Friday, March 30, 2007

Spring Break

The loom is dressed and a sample is being woven.Right now I'm just playing around with hand manipulating the warp a bit along the lines of tapestry weaving. I dream of having a tapestry loom and returning to my roots in weaving. I need to dig through a box that's buried in the storage closet for proper tapestry bobbins that Ed made years ago. They'd be more efficient than using the stick shuttle for the dark yarn.

This isn't a true sample in that I'm not using the yarn to be used in the project, and there most likely won't be any wandering yarn.

This was Spring Break week in Oregon. Which mean kids who depend on eating at school were possibly going hungry. The Marion Polk Food Share set up a lunch program throughout the Marion and Polk counties. Daily coolers loaded with ice, partially bagged lunches, sandwiches and milk were delivered to schools. Volunteers bagged the meat and cheese sandwiches, and milk, as kids came in the doors.

Ed and I agreed to help out a couple months ago. We're home all week and live only .5 mile from the school. It made for a very pleasant daily walk. We averaged 65 kids a day. We didn't ask any questions, the main point was to make sure anyone who wanted food would get it. Every day there were a few lunches left which were delivered to kids who weren't able to get to the school and to some of the needy elderly people in town. There was always a meat and cheese sandwich, raw vegetables, a fruit which was different every single day. Kiwi fruit today!

The door was open from 11am to 1pm giving kids plenty of time to pick up lunches. Ed was the counting man, I helped stuff bags. There was lots of time between kids for spinning and talking with the other people who were helping.

We were all bummed that the school only allowed us access to the gym rather than the cafeteria. But you see, the school district doesn't care about the kids of Scotts Mills.

Until 12 years ago the school was owned and operated by the people of this community. We had a very strong, solid school board with people who knew how to make good use of tax and timber monies. There were 11 full time teachers for this K - 8th grade school with 185 students, including a special ed teacher, and an excelerated teacher/counselor. Three teacher's aids helped in the classrooms, lunch room and playgrounds. There was a full time librarian, full time cook with a part time assistant (Mrs D was a fantastic cook who believed with all her heart in cooking from scratch. She was written up a couple of times in The Oregonian for her wizardry in the kitchen.) And we had a part time PhD (agriculture and mathematics) from Chile who helped with ESL and math. Oscar was a compassionate gentleman who was retired but wanted to make a difference. Rounding out the staff was the Principal/Superintendent, Janitor, and Secretary. Staff loved working here, and the school had very adequete funding to meet the needs.

In the early 1990s state legislature decided that small schools would be better served if they were consolidated into bigger school districts operated from the closest town.What a joke. We had no choice, most small schools were merged kicking and screaming into the consolidations. There went our ability to manage our community school. The new district does not care about Scotts Mills Elementary and they seem intent on shutting it down by downsizing and cutting back. They cut the librarian, counselor, ESL teacher and made the special ed a part time position. Grades have been combined so there are now only six full time teachers. And one of the worst moves was to take away our principal/superintendent. Now we have a part time principal who also oversees another small school about 7 miles away. It's the pits. Newer families to the area are encouraged by the district to send their kids to other larger schools. The irony is that our community has grown with many more families but there are only 125 students attending SM school. It is very sad to see what was once a proud vital part of our community ripped out of our hands and treated like a despised stepchild.

I had planned to write about the hungry among us. But it seems there have been enough words pouring from my thoughts. Hungry people are all around, feeding takes care of an immediate need but it is not the solution. The problem is systemic of a deeper, graver problem.

As we walked home Wednesday (Ha, you'd thought I'd forgotten!) we spotted kids in the city park eating their bagged lunches under the oak and fir trees.

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13 Comments:

Blogger Charity said...

I think it's wonderful, Wanda, that you can help out in your community in this way. There will always be those needs, no matter what happens with the school. (And I had thought you'd forgotten!) :0)

12:05 AM  
Blogger Artis-Anne said...

To start with I am looking forward to seeing your weaving . As you know I have no room for that floor loom:( so wanted it , but there you go I will find a good home for it . I do have a heddle loom which I want to start using and I am building up some yarns to use with it.
Re your school I am so soryy to hear that in your part of the world the same thing is happening . Here too our small village schools are being closed and they amalgamate with other schools which mean the kids have miles to go each day; its all about cut backs which I feel is so short sited and affects small communities greatly.
I used to work in Liverpool with the homeless before moving home to Wales when I became ill and I found it appalling that folks in this age in a supposedly affluent country (let alone 3rd world countries )still go hungry while there is so much wastefullness in other areas.I really could go on about this subject which I feel so strongly about and I have to say I applaud the work you & others do :)

2:06 AM  
Blogger cyndy said...

Your comments about the school are like an echo...the same thing has happened in our rural community...it is sad that the popular opinion of "state legislature" has "decided that small schools would be better served if they were consolidated into bigger school districts operated from the closest town". The only way I can help now is to donate time and talents. I am waiting for the pendulum to swing back the other way.

Wish I could watch and see you at work at the loom....

4:35 AM  
Anonymous tiennie said...

That is such a shame about your school!

I love that you still get involved though and make these lunches for the kids that need it.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Marianne said...

I'm very happy for you to be at your loom playing around! I know only good and beautiful things will come of this.
I am so saddened by the school situation there, why are things that are working so well by people that 'know' what they're doing..taken over by people who are obviously complete ignorant of the communities needs and sucesses. It leaves me completely and utterly gobsmacked.

Beautiful photo, as always.
I tell everyone I know just how exceptional human beings you and Ed are. You are.

'waiting for the pendulum to swing back' and in the meantime you do what you can to help. Isn't that the truth.

7:55 AM  
Blogger rho said...

The weaving is super - I think it would be a wonderful wall hanging -- all that blue you know :D

And YOU GUYS ARE SO COOL!! I really feel blessed to know you even if it is just thru this wonderful medium called the internet :D

9:24 AM  
Anonymous angie Cox said...

That is great Wanda. When Holly was at school I met ( for the first time ) children who had vouchers to pay for lunch.On school trips they came with nothing so after the first time of sending Holly with home-made cookies , ham sandwiches and two kinds of fruit I lernt to tone it down and joined the parents who made up an extra box. I come from a family with an alcoholic father that often suffered humiliation when I couldn't go on trips etc. My primary school teacher helped now and again.Humiliation is almost worse than the pain of hungar. We both live in Countries with very un-equal societies . I was lucky Mum was a war-time mother who learnt how to make rations stretch and could cook .

12:44 PM  
Blogger Teyani said...

what a wonderful thing to do (the lunches for the kids)
I get very passionately concerned that we spend so much energy/time/money on political 'wars' and not enough on feeding our children. Good for you guys!! It's very definitely the right thing to do.
Can't wait to see what you'll be doing with the well dressed loom :-)

2:25 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

I join you in your dismay about what is happening with the educational system in this country. For the last 15 years, I have worked in educational publishing, and I've watched how teachers and students are struggling within a system that requires more and more standardization in all things--in the curriculum, in the outcomes, and in the schools themselves. The standardized testing is what outrages me the most right now. Politicians have decided that all students should achieve a certain standard, which sounds reasonable until you realize they are requiring special-ed students to pass the same tests that advanced students must pass! They starve the schools of funding, and they take away the autonomy of teachers. They focus on the reading-math-science trifecta to the exclusion of the arts, physical education, and a wide range of electives. And they call this education?

I despair even more now, as my oldest son will begin school this fall. I hope his inquisitive spirit can survive our deadening educational system.

Sorry for the rant--but I must say, I applaud your efforts to achieve positive change where you can!!

6:09 PM  
Anonymous marjorie said...

Thank you for opening my eyes to the fact that many children rely on schools for food. I never thought of what happens to them when school is closed. I teach in a private school, so I'm not sure what programs are in place in the public system, but I am sure there are hungry children here. In my school, where children have everything a child could wish for and then some, I see them take a few bites and then throw their food in the garbage, tossing away lovely sandwiches, yogurt and fruit. If only some of that could be shared with children in need.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Having grown up, literally, just on the "right side of the tracks" in a small community, I, too, have seen the inequalities. So, I continue to try to help & hope for a change. Thanks for volunteering!

As for tapestry looms . . . I have had success making a small one from artist's canvas stretcher bars. Good luck with the project!

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

What a wonderful program!

The weaving looks great. I've been wanting to learn but haven't gotten around to it yet.

6:00 AM  
Anonymous tiennie said...

Hey! I was watching Knitty Gritty and saw that the guest said the she feels that Jenkins woodworking makes the best looms and they were her favorite. Congrats!

12:44 AM  

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