Tag Archives: MLK Day

We take care of our own

Work by 8th grade student Luis Velasquez exhibited by Young Arts Arizona

Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own” topped the set list at last night’s Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem. I sat spellbound in Scottsdale as Springsteen and the band rocked their way through 19 tunes heavy laden with tales of upheaval and undying optimism.

Work by 6th grader Elias Galvin Rendon

The Apollo Theater concert was broadcast live by Sirius XM in celebration of its tenth anniversary, coinciding with the recent release of Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” album. Yes kids, that’s what some of us old timers call them. Without apology.

Critics have weighed in on both, and I find those from The New York Times most intriguing. But my own read on the concert has a different vibe. The Apollo Theater concert was simply Springsteen taking care of his own. Like all the best storytelllers, Springsteen listens. And he hears people hurting.

Work by 3rd grader Elizabeth Navarro

Hold tight to your anger. Don’t fall to your fear. Put old skills to new uses. Seize the break of blue in a long cloudy sky. Remember those dealt injustice, and help those suffering now. Be the change. Make the change. And enjoy the rock and roll ride — Springsteen’s vehicle for soothing the soul while calling heart and hands to action.

As Springsteen wove older works into newer “Wrecking Ball” fare, the continuity of his decades-long drive for social justice was clear. So too was his genuine gratitude for those who came before — including many an artist who’s graced the Apollo Theater stage. Springsteen is a soul man. And soul must be shared.

Some folks are especially gifted at simultaneously running with and passing the torch. Springsteen is among them. After longtime friend and fellow musician Clarence Clemons died last summer, the torch went to nephew Jake Clemons — now part of “the E Street horns.” The Apollo Theater concert was rich with brass, choral music and strings that make the band’s heart beat just a little louder.

Work by 3rd grader Gabriel Ramirez

Gospel. Soul. Rap. Rock and roll. Irish jigs and mariachi melodies. It’s not your mother’s Springsteen. Or perhaps it is. I remember taking our two daughters, then in high school, to Springsteen’s last concert in Phoenix. They were equally moved by the music and the food collection boxes scattered throughout the venue’s main hall. Music feeds the soul. But it takes more to feed the hungry.

Hence Springteen’s shout out, near the end of the Apollo Theater concert, to fans who support the work of WhyHunger — and to its executive director Bill Ayres, who co-founded the organization with singer/songwriter Harry Chapin (whose brother Tom Chapin recently performed here in the Valley).

Work by 5th grader Victoria Anchondo

Like plenty of Springsteen fans, we won’t be in the house for any “Wrecking Ball” concerts, but there’s much we can do to move our own communities past hard times. Learn more about WhyHunger. Support our local food banks. Advocate for just public policies. Promote the arts that sustain us. And rise up.

Wherever this flag’s flown, we take care of our own. — Bruce Springsteen

– Lynn

Note: Saint Mary’s Food Bank Alliance presents its 11th annual “Kids Cafe Open” on March 30 to raise funds for battling child hunger in Arizona — click here for details. Artwork featured in this post was part of the Young Arts Arizona “Living the Dream, Passing the Torch” exhibit celebrating MLK Day 2012 at the Arizona State Capitol.

Coming up: Rising Youth Theatre shares diverse youth perspectives

Only the inside should matter

One of several bookmarks honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. -- created by ASU from K-12 student entries in their most recent MLK, Jr. Day poster-essay contest

I was struck by this simple sentiment as I enjoyed the online gallery of winning writings and artwork from an MLK poster-essay contest sponsored by Arizona State University.

After putting out the call last fall to K-12 students throughout the state, ASU received more than 17,000 entries. Students were invited to submit an essay about someone they know who “leads through service to others.”

The 24 winners will be honored Thurs, Jan 20, at a special event with ASU president Michael Crow and other special guests, including the students’ parents, teachers and principals.

Winners receive a savings bond and prize ribbon, and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing their work displayed both online and at two Valley locations — the Memorial Union at ASU in Tempe and the Student Union at ASU Polytechnic in Mesa.

The exhibits, being held Jan 18-31, are free and open to the public. They’re part of a month long celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy.

Other January events that are part of ASU’s celebration of MLK, Jr. Day include a march, a reenactment of MLK’s “I have a dream…” speech, a food drive, a film screening, a theater performance and a poetry jam. (Click here for event details/locations.)

Justice poster by a Gilbert senior named Amanda

Each sounds plenty inspiring, though I find the greatest meaning in simply enjoying the words and pictures of students who recognize the importance of justice, service and lifelong learning to the ongoing march towards greater civil and human rights for all people.

Many of the elementary school winners, including 2nd grader Miriah, live in Mesa.

Miriah wrote about a friend named Stephanie — who delights in giving free haircuts to those in need, including homeless people in her own hometown and people as far away as Africa. “I want to be like Stephanie when I get older,” writes Miriah.

Another 2nd grader, Brooke, wrote about grandparents and other family members who assemble “hygiene kits” for people effected by natural disasters, while a 2nd grader named Brady wrote of a grandfather who collects “coloring books, balls, food and toys” for children in Mexico.

“My dad,” writes 4th grader Annie, “is the best example of service I know. His name is Dad.” Annie says that her dad “volunteers for all sorts of things.” Annie’s essay describes how her dad spends his time — “and its not watching television.”

A 5th grader named Jenah wrote an essay praising a coach named Kyle. She describes him as “a kind, amusing, elated, brave man.” “Whenever I am with him,” writes Jenah, “I learn something new.”

Another 5th grader, Tanner, wrote about his grandfather picking up trash each day as he takes a walk through the neighborhood — and his grandmother sewing “very, very big quilts” for those who need them.

Abigail, a 6th grader, wrote about her 20-year-old sister — detailing Sam’s work with Best Buddies, Locks of Love and other programs that help Valley youth. Abigail notes that despite Sam’s busy schedule, “she can always take me to my classes and my plans.”

Many of the middle and high school students who won hail from Scottsdale, including a 7th grader named Sanket who wrote about Dave, a man who often reads to children and tells them stories.

Rachel, an 8th grade student, wrote about her father’s work with organizations like Make-a-Wish and Parents of Murdered Children. “I believe what my dad does to help people…makes the world a better place.”

A 10th grader, also named Rachel, detailed the work of a doctor who organized people to help victims of last year’s earthquake in Haiti after years of working with “disabled adults” in that country. 

She writes as well of the importance of education — “I feel that in a country where we are so educated, we should take that education to help and teach other countries that don’t have the same opportunities as we have.”

A 1oth grader named Allysan wrote about a family friend in college who raises money to help victims of genocide in Darfur, while 10th grader Ema offered words about her sister that reveal insights into the role of youth in shaping the future…

“The early stages of our life determine who we are,” writes Ema, “and who we are going to be in the years to come.”

“The fate and future of the world,” she adds, “resides with the youth of today.”

– Lynn

Note: Families will one day be able to visit a Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial on the Washington Mall in Washington, D.C. To learn more about the nature and development of this memorial, click here.

Coming up: Local exhibits of children’s art inspired by MLK, Jr. Day

Get out, get art!

Perhaps this painting will inspire you to enjoy some art fun under the Arizona sun

Families eager to enjoy outdoor adventures this weekend can add a little art to the mix by attending “The Gathering” in Lichtfield Park. It’s a Native American art festival taking place at Scout Park — with free admission for children 12 and under.

Never fear if you missed the event on Saturday. It also runs Sunday, Jan 9, from 10am to 5pm. “The Gathering” features artists who specialize in painting, sculpture, beadwork, carving, basketry, pottery, photography and more.

Main stage performers include hoop dancer Tony Duncan and guitarist Anthony Wakefield — in addition to Grammy Award nominee and Native American Music Award winner Aaron Winter. Click here for details and a discount coupon for adult tickets.

Those of you who missed Saturday’s “MACFEST,” presented by the Mesa Arts and Cultural Festival, will have plenty of other opportunities to experience this free celebration featuring live music, works of local artists and more.

“MACFEST” takes place each Saturday this year through April 30, from 10am to 4pm, in downtown Mesa on Main and Macdonald Streets. This puts you within walking distance of two of Mesa’s kid-friendly museums — the Arizona Museum of Natural History and the Arizona Museum for Youth.

Remember too that you can always find indoor fun at the Mesa Arts Center, which is home to several performing arts companies who offer a diverse assortment of music, dance and theater (including the Southwest Shakespeare Company).

To enjoy an outdoor all-arts weekend, couple a Saturday “MACFEST” with a “Sunday A’Fair” in Old Town Scottsdale. “Sunday A’Fair” takes place Sun, Jan 9, from noon to 4pm at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall — as well as nine other Sundays through April 3.

Each “Sunday A’Fair” features a free outdoor concert and the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of arts and crafts made by local artists — as well as hands-on art activities for children and families. You can purchase food there, or bring your own picnic basket (with blanket/lawn chair) along.

Admission to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which I often enjoyed with my three young children (now young adults), is free during “Sunday A’Fair” — and you can also enjoy the eclectic gift shop at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. 

Treat your children to the artwork of fellow youth by taking them to explore the “Bridges: Connecting Earth to Sky” exhibit at the “young @ art Gallery” located inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It runs through Mon, Jan 17.

The Scottsdale Civic Center Library is also located at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, and is open Sundays from 1-5pm. The library is a lovely bit of architecture to behold, and features a giant fountain pen and ink well sculpture just outside the entrance. It’s a fun way to introduce your children to the quills used long before texting messages by cell phone took hold.

The “Sunday A’Fair” on Jan 16 is part of Scottsdale’s 2011 celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — which they’ve dubbed “Peace & Community Day.” Featured entertainers will include Walt Richardson & The Peaceful Warriors, who promise a “classy mix of folk, rock and reggae,” and Nancy Gee, performing “sultry ballads and classic standards” from the world of jazz.

Stay tuned for word of other MLK Day celebrations, and drop me a line if your community offers outdoor art adventures that you’d like to share with our readers.

– Lynn

Note: For a comprehensive listing of family-friendly events throughout the Valley, visit the daily calendar of Raising Arizona Kids magazine online. Always check event details — including dates/times, locations, admission fees and such — before attending.

Coming up: Conversations with a 5th grade arts advocate

I ♥ art volunteers

We take them for granted too often—the docents who lead our museum tours, the ushers who show us to our theater seats, the other arts volunteers in our communities. Like all non-profits, arts organizations rely on volunteers to help achieve important goals—helping at-risk youth create visual art, offering music lessons to students living below the poverty level, presenting live theater to children with special needs.

You’ll hear a lot about volunteering this month because Jan. 18th has been designated the Martin Luther King, Jr. King Day of Service. President Obama, as part of his United We Serve initiative, is asking Americans to make the King holiday a “day on” instead of a “day off.” Rather than taking a day off work for purely leisurely activities, consider joining fellow Arizonans volunteering in your community that day.

Non-profits of all sizes and service areas—from health care and housing to education and the arts—need volunteers to further their work, to do more good for more folks. “Do what you can,” said Franklin D. Roosevelt, “with what you have, where you are.” You have time. You have talents. Why not share them with your local arts community?

There are plenty of ways to find an arts organization that could use your energy and ideas. Think about the arts you’re most interested in—whether dance, music, theater, visual arts or something else—then consider the organizations and venues that are making good things happen in the areas you love.

Finding a volunteer gig—whether short or long term—can be as simple as picking up the phone to ask whether there are any needs or volunteer opportunities. Not to worry if you feel less than perfectly qualified. Most organizations offer volunteer training and ongoing guidance to enhance your skills and offer support. Consider taking a friend of family member along if volunteering alone seems too boring or intimidating.

I often see the good folks of major corporations like Home Depot, APS, SRP, Wells Fargo and others out there volunteering in their company t-shirts. They enjoy the double benefits of giving back to the community and showing off their community-minded spirit. This year, I’d love to head out and see a sea of volunteers wearing t-shirts of theater, music, dance and other arts organizations.

There’s no denying that the arts, including many Arizona arts organizations, have been hit hard by tough economic times—so we tend to think of ourselves as the folks who need the extra support. But what if we really went out this year and showed our friends and neighbors that we like to give every bit as much as we like to get. Artists are so generous of spirit, yet so under-recognized for this quality.

I was privileged several years ago to see a dear friend, Max Dine, M.D., honored with a Hon Kachina Award for his outstanding volunteer service as a mental health advocate. The Hon Kachina Council notes that “over 350 nominees have been honored for their dedication to causes that include health care, neighborhood revitalization, youth and senior activities, the arts, education, justice, housing, nutrition or social services.”

I was surprised, in checking the list of past recipients, that there aren’t more arts volunteers among them. We all know they are out there. Have we been remiss, perhaps, in not taking time to recognize our arts volunteers with nominations for this and other awards? You can fix that this year, since nominations for the 2010 Hon Kachina Awards are being accepted through Jan. 29th. (Complete details are at their website.)

Remember my sea of t-shirts fantasy? I confess to having another one. I’d like to see awards committees inundated with nominations of worthy arts volunteers. We want people to know the arts are engaging our citizens. We want our volunteers to know how much we appreciate them.

The 9th Annual Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards program is accepting nominations through Jan. 15th for the following categories: “lifetime achievement, youth, youth group, outstanding mentor, adult, adult group, large business/government agency, non-profit, faith-based organization, national service member, and/or service-learning project in your community.”

Who do you know that deserves consideration for this Governor’s award? I’ve nominated folks who didn’t get the award, but were still touched when they received a letter from the governor honoring their service and their nomination. “Everybody can be great,” said Martin Luther King, Jr., “because anybody can serve.” Whether or not their service gets recognized is up to you and me.

Maybe you’d like to do more volunteering yourself, but need help locating volunteer opportunities well matched to your skills, interests and schedule. Here are a few folks you can check with about where help is needed and how you can get involved…

• HandsOn Greater Phoenix @ www.handsonphoenix.org (Check out their information on ‘Give a Day, Get a Disney Day’ volunteer opportunities.)

• Phoenix Volunteers @ www.phoenixvolunteers.org

• Volunteer Match @ www.volunteermatch.org (The day I surfed for volunteer gigs, they had the most arts-related volunteer opportunities.)

As you consider ways to spend the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday, remember this Greek proverb: “A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under which they will never sit.”

–Lynn

Note: If you’re with an arts organization seeking volunteers, check out the Arts & Business Council of Greater Phoenix, a chapter of Americans for the Arts. The council “links the vitality and expertise of the business community to non-profit arts and cultural organizations to the benefit of both individually and our community as a whole.”