Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2011

A detail of a mat

It has been quite a year for many engaged humans in the long term care communities of Chicago thanks to Ruth Wertler, Life Enrichment Coordinator, and her residents of Bethesda Home and Retirement and many others who have been inspired to make.  You can check out another article of many about this special community and others inspired to change the culture of elder communities.

One year ago was the launch of the Chicago area New Life for Old Bags (NLOB).  As of January 4th there were 137 mats completed (with approximately 95,900 grocery type bags rescued from going to landfills) and distributed through area soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

So many gatherings, counted hrs and uncounted hours of purposeful engagement of elders in a long term care community.  Purposeful.  Not a “sense of purpose” but purposeful as Ruth reminded many of us during a presentation of the NLOB project to those of us also working in long term care.

The project is wonderful and mindful on so many levels that it is difficult to share all of the human connections this project embraces.  Corporations, churches, schools, staff, families, restaurant of an art center, and neighbors all have been educated about the project and have assisted in some way and so many ways over the last year.

Some statistics were shared at each table (and during each presentation) that Ruth has conducted:

Statistics of Homelessness in Chicago in 2009/2010

Here is  a quick slide show of some of the images taken today (think this X many hands, many people many locations and you will have a small grasp of this herculean project):

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The benefits to this project are truly endless but as an artist and a recreation therapist I can’t help but share a few:  social engagement, physical benefits, earth benefits, creation of a broad sense of community and our place in it, anticipation and cognitive stimulation, and just plain old FUN!!!  One cannot also help but mention what the excessive use of plastic does for our environment so the benefits for our environment are huge also.

A recent client of Cornerstone Community Outreach was observed with his mat under his arm while waiting in line for healthy food.  This is the quote from the email from the staff member at Cornerstone “Ruth, last Friday when I was serving lunch at Cornerstone, a guy came in line with one of the “bag mats” rolled up under his arm. I asked him about it and he smiled so wide as he said that it was fine and he was glad to have it. It is so humbling to think that this man who has to carry all his belongings with him considers that mat something of such value that he is willing to carry it everywhere he goes. Tell your NLFOB crew that what they do does make a difference. Thank you!”

Ruth honored many participants today at her community and I just had to share some images and videos of the event.  Several people in attendance couldn’t even take a break and kick back, they had to keep their hands busy making more plarn, mats, and friends.  Special thanks for First Slice Pie Cafe for the wonderful treats served for everyone.  A partner in caring for people less fortunate too.

Here are some of those in attendance working…

and

and here the crocheting…

It is an honor to know Ruth Werstler and I look forward to Ruth and many others leading the way to a purposeful life no matter one’s age.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Finally, I get to share more about The Cornettes – Advocates for Urban Agriculture thanks to a Midwestern panic (and now a two foot reality!) about snow.  Here is our back yard and front yard this afternoon.  Bring it on!

WGN Around Town with Ana Belaval and The Cornettes - (L-R) Lin Shook Schalek (founder, choreographer, dancer of Perception Motion, Inc), me, and Stephanie Samuels (artist and proprietor of Angel Food Bakery). Those two dear friends met me at the studio at 6:00 am!

Firstly, I am going to finally give credit to Phyllis Gilmore for naming The Cornettes.  Phyllis is an Activity Director I have been working with for nearly a decade in the recreation therapy/consulting part of my life.  She is a creative at heart and when we were talking about naming “my girls” she exclaimed “How about The Cornettes?!?!?!”  … and so they were named.  Fast forward a few weeks later and there was Phyllis listening/watching Around Town with Ana Belaval of WGN and they announced “Up next, The Cornettes!”  She spun around in her chair to see none other than The Cornettes on am Chicago TV!  Thanks so much Phyllis!

The three Cornette costumes (following Summer Sweet-the first Cornette before The Cornettes were The Cornettes) were commissioned by the Chicago Office of Tourism City of Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs.  (The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs has been an amazing support to many local visual and performing artists.)  Check out their Chicago Artist Resource site.

Several events later including The Great Performers of Illinois at Millenium Park, Herb Nadelhoffer’s 80th birthday, The County Fair at Garfield Park Conservatory, Art meets Ag show at UW Platteville’s Nohr Gallery with this delightful blog post, The Corn Ball (part of the Legacy Project and The Fields Project, in Ogle County, IL, Slow Food Eat In for healthy school lunches in Daley Plaza (somehow Peemoeller must have missed us), Corn Celebrations at Lillstreet Art Center, Hand Harvested at Tojo Gallery, and many Cornette costume wearers that include but are not limited to the following women:

Annie Abdelnour, Jorkill Almanzar, Zoe Anderson, Sarah Aubry, Helene Alter Deich, Jennifer Dotson, Nicole Gotthelf, Vickie Hayes, Nancy Little, Colleen Lovinello, Amber Mathews, Susan Melcher and mother Sue Melcher, Donna Neuwirth, Lindsay Obermeyer, Corinne D. Peterson, Galadriel Rosen, Ariel Rubin, Stephanie Samuels, Lin Shook Schalek, Mary Lou Wehrli, Sojourner Wright, Jiyeon Yim, and Mary Zehnder.  Thanks everyone!  You have worn the costume well.

Commonly asked questions of The Cornettes – Advocates for Urban Agriculture

“Why do only women get to wear the costume?”

Some may know that the kernel is the female part of the plant.  Here is a clear explanation of the botany of the lovely an ancient Zea Mays.  That is why we introduced Paul E. Nator (worn by Bart Conklin, summer intern from UW Platteville in 2010) in 2010.  We will see how the tassel fits in while juggling wooden corn cobs in future appearances.

“What do they do?”

First, they look lovely don’t they?  In this world of “entertain me” though that clearly has not been enough!  They tell corny jokes, corn facts, talk about urban agriculture and growing their own food (especially keeping urban chickens – yes it is legal!), and plenty of photo opportunities.  In 2010 we debuted their song Let us Grow Some Sweetcorn, sung to the tune of Let me Call you Sweetheart along with Paul E. Nator the corn juggler.  The conversations with people from around the world and in Chicago high rises have been wonderful.  See one here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“How do you get to be a Cornette?”

Talk to me.  If you enjoy being with people, love to be a ham, and have a passion for growing your own food and educating others about food systems, you are most of the way there!  I am always looking for new talent!  Honestly, some of the events are paid and I share the income and some of the events are “guerilla” ie. unpaid but very necessary to call attention to our food and growing needs and issues thereof.

How could I book The Cornettes for my event?

Write to me via this blog by commenting.  Let’s talk about your needs, your event, and how The Cornettes – Advocates for Urban Agriculture can add some fun while learning about growing one’s own food.

I hope you have enjoyed some of the wonderful images over the last couple of years and look forward to Dakota Black Popcorn, the final Cornette addition in 2011!  She is going to be beautiful!!!

Read Full Post »