august 2, 2018

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“Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness.” ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 

in the hot seat

 

My good friend Marietta Watts was in the studio today being interviewed by Renee Collins for a project called “I Am Diversity.” It’s a take on a conversation started many years ago involving a few Humanity Academy grads like Eric Morrow discussing what diversity looks like, or rather, who diversity looks like. In short, it’s all of us. We each contribute to this beautiful tapestry of life and none more so than Marietta. Being a humble woman, she would argue that last point I’m sure, but anybody that knows her will back me up.

 

little picture

 

I probably say this every time I post about Marietta, but I can’t help it because it’s really true, she is a light in this world. We all contribute, that’s true, but some of us have a light in our souls that penetrates deeper than others. Marietta is one of those lights. Her understanding of the human condition is remarkable. Really, the word remarkable isn’t sufficient enough, but that’s the best I can do for now. And her tact? I’ve seen her handle some of the most problematic statements/people with the grace of a ballerina. She has an uncanny ability to take a touchy subject and make it okay to talk about, and make you feel good doing it. It takes a heart split wide open to do that. She makes me want to be a better person. I hope she gets every happiness in this life she so richly deserves, and I hope every person reading this has a chance to meet Marietta. You’ll see right away what I mean. She is all light.

 

the story that matters

july 12, 2018

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“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” ~ Pope John XXIII

 

work family (snapseed)

 

Wonder Woman, Marietta Watts, convened Humanity Academy grads for lunch again today. We were a small but mighty crowd, but make no mistake, the conversations were no less powerful. I’ve probably said this before, but it’s worth repeating: the University of Kentucky is damn lucky to count Marietta among its ranks. Her spirit is boundless. When I look around a room of HA grads, I marvel at the complexity of the personalities sitting shoulder to shoulder and being happy to be there. One of the most important things said today was that HA grads, as attendees, come to the program with open hearts. Not everyone agrees, not everyone should, but what happens after a week of coming face to face with our preconceived notions of who we think other people are is a deep understanding that we are all just human beings. Every label, every stigma, every negative thought we hold about others different from us, and even about ourselves, are products of some weird socialization that’s gone horribly wrong. It has nothing to do with our basic needs as human beings. HA grads learn to talk about the elephants in the room. Most importantly we learn to listen. Humanity Academy is a gift from Marietta and I’m so grateful Stacy Yelton nominated me to participate a decade ago. I’ve made lifelong friends from HA, and so many of my other UK colleagues are members as well, like Renee Collins (smiling), Marie Dale (head turned listening to Marietta), and Judy Sackett (way on the back), who, I learned today, was in the HA pilot program in 2006. It is amazing how good I feel about myself, and about being a UK employee, when I leave the company of our HA meetings. That is power in the most wonderful way. Thank you, Marietta, for being a light in this world.

october 14, 2017

posted in: photography | 3

“What was true yesterday may not be true today. Be. Here. Now. Grow, change, evolve.”
~ Timber Hawkeye

 

Jump!

 

I had the most inspiring day with the soulful voices of the Sara Holroyd Singers (SHS). You might recall meeting Sara back in August. I said then that she had been a beloved choral prof at UK, and here’s a little proof of that. SHS was started by the stunningly gracious Reneé Collins, and features other alumni like her who studied under Sara. I highly recommend checking out their website because Reneé and her partner, Warren Cobb; an equally awesome dude, have done a fantastic job pulling together interview and performance videos of Sara and the group.

 

for real this time

 

Today, as part of a Gathering of Songfarmer’s at Shakertown, SHS sang a selection of Shaker Worship songs that they first sang with Sara many years ago. I’m told they also danced the Shaker dances back then, but they declined to do so today. Don’t let that “many years ago” fool you, however. As you can see above, they’ve still got a lot of get up and go even without the dance routine. Vocally, I can’t imagine that they were any better then than they were today. It was as if the angels sang.

 

performance

 

I can’t say enough great things about Reneé (below). Not only has she put together the Sara Holroyd Singers (A Room 17 Production), she also spearheads the Sara Holroyd Oral History Project. Her day job is consulting for The Office of Institutional Diversity at UK. I’ve taken her Unconscious Bias workshop, and I can honestly say it was the most informative workshop I’ve ever attended. But that’s not at all surprising given how gifted, outgoing, and warm-hearted she is. Reneé embodies the hopeful, joyous spirit Sara imparted to all her students, and it shines bright as the sun.

 

Reneé

 

I got to make a few new friends today as well, like fellow photog Randy (who’s last name I can’t remember to save my life). His wife played the part of Mother Ann, and he does photography mostly as a hobby. Randy and I had a great talk about gear in between sets, and he really came to the rescue when the group decided they wanted a photo on the famous Shaker staircase after flash mobbing dining guests with a song. Naturally, I didn’t have my flash (because I rarely do). Thankfully Randy had his. So this super sweet guy saved the day, or at least that shot. I met many kind hearts like Randy’s today. They gave me a wonderful few hours filled with exquisite singing that the Shakers themselves would have adored. I couldn’t ask for a better day in better company.

 

room full of friends