Category Archives: Community

My fellow Americans

NOTE: I am not interested in getting into arguments about political issues on this blog. Anyone posting hateful comments about our new president, our current president, any other political figure, or any of the people who supported any of these figures will be banished to the spam filter. Don’t like it? Go here to sign up for your own blog.

Earlier this week, Americans went to the polls to voice their support for the man they thought most likely to effect positive change in this country. After a hard-fought campaign on both sides, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois — a dynamic public speaker and a Paul Simon protege — was elected the 44th President of the United States of America.

I voted for Obama. My reasons were many, but in the end, they came down to one: I like the way I feel when I hear Obama speak.

I don’t mean that he tells me what I want to hear so I can feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I mean that he motivates me to get off my duff and go do something for my country.

I have always agreed with Ross Perot’s assertion that the presidency is basically the world’s greatest bully pulpit — a position from which one individual has the ability to influence millions of other individuals to effect positive change.

Bill Clinton understood that. George H.W. Bush understood that. Remember his inaugural address? “I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good….” (I’m still trying to figure out how, in 20 years, we got from there to here. I suspect political science professors will be studying that for a long time.)

Ronald Reagan understood. I’m too young to remember Jimmy Carter’s words as president, but based on his work with Habitat for Humanity and other organizations in the years since he left the White House, I think there’s little doubt that he understood, too.

For a moment, just after Sept. 11, 2001, I had the feeling that George W. Bush understood. He said some things that gave me hope. He reassured me that despite the uncertainties in the economy following the terrorist attacks, the best thing I could do for my country would be to go forward with the purchase of a home Ron and I had found and liked. I appreciated that, and we responded by closing on the house.

Somewhere along the way, however, the wheels fell off, and the president stopped inspiring me. I think I was not alone. And I think that may have something to do with why the country is not in as good a shape now as it was then.

Others may disagree, but I have always believed that — to quote George Orwell — “if there was hope, it lay in the proles.”

For me, Perot’s “bully pulpit” definition of the presidency is the most important aspect of that office. I’ve never counted on my government to get anything right. I’m a little too cynical to believe that politicians have my best interests at heart or that they’re going to do right by me if I’ll just get out of the way and let them. If government were capable of solving the world’s problems, communism would work. It doesn’t, because government isn’t.

The grassroots, on the other hand, has the power to change the world. Don’t believe me? Contrast the Southern Baptists’ response to Hurricane Katrina with FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

I’m not naive enough to rely on my president to solve my problems. But I like for him to give me my marching orders. I want him to tell me what needs to be done. I want him to tell me what I personally can do. And I want him to believe I can do it.

That may be a simple, small thing, but it’s in millions of simple, small things that we find our nation’s real power and its real identity.

Here’s hoping that President Obama can inspire all of us to do the simple, small things that will make a big difference in the coming years.

Emily

People in your neighborhood

I volunteered to work a booth at Neighborfest on Tuesday night at Reed Park.

I think the turnout was pretty good. I wound up sharing a table with Katy from RedFork Main Street after we realized the tables were really big and our collections of handouts and goodies were not quite sufficient to fill two separate tables.

Our local high school principal/Main Street veep played blues guitar during the talent show. I thought he sounded pretty good.

Princess Wiggly and her family showed up. Wiggly liked the free stuff. Here she is with a popsicle in her hand and a Frisbee on her head. (I assume the Frisbee was standing in for her usual tiara.) Her brother came to see me a little later, but he had a gymnastics lesson that conflicted with part of the festivities.

Katy and Nancy from RedFork Main Street had time for a brief visit before things really got rolling.

I think the Neighborfest block parties are a good idea. Mayor Taylor started them a couple of years ago. The city sponsors a block party in a different ward each week in the summer. The city councilor for that ward shows up, and all the local civic and nonprofit organizations can set up booths to distribute information and materials. Borden brings a truck and hands out free ice cream and popsicles, and the fire department brings the “smoke house” so kids can practice escaping from a burning building. It’s a nice way to give families something to do, and it gives everybody a chance to talk to their elected officials and learn about the services and organizations in their neighborhood.

Emily

A word to my staff

I’ve been richly blessed with wonderful friends who have been very quick to hand me leads on job opportunities since last Tuesday’s bloodletting. Having lined up something for myself, I am now collecting leads and passing them along to former CW staffers who might want to put in applications.

If all of the folks who worked at Community World would be so kind as to e-mail me their resumes and a list of things they might be interested in doing, I will be happy to play matchmaker by forwarding information about possible job opportunities to those who are qualified for the positions I hear about. Just e-mail me at sundayjohn66 (at) mac (dot) com, and I’ll make sure to connect you with anything I hear about that sounds like it might be up your alley. Once you find something, you can pay it forward by doing the same for the ones who haven’t found anything.

I will, of course, be happy to write letters of recommendation for anyone who needs them, too.

And if any of my readers in the Tulsa area are aware of job openings that might be a good fit for some very bright, talented reporters, editors, and proofreaders whose integrity and work ethic I can absolutely vouch for, please let me know so I can put you in touch with them.

Thanks a bunch,

Emily

Somewhere that’s green

When we moved to this neighborhood, I was trying to figure out how to describe it, and the best I could come up with was that I felt as if we were living in the “tract house that we share somewhere that’s green” from Little Shop of Horrors — it’s a safe, quiet neighborhood full of little houses with kids and dogs playing in the yard. An ice-cream truck comes through now and then, and there’s a mom-and-pop grocery store a couple of miles away. It’s like the whole neighborhood is secretly a wormhole to 1958.

This afternoon, I was on the phone with my mom when the little girl across the street wandered onto my porch to do something I’d read about but never actually seen anyone do:

She asked to borrow a cup of milk, because she’d run out in the middle of making something.

I had to ask her to repeat the request, because it was just too perfect to be believed. I’d just been thinking about how much I love living in Red Fork and how excited I am about working for our Main Street program, and here came my young neighbor to confirm what I’d long suspected: I live in the best neighborhood in Tulsa.

A cup of milk.

I think we just one-upped the popsicle test.

Emily

Almost time!

Two hours to showtime. I’m just about ready, too … just a few last-minute touches to take care of in the next couple of hours (like getting Ron up so I can make the bed), and we’ll be good to go.

One last time: If you’re in the Tulsa area and need something to do today, the Tulsa Solar Home Tour starts at 11 a.m. and goes to 5 p.m. You can start at any of the three participating sites and visit them in any order you like. You can find a flier with directions and details here.

I’m really looking forward to this event. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about living lightly on the earth — people always seem to think you have to spend a lot of money or live like Laura Ingalls Wilder to reduce your environmental footprint, but that just hasn’t been the case for us at all. You can do some expensive (solar panels) or labor-intensive (organic gardening) things, but most of what we’ve done here is simple, inexpensive stuff that anybody could do with a minimum of effort.

I hope we get a big turnout, of course, but even if just one person shows up, sees what we’re doing, and gets inspired to install a few CFLs or turn the thermostat back a few degrees this winter, it will have been worth the effort.

It’s going to be a good day.

Emily

100 miles of MIO

I was looking at my blog stats today, and I noticed an incoming link from a site called Rise Up Buffalo. I clicked the link to find a Buffalo, N.Y.-based blog devoted to community activism, environmental responsibility, and various other crunchy-granola-type issues near and dear to my heart.

One interesting thing I found on Rise Up Buffalo was a link to the 100-Mile Diet, a site run by Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon, who spent a year eating nothing but food that was produced within 100 miles of their home in Vancouver, B.C. The site is designed to help people reduce their dependence on food that’s been shipped in from who-knows-where and increase their support of local farmers.

Their adventures in thinking globally and eating locally reminded me of Judith Levine, who spent a year buying nothing except absolute essentials; Heather Hughes and Hanson Hosein, who shopped indie all the way across the United States while filming a documentary about the plight of the small business owner, and my own monthlong foray into shopping locally, which eventually led to the creation of my Indie Tulsa blog.

Although my all-indie-all-the-time experiment lasted only a month, it was relatively painless, and while I’ve gotten lazy and gone back to the big boxes more than I’d like to admit since then, it definitely raised my awareness and increased the amount of time and money I spend at locally owned businesses.

After a frustrating conversation last week with a friend who couldn’t understand why I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart and an eerie Big-Brother-is-watching-you experience at Target (after I paid for my purchases with my Target Visa card, I received a coupon for my favorite brand of conditioner, even though I hadn’t bought any that day, so apparently Target is keeping tabs on my hair-care procedures), I’m thinking maybe it’s time to take another stand against mindless consumerism and move another step closer to an all-indie lifestyle.

My schedule and other commitments don’t really allow me the luxury of cooking every meal at home for an entire year (and, frankly, it would break my heart to abandon the mom-and-pop diner scene for that long), but with a little planning, there’s no reason I can’t buy all my groceries at farmers’ markets or Center One (CAUTION: Music starts automatically), insist on Made In Oklahoma products whenever possible, and confine my shopping to mom-and-pop operations as far as I can.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Emily

Thanks!

I was busy listening to the Cubs’ ill-fated attempt at postseason redemption this evening, so I missed the Okie Blogger Roundup over at Hideaway Pizza on Cherry Street … where, as it turns out, I apparently fared much better than Chicago’s boys in blue.

I got online a minute ago to see whether Yet Another Small Town Moment had won an Okie Blogger Award (it hadn’t, but go read it anyway, because it’s one of my favorites), and lo and behold, I discovered that Red Fork Hippie Chick had won the Best Inspirational Blog category.

In retrospect, I probably should have ditched the Cubs, grabbed my laptop, and grabbed a slice or two with the bloggers. I’m sure no one would have minded if I kept one eye on the MLB Web site while I celebrated my own victory and drowned my sorrows over the Cubs’ loss with a giant chocolate-chip cookie.

Ah, well. Just wait ’til Maybe next year.

In the meantime, if I were going to make an insufferable little acceptance speech, I would have to thank everybody who voted for me; Ron, who helped me start this blog; the late Jim Jung, whose Waterman and Hill-Traveller’s Companion was my initial inspiration; Mary Baker Eddy, whose writings underpin most of my riffs on faith; my Primary class teacher, who doesn’t seem to mind the fact that he is doomed to spend the rest of his earthly existence answering my incessant questions about Christian Science; and, of course, the source of all right ideas: God.

But really, y’all … thanks to those of you who voted for me, and to those of you who weren’t eligible to vote for me but would have if you could, and to those of you who didn’t vote for me but are kind enough to read me even if I’m not your favorite. (“Tree people out there, God bless you. I’m singing for you, too.”*)

It means a lot to hear that my small effort to put something positive into the blogosphere and uplift others’ thoughts a little bit is having the desired effect. Thanks for the recognition. 🙂

Congratulations to all the winners and all the nominees … and a big thanks to all the great bloggers — in Oklahoma and beyond — who keep me informed, enlightened, and entertained every day. Speaking as a busybody, I appreciate your willingness to open your hearts and lives to a complete stranger every day just to give me something to read. When you think about it, that’s a pretty amazing gift.

Emily

* First person to identify the source of that quote wins a fabulous prize.

UPDATE: On a totally unrelated note, I have been playing around with the idea of making some changes to the look of my blog, so I may be test-driving different templates and header images over the next few days to see how they work before I settle on something permanent. Please bear with me….

Goodnight moon

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I was coming back from a QuikTrip run a few minutes ago when I noticed a dazzlingly bright star or planet or something twinkling near the moon. It was so bright that I decided to try to shoot it. I don’t have a zoom lens for this camera, so I couldn’t bring it as close as I would have liked, but the fact that I got anything at all should tell you how intense it was.

I spent most of today painting the house. I still have to paint the trim, but at least the white is on there. I’ll eventually paint the garage to match, but the important thing was just to get the house painted white so it would reflect heat instead of absorbing it. It’s already making a difference: When I put my hand on the wall this afternoon, all the white parts were cool to the touch, and all the dark parts were hot.

Here are before-and-after shots of the back wall:

Before:
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After:
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Admit it: You’d love to be sitting out there on my awesome deck. I need to get some more fuel for the tiki torches and maybe buy a smallish chiminea to set out there and some firefly lights to hang off the pergola. It would be nice to burn pinon wood and watch the lights twinkle and listen to the fountain and the frogs and hang out with the dogs out there. If I were about 20 years younger, I’d take a sleeping bag out there. Maybe when Jamie gets bigger, I’ll get him a tent, and we can have campouts on the deck and toast marshmallows over a buddy burner and stuff.

Here is a thing I love about Red Fork: It’s the kind of place where you can do stuff like camping out in the yard with your nephew without having to fear for your safety. Every yard contains at least one dog, so nobody can sneak up on you, and people tend to watch out for each other.

Speaking of dogs, my next-door neighbor had the cutest puppy in his yard this afternoon. It’s a little buttermilk-colored pit bull. If it were a horse, you’d describe its coat as “buckskin.” I forget what that color is called on dogs, but it’s very pretty.

I saw a big bluejay on the back fence as I was putting my paint and stuff away this evening. It was really pretty. I also saw a mockingbird attacking some kind of bug in the middle of Frankoma Road this afternoon on my way back from lunch at the Happy Burger.

I think that’s all for today. I have to work in the nursery at church tomorrow, and then I’m going to come home and spend some time painting trim. I ought to lay out the Oklahoma Route 66 Association newsletter, but what I really want to do next is figure out how to make a sock monkey. I don’t know why, but I have decided that I need to learn to make sock monkeys. I think I spend too much time looking at Craftster….

Emily

Travel my way

“Shall we plead for more at the open fount, which is pouring forth more than we accept?”
— Mary Baker Eddy

People sometimes ask why I drive Route 66 every summer instead of finding new places to go on vacation. “Why would you want to see the same stuff over and over?” they ask. “Why not see something different?”

My response is always the same: I don’t see the same stuff over and over. I might drive past the same things over and over, but driving past is not the same thing as seeing. Looking over my photos from this morning, I realized that most of them were new additions to my collection — things I’d never once stopped to shoot in all the times I’ve driven down Southwest Boulevard (a.k.a. Route 66) since we moved to Red Fork. It’s all right here in my own neighborhood, yet I never seem to see it.

Some examples:

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I think this is an old hardware store. It breaks my heart to think of all the indie hardware stores we’ve lost over the years.

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Ford panel truck outside Billy Ray’s BBQ.

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Roses in front of an apartment house.

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Midway Trailer Court sign. I shot this once before, on a cold, icy afternoon in 2006 … but I think it looks completely different with a dazzling spring sky behind it.

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How long do you suppose this old hat shop has been closed? When was the last time you saw a lady wearing a hat?

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If I could, I would buy this building and turn it into my own personal office/playhouse/whatever. I just love little teeny buildings. Especially little teeny buildings with better than half a century of history behind them.

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A rose bush thrives at the corner of the property where the late Shady Rest Court once stood.

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Wildflowers grow along a chain-link fence on an overpass above I-244.

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I-244 overpass. The interstate sliced through Red Fork, effectively cutting the neighborhood in half.

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Sign of the times: You used to find big, elaborate metal hubcaps lying in gutters next to 66. Now all the hubcaps are plastic, and you just see broken pieces of them here and there.

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A used-car lot and auto repair shop occupies this old service station next to Crystal City. Note the neon “USED CARS” sign in the window.

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The old Crystal City shopping center sign’s colorful design hints at the property’s former life as a once-popular amusement park. Efforts are afoot to redevelop Crystal City and restore it to its former glory. I wish the next owner would buy the Zingo roller coaster from Bell’s and put it in the parking lot. I’m told the original Zingo was at Crystal City. How cool would it be if it came full circle? I’m terrified of roller coasters, but if Crystal City got Zingo back, I would ride it at least once, just for the sake of history.

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Yellow Submarine is long gone, but its sign still remains. The building now houses a very good Bill and Ruth’s with a very friendly owner whose mama helps in the kitchen, making killer falafel and baklava and all kinds of other wonderful treats.

This is 66: beauty and history and a million untold stories, and if you go too fast, you miss all of it.

This is true in all aspects of our lives, isn’t it? How many times do we overlook things because we’re in a hurry, or we’re preoccupied with our problems, or we don’t think they have anything to offer? How many people do we see every day but more or less ignore because we think we have nothing in common with them, no reason to talk to them, nothing to learn from them? How many blessings do we overlook because we just aren’t paying attention? How many times do we get so busy wishing and hoping and dreaming and praying for bigger-better-faster-more that we overlook the beauty and richness that’s all around, just waiting to bless us?

I love the sentiment in this little e-card about the best way to express gratitude. (Music starts as soon as you click “play,” so be sure and turn down the speakers if it’s likely to bother anybody. The music is nice but isn’t really necessary for you to be able to understand the message.)

Go find something or someone to appreciate this weekend.

Emily

Weekend

I still have 19 things left on my to-do list, but I’ve done some things that weren’t on the list, too, so I haven’t been totally unproductive today.

The weather today was absolutely gorgeous — the high was supposed to be 60, but I think it exceeded that, because it’s 58 right now, and I know it was much warmer this afternoon. Ron fixed spaghetti carbonara for lunch, using a recipe he got out of this month’s Saveur magazine, and then we went up to St. Simeon’s to visit my friend Laurel, who is recuperating from a little adventure with her health. I pulled last year’s tomato stakes and spent vines out of the garden while Ron was cooking. It was nice to get out there and work in the garden for a little while. The garlic is looking healthy. I think we’ll have a good crop this year.

I also found time to make a flier promoting my Indie Tulsa site. I designed it to look sort of gritty and anti-Establishment:

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Oh, yeah — Indie Tulsa has its own domain name now, too, as you see on the flier. I used GoDaddy.com, which let me have a domain name for $9 a year and had a pretty simple process for setting up a redirect. Hopefully the domain name will help in promoting the site.

I walked the dogs and cleaned the bathroom this evening. I actually jogged a few blocks with Scout and Jason, which was nice. Can’t believe how out of shape I’ve gotten in three months.

I’m working on a little present for Laurel’s birthday, which is next weekend. I’ll post all about it when I get it finished.

I’m going to zip over to the S&S in a few minutes to pick up some odds and ends and leave a few fliers, and then I’ll get to work on Laurel’s present, my mural, and a couple of other loose ends I’d like to tie up before this weekend is out.

Hope you had a beautiful, productive weekend, too.

Emily