexpected and quite generous on the part of the students whom I’d harangued … Patty selected six of a list of students who’d signed up to have dinner with us and we all walked over to the Sink (a Boulder institution) for another lively hour of exchanged stories and repartee … I’m not sure I could handle grading student papers, sitting in on faculty committees, and all the hard work that goes into making academia a focused place for learning. But I sure loved the hit-and-run lecture option.
IRIS WILLOW … Number One daughter, who turns 29 this month, has just finished a six weeks respite in Buenos Aires, after travels around the southern continent, following six months in Santiago, Chile, where her partner Bert Fan has been working on a cyber-startup, Recollect. They’ll be moving back to San Francisco, after Iris spends her birthday with friends in Colombia … She had a number of things she said she’d miss about Argentina’s capital city, that I thought I might share … “The copious amount of tasty Argentine steak easily consumed on almost every block, muy rico (delicious) homemade raviolis and pastas around the corner, and authentic Italian gelato a mere three blocks from our apartment … Attempting to relearn to rollerblade in the beautiful French designed bosques de Palermo as expert Argentine bladers weave, twirl and jump around me … Sipping a cafe con leche at an outdoor cafe in Palermo watching Argentine fashionistas in leopard print leggings, neon yellow platform flip-flops and ballerina buns stroll past … Visiting unusual Argentine bars, like the "secret" bar, Frank's, which requires you to dial a password in a telephone booth before entering the swanky velvet and chandelier-clad bar, or the funky Acabar with an entire room dedicated to board games including a giant Jenga and a Spanish Sexionary … Visiting the San Telmo Sunday feria (fair) and perusing the antiques, independent jewelry and fashion designers and street performers … The amazing BAFICI international film festival which was perfectly timed during our stay and allowed us to see a range of international films including a fascinating documentary by Werner Herzog examining the death penalty in the States, Death Row; the silly new Whit Stillman flick, Damsels in Distress, and a surprisingly good The International Sign for Choking, which was filmed in Buenas Aires -- along with several films at BA's beautiful planetarium … Wandering along the beautiful tree-lined, cobblestoned streets with pretty colonial buildings and occasional burst of colorful street art.”
THE TALKING GOURD
Of no consequence