Hot Tamale Louie at Coe College 3/23

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John Rapson is that rare professor whose teaching leaves such an imprint on your mind and heart that you remain indebted forever. For this reason, I agreed to be part of this project well before I fully understood what it was.

Then I read Kathryn Schulz’s June 2016 New Yorker article that inspired John and Nielo Gaglione‘s creation of this multimedia piece now known as Hot Tamale Louie and it was these words that cemented my devotion:

“The history of immigrants is, to a huge extent, the history of this nation, though so is the pernicious practice of determining that some among us do not deserve full humanity, and full citizenship. Zarif Khan was deemed insufficiently American on the basis of skin color; ninety years later, when the presence of Muslims among us had come to seem like a crisis, his descendants were deemed insufficiently American on the basis of faith.

Over and over, we forget what being American means. The radical premise of our nation is that one people can be made from many, yet in each new generation we find reasons to limit who those “many” can be—to wall off access to America, literally or figuratively. That impulse usually finds its roots in claims about who we used to be, but nativist nostalgia is a fantasy. We have always been a pluralist nation, with a past far richer and stranger than we choose to recall.”

We leave in just under three weeks to bring this story back to Wyoming where it originated and we invite our community to send us off with your love and support by joining us for a free performance at Coe College on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 pm.

Thank you and please spread the word!

Autistic

Hello friends! I’m sharing this article because the writer explains what happens to also be my reason that I don’t use the “person-centered language” I was taught 20 years ago in special education classes when referring to my child. You may have already noticed that I consistently say “my son is autistic” instead of “my son has autism”.

I have often been corrected by kindhearted, well-intentioned people so it is clear that more information is generally needed about the reasons for these deliberate language choices.

The bottom line is that individuals decide the language used about them. My son (and most of the autism community) proudly claims “autistic” as one of many appropriate descriptors so that’s that.

As the writer states, there are disability communities (Down Syndrome is mentioned) where person-centered language is preferred and so I would advise to just stay connected and always defer to the preference of the community.

Please click here to read this excellent article by Kaylene George.

If you’re interested in reading more, the same writer previously went into some depth about some similar ideas here.

And since I have your attention, please don’t support Autism Speaks. There are many better advocacy organizations that have autistic people in leadership and that actually aim to support instead of change autistic people. The ones closest to our family that could use your dollars more are The Iowa City Autism Community and the Autism Society of Iowa.

Benefit Concert for Veterans for Peace Chapter #161

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The Family Folk Machine, the intergenerational musical group that has earned numerous accolades in its five-year history and of which I am a proud band member, will perform a benefit concert for Veterans For Peace Chapter #161 at the Unitarian Universalist Society on Sunday, February 17th at 3:00 pm.  The concert will feature FFM singers and instrumentalists ranging in age from five to 80, with an emphasis on  peace and justice themes.   Selections will range from familiar favorites by Iris DeMent, Pete Seeger, John Prine and Bob Dylan to original creations by local artists and members of the Family Folk Machine.

Veterans For Peace Chapter #161 is an organization of over 30 veterans and associates in eastern Iowa who have a simple mission — peace.  VFP #161 is part of the national Veterans For Peace organization, which was founded in 1985 and is headquartered in St. Louis.

Attending this fund-raising event is just one way you can support the cause for peace.  Any effort to promote peace and show that people can make a difference is worth supporting. Veterans For Peace aims to increase public awareness of the causes and costs of war.  It is dedicated to healing the wounds of war and building a culture of peace. Please join us for an inspirational hour at the Family Folk Machine event on Sunday, February 17.

Special thanks to Ed Flaherty for this excellent description of what is sure to be a wonderful event.

Congratulations to Mira!

Introducing Mira, my featured musician for January and February!

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Websites are great and all but I find that when a student finds me because of a recommendation by another longtime student, we have a much higher chance of clicking and having grand musical adventures. This has never been more true than in the case of Mira.

Mira descends from multiple generations of music making and music is highly valued among her family members. Even more beautiful than this is the fact that music is not the only valued pursuit. Witnessing how deeply a child gets to know herself when all of her interests are treated with so much respect and support is remarkable and heartwarming. It’s no wonder that Mira feels so free to play with such musicality and emotion. I am privileged that I get to be her audience so often.

I am so grateful that I am able to glean such valuable parenting inspiration from the families in my orbit like Mira’s family. When we encourage children in loving what they love, the connection we forge is priceless.

Counting My 2018 Blessings

2018 was quite the year!

My sincere thanks to everyone who has been part of the magic this year.

Onward and upward!