Civics 101: Getting Involved Right Where You Are

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Image by Emily Young of Dog Ear Books

People in the community have been talking about how they want to know more about the basics of getting involved at the local level in both local politics and organizing.

This interactive panel and workshop is hosted in partnership with VOTV ~ Voices of the Valley ~ and Dog Ear Books is a bit like 5th grade civics for grown folks with some action elements thrown in.

Panelists will cover some of the basics of local duties and structures, but also touch on how to get involved in the work that matters most to you. They’ll tackle questions like: How do you get started? How do you make decisions about using your energy? Where do you turn for analysis to stregthen your efforts? Most importantly, and perhaps most challenging, how do we learn work with others to create real and lasting change for those that will come long after we’re gone?

We antcipate this to be the first in a series of similar workshops/discussions. This is part of our yearlong series focusing on the concept of HOME and sponsored by Alternate ROOTS.

Panelists:

Irvin C.Irvin Camacho is a native of California who moved to Arkansas at the age of 10. His parents were both farm workers and members of the United Farm Workers Union created by Legendary Activist, Cesar Chavez. Irvin is currently pursuing a degree in Broadcast Journalism and is currently a mortgage specialist at Arvest Bank. He is also a community activist. Irvin has served as NWA Coordinator for Arkansas Coalition for Dream. He was also the State Wide Coordinator for the Arkansas Natural Dreamers now known as LUCHA, a youth led organization to empower and educate Immigrant Communities. He has been involved in the Immigrant Rights Movement for 7 years in Arkansas and is also a former candidate for State Representative for District 89 in Springdale.

Mayra E.Mayra Esquivel is native of Mexico. She was brought to the USA at the age of 3 years old and has been a resident of Fort Smith since then. She is currently 26 years and is a Cum Laude Graduate from the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology. She works as a navigator for Arkansas United Community Coalition, a non-profit organization that aims to empower immigrants across the state. Mayra has spent the last 5 years advocating for immigrant rights, undocumented youth, and social justice and has found an interest for mental health along the way. She discovered her passion for advocacy work in 2012 after learning about her own undocumented status and how it had the potential to limit her in various aspects of her life. She believes her personal struggles have taught her to be aware and more understanding of the various injustices found in society.”

 

18424891_10158710712675077_1444006282_nStephanie Harris is the founder of Women Lead Arkansas, a non-partisan nonprofit, whose mission is to empower women and girls to engage in politics, policy, and leadership. She also started her law firm, Law to Go, in January. They offer low-cost, flat-fee services to people who represent themselves or who need stand-alone legal services.

 

 

 

 

 

20170513_092803 (1)Chris Housenick: Christopher Housenick is a tenured assistant professor of political science at Arkansas Tech University, where he has taught since 2009.  He teaches World Politics, International Relations, and American Politics, which gives him a unique perspective on the political events of the last few years both within the United States and abroad.  He hopes to provide greater perspective on how the current president, the forces that led to his election, and the crises that surround his administration, fit into longer historical trends and into larger global movements.

 

20170502_135915Anika Whitfield: Anika Whitfield is a Little Rock native.  She is a proud graduate of the Little Rock School District where her parents and all of maternal and paternal aunts and uncles graduated as well.  She is an active human rights and social justice advocate.  As an ordained Baptist minister and a licensed, private practice Podiatrist, she enjoys the opportunity to minister to and with her patients and community in navigating through choices that help lead to healthier living.  She has been enjoying serving as a volunteer in the Little Rock School District for over two decades.  And, for the last four years, she and a few of her friends and neighbors, known as the Team of Neighbors that Love, have helped develop the Promise Garden Park where neighbors and community members enjoy learning about more about each other while learning to garden and share the healthy fruits of their labors with others.   Recently, as an organizer with the Save Our Schools Campaign and the Citizens Against Taxation without Representation Campaign, she and several other community organizers and supporters of the LRSD enjoyed a few victories in their efforts to restore and revitalize democracy in their school district, city and in our state.  One of those victories was gained through the power of the vote when 65% of the LRSD that voted in the May 9th LRSD millage tax extension stood up as a very diverse group of united citizens (age, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, faith/religion, politics, and class) to protect our students, parents, teachers and schools from being further oppressed by big business politics.

Marie Williams, History, GA, StaffMarie Williams is currently working on her PhD at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Marie is a native of Russellville, where she lives with her two children. She is an adjunct professor at Arkansas Tech University and the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville.  Marie’s fields of study include, American and Arkansas history. Her dissertation focuses on Arkansas politician Jim Johnson and his segregationist, anti-Communist influence on Arkansas politics during the 1950s, as well as how Johnson and Arkansas fit into the larger Cold War political narrative. Marie has studied both American and Southern political history extensively.


Creating Child Friendly Learning Spaces: Montessori and Reggio Methods

May workshop 2017

Our workshop leader Razan Abdin

What: Creating Child Friendly Learning Spaces and Flower Pressing with Montessori educator Razan Abdin

Where: McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources 420 S. 2nd Street Dardanelle, AR 72834

When: Saturday May 20th 11:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m.

Contact: 479-957-0551

It’s almost summer break! Come join us for an interactive workshop on Montessori and Reggio education methods and ways to incorporate them into your home or classroom.

Razan Abdin, a Montessori educator from North Little Rock, will be leading the workshop on the basics of these child-friendly learning methods, and will be helping us design our children’s playroom to be interactive, nature-focused, and full of learning opportunities for kids in the community.

You may be familiar with these methods or you may have never even heard of them. Either way, you’re welcome!!!! Let’s learn together!

During this time period we will also have an activity for kids! Lauren Palmer will be helping children make pressed flowers from our garden.

From Lauren:
I learned how to press flowers at a young age using flowers from my grandma’s garden. This Saturday I’ll be showing you how to press flowers and we will be making bookmarks, cards, and wall decorations! I will provide the supplies, but you can also bring your own if you’d like.

This is open to everyone, and is part of our yearly series focusing on the concept of HOME and funded by Alternate ROOTS.

More on our workshop leader: Razan Abdin is an Educator, Doula, Writer, and Consultant from Little Rock, Arkansas. She holds a Master of Education degree from Loyola University Maryland, an Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Primary diploma from Washington Montessori Institute, and is a DONA-trained Postpartum Doula. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking and eating delicious food, live music, learning more about equity literacy and designing social justice curriculums and, most importantly, doing absolutely nothing at all.


Breaking Into the News: Media Literacy in the Digital Age

16700547_1282676498466641_6939204457640759670_oImage by Emily Young of Dog Ear Books

When: Saturday April 8th 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Where: Dog Ear Books, 301 West Main Street, Russellville, AR 72801

What:  Breaking Into the News: Media Literacy in the Digital Age, a Community Skill Share

RSVP by clicking here. 

Join Dog Ear Books, Voices of the Valley, and McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources for an interactive community forum discussing media literacy in the digital age.The panel will feature local print, radio and television journalists discussing how to identify reputable news sources versus clickbait and fake news; the importance of identifying opinion pieces versus new stories, and resources for finding and supporting responsible investigative reporting. Panelists will also touch on the ethics of journalism and share their own personal stories of why they are dedicated to this work at the local level. Participants will leave with information on importance of supporting ethical reporting and specific ways to do so. While we tend to think of media in terms of national networks, panelists will outline why local journalism is equally essential. An open community discussion will follow the panelists remarks.

This Community Skill Share is supported by funding from Alternate ROOTS and is part of our year long series of events focusing on what it means to call a place home.

 

Panelists:

 

Drew Brent is the owner of Brent Media Properties and the Local Rundown. His career has spanned twelve years, with stops in print, television, and radio.

Drew began his career in Russellville at River Valley Radio in 2005 as a producer. He moved quickly, taking on co-host duties for “GSC Gameplan” on 103.7 The Buzz, and providing play-by-play for statewide high school football broadcasts.

Drew was hired as a sports producer by KATV in 2007. He would fill a variety of roles at KATV, including producing news and sports, editing, and  spearheading www.fridaynighttouchdowns.com.   He moved back to sports radio in 2009, hosting “The Sports Guys on KUOA 105.3 in Fayetteville.

He would continue in sports play-by-play as the lead commentator for the Arkansas and Oklahoma state football championships, commentator for the Great American Conference, and has been on the Heartland Conference Championship broadcast crew the last two years, this year being promoted to lead analyst.

Drew has been published in Arkansas Sports 360 (Arkansas Business), has appeared for 40/29 ABC in Fayetteville, and has freelanced video for major networks including CNN and ESPN. He has hosted radio shows on the Arkansas Radio Network, contributed for the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network, and currently owns and serves as the operations manager of The Local Rundown.

Billy Reeder has worked in broadcast news, served as a municipal public information officer, consulted on national advertising campaigns and served as the state director of communication for the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Currently he resides as a tenured assistant professor of multimedia journalism at Arkansas Tech University where he teaches multimedia journalism, visual storytelling, and documentary film making. He continues to travel extensively consulting on social media and branding. Billy holds a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and an M.A. in Multimedia Communication.

Melissa Lea Simpson is an award winning crime reporter formally with The Morning News of Rogers. She also worked over three years in circulation with The Northwest Arkansas Edition of the Democrat Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. She has also freelanced for several local publications. She holds a dual BA in political science and journalism from The University of West Florida. She currently works for a local nonprofit, the mother to a 2 year old and native of Arkansas.

Travis Simpson is an award-winning journalist and photographer. He has worked for The Courier in Russellville for almost five years and has nearly a decade of professional writing experience.

Moderator:  Meredith Martin-Moats works with the McElroy House and is a former radio journalist and freelance writer.

 


Plant Drawing Class, Making Non-Toxic Bug Sprays, Building Healthy Soil: An Afternoon in the Garden

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Artist and Farmer Kim Doughty-McCannon will lead the plant drawing classes!

What:  An Afternoon in the Garden: Drawing Plants with artist and farmer Kim Doughty-McCannon and Talking Soil and Gardening with heirloom gardener, Debe Hudson.

Where: McElroy House, 420 S. 2nd Dardanelle, AR 72205

When:  March 25th 2:00 p.m. -5:00 p.m.

Contact: 479-957-0551

See the facebook invite/RSVP by clicking here. 

This is part of our yearlong series of workshops and skill shares exploring the concept of home.

We will be making original art to be taken home and/or showcased in our community art show this coming summer.

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Calendar made by Kim!

Artist and farmer Kim Doughty-McCannon will offer free plant illustration classes in our garden using our brand new art supplies purchased with funding from our Alternate ROOTS art grant.

Native plant grower Debe Hudson will be on hand at the “Ask a Grower Booth,” and will be there to teach us about building up organic soil, creating non toxic bug sprays, and answer any questions you have about your own garden.  

We’ll have free seeds to give away and our resource library will be open, you can check out our portraits of gardeners on the wall, and we’ll also have snacks on hand. We’d love to meet you and hear about your own garden!

This is part of our year long series funded by Alternate ROOTS, focusing on what makes this place home. Join us each month for interactive workshops and creation events. Help us build beloved community!

AND a Visitor from Utah!

Nelda will be visiting from Utah, and has agreed to do a short presentation and share information and resources with the community while visiting. She’ll be presenting around 4:00, but she will be at the event from 2:00-5:00, so stop in and say hello!

More on Nelda: Nelda Ault-Dyslin has worked and volunteered with refugees and immigrants for eleven years. In 2014, she helped create the Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection, a non-profit in her hometown of Logan, UT. CRIC’s volunteers assist Cache Valley’s 300-400 refugees through education and connection to community resources. Last year, CRIC volunteers logged over 1,000 hours of service. Nelda has a master’s degree in Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University, where she studied community education and the importance of culture and communities. She currently works at Utah State University as the community service coordinator in the Val R. Christensen Service Center.

More on our skillshare leaders:

Kim Doughty-McCannon is an Arkansas GardenCorps site supervisor for the Faulkner County Urban Farm Project in Conway and she is starting her own urban farm in Conway with husband Zack. Nature and gardens are the major sources of inspiration for her artwork. You can see examples of her work online at azulhome.format.com and learn more about her farm, Bell Urban Farm, at bellurbanfarm.com

Debe Hudson created A B C Nature Greenhouse and Herb Farm in 1998. From Debe: “We started with orchids and herbs.In 2006, we changed over to all edible plants. We grow organically and don’t believe in using any pesticides, insecticides or herbicides of any kind. WE only use the IPMS system in which good bugs are used to eat the bad bugs.

We grew lots of herbs: culinary, medicinal, curative aromatic, and spices. We are now only a seasonal greenhouse and only grow things for gardens. Tomatoes and peppers are the primary plants; plus herbs and a very few spices.”


The Nature of Here: Touchstones and Resources from Johnny’s Talk

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Johnny talks at the McElroy House

Our February Living Room Conversation featured Johnny Sain, author of the site A View from the Backroads and assistant director at the Arkansas Wildlife Federation.

His talk was entitled the Nature of Here, and explored what it means to call a place home.

From Johnny’s description:

A “sense of place” is best described as recognizing the identity and character of a location. It’s an understanding of what makes here “here.” Various aspects such as flora, fauna, topography, climate, and history can all contribute to the distinct aura of the place you call home. An awareness of place is the foundation of culture. But sadly, this awareness is dwindling.

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People at the gathering looking through the resources Johnny brought.

He shared stories about how he went from being a young hunter posting photos of dead animals to appreciating the seasons as a spiritual practice grounded in a concept of land and home.

One of the most powerful parts of his talk was how he walked through all the steps it took for him to get to the world view he has today. He talked about childhood, killing his first animals with bb guns, being a hog farmer, going back to school, and his slow walk to becoming a writer. It was an interactive discussion, with everyone contributing their own stories and questions to the mix.

From Johnny:

The key to resolving many of our environmental issues is understanding and appreciating our relationship to place. This can be accomplished by once again becoming aware. It really is as simple as opening our eyes and ears, of taking a deep breath and savoring the flavors. From this awareness will spring humility and gratitude. And establishing this deep, even emotional connection is how we will protect, preserve and even enhance what is left of our natural world.
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Below is a list of books and resources Johnny shared as touchstones along his journey. We’d love to have these books on hand, so if you have spare copies lying around you’d like to donate, we’ll take them!

Ecology, nature writing, a sense of place, hunting/fishing as a natural human act, natural heritage, etc.

~A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
~A Rough Sort of Beauty From U of A Press

Heartsblood by David Petersen

~Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

~ The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game by Paul Shepherd

~With Respect for Nature by J. Claude Evans

~ Walden by HD Thoreau

Scots-Irish culture:

~ Albion’s Seed by David Hacket Fischer

~ Cracker Culture by Grady McWhiney

~ Ozark Magic and Folklore by Vance Randolph

Poetry:

~ Anything by Mary Oliver Anything by Gary Snyder

In recent year’s Johnny has become a well-known nature and wildlife writer. Here are a few of some of his best pieces.

Read more of Johnny’s writings here:

“Through my veins” Hatch magazine.
http://www.hatchmag.com/articles/through-my-veins/7713452
 “So what do the creeks mean to you, Johnny?” The documentary producer asked me this question while we were standing on the banks of Big Creek in Newton County, Arkansas, while videoing a segment for his upcoming documentary.

 

“A Personal Rewilding” Hatch magazine

Click here to read: http://www.hatchmag.com/articles/personal-rewilding/7713477

“If you don’t know who Aldo Leopold was, please, stop reading and do a Google search. I’m not kidding. If you’re into fish and wildlife and healthy ecosystems and how biological systems — from the formation of proteins on up to the biosphere — hinge on one another to encourage and enable life on this…”

hatchmag.com

“Hallelujah” – ABOUT…the River Valley Online

 Throaty hoots of a great horned owl echo through the trees as I swig the last lukewarm coffee and gently close the truck door. Hunting license — check. Shotgun — check. Pocketful of shells — check. Apple and water bottle — check. Keys slide into a front pocket and into the dark woods I go. …

 

“The New Normal” –Hatch magazine

August in Arkansas. Lawns dried to a crispy, dusty brown. Bathwater lake temperatures, creeks cinched down to trickling riffles with pools full of hungry smallmouth bass. Day after day of 95-105 degree sunshine, which seems a damn near impossible combination with the ungodly and stifling humidity …”

“Work of the Quiet Mountains” | Arkansas Life
  In Newton County, there is the rugged terrain and native culture. But there are also devotees of Buddhism and an aging population of back-to-the-landers, all of whom have come from far-flung places. And somehow, they fit together

arkansaslife.com

“Last Word” | Arkansas Life
 http://arkansaslife.com/catch-and-release/#/

Chocolate-milk-colored seeps and tinkling rocky rivulets no wider than a long stride are the most persuasive. I know the denizens of those tiny waters, and they call as well. They whisper of a time that seems not long ago when all I wanted could be found at the end of a long dirt drivew…
arkansaslife.com
“Little Lives of the Creek”
My first memories of a creek trace back to Hacker Creek. As water runs its course, Hacker transforms it from the spirited rapids of the Ozark Mountains to the somber brown might of the Arkansas River. Topography is the deciding influence for any creek’s personality, and Hacker reflects the gentler r…

 

“A Sense of Place on Your Plate” – ABOUT…the River Valley Online
Fire and meat. Is there a pairing more quintessentially human than fire and meat? The hunks of whitetail tenderloin in front of me just came off the grill. Seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and just a dash of crushed red pepper they were every bit as mouth-watering delicious as they looked.…

 About Johnny:

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Johnny Sain is an Atkins native who now lives in Dover. He’s a hunter, writer, editor, and environmentalist and has been referred to as a “philosophical hillbilly.”  You can read of his writings via his site, A View from the Backroads. 

 

 

 


All Hands on Deck Weaving: Sunday Afternoons at the McElroy House

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Jeannie shows a visitor how to knit.

This year all of our skill shares and workshops will focus on the concept of HOME. Thanks to a generous grant from Alternate ROOTS, we are able to fund more artisans, artists, and speakers to come offer classes and workshops.

Every Sunday we are offering All Hands on Deck weaving, a knitting and crochet circle open to everyone. We’ll supply you with yarn and any other tools you need to get started. We also open up our library, we have free wifi, and our garden is started to bloom!

Jeanie had this to say about the Sunday gatherings:

Funny, but the living room conversations take me back to when I was growing up and my family would travel across town to spend a good chunk of the day visiting another family whose mother was my mother’s best friend. It has been about forty years since I last visited with my sisters and parents. Both my parents and one sister have already passed, but those relationships I have with that family are still going strong. Those children I grew up with are like my own siblings. When I visit those elderly parents, we share memories of my parents and my sister. I have never had relationships like that in my life. The living room conversations remind me that it takes a long time to build relationships, but it is that connecting that defines home.

As with everything we do at the McElroy House, there are multi-layered goals. Bringing yarns together can mean many things. Come join us in creating a web.

Together we can build beloved community and support all our neighbors!

Click here to RSVP!


An Afternoon of Home: Poetry, Pies, and a Conversation with Hunter Johnny Sain

 

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Hunter, environmentalist and writer Johnny Sain will lead a discussion entitled “The Nature of Here.

Join us Saturday February 18th for an afternoon of events!

~ 3:00 Poetry and Pies: An intergenerational poetry workshop with yummy pies

~ 5:00: The Nature of Here: A Conversation with Hunter Johnny Sain.

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The details:

 

We’ll begin at 3:00 with an interactive workshop on poetry and pies. Samantha Dill, local educator, will lead a poetry activity, “How Do You Turn Yourself Into a Poem?” This is an all ages activity for children and elders alike. During the workshop you can enjoy some locally made pies and hear the stories behind them!

Beginning at 5:00 we’ll host a potluck and community conversation with local hunter and writer Johnny Sain.

 

Johnny Sain is an Atkins native who now lives in Dover. He’s a hunter, writer, editor, and environmentalist and has been referred to as a “philosophical hillbilly.” He’ll be leading an open community conversation on the importance of what makes this place home. From Johnny:

 

A “sense of place” is best described as recognizing the identity and character of a location. It’s an understanding of what makes here “here.” Various aspects such as flora, fauna, topography, climate, and history can all contribute to the distinct aura of the place you call home. An awareness of place is the foundation of culture. But sadly, this awareness is dwindling.

 

The key to resolving many of our environmental issues is understanding and appreciating our relationship to place. This can be accomplished by once again becoming aware. It really is as simple as opening our eyes and ears, of taking a deep breath and savoring the flavors. From this awareness will spring humility and gratitude. And establishing this deep, even emotional connection is how we will protect, preserve and even enhance what is left of our natural world.

 

Potluck will begin at 5:00 with the conversation starting around 5:30. Bring a peanut free dish to share or just bring yourself. Kids always welcome. Please let us know in advance so we make sure to have enough room!

Call 479-957-0551 for more information

 

Links to the fb invites:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1827152470867912/

https://www.facebook.com/events/1382117515156247/


These events are part of our year-long series focusing on the theme of HOME.  Thanks so much to Alternate ROOTS for helping us fund these events and give money back to the community.