Chicago’s Lakefront and Public Places in Perspective: a conclusion

Sadly, my ritual Intelligentsia coffee shoppe in the Monadock building was closed on the weekends.  Luckily, I found another nearby location. Granted the décor is more industrial in theme, I do prefer the marble, art deco stylings of the Monadock location. However, the coffee is fantastic,  the croissant yummie, free WiFi and the atmosphere is conducive to writing.  What more could a girl want?  Also worth noting, Carl, another NEH participant from my work table, is equally enthralled with good coffee, as am I.  He has been visiting the same Intelligentsia coffee shops, and we often chat as we pass each others’ table.  To my chagrin, they sell a blend of coffee ( sold out at the time of my visit) aptly named Librarian’s blend.  However, it is a decaf blend.  It is marketed as

This blend is representative of the soul of the librarian: steady, reassuring, and always there with that slight edge of eccentricity. It has a bold base with a bit of sparkle.

Obviously, they do know us very well…….

As a group, we discussed what we have learned this week and how we will be applying it to our classrooms in our hometowns.   This sharing of ideas has lit a spark with me.  I have a number of ideas for my final project.  Each participant is expected to produce (within one month of our departure) a plan for a final lesson   with our students, geared to the age we teach. Many of my fellow participants have turned in their lesson plans today.  I have elected to mull it over more and will email my plans in within the week. I have a number of ideas, but need to sift through and clarify it on paper.

Today is a day of great sadness.  It is the final day of our National Endowment for the Humanities, Landmarks in American History program.   I would like to thank Dr. Mark Newman, Dr. Costas Spirou, Dr. Larry Bennett for organizing this program to inspire teachers (and those of us who work with school children) to inject a different perspective into our lessons.  All three lecturers were extremely knowledgeable of their subject field, all three were engaging.  My particular favorite lecturer was Dr.  Larry Bennett. His humor and light personality was injected into each lecture and tour he gave.  I am truly honored to have been selected for this program and am leaving with a refreshed outlook as well as rejuvenated approach to my library program. Participants were treated like professionals, yet it has been an enriching week as that the group got along so well.  I can feel like I am leaving the NEH Chicago program with something in my hand (a practical lesson plan), something in my head (I have a new outlook on public spaces) as well as something in my belly (the hospitality was incredible!).  Finally, I would like to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities for offering the Landmarks in American History program.  While numerous government programs are being scrutinized during budget cutbacks, this program’s offerings are invaluable and should not be slashed.

I would also like to thank the University Center staff for accommodating our group of 40 teachers.  The University Center, during summer months, operates as a downtown hotel.  At a very reasonable rate, they offer clean modern dorm rooms, with a private or semi private bath, in a prime location of downtown Chicago, in the education corridor.  The Loop, CTA lines, as well as many historic sites and museums are well within walking distance of the University Center.

Upon the noon time, final dismissal of our program, many participants dashed back to the Uni Center to collect their luggage and depart for the airport.  A number of us stayed for a final afternoon, to depart on Sunday.  I felt a sense of bittersweet sadness.  I have so very much enjoyed this week, learning, travelling, meeting new people from across the country and exchanging fresh ideas.

 After walking back with my roommate, Rebecca, we said goodbye in our room. One of the major reasons I enjoyed this week was that I had found myself rooming with another teacher who was very much like me, personality wise.  We had a ball; sharing some of the activities together and laughing constantly.

After bidding Rebecca adieu, I decided the afternoon should be spent at the Robbie House in Hyde Park.  I have been itching to take the Wright 3 tour, given by school aged, docent trained children of the Frank Lloyd Wright house.  The beauty of this tour is that it is given from the perspective of the Wright 3 book (a children’s book) by Blue Bailliet.  I toured the house, witnessing the patio were the workman in the story fell, were Tommy found the oriental fish talisman in the children’s play yard, the windows which ‘sighed’, and the Invisible man embedded in the stain glass window, Tommy’s neighboring apartment complex where he lived.  After being in the house in person, it did not feel as haunted as the book implied, though it certainly had a ‘presence’; its own breathing ‘life’.  I was ecstatic to finally take in this historic home.

After the tour,  I walked about Hyde Park, a very gentrified neighborhood,  which boasts some fabulous architecture, bookshoppes  (to support the University of Chicago) and is home to many prestigious families…including the First Family, the Obamas.  I stopped to grab a cold soda pop at Medici’s bakery, which turns out to be the Obama’s favorite neighborhood bakery.  I was able to take the #6 bus back to the downtown Loop, to return to my room to rest…..a half empty room, as that Rebecca and her belongings are now off to their next adventure.

I ate a quick supper at the University Center. From there, I also took a trip up to the Hancock building, up to the  96th floor lounge  to enjoy the view.  At twilight the city is being to twinkle with lamination.  This was an interesting experience to compare with my trip to the top of Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) two years ago.  While that was 180 floors up, the Hancock view was not as high, though I felt much more prettier and accessible view of the skyline, somehow.  I still do not like heights……..Adjacent to the Hancock Center is the Watertower Plaza.  A second stop at the Lego store has provided me with another prezzie to tuck away for Christmas. (Ironically, the sales clerk remembered me from my visit on Monday. He greeted me by name! How impressive!) I was then able to sit in the Millennium Park to enjoy an outdoor concert.  One of the many benefits of Chicago’s public places during the summer months are the many free, quality concerts in the parks.

The Future of Public Place in a Global Age

This morning began,  much as  my mornings this week  have all begun…with a yummie café au lait and a chocolate croissant at the Intelligentsia café.  It felt ever so bittersweet, as that they will be closed on  the weekends ( serving primarily the office workers in the neighboring Federal Building).    The ever so friendly baristas  pointed out  the Millennium Park location is open on the weekends.   So breakfast/ blogging time on Saturday  and Sunday is no longer in jeopardy.

Today’s agenda was a busy one,   This morning, Dr. Bennett ( while all of our NEH leaders are very knowledgable, Dr. Bennett is a wonderfully engaging lecturer) briefed us before taking  Mr.  Tim Gilfoyle took  us on a walking tour of  of the North End of Millenium Park and  the 21st Century improvements.   We discussed  new visions for future  developments,  the corproate sponsorship,  the political wrangling and  technology within the park as well as funding issues. Our tour was so popular, that others outside of our group joined the tour.  We  visited the Pitzker pavillion by Frank Gehry,  gardens, the Crown fountain, the famous Cloud gate  scultpure by Anish Kapoor.  Freddy Falcon came on the tour with me. I am embarrassed to say that I caught him planking in the Boeing sculpture gardens.

Prior to  noon time we  Dr. Bennett switch gears and  discussed the   ebbs and flows of city developments, the role of lakefronts in revitailzaing cities.


After lunch  at the Uni center, our teacher leaders  offers time for the groups to work together to produce their week’s project.  Since, my group has already completed this task,  I spend part of that afternoon working on this blog posting,  and part of it at the Chicago Art Institute.  All the while thinking about what we discussed and learned this week and how we will be applying it to our classrooms

Dr. Larry Bennett, Dr. Mark Newman, Dr. Tim Gilfoyle

in our hometowns.    I have a number of ideas for my final project.  Each participant is expected to produce ( within one month of our departure)  a plan for a final lesson   with our students, geared to the age we  teach.  I know have a number of ideas, but need to sift through and  clarifiy it on paper.

By 6pm,  I felt a sense of bittersweet sadness.  I have so very much enjoyed this week, learning , travelling, meeting new people from across the country and exchanging fresh ideas.  While we will be meeting again  on Saturday morning,  it is the last official night of the program.

I had made reservations to enjoy supper at the Atwood Café,  in the Burnham

Hotel Burnham, Reliance Building, Chicago, IL

Hotel….as an ode to  the urban planner who  envisioned  a city of the future,   the core  player in this week’s lessons, Daniel Burnham.    The hotel has since gone through a revitalization….see my previous blog.  And ultimately, after a week of grabbing quick meals and eat ing cafeteria food, it is a treat to enjoy a proper meal. My roomate Rebecca joined me. We were surprised to arrive to a reserve table  with not chairs, but two loveseats as a seating.   Towards the end of this 3 hour meal,  my roommate began to slowly inch towards reclining on the sofa to enjoy her dessert.  As a pregnant lady,  the establishment did not issue a reprimand .  A three hour meal was relaxing, the conversation  enjoyable, the food savory and beyond words.

Interior of Atwood Cafe, Burnham Hotel, Chicago, IL

The rise of the modern design firm…. Holabird and Roche: a case study

NEH grant-Day 5/Thursday July 16

Willis tower, formerly Sears Tower

Willis tower, formerly Sears Tower

Today’s Chicago Tribute ran a full page article, an open letter from the CEO of the Willis Group to all Chicagoans. The renaming of the Sears Tower was  the morning buzz during our discussions.

How does the story of the architecture firm of Holabird and Roche ( now Holabrd and Root) serve as a lens for investigating the relationship between Chicago’s architectural and urban history, and its becoming a modern city? How can an architecture firm systematised the skyscraper?NEH chicago-day 4 006

Dr. Robert Bruegmann, University of Illinois at Chicago  delivered a lecture Holabird and Roche: Architects and the City. By highlighting the 15 years of research on the architecture firm of Holabird and Roche the intent is to illustrate the firm’s architectural history with the urban history of Chicago. A migration  from rural to urban, mechanisation and the industrial revolution in the 19th Century in America are all factors which causes a push/pull   help form the  perfect storm to create  the desire for skyscrapers.

The Home Insurance Building (1855) designed by William Lebaron Jenny  is seen as the  creator of the first skyscraper. There exists a myth that the Great Fire  created the skyscraper city.  Truthfully,  what happened was that the people effected rebuild exactly the same way ( which is common after a disaster) as that the infrastructure is already in place, economics  drove a need  for shoppes to get back into business quickly.

Transit  ( as part of the infrastructure)  was needed for skyscrapers to work.  Since many people had gone to live out in the outskirts of the city,  travel into the downtown core to get to their jobs. Thus street cars were  installed int he 1880s, the first elevated line came about 1890s.

Mantouck Building was build in the 1880s for the Brook Brothers of MA.  They were motivated to make money and were not looking for design or a monumental icon.  Elevators became important in transporting people vertically within taller and taller buildings.  Otis , the elevator maker,  demonstrated a ‘safe’ elevator at teh World’s Fair in 1853. Telephones and telegraph increased communication both within the building as well as between distant buildings.  This would allow  a business’s head quarters in one city and the actually  factory in another. Fire proofing allowed iron to provide a stable skeleton for a skyscraper, though by in casing it in mason (cement) would insult the metal in case of fire.  By 1890s, steel is the standard building materials for skyscrapers. it is stronger and a lighter material.

Why was is said that Jenny had the first skyscraper?  To glorify Jenny would build the cache of the birth of Chicago as a skyscraper city.

Several building booms  and then busts have occurred in Chicago ( and often felt throughout America).   1925-1929 building boom was halted   by the the Great Depression in 1929. A 1950s building boom, Post WWI,  ground to a halt during the oil crisis in the 1970s.  Building happening in 1980s and 1990s ceased during an economic downturn  due to  September 11th’s bombing attacks in New York.

Marquette Building

Marquette Building

George Fuller revolutionised  the building industry by becoming the first constructor to construct a tall building, making his profit by  finishing the building prior to the contracted time.  Contractors were first used  on the Marquette Building.

Architectural firms became more responsive to clients and the city’s needs. Chicago was not intent on creating the monumental skyscraper, but made a contribution. Architectural firms ran along the lines of a business, intent on making money  from their clients.

William Holabird was a West point grad with a business background. Martin Root was a cabinet maker but considered the genius in the firm. Both met when hired to work in Jenny’s architectural firm, then struck out on their own just before  the Great Fire, and today has celebrated their 129th anniversary.

Workshop participants  then received a guided tour of the architectural office of Holabird and Root in the Marquette Building. My group was  lead by Architect Intern, John Howard,

John Howard, Architect

John Howard, Architect

(hmm…that name sounds familiar?!) . Our group was shown some of the current projects which are  being design by this world reknowned firm.  Many of the current projects are for post secondary educational institutions, as that they tend be a more stable investment of time and energy, less to than a business which is at the wims of the economy. They are also working on a municipal library in Ohio and a Federal training campus in Arlington, VA  where civil servants will receive diplomatic training before being staffed in an embassy.  While the construction site is located in another state, one of the senior architects must travel  to the site each month of   measure the progress of the construction.

The lobby is decorated with a fantastic Tiffany Glass Company mosaics in lobby. Each panel depicts the life of Father Jacques Marquette and his settling of Chicago. While this building was constructed in the shape of a letter “E” with allows a maxium amount of sunlight into the offices.  The Elevator banks are located int eh center of the “E”.

Lobby of the Marquette Building

Lobby of the Marquette Building

Running late,  our group was excused  to pick up a quick lunch, then bring it back to eat in the classroom.  Dr. Julie Goldsmith from the NEH , held a feedback session as to the progress or needed improvements. A number of participants voiced the lack of bathroom breaks, the rushed schedule, that the CAF’s famous boat tour was absent from the schedule of events,  the lack of respectful tone which had been felt by some, a lack of information regarding our expected lesson plans to produce, a lack of break time refreshments as well as a lack of information regarding our reimbursement cheques.  Having said that, this is the first time that this program has been offered, and thus it is a learning experience for everyone. The quality of speakers has been highly scholastic and all are very energetic and informative lectures.

Our master teachers then returned to the room to contribute our program.  The group then discussed  several primary sources, such a post cards and how teachers can incorporate post cards and census reports into their lessons.  Participants then verbally shared their ideas..  We began to work in primary sources into our proposed themed lesson.  I am hopeful that clarification of the expected format will happen tomorrow, Friday.

We viewed a 20 minute silent video from the Holabrid and Root  architecture firm, filmed in what is estimated as the 20s. This was capturing a parade and the construction of the Montgomery Ward building. It was amazing to watch the lack of safety standards, workplace standards which we take for granted. On many construction sites it was not uncommon to lose one worker per floor of the building.  The class collectively gasped as  we viewed footage of one workers operating a bellows, stoking a fire to  form the rivets, then throw the rivets up to another worker. the second worker was called a ‘bucker-upper” and was responsible for  catching this glowing hot rivet in a cup, then pass it to another worker to put in place and secure.

After dismissal, I then walked up North Michigan Ave. to further look at  the skyscrapers.  From street level, there are a number of things to watch for: other pedestrians, cars, taxis turning on a pedestrian light and such.  though looking up, the beauty and ornateness can easily be lost .  As I reached the John Hancock building, it began to rain , and I without my Gortex.  Bummer.  Since the red line subway was several blocks away, I decided not to go up  to the lounge in the Hancock Center to have a drink and enjoy the view, for fear that the rain showers would become a heavier rain.

skyscraper chart

Why Chicago?

On day 2, Monday July 13, was a busy day. I was up early,around 5.40pm to shower and go down for breakfast on the 2nd floor of the University Center.  This building is a relatively new construction. I have a private bedroom in a  four bedroom unit.  This building primarily houses students during the school year.  It is a nicely appointed  facility.  If I were studying  for my university degree, I would certainly consider  residing here to complete my studies.  The third floor roof top garden  is a definite oasis.

As a completely aside note, my quad mates are  two of the people with whom I was corresponding prior to attending the program.  Sarah,  from Colorado, not only teaches art history ( my under grad studies) but spells her name correctly with an ‘H’.  Another participant,  Jennifer, is a librarian from West Virgina. My kind of people.

Prior to arriving in class, I sat in the Chicago Art Institute Gardens,  enjoying the landscaped gardens and the artwork, most notably Dragon Wings, by A. Calder.

Why Chicago?  We are asking ourselves How did Chicago’s geography impact its growth as a metropolis?  To begin the day’s activities,  Henry Binford, a North NEH Day 2 012Western University Architecture Professor, delivered a lecture  entitled Why is there a city here? .  His lecture outlined six  stages of Chicago’s history, emphasising 1830 to 1914. In 1848-1871, Chicago rose to prominence as a Midwest center.  Between 1871 to the beginning of World War One, was a period of great industrial growth with meat packing jobs, European immigrants seeking  jobs. He also addressed various obstacles to  building Chicago  in this location and how these obstacles where over come. Obstacles such as water borne issues, Niagara falls cuts off much of the transport in the Great Lakes, until the 1825 Eric Canal. The tall grasses of the prairies had deep roots, thus making farming and plowing difficult, until  the Mccormick invention of the steel edge plow.  This ability to ‘sod-bust’ allowed for farmers to work large plots of land, growing grains. (eventually the steel edge plow was manufactured here in Chicago, thus adding to the local demands for employees.)  Also, a grass prairie plains  created an absence of trees and timber…timber to build homes  and fuel during the winter months.  The final important obstacle was that there were people already here.  With the 1823 Black Hawk Treaty, many Native peoples were displaced  to reservations elsewhere.

Speculative land sales  between 1830 to 1834 financed  the cost of building a canal. Every second sale of land was directed to the canal costs.  Also, city planners went to Congress , seeking funding. By  1848: the canal was opened for commerce; railway was opened;  the Chicago Board of trade  was created to regular the sale of grains  by classifying grades and quality of the grains produced..  By 1866, Chicago was a hub for railroads into the west as well as a freight clearing house, one of the largest, even today.  The lynch pin to Chicago’s growth  was its location near the stockyards and the railways and transport facilities.

In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire started in the south west area, causing 100 000  of the 300 000 population to be homeless. By 1880, the population was returning, 500 000 population recorded.

In 1893 the World’s Fair pushed for redevelopment.  23 million people admitted to view the many marvels on display.  Chicago’s population was 1.3 million People were inspired to think what  cities could be .  City planned Burnham was called back from Washington  in 1909 to create a future plan for the city of Chicago.  He viewed Michigan Ave as a Parisien landscape with no skyscrapers.  He failed to fully understand the impact of automobiles in his urban plans.

Lunch was a quick sandwich from Palidio.  Since it was so busy at the lunch counters,  I brought my sandwich back to the classroom to eat, as not to miss the afternoon session.

During the afternoon session, we worked as a group to construct a time line.  A length of tape on the floor was our guide to  placing slips of paper in order as per the even t on each slip.  Lucky for my group, we had an American history teacher to correct our order of placement. We discussed the use of terracotta pieces, who they are fired and assembled like pieces of a puzzle to clad a building.

NEH Day 2 026By mid afternoon,  we broke into groups to write and draw our observations of Harold Washington Library.  Named after the city’s first black mayor, he sadly died of a heart attack shortly after his second re-election.  Know as a ferocious reader,  the new building subsequently honors him. Many green patina owls adore the roof line, both barn and great horned owls, symbols of knowledge; the wise old owl grasping a book in his talons.  A number of medallions in the brick word  contain the letters C-P-L- Y.  These stands for the Chicago Public Library and the Y is a reference to the   Chicago Canals, a letter to be found elsewhere in the city, sucha s on man hole covers.  NEH Day 2 029 Ribbons of grain are chiseled into the brick, as a tribute to Chicago’s status as a trade center of grains.  Cherubic faces are also found on the facade.  Ceres, the goddess of grain, as well as faces  with puffed out cheeks, as if blowing  air to you.  While one could claim that they are blowing kisses, in fact it is another tribute to the ‘windy city’,  whimsical faces as if blowing  air to the passersby. The building is 15 years old, and is typical of post modernism. It ‘borrows’ elements from  other styles and neighbouring buildings.  A Greek pediment  echos the Chicago Art Institute,  the wall structure from the neighbouring Montack building.  The building directly across the street , housing the Robert Morris College is over one hundred years old and was built to look new,  yet the library across the street  is a new building trying to look old. It is a skeletal frame building, not load bearing, a veneer of granite materials clad a portion of the building. I am looking forward to visiting inside later this week as that  the children’s room is on the second floor.

Thus architecture can be argued to be a convergence  of art and science and math connecting the eye, the heart and the brain.

This segwayed into  beginning our Curriculum development projects.  After receiving a copy of Schoolyards to Skylines ( a binder full of grade specific lessons geared to teaching architecture  in the context of  art,science, math, social studies). I began to plot out my take home lesson…a few ideas, all geared to buttressing our school theme of ‘go green’ in celebration of our new LEED Middle School building to open in January 2010.

NEH Day 2 016We discussed a few archietcuture terms to create a better understanding of how these skyscrapers are build: post and beam, load bearing, skeletal construction, curtain wall, truss.  We also toured an upper floor of the Santa Fe building to better understand the  construction of a light tube, thus maximizing  light for workers on the inside of the building.   With a few modern modifications,  the building now is enclosed,  hallways are on the interior, all offices face the exterior of a building.

NEH Day 2 031Finally, all participants walked across the street to the Millennium park for a group photo in front of the mirrored jelly bean, entitled Cloud Gate by British artist Anish Kapoor. It is a sculpture which was assembled on site,  a steel frame with a series of mirrored panels  attached to the form, then the seams  were buffed out,  resulting in a smooth mirror like surface.

NEH Day 2 033From there, I dashed back to my room to change and head off to the Magnificent Mile.  Beside the John Hancock building,  the American Girl Cafe  waited for me.  granted,  every table was  taken up by  at least one young girl and here doll.  While I had neither a dolls not a young person to enhance  the experience,  I still enjoyed myself. I felt rather sorry for fathers and brother who looked glum and had obviously been dragged into this estrogen filled space.   A pink and black and white decor was fun.  I enjoyed seeing the many dolls. While I do not personally own  one of these dolls, I do like Molly and Mia.

My American Girl dessert

My American Girl dessert

After the supper, I looked around at the many dolls which represent differnt eras in American history.

I then  walked over to the John Hancock  building, the Watertower (the pumping station which survived the Great Fire in 1871) as well as a bit of shopping at the Hersey shoppe.

I think that today’s lesson better clarifies why Chicago is here..anchoring the midwest.

Blue Ridge Parkway Post Drive and Farewells

Saturday July 12th, 2008  was a day of quickly packing up the remains of our dorm rooms, of saying goodbye to some, for others it is a ‘see you at the next NEH workshop’.   We packed up,  had a quick breakfast and then boarded the bus for a final  drive along the parkway. We re-visited several of the stops we made on our first night here.  Obviously the weather was a major difference We enjoyed sunshine and bright weather today.  We recorded our impressions in our journal ( which was submitted once we returned home).  We reflected on the various lectures from the past week and how it affected our enjoyment of this road.

Amy from Philadelphia and I on the BRP

Amy from Philadelphia and I on the BRP

We then returned to the Campus to complete a on line evaluation for the NEH.  After that, I snuck out to take a few more snaps of campus and the pretty area.  I think that if I had the opportunity, I would love to spend four years studying for a degree here.  The opportunities to learn and grow would be invaluable.

By 2.30pm, I was on the road with a few other participants to the Greensboro Airport , in Greensboro, North Carolina for a 8pm flight. perhapss a long time to wait in an airport, though it was lovely to have the quiet time to sit and read quietly.

My airplane  in Greensboro, North Carolina

My airplane in Greensboro, North Carolina

The New deal and BRP…..and sunshine….an a bear named Fredrick.

****Gosh a month and a half later, I had better finish my blog. School starts in two days.

Day 6 in Boone, North Carolina. How can it be that our NEH Landmarks in American History program is almost over? Honestly, this has been the fastest week of my life.

We began our sunny day inside. Periodically throughout today’s schedule, Dr. Specht was thoughtful to give us well spaced out break times to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and pleasant weather.

Dr. John Willams , a historian and author of Appalachia: a history, spoke to our group on the topic of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program affect regionalism? Did it help shape the Blue Ridge parkway’s construction and emphasis or weaken the Appalachian lifestyle?

During break time, I was able to zip over to the Bookstore to purchase a few gifts to take home. Thankfully, my thriftiness antenna was able to seek out the clearance rack. The end result will be a lovely surprise for Scottie and a sense of pride that comes with finding a good bargain! This is not my sole visit to the bookstore this week. I have spend a few break times browsing their shelves, amking lists of chidlren’s literature by local authors. I might suggest for future workshops that a list of children’s picture books, fiction novels from local Appalachian authors be made available. This would assist other participants when creating thier lesson plan requirement.

Fredrick the Grizzly, Pam the Librarian and me

Fredrick the Grizzly, Pam the Librarian and me

Another good thing which happened this week was the location of our classroom. It was in the library. The brand new library…close proximity to research materials and knowledgeable people. Today, I met with Pam, the IMC librarian and had a short chat with her regarding her collection of children’s materials. Pam introduced me to Fredrick the Bear. He is ( probably 8 feet tall or so) an Alaskan Grizzly bear, who traveled as part of an educational learning idem during the 70s and 80s. Eventually he found a permanent home n the Old Library Building on campus. Pam shared with me his difficult journey to the new building, that the movers who were under contract to move only the cataloged items ( books, videos, learning materials etc). were refusing to move Fredrick into the Belk library, lower level. Fortunately, he was a cataloged item and Pam had the MARC record to prove to this to the moving company. I can imagine gently moving an 8 foot tall Grizzly was not anticipated by the movers and has resulted in some rewording for future contracts!

As an aside, Pam has assure me that Fredrick has been cataloged as a 599 due to his wild animal status. Personally, I felt that he looked rather at home in his current habitat and should have been cataloged as a 636, as a domestic animal. Alas, this is what librarians do….dueling Dewey conversations. Lucky for me, Pam did not pull out her Sears Headings Catalog. (Dear Reader: again, this is library humour).

Ms. Tina White, NPS

Ms. Tina White, NPS

We visited with Tina White, of the National Park Services. We first met her earlier in the week as she guided us through the Cone mansion.  One of reasons that she is such a like-able person is that she speaks about the history of the area, on the Cone family with such reverence and kindness and respect. She is most knowledgeable. In this photo she was kind  to pose with her hat.  Today she spoke about the the NPS, and the services it offers to  school teachers to aid in their history and naturalist lessons.  All free of charge.  At Saint Stephen’s,  I believe that we access these resources, history in a trunk, via the DeSoto National Park, in West Bradenton.

Group Picture

Photographer recognise me from

this blog! I was tickled pink to learn this. What has started out as a means to meet my school’s professional development requirements has turned into something more. I never really expected that someone would be reading the previous mentioned posts. Gosh, are there any spelling errors? I feel like I might have egg on my face.

Towards the end of the afternoon was free time.  A group of us walked down to the Main street for some air and poke around the shoppes.   We stopped down on King street for a root beer float, something I have not had in many many years.

By 6.30pm, we returned to the campus to enjoy a lovely meal in private dinning room with performances by Lisa and her husband. While she is a elementary school teacher in the area, he is the Dean of the English department and has a musical talent.  they were to perform with the Chocolate Drops and Doc Watson  (Both local well know talent in the area) the following evening.

I returned to my dorm room to read and think about packing afterwards. Although did not actually DO any packing. I have so very much enjoyed my time here, in this beautiful and inspiring area of the country. It has provided me an exposure to a wild and untamed form of nature which we rarely have in Florida.  I feel revitalised to begin back to campus and start planning my lessons for the Fall. I also have a better appreciation for taking care of the natural world around me, to respect my environment and to rethink some of my day to day chooses in a manner which is helpful-not harmful to the planet. I have a better understanding of the creation of the Blue Ridge parkway, of eminent domain, of who the BRP was created for the benefit of some, and the expense of others.  This building project has altered many lives, cause migration to big cities in search of work,  betterment of future generations and an altering of a lifestyle which many choose to participate in.

Blue Ridge Parkway and its origins….

The morning of July 7th, 2008  began with a breath taking vista as I left my dorm to go to breakfast on the campus of Appalachian University, here in Boone, North Carolina. I am amazed at the state of ‘pretty’ which exists on the campus. Perhaps that is a generic term, though the university has been well thought out and is moving towards a definitive direction to stimulate learning in this area.

I cannot go any further before proclaiming my delight ….a brand new library facility has improved the campus and student’s access to information.

Belk Library, Appalachian University

Belk Library, Appalachian University

Opened in 2004, Belk Library consists of five floors, a central rotunda which funnels light to the main floor, fireplaces, coffee shoppe and technology to optimise learning ( abundant computer terminals, on line databases, projection devices, wired auditoriums etc.) Of course, I gravitated to the basement level, which was anything but damp and dingy, lower level windows brightened a children’s collection space.

Main Lobby Rotunda, Belk Library

Main Lobby Rotunda, Belk Library

This facility not only services university students in the school library and elementary education programs, but also the Town of Boone’s children. Traditional story times and other such programming bring the local children into this building and exceed their information needs.

The morning began with a lecture by Dr. Anne Mitchell Whisnant, author of Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History . Dr. Whisnant produced an over view of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the reason for it’s being, history of its creation and touched on the notion of framing views of nature by taming the natural world. What is the public good? How do you identify it and achieve it fairly? Is imminent domain fair for who exactly? All environments and landscapes have an arena of politics behind it. Existing interpretations and stories should be looked at with a critical eye. This discussion touched on the creation of the parkway for the good of certain parties, though with power, such as Hugh Morton, owner of Grandfather Mountain a privately owned piece of land with a right of way to the BRP.

Proceeding this , a small break out discussion group met to look over further primary sources, including a handwritten letter from Mr. S.A. Miller, an Appalachian farmer pleading to President Roosevelt to save his farm land. Again, the theme of imminent domain and fairness came into play.

After lunch, we departed for a tour of Grandfather Mountain to admire the

Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor's Center, North Carolina

Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor's Center, North Carolina

views and better understand the shape of the landscape. A stop at the Linn Cove Viaduct Center documented the final section of the BRP, completed in 1987. This viaduct, near mile post 290 ( or known as Section 2H) was estimated to cost $4 million to construct, though came in at $10 million. Part of the delay in completion of this final section of the parkway was the debate over the routing of the Parkway to Grandfather Mountain.

Sarah Potwin, Grandfather Mountain, 5200 feet above sea level

Sarah Potwin, Grandfather Mountain, 5200 feet above sea level

We then returned to campus for supper and time to read. As part of my course requirements, I am to write a lesson plan which will include material from this week’s workshop. Currently, I am playing around with a theme of fairness (imminent domain might be a big word for my elementary students) and how fairness cannot be achieved for all. I am also looking at incorporating a geographical element into my lesson, though at this point these are simply vague notions.

A Falcon’s summertime time plans….

What are you doing this summer? Many of our Falcons are traveling this summer. Many have sent postcards back,listing their tales of adventure. Please  feel free to send a post card to :315-41st Street West, Bradenton, FLA 34209.I shall add it to our library display in September.

Summer time is here and a number of us are on campus, working hard to make the 2008/2009 school year a wonderful  year for our students.  Personally,  I am  on campus  for the first three weeks in June, cleaning and compiling an inventory of our 15 078  library items ( books, videos, DVDs etc).   In  the middle of July,  I will have a week to place orders for new books, AR tests, renewing our online databases and such.  I shall also be ordering our birthday books for our 2008/2009 school year.  This is a fun program in which we celebrate a student’s birthday by purchasing a new library book for all chidlren  to enjoy.  These special books are given out in chapel and have a bookplate announcing the child’s name and birth date.  Every attempt is made to meet the child’s interests and reading level. (If you would like to enrol your child in this program, please  contact me for more information, or click on our birthday book web link.)

Luckily,  I will be able to spend four weeks with Eoin.  I anticipate that we will hang out, go to the beach, swim in our community pool and other summertime fun.  The Potwin clan is eager for  a few days in Orlando: to hang out by the pool and perhaps visit the Magic Kingdom.  Mickey Mouse here we come!

In a future blog, I shall be documenting my adventures in Boone, North Carolina.  A wonderful National Endowment for the Humanities grant has been bestowed upon me. During the week of July 7th, I shall be in the Applachians  studying the history, the culture and the economic impact of the Blue Ridge parkway.  While this might appear to be a leap from children’s literature,  I am interested in the natural world.  While living in Vermont and New York State,  it was common for me to spend my weekends in the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York.  I am eager to experience the Appalachians and draw upon its similarities to the ADK(See link to Paul Smith College, Saranac Lake, New York) .

Friends, please keep reading this summer!  See you on campus on August 20th.