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Village Life

(Photo by Reilly Dixon)

What inspired you in 2021?

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The annual tradition of polling YS News readers for meditations on a query has always tread a certain patch of earth. At the end of every year, we’re looking for a snapshot of your life — what made it better, worse, stranger, stronger.

This year, we wanted to know who or what inspired you. Your answers reflected a community and a world still mired in a pandemic, but nevertheless pressing forward with hope and love and everything else.

Thank you for sharing your inspiration with us.

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What inspired me was the power of life to sustain me through this past year. I survived gratefully from a misdiagnosed, life-threatening heart attack and urgent open heart surgery; brain hemorrhage; embolism; and a hit-and-run car wreck — and still carry on.
—Bonnie Speeg

Becoming a mother in 2021 has inspired me to keep going. My son has truly made me want to become a better person, not only for his sake, but for mine! I want to make him and myself proud of who I am!
—Casey Laughter

Our YS school district staff and personnel. We have been through some huge disappointments, and yet we move forward. We have more struggles to come. We’ll be there and see those through, too.

Also, in pandemic, watching other districts struggle, our numbers have remained low. The staff, the administration, the custodians and substitutes have buckled down, stayed masked and have kept safety first to keep us in person. We have stood strong in the face of potential violence; we have served our students every single day. We show up, we clean up and we come back the next day. We continue our focus on anti-racism and the social-emotional needs of our students.

I am in awe of my colleagues. I sure wish others who would hate on social media could see them everyday — what we’re dealing with, how we are giving it all to help our students move forward. The grace, integrity and beauty seen in all our buildings is inspiring and humbling.
—Lorrie Sparrow-Knapp

I’m inspired by anyone who has held it together during the pandemic despite multiple major disruptors — parents, teachers, business owners, staff, musicians and artists, health workers. Just about everyone. Those who have found ways to thrive are amazing.
—Laura Curliss

I am inspired by the industrious beavers of Glen Helen. They get s–t done.
—William Firestone

I am inspired by my friends and family who, despite dealing with their own hardships, have always been supportive of me as I became a mama, started my master’s and changed careers. None of these would be possible without the knowledge that my loved ones are there to jump in with 10 toes down.
—Jessica Thomas

My sister, Bobbi Leeds, inspired me to give up tired old family narratives — and to see the beautiful people in my life with eyes renewed.
—Skip Leeds

I’ve been, and am, so very inspired by fellow exercisers, and the volunteer weekly class leader Andrew Brody, of the Yellow Springs Senior Center’s strength-training class via Zoom. The class, and connecting with its participants each Friday afternoon, has been an absolute highlight for me every week in 2021.

The love I have for the class is beyond measure. The weekly class helps to provide a sense of purpose and community — through shared experience — with the most wonderful people on the planet! It has truly been a lifeline for me this past year — and a spectacular joy — for which I am immensely grateful!
—Corey Slavitt

I drew a wealth of inspiration from the Ever Given, the 1,312-foot-long container ship that lodged itself in the Suez Canal for six consecutive days in March of this year. Some estimates say the blockage held up more than $57 billion in trade — or $400 million for every hour that the ship was stuck. I hope that one day, I will be able to muster a similar level of tenacity and perseverance in my future endeavors to obstruct global markets.
—Reilly Dixon

My husband. I had a lot more changes this year than I’ve ever had. He has been by my side through all the changes.
—Nicole Williams Conrad

I am most inspired in 2021 by ordinary people doing extraordinary acts of kindness for strangers facing unbelievable tragedies.

Many travel a distance bringing supplies from their own homes — food, water, clothing, blankets, personal health needs, toys for children arrive. Their aid and assistance are an act of creative goodness. Most of all, they bring the sharing of the human heart, one to another, going the extra mile from human being to human being.

They make me feel the world isn’t so crazy after all. They are our true teachers in the unknown time of now.
—Pat Stempfly

The kids. They’ve lost so much of their “normal” and they just keep trucking along.
—Dawn Miller

My daughter, Lucy, has inspired me daily with her continued growth as a student, a friend, a dancer, a writer, an artist, a budding comedian — a person. Added to the typical growing pains, physical and otherwise, of becoming a tween — like gaining and losing friends and those first pangs of hyper-self-awareness — was the extra, leaden layer of The Pandemic.

Anxiety is now baked into her daily life, as it is for so many of us. Its specter clings heavily to her back as she moves through the world. Sometimes it’s a struggle to keep walking forward.

And yet, like a dandelion squeezing up through a pavement crack, she grows and grows and grows.

Anyway, she’d kill me if she knew I was bragging about her in public like this — so I guess I’m lucky she’s not a subscriber to the local newspaper. (Nobody tell her.)
—Lauren (Chuck) Shows

This year I was inspired by all the kids (VIPs) and adults (mentors) in the Village Impact Project, our youth mentoring program. They have handled this pandemic and everything life threw at them in the most amazing ways. I’m so honored to be a part of this group!
—Donna Pitstick Haller

I have been inspired all year by the fantastic work of the Village Impact Project and particularly their hard-working director, Donna Haller. The VIP has matched over 50 pairs of local adults (mentors) with children (VIPs) here in Yellow Springs in our two-and-a-half-year history. Truly a community success!
—Dale Hotaling

Who inspired me in 2021? The courageous healthcare workers and first responders who continue to support us during these very complicated times. They often put their own lives at risk, even as they help those who, sadly, won’t or can’t help themselves. We can each be part of the solution by getting vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 if at all possible. It’s the least we can do!
—Joan Ackerman

Poet Amanda Gorman, for giving me hope for the future.
—Hayley Werth

I have high school students in my house, but I teach undergraduates, graduates and medical students. I saw them all struggle in 2021, but they got through.

One of my students is a single mother with a newborn baby — her father died of COVID and she had to return to her family in Brazil. She continued to meet with me via Webex, submitted all her work on time and wrote a 20-page paper on “impaired micro­glia-mediated synapse pruning and its involvement in autism spectrum disorder.”

She is not only inspirational, she is incredible.
—Chris Wyatt

The generosity of Andrew and Nicole Manieri, and all the other volunteers at Heartbeat Learning Gardens, where they’ve been giving the full weekly harvest of vegetables to Second Harvest food bank.
—MJ Gentile

Dave Chappelle — the way he has been able to make moves and not be stuck in the concrete of the COVID-19 pandemic is inspirational.
—Max Crome

This year I was inspired to be a better person by my wife, Jessica, and a better influence by my daughter, Callie.
—Matthew Raska

bell hooks once said, “True resistance begins with people confronting pain … and wanting to do something to change it.” As many of us know, bell hooks died this year at only 69 years old. In 2021, I have been moved by those who confront pain head-on, whether they are healthcare workers, mental health providers, teachers, social workers, or everyday people who have no choice but to push onward.

The grief caused and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic is immeasurable. It would be easier — particularly for those of us whose loved ones are still alive, who still have jobs, who still have homes — to turn away and amble back toward some sense of “normalcy.” If we are honest with ourselves, however, the fallout from this pandemic is indefinite.

With this knowledge, we have to take what’s been brought to the light and not only bear witness to it, but allow ourselves to be moved to action by it. It’s the latter component — the movement toward change — where many of us get stuck. In 2021, I’ve been inspired by the people who look pain in the eye and work toward change, refusing to sink into complacency. I hope we can come together to support each other in these endeavors rather than make this effort more brutal than it needs to be.
—Sam Benac

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