Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Centering Down

"In belonging to a landscape, one feels a rightness, an at-homeness, a knitting of self and world. This condition of clarity and focus, this being fully present, is akin to what the Buddhists call mindfulness, what Christian contemplatives refer to as recollection, what Quakers call centering down. I am suspicious of any philosophy that would separate this-worldly from other-worldy commitments. There is only one world, and we participate in it here and now, in our flesh and our place.”
Scott Russell Sanders

Monday, November 7, 2011


It has always been my strong belief that artists are at the center of any vibrant town or city. As a way of demonstrating this belief and helping to create more vibrancy in a place I dearly love, I am spearheading the creation of Bright Box, a dynamic performance place in the center of Old Town Winchester, Virginia. It is scheduled for completion in December 2012.

Located at the heart of Old Town in Bright Center, Bright Box will be carefully designed with the best lighting and sound to ensure that the performances are magical. And we'll have all kinds of performances and entertainment: jazz, comedy, theatre, art-house films, art shows, dances, juggling, anything that the brilliant imagination of local artists and performers can create. Our partners include Shenandoah Arts Council, Shenandoah University, Old Town Development Board, and Winchester Main Street Foundation.

This creative facility will consist of a 2000 square feet black box theatre, plus a beautiful concession/bar area, a ticket office, green rooms, dressing rooms, and rehearsal areas. Our goals: To give the public an intimate viewing experience, to give our local artists a unique venue for displaying their talent, and to create ever-increasing vibrancy in Old Town. Stay tuned for updates on Bright Box!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Avoiding a Paved-Over Soul

"Our kinship with Earth must be maintained; otherwise we will find ourselves trapped in the center of our own paved-over souls with no way out."

Terry Tempest Williams

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Poetry Captures Essence of Place

Poetry is one of the best ways I know to capture the essence of Place. In this wonderful poem by George Ella Lyons, I can feel my own homeplace in her intimate details.

Where I'm From
I am from clothespins,
from Clorox, and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets).
I am from the forsythia bush,
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I'm from fudge and eyeglasses,
From Imogene and Alafair.
I'm from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from perk up and pipe down.
I'm from he restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I'm from Artemus and Billie's Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments -
snapped before I budded -
leaf-fall from the family tree.
George Ella Lyons

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Place as Part of Prosperous Life

"In a culture best identified by its uncompromising commitment to individual rights, enlightened self-interest, and the icon of the self-made person, any discussion of a life lived in place and in common with others will seem quaint, romantic, idealistic, and thoroughly backward looking. But we forget, or never knew, that there is an alternative view of human nature that sees membership in a community as the central feature of a successful and prosperous life." William Vitek

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sticking It Out Rather than Fleeing

"One of the key problems in American society now . . . is people's lack of commitment to any given place -- which . . . is totally unnatural and outside of history. Neighborhoods are allowed to deteriorate, landscapes are allowed to be strip-mined, because there is nobody who will live there and take responsibility; they'll just move on. The reconstruction of a people and of a life in the United States depends in part on people, neighborhood by neighborhood, county by county, deciding to stick it out and make it work where they are, rather than flee." Gary Snyder

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Place Is Formed by Slow Accrual

"A place is not a place until people have been born in it, have grown up in it, lived in it, known it, died in it -- have both experienced and shaped it, as individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities, over more than one generation. Some are born in their place, some find it, some realize after long searching that the place they left is the one they have been searching for. But whatever their relation to it, it is made a place only by slow accrual, like a coral reef." Wallace Stegner