Moments that make our community
- Published: December 27, 2012
For our annual holiday story, the News staff asked villagers to describe a 2012 “Yellow Springs moment,” that is, a time when they felt an especially strong sense of community in the village. Here are responses:
A cold winter day, I was walking to the drug store when I met Gordon Chapman coming the other way. During a recent dinner Josh, a new Antioch College student, mentioned he was saving for a new bicycle. Remembering that Gordon had told me several years ago about a bike he might give away, I asked if he still had it. Yes, he replied, but he was having a hard time parting with it, as it reminded him of the rides he used to take around the village with his late wife, Mary. Asked if he’d consider giving it to a deserving student, he said, “Let me think about it,” and gave me his card, adding, “Give me a call.”
The next day I did.
“Come over and see if it would be a good fit,” he said, and I did.
A good fit? Other than the tires being flat, the bike was the right size, complete with helmet, pump and extra seats. It was perfect. Not only that, it was right there on Livermore Street, a stone’s throw from Josh’s dorm. Not only that, I called and who picked up the phone but Josh, who came right over and enthusiastically pumped up the tires.
“I’m too old to ride anyway. I’d probably fall off,” Gordon said as we watched Josh ride away, both of us misty-eyed, me from the cold, Gordon, I’m sure, from remembering his rides around the village with his lovely Mary.
The Yellow Springs moment that first comes to mind to me this year has to be the head art that I organized. It’s hard to convey this “moment” in one photo. There were eight artists who painted my bald head while I was undergoing chemo after surgery for uterine cancer, nine if you count me fooling around with the face paint to make sure it would work. This was “community” at its finest. It’s hard to express the comfort and levity this event provided me, while I was undergoing very scary treatments with no idea of what lay ahead. The personalized gift of art made me feel beautiful and supported at a time when I was feeling afraid and alone. The artwork only lasted a day but the kindness and support will be in my heart forever. I feel like the art is still there, under my new hair.
A happy little moment to end the day: Last Tuesday after work, I was pulling up to the Yellow Springs public library drop box in my car and of course was just about two inches too far away. So when I pushed in three CDs, or so I thought, they fell back out again, and splatted on the pavement. Three boys, probably about 10 or 11 yrs old, with long hair, were just hanging out back there by the back steps, wearing those bulky winter hats with flaps and ties, and one of them immediately said, “Oh, we’ve got this,” and almost raced each other to help me out — like they’d been waiting to help out some klutzy person all day. I’ve been smiling about it ever since.
One time was the memorial service for Mary Morgan, a friend and wonderful woman. There were many very old and very young people there, and lots in between, with stories of Mary’s kindness and care for others — what a great tribute. So obviously she had touched all of these people’s lives because she was a people person and she wasn’t just confined to her own age group. And, remembering her words always: “Be of good cheer, seek wisdom, promote fellowship, and love always.” A second “moment” was all the good wishes we received from people we know only a little after our granddaughter Aletta’s birth announcement and photo were in the Yellow Springs News. It’s wonderful to share the joy with so many!
For me, peering thru the glass into the Emporium on a Friday night, watching the faces of people watching the band. The band’s backs to the window, so it’s almost like you are on stage with the band. Seeing that level of joy, of connection between people and musicians, packed into this tiny place, is really special. Also: This graffiti on the side wall of Subway, “the words of the prophet are written on the subway walls.”
What comes to mind is the memorial service for Don Wallis. I didn’t know him that well, but I went for the gathering, the sense of community. It was wonderful to hear so many people speak about his life and how much he contributed to the village.
It seems this community rises to these occasions in a noble way. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of, to know that spirit of community.
I turned 70 this year, and many people from my graduating class at Bryan High School came to a surprise party at my sister Judy’s house (in Yellow Springs) in September. There were about 30 people there, including Phil Lawson, Charles Coles, and everyone I ran around with and played basketball with as a young person. My sisters Karen and Carla from Yellow Springs were there, my brother Gary came from San Francisco, and my childhood friend, Eugenia Lawson, came from Oregon.
A DJ played oldies but goodies. Everybody was talking about 50 years ago, reminiscing about all the mischief we used to get into as youth. We used to get doughnuts from the village bakery, and for every point we scored during our games we got a free doughnut. One night I probably got close to 30 doughnuts.
The party was just a lot of people from years ago that had a connection with Yellow Springs and me. It was nice, I was really surprised — I didn’t know a thing about it.
As a member of the Glen Helen Association board I saw people working incredibly hard to establish an easement for the Glen, which will protect the Glen as a nature preserve, forever, really. There were so many people involved in helping to make this happen, including GHEI Director Nick Boutis and board member Dan Halm. But really all the members of the Glen and anyone who goes to the Glen supported this effort, because a lot of people cared enough to make it possible. I think the whole community should feel really good about it — it’s a victory for the community.
The Riding Centre is underappreciated in the village, and it has been very important for [me]. They have therapeutic riding instruction, it’s less expensive than most places, and even after leaving Yellow Springs for school [I’ve] been able go back there and see the horse [I] trained. It’s been an important part of the community for me.
At the beginning of the school year, all of our new [Antioch College} students were paired up with villagers. Some of the pairings were based on shared values or lifestyles (we sent three vegans — one, ukelele-playing — over to a new-to-town couple who had offered a vegan dinner and ukulele talk to new students). Some matches were remarkably esoteric and made me proud of the diverse and quirky talents in our village.
One such example was the pairing of Rick and Mary Donahoe with three students with diverse ethnic backgrounds. One of the students was from Africa, and farrier/old-timey music freak Rick was able to dust off his Peace Corps Swahili and converse with our student, which made her feel right at home. Retired theater professor Mary Donahoe had spent time recently in Southeast Asia singing to pachyderms, among other things, and she and our Hmong student had a lot to compare notes on. Maybe in a city like Chicago the chances of knowing a couple in a two-mile radius who spoke Swahili and had been to Southeast Asia and are also kind and welcoming wouldn’t be that remote. But in a community of 3,500, you don’t expect this — unless you live in Yellow Springs.
The fact that we think we can make the village into our perfect place speaks very highly of the village. When we live in other places, we try to contribute as citizens, but we never imagine we can make our own little utopia. But in Yellow Springs you feel like you should be able to make it your own utopia, and you’re disappointed when you can’t. There is a little bit of resting on the village’s laurels; there is not as much racial or economic diversity here as there used to be. But there needs to be, to make the place more friendly to non-whites, working people and non-Christians. Still, it’s wonderful that we think the village is perfectable.
I’ve loved being an active member of the 365 group that has great courageous conversations about race and tries to make the black community more visible in Yellow Springs. Many people have been involved, especially John Gudgel, who is a wonderful organizer and a good human being.
I lived in France for 35 years and came back here a few years ago (with my daughter, Clara, and son, Eizo). France is often seen as snobbish and chic, and people in other places can get huffy if I mention my life in France. Yellow Springs is not that — it’s more cosmopolitan and accepting of hybrid people. The kids have had the same expreiance. They weren’t treated as anti-American or put under a microscope because they’re half French, half Jewish. Even in Toulouse, people in the schools would say, “The problem we have here is these are kids from broken families.” Where normally you’d want to tell people who are caring for your kids what’s going on in their lives, we had to keep quiet about our situation.
This has been a really rough year for me. The girls are doing fine, but finishing school has been really tough for me. But what I take away from this year is that people in this town are just really supportive. I didn’t want the girls to be home by themselves, so several close friends agreed to hang with them and take care of them every morning and every afternoon after school. When I was dealing with a personal challenge and people found out about it, they came forward to make sure I was okay.
I feel very fortunate to live in a place where people know you, and even those who don’t, are there in supporting you. The two Yellow Springs and Emergency Facebook pages are amazing. If somebody needs something, almost immediately someone else pops up and says, oh yeah I have that. Or if someome’s sick, people will offer to bring them chicken soup. And you feel okay asking. If you need something you don’t feel self conscious to ask because that’s what we do — we support each other. I think that’s rare and it’s really awesome.
In the end of 2011, my company, eHealth Data Solutions, outgrew its location and there were no locations in town that would fit our size. Even so, we wanted to stay in town. A few of us approached the Village Council asking for help on the matter. The Village worked with a local company to modify their space to fit our company.
This came at a great time for me as I had recently moved into town to take a job with my company. It felt very welcoming to know the community would work to keep even new members like myself around. And in the end, it benefited even more than just me or my company, but also Antioch [University}, which moved into the other space in the same building.