25 minutes | May 22, 2023
Community Building | With Mitch Haralson, MSW, LCSW, Starfire Executive Director
From Starfire, this is a podcast on what's more possible in Community Building | With Mitch Haralson, community, building and relationships.
21 minutes | Apr 5, 2023
Unnamed and Unknown | Part 4
From Starfire, this is a podcast on what's more possible in inclusion, community, building and relationships.
25 minutes | Feb 23, 2023
Unnamed & Unknown | Part 3
From Starfire, this is a podcast on what's more possible in inclusion, community, building and relationships.
21 minutes | Feb 3, 2023
Unnamed & Unknown | In Our Backyard: Understanding DDM Part 2
From Starfire, this is a podcast on what's more possible in inclusion, community, building and relationships.
26 minutes | Jan 23, 2023
Unnamed & Unknown | Understanding Disability Day of Mourning (DDM) Part 1
From Starfire, this is a podcast on what's more possible in inclusion, community, building and relationships.
22 minutes | Nov 29, 2022
Finding The Joy | Carol Combs
From Starfire, this is a podcast on what's more possible in inclusion, community, building and relationships.
18 minutes | Nov 3, 2022
Sharing Their Story | Tyner-Wilson Family Project
From Starfire, this is a podcast on what's more possible in inclusion, community, building and relationships.
24 minutes | Sep 22, 2022
Sharing The What | with Starfire Family Mentors
In our third and final episode of our Family Mentors conversation series, we discuss the "what" behind "what" we do at Starfire.
28 minutes | Sep 6, 2022
Sharing The How | with Starfire Family Mentors
In the second of three "Family Mentor" episodes, Starfire Family Mentors are joined by Starfire's Director, Development & Marketing Robbie Jennings Michels. Together, they have an impactful conversation about "how" they do all that they do.
0 minutes | Aug 18, 2022
Sharing The Why | with Starfire Family Mentors
Starfire's Director, Development & Marketing Robbie Jennings Michels is joined by three other important members of the Starfire family. Together, they discuss the "why" behind all that they do.
37 minutes | Jan 6, 2021
What's at Stake? | with Denny Burger
This show is all about building connections and building community, but what's at stake if we don't? On this episode, you'll hear from Denny and his story about Don, an irascible old coot as he likes to affectionately call him, and how he helped Don get back to his community roots after being institutionalized for 30 years. This is such an important story to remember how far we have come. But also what's at stake if we don't do this work.
19 minutes | Dec 17, 2020
Is it ever... too late? | with Nancy Fuller
Full transcript can be found at www.starfirecincy.org/podcast
20 minutes | Oct 15, 2020
Finding Your People - Part 2 (2020) | with Anne and Ric
Zoom Call Crafts Club is one of the innovations that Anne and Ric brought to 2020. In this episode, you’ll learn about the ways Ric and Anne have designed community around the barriers a pandemic and social distancing bring. Highlights: Hear about how they’ve kept in touch with friends virtually Reflect on the current events related to racial injustice and police brutalityAnne reads her poetry Learn about a project they’re working on for greeting cards to isolated people Listen to PART ONE to hear how they began their work together and made connections initially, pre-pandemic. GET THE PODCAST “Um, well, my poetry is very inspirational and very creative. I’ve been writing lots of poetry about what’s been going on in the pandemic right now.” —Anne Katie B: Anne and Ric are cohosts of this next episode. This is part two, if you’d like to go back to listen to the first part recorded one year ago you can go back and do that. This is documentation of life during a pandemic. What does it look like to build community, design community, and connect with other artists in your neighborhood when there are social distancing rules and everything is virtual? So you’ll notice how some things change and some things stay the same. Anne also reads her poetry in this episode, so there’s lots packed in here. I hope you get a lot out of hearing from these two. They have so much wisdom to share around building community and making connections.(1:01 – 4:40)Ric: OK so we are rolling now, today is Tuesday August 18th 2020, my name is Ric James and I’m a community connector with StarfireAnne: I’m Anne Elizabeth Gearhardt I’m almost 23 tomorrow. I am a poety and I’m also an artistRic: Indeed you are. Happy birthday to you! We are on Anne’s back porch right now, nice covered screened in pation and if you listen closely you might hear rain falling Anne: And thunderRic: In spite of the rain it’s a beautiful day, and thank you Anne for sitting down for this interview today.Anne: You’re welcome!Ric: So we have been working one on one in the Starfire community connecting program for a couple years now. And as many people know if you’re listening to this we are in the middle of a global pandemic, which is kind of a big deal! It’s an interesting time to be alive, it’s also a scary time because we have a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about the future, but we have already discussed this, Anne, you and I, about how the pandemic is affecting things around the world. But the Starfire mission - to help create a more inclusive future – our mission isn’t changing, but our methods are changing. So today we just wanted to talk to you about what we’ve been doing to help you maintain your connections and friendships and help kind of deepen and strengthen the relationships in your community, and tell us about some of the people we’ve met together, some of the friends you’ve made, and how you’ve stayed connected during the pandemic.Anne: Well I haven’t talked to my friends in a while because of what happened with the pandemic. They have businesses still shut down, I’ve been connecting with Maria and Trace from Luckman’s coffee shopRic: Yes Maria and Trace have been great friends to us as we’ve set up our unofficial headquarters, which we haven’t been able to go to since the pandemic, but our regular visits there definitely started to form a bond and a real friendship with those two. Maria recently joined your zoom call crafts club, correct?Anne: That’s correct!Ric: Let’s not get too far ahead, tell me about the zoom call crafts club (4:40 – 11:55)Anne: Well the Zoom Crafts Club is when you can get together and make your own personal art, all together, but you can do it online by zoom. And you can make other things on your own.Ric: Yeah, this has been a really interesting experience for us to explore together because before the pandemic, one of our things to do together was about once a month at your local branch of the library they had try it out Tuesday. A librarian there named John would host a crafts event and with a small group of people we would create something there. And once the pandemic shut things down a lot of their locations and their various programs they offer, you and I were looking for a way to continue making arts and crafts projects with the people that you met in the community, specifically Sherry Clink, who we met at the library. She has been a regular member and contributor to your zoom call crafts club. Tell us about Sherry.Anne: She’s very fun, and very creative, and a great friend to have. Yeah, she’s a wonderful woman.Ric: She really is, I found that when you and I came up with this idea together after we did a zoom call, we said well what if we did a zoom call where you bring whatever art supplies you want, so while we’re on the zoom call you can be drawing or sketching or painting. In your case Anne because you’re an artist and a poet you were also writing poetry, reading some of your poetry during the zoom call, and we were able to draft Sherry into that call right away. And to her credit she is a great creative thinker because she was enjoying our zoom call craft club right away, but she also had a suggestion for us to join in with this art class we did together where we did a vision board workshop, do you remember that? Anne: YeahRic: What did you think about that? Anne: I think it was really fun! I already made my vision board, and it was really fun just to get extra creativeRic: Exactly, I thought that was an interesting experience because if you’ll recall that was 2 weeks a row we were on a zoom call with a large group – 35 or 40 people. Most of them were just the audience and then there was the instructor. The first week she told us about a vision board and then the next week we got to talk about what we were working on with our vision board, and that was all Sherry’s idea. She brought that suggestion to the zoom call crafts club. So she’s not just a contributor in the zoom call crafts club, which I sometimes call the ZCC, wait its 3 Z’s, ZCCC, so we’ve done a couple of these virtual events together with Sherry and I think that’s done a great deal to help you and Sherry deepen and strengthen a friendship we started at the library late last year before this pandemic. So who is the newest member of the ZCCC?Anne: Um that would be MariaRic: Correct, our favorite barista at Luckman Coffee on Beechmont. And in all fairness to Trace, maybe we should say Maria and Trace are tied for first. They have been so good to us for so long, you can tell every time we walk in there they really care about you. Didn’t you go there once with your mom so they could meet?Anne: Yeah, we did.Ric: Yeah, so our most recent crafts club meeting we were joined by Maria, and so now our group is up to four members and we have extended the invitation also to Trace at Luckman, so hopefully he will be able to join us soon and then I won’t be the only dude in the club anymore. But moving forward with the zoom call crafts club, what do you see there? What would you like to do as a group with Sherry and Maria?Anne: Well I’ve been making lots of fun, creative bookmarks lately.Ric: Bookmarks?Anne: Yes.Anne: And also poetry, and I want to combine them all together so I can talk about what has been going on with this pandemic and what’s happened to George Floyd.I don’t mean to get to overwhelmed about this story about George Floyd, but Derek Chauvin, he’s the one who killed him.Ric: The officer?Anne: The officer, yeah.Anne: When Derek Chauvin did that to George Floyd I actually felt bad about what happened and I was scared the whole time and it made me feel angry about it and that’s how other people have been feeling about what happened, and yeahRic: I agree with you and I’m glad you feel free to speak your mind, as you should. You’re in your own home and you are entitled to your feelings, and during this interview you should speak freely as you see fit. And I agree with you, with George Floyd, murdered in cold blood, I know that most police officers are good, but there is a problem in this country and that is an extreme incident that has a lot of us taking a closer look at the racial inequalities in this country, you know systematic racism. And so you have a voice and you should be heard, and I think this is something, this is a theme I hear recurring every day, and that is basically you have a voice and you should own it and be proud of it and speak your mind. Tell us, if you don’t mind, just a little bit about your poetry, what it means to you, maybe what you’ve been working on lately. (11:55 – 14:20) Anne: Well my poetry is very inspirational and very creative, I’ve been writing a lot about the pandemic, what’s going on in the world right now. Ric: Do you have any recent poems or something you’ve written that you’d like to share?Anne: I do actually, I have one poem. Just for now.Ric: Would you like to read it?Anne: Yeah of course! Before I read it, this poem is for everybody who is listening to this recording right now. This poem is very very inspirational it’s for all of you guys. Okay, Poem of the Day:You are beautiful just like you. That is you are just like in life.am your voice, I am a woman, has a Heart just like you, if I was you, always right on your voice. So that poem is all about who you are in lifeRic: You know it’s interesting to me because there is this theme of self empowerment that runs through your poetry and it’s very strong, very positive recurring theme in your poetry and I’m really impressed by that and it flows very naturally from you, that’s why I thought it was interesting that our new friend Sherry suggested the vision board workshop for the three of us because I think even though you met her not too long ago she already saw that this was something that might resonate with you. Because that was a similar kind of self empowerment exercise and self visualization, to actually put down in pictures and words your thoughts that you wanted to manifest in your future and so I thought that was interesting that Sherry could already see even though you’re friendship is pretty new that this was something that would resona
17 minutes | Oct 15, 2020
Finding Your People - Part 1 (2019) | with Anne and Ric
The next two episodes of More are going to be a little different. You might be listening to this podcast because you’re a fan of Starfire’s work, or maybe you’re curious about how to build community in your own life. So in honor of that, the next two episodes are going to be hosted by Anne and Ric (Richard). These two have been designing community in Anne’s neighborhood for a while now. You’ll learn how they began their process of designing community together. First, by learning about each other, over many conversations about art. Ric shares how he learned about Anne’s creativity and her love of poetry. Then, you’ll hear how they explored places in the city in order to find connections with people who share this interest.Listen to PART TWO to hear about how they held onto these connections in 2020 pandemic mode. GET THE PODCAST FULL TRANSCRIPTAnne: To me meeting new people is like inspiration to me because meeting new people is inspiration to me because I like talking to people and being with people. Katie B: You might be listening to this podcast because you are a fan of Starfire’s work or maybe you’re curious about how to build community in your own life. So in honor of that the next two episodes are going to be hosted by Anne and Ric. These two have been working together to build community in Anne’s neighborhood with a concentration in connecting artists to one another. You’re going to want to hang on and listen to part 2 because that is when ric and anne share the ways that they were able to maintain the connections that they made one year ago in anne’s neighborhood with other artists virtually during this global pandemic. So when you listen to this part one you’ll be introduced to a lot of the people who you’ll hear about again in part two, only in the second part it is going to be a little bit trickier to maintain these connections, and I think you’ll hear a lot of hope in both of these stories. (1:09 – 5:41) Ric: Okay my name is Richard and I work for Starfire Council in Cincinnati Ohio, I’m a community connector there and I’m here today to interview Anne Gerhart who I’ve been working with since February and today is June 12th, 2019. Anne do you want to say hello and tell us a little something about yourself? Anne: Uh sure, hey everybody I’m from Cincinnati Area, I’m Anne Elizabeth Gerhart, I’m 21, and yeah I think that’s all I got so far. Ric: OK, Anne and I started working together in February after I first met you and your mom for coffee, started talking about your various interests and it seems like creativity is the one thing that flows through. You are an artist a poet and you do lots of different kinds of art. What are some things that you do when you spend time making art? Anne: Well I like to paint, I also do canvas painting, sketching, I also draw and I also take pictures of really cool things. Ric: Theres a wide variety of different creative outlets that you enjoy. Anne: Yes. Ric: Different artistic media that you enjoy, you said painting and drawing, and you said photography, see I didn’t even know that one! So our idea was to work together to meet people who shared the same interest as you, try to make some connections in community, to build some new relationships and deepen and strengthen the friendships you already have in your life. And we started out kind of casting about around town to meet other people in the arts and crafts community. Did you want to mention any of the places we went together during that process? Anne: Yeah I can do that! We went to the art museum, went to look some art paintings there, we also went to arts shops, we went to indigo hippo the crafty place Ric: That’s right! Is that the place near Findlay market? Anne: Yes, we also went to Michaels. We got to learn something new and crafty, we went to the downtown library and went to the makerspace and got to make some buttons. Also we also went to luckman’s and talking about art work. Ric: I’m glad you mentioned the museum because when we first started out together, to get to know each other, to get more acquainted, to learn more about your interests since it became clear right away that your primary interest is art, we started out at the museum, the beautiful Cincinnati art museum, up in Mt. Adams we had a great convo that day and that feels like a place we might turn to for inspiration from time. But you’re right, from there we went to check out different art stores and we did pop into Michaels, I remember you buying something for your grandmother’s birthday. Anne: Yes I made her a cute necklace and I got her some fake flowers. They really don’t have a smell but she really likes it. Ric: Yeah that’s right, We found a jewelry making kit there too, it was in their clearance rack too, only a couple bucks! Anne: It was really hard to put jewels on it, it was really really hard to put them on Ric: MmHmm yea. That’s right (5:41 – 7:29) Ric: We set up at Luckman’s as we often do, the coffee shop in your neck of the woods where we made friends with the barista there named Maria, we might even pop in there to say hi on our way home. Ad another guy there named Trace? Hes there fairly often Anne: Sometimes if we do go to Luckman’s we always see Ric’s buddy, We always see Simon! Ric: Simon’s another customer there, we end up talking to him about music, art and movies it turns out your family takes vacation to the same part of Florida where he visits his family in the summer Anne: Yes I remember that, it’s really fun down there, it’s cool. Ric: Anyways, We took that jewelry kit that we found real cheap to Luckman’s coffee shop. But you did a really good job at putting that necklace together. Anne: She loved it. Ric: She loved it? Anne: Yes, one time when we went to visit my grandma, she has been telling me my granpa has been telling me how nce it was that I would get my grandma fake flowers that don’t smell Ric: I think you also mentioned that we popped into Indigo Hippo, a thrift store downtown Anne: Yes, they have really old stuff Ric: Old stuff, repurposed stuff (7:29 – 9:00) Ric: I feel like we really struck gold when we discovered the hobby pop arts and crafts shop right there in your neighborhood where beth betcker is the owner ot the shop and her assistant Megan. They just embraced us right away. They said you come by any time and make art with us Anne: And it’s free you can take your art home with you Ric: You’re right, you can take the art home with you! Anne: For free. One time I made some thing really cool. I have a lot of crafting ideas. I made a dog canvas art. I mad Breezy Woods. Breezy woods is actually a dog in a movie. I got to make that on a canvas. Ric: Beth had some great suggestions along the way, and you two hit it off right away and we fouond as we were looking around town to meet people who are interested in arts and crafts, and more importantly to make some new friends and build some connections in that community to try to work on new projects and goals together to make new friends in that community and then to work on projects together with them and it looks like we might have an opportunity to volunteer on a semi regular basis helping Beth and her assistant Megan at the shop. (9:00 – 11:05) Anne: I have a few questions for Ric. Ric: You have questions for me? Anne: Yeah! Ric: Oh okay! Anne: My main title for the questions is being with Ric has inspired me to do new things and I have two questions for Ric: My first question is what is your favorite thing that we did? Ric: Wow. Well my favorite thing we did, I’m really tempted to say it’s the day we discovered Beth Becker at hobby pop shop. Anne: She’s really cool. Ric: She is really cool and that felt like we had spent several weeks looking for her and we finally found her right in your back yard. So that’s a close second. I have to say my favorite thing was the day we were at Luckman coffee shop and you showed me your poems! Anne: Yes I’m actually a poet and I write my own poems. Ric: I didn’t know We had been working together for weeks and we had been talking about arts and crafts and drawing and painting and making jewelry, you’ve done all these creative things! I think that you have this creative drive and artistry inside of you, you live to make stuff. It’s very beautiful that you make stuff and you give it away, like the card for your mom. Anne: Yes Ric: But the day you showed me your poetry that’s my favorite things because I was pleasantly surprised because there was this whole other creative side of you that I didn’t know about. And you had a whole notebook full of your poetry with you that day. Anne: Yes um I actually just finished my poems all this week. And I’m actually a songwriter, I write my own songs and I produce it to my piano. (11:05 – 12:22) Ric: So what do you think about this journey so far? Anne: Well um..what I do
35 minutes | Jun 10, 2020
Dreaming Ordinary - with Mark, John & Connie Susa
It’s a narrative that often gets repeated to parents of young children with disabilities: the more services the better. But John and Connie found a different way early on with their son Mark. Their family’s dream was bigger. The vision they have for an ordinary life really gets to the heart of why this podcast started - to offer out ideas for families and people with disabilities to go after more in life than the expected route of disability services and segregated activities.As founders of the Plan Institute in Rhode Island 15 years ago, the Susa family connected with Starfire to learn how to launch community projects. They said that this way of bringing people together, over a shared goal like a community garden, generates a certain magic - almost instantly.If you are someone who wants to think seriously about how you and your loved ones spend your time, how to connect more deeply in community, and ways to make longterm relationships a reality, this episode is for you. GET THE PODCAST FULL TRANSCRIPT:CONNIE: - I have heard speakers talk about this concept as a way of healing the world and as we’re in the midst of the COVID19 virus outbreak right now, I think the world could use a lot of healing, not only physically but also in terms of relationships. We have a new neighbor who shares that passion with us, and it has been such a joy to get to know one another, to have a real give and take. I can see how if this were multiplied throughout communities, and states and nations, the world would be a beautiful place. KATIE: Beautiful. JOHN - I’m John Susa. I think what moves me for a lot of this work is almost a therapeutic plan for me. I grew up very very isolated and I had very few interactions with anybody besides my family. And most people would have described me as being very introverted. When people asked me when you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? My answer was always the same. I wanted to be a long distance truck driver. So I could sit in that cab and not have any human interaction for days. And if left to myself that’s probably what would have happened. But instead I learned that if I pushed myself a little bit and started interacting with people and meeting people then I could change that desire to be a loner. And so I think the reason I’m so involved in all of this stuff is still mostly for myself to avoid falling back into be a loner. So I made pretty much a conscious decision that I was just going to change my behavior first. And of course after I changed my behavior for a while my attitude started to change.Fast forwarding then to when you and Connie met, and you had children and you were - down the road, you know, deciding how to engage as a family in the community, what were some of the things that you had to consider first to be connected?JOHN - I think for me the recognition that Mark developmentally was experiencing life differently than others made me realize it was going to be very helpful if I became more engaged in the disability advocacy world. I was kind of driven by two different quotes that were in my head that I learned while I was in the military. And they’re very a-typical but they’re very powerful. One is from Johann Goethe a German philosopher and he said, “Dream no small dreams for they have power insufficient to change the hearts of men.” That’s been something that I’ve always come to recognize as a very powerful piece of instruction and advice. And I saw that there were people who were encouraging us in many ways to dream small, to be satisfied with what Mark is able to do, focus in on his disabilities, spend your time searching out services. In many ways that was dreaming small. There were occasionally people who would say, “No, no, no don’t do that. Dream big. Dream like Mark’s future is limitless. Dream like if you just provide him with all the opportunities that life has to offer, you will be amazed at how much he is going to accomplish.” And that is what I took from Goethe, dream big. And we have ever since. And that really has kind of put us into contact with a lot of other big dreamers. It’s those big dreamers that really have changed the world works for people with disabilities.KATIE - Beautiful. MARK - Excellent.CONNIE: - For me in terms of community building, I think one of the greatest advances has been our church. Mark turned three at the end of December.MARK - Right. CONNIE: And three-year-olds were supposed to begin in what most people would call “Junior Sunday School.” When Mark was three, we were still carrying him - cradling him in our arms. Did you know when you were three years old you couldn’t sit up by yourself? MARK - No way, really?CONNIE: Truly. Mark just kept attending our Sunday school classes with us and about two, three weeks into that sequence one of our friend’s who taught the three year old class, the Sunbeam class, came to us in the hallway and said, “Why hasn’t Mark been in my class?” And I said, “Edith - look.” As if seeing where Mark was at that moment meant everything. And she said, “Yes, but look at my role.” And Mark’s name was there, without x’s in the attendance boxes.And she said, “We really need him in our class.” And I said, “Edith he can’t even sit up independently.” She said, “Well we could get a highchair and we could put pillows all around it so that he can sit up.” And I said, “We’re not even sure that he can understand what you’re teaching the other kids.” And she said, “That doesn’t matter.” She said, “The reason I need Mark in my class is because all the other kids have so much to learn from him.” MARK - Really.CONNIE: And while we had been working seriously on stimulations and Mark had gone through early intervention and we learned about you know sensory stuff and what have you. We were doing that once a week, in a group and the rest of the time at home. But what Edith had said really started Mark and us on the path to community. Mark now…well, tell Katie what you do at church.MARK - A lot. CONNIE: - Some things that you’re responsible for?MARK - I’m secretary. CONNIE: - Secretary for what?MARK - For attendance. CONNIE: - Yup, and you set up appointments for interviews.MARK - Set up appointments for interviews. CONNIE: - We were amazed, Mark was enfolded in the arms of these people who understood all about community because that fits the teachings that we have as Christians. Going back to what Edith had said to you that you know, diversity and having different types of learning in a classroom is really really really important and once you accepted that invitation, what unfolded in that first year? JOHN - What I remember is that it reinforced something that I came to realize, everybody became comfortable and it was now normal and accepted that Mark would be part of that congregation. Once people got to the point where they were comfortable because of exposure and experience they relaxed and they accepted Mark for who he was. And they didn’t feel the need to treat him any differently than they would any other child. It reminds me of another one of my kind of guiding principles and this comes from a guy, Rudolf Steiner, talking about early childhood. Rudolf Steiner is the founder of the Waldorf educational system. Are you familiar with that?KATIE - Yes. JOHN - He said that, “There is nothing more therapeutic than normalcy.” That was a piece of advice that was given to us by a good friend, developmental pediatrician, when Mark was finally identified as having all these developmental challenges. The meeting at the end of the two-day evaluation process was nothing but a group of people who were very pessimistic about Mark. “He’s not going to walk. He’s not going to talk. He’s probably not going to be aware of you. He’s certainly not going to hear.” A whole bunch of things, they all at the end say “Well, good luck, take him home and love him.” That was their advice, which is good advice but inadequate. When they all left, their boss who was sitting at the back of the room observing asked us to go into his office because Connie was bawling. Sig closes the door and the first thing he says is, “Don’t believe a word of what those people said to you.” And I said, “Sig if you say that, why didn’t you stop them before they started?” And he said, “You know all those people in that room were doing or could do is describe Mark now, as they see him. They could not possibly describe Mark in the future. I believe if you believe them, that future will happen. If you don’t believe and you adopt the approach that the best thing to do is to have Mark experience as much normalcy as possible he will become a different person. He will become more like the ‘normal kids’ whatever that may be. Every person will develop depending on how much they’re exposed to.” So he said, “I’m not going to let them label him because that will result in other people reading the report and it will only help them treat him in a stereotypical way based on his label. I’m just going to say he’s developmentally delayed.” And his advice was, “Take him home and love him but then help him have every normal experience as other children.” And that kind of guided our thinking really from then on. KATIE - And you know, dreaming big in this instance is to dream ordinary, to dream normal. JOHN - Exactly. Yeah. KATIE - And sometimes ordinary is the biggest gift anyone can have.JOHN - Right, right. It’s kind of counterintuitive because in the world of disabilities a lot of times people think that dreaming big means getting more services, the more the better, the more services the better. Steiner said think seriously about substituting every hour of normalcy with an hour of service because that hour of service is removing that person from normalcy. So it’s almost in the disability world it’s almost a flipping of thinking that that has to happen. CONNIE: - Be concerned if you were just going to services. JOHN - Be big in your thinking by vying for normalcy. KATIE - Yes, so even in services are... they’re not normal. It’s interesting. JOHN - They’re not normal. CONNIE: - What’s more important is that Mark participated not only in that class but every sub
35 minutes | Apr 30, 2020
We used to do things like this | with Tasha and Safi
FULL TRANSCRIPT available at starfirecincy.org/cincibility
38 minutes | Mar 4, 2020
Building the Muscle for Community | with Ashley Hart
TRANSCRIPT:Ashley: My name is Ashley Hart and our family did the growing Christmas tree in Goshen project.Katie: Alright so you worked on getting to know your neighbors last year through this project? And talk me through that year, what did it look like, what did it take for you guys to put all that together?Ashley: Well it started off with me getting really excited about creating something new. So I came up with a list to my mentor of all the fun ideas I had. Then evaluating how those ideas matched with the community that we lived in and what would be a gift to them and something that we could make memories together with them. So we kind of spent time connecting with neighbors in a different way than we had before. So we might go on a walk and stop over and say good evening to our neighbor or call them over and invite them over for dessert or whatever. And that kind of got the relationship frequency enough that we were able to have more conversations.Katie: Yeah, and were you bringing the idea of this Christmas tree project to them right away or how did you start on that path to get to that project idea?Ashley: So I think one of the things that I realized for myself and took that to the way I was connecting with our neighbors was that I in my own life wasn’t prepared for a big ask and so I didn’t want to throw a big ask at someone else. Really I was still putting feelers out to see if the idea that we had could even happen. So our neighbor happened to be a landscaper, so I didn’t even know if he would plant Christmas trees in December or not, or if that was like not going to work. If the trees were going to die or the ground would be too frozen or whatever.Katie: Because you guys did not have Christmas trees on your property when you started this?Ashley: Correct.Katie: But you had how many acres?Ashley: Eleven acres.Katie: Eleven acres and what are you going to do with it, how are you going to make that an asset to the community?Ashley: Right, and we had always kind of had a vision even on our wedding day we invited people to our property and invited people to spend time there. We wanted it to be a hospitable place but I don’t think we had the tools and the permission that we were given to make it kind of an official thing to start inviting people and doing something unique for the community.Katie: So it took some permission seeking?Ashley: I think so, which is weird, but yeah. I think someone saying here’s some support and here’s some encouragement and start dreaming. And I was desperate for the idea to be dreaming about something other than being concerned about what’s going on in our day to day experience.Katie: Right what was your main concern at that point, what were you worrying about?Ashley: I think I was really focused on ensuring that our daughter would be prepared to engage in her community and the way that I thought I was going about that was through therapy and appointments and things like that because that required so much energy I just didn’t think I had anymore energy to start something new. Katie: So you were trying to pave the way for your daughter to be part of the community some day, but you weren’t really sure about how to go about it. And meanwhile you had other day to day appointments and things that you had to be doing that were taking up time, energy and effort and that that permission that you go to do something off the scope of the therapy list.Ashley: Oh yeah it was like it was such a gift. Yeah it was just you know you get stuck in the grind of doing what’s best and the idea to imagine creating something that intrinsically you already know what is good for you, and what is good for your family and what is good for the community. And just someone saying ‘Go for it’ it’s really.. I’ve talked about that you’re getting to lift your eyes off a problem or what is perceived as a problem and getting to lift your eyes to bringing beauty into your world and your community.Katie: Yes, so before you started this, was it a year long project, about?Ashley: Yeah.Katie: Ten months, year long project, before you started the year long project to plant Christmas trees in your yard and invite your neighbors to, can you explain actually a little bit more about what that Christmas tree project was in the end?Ashley: Yeah, so the goal was, we started the project in July, and because of the event, our event was in December. So we had to kind of move quickly once we decided what we were doing but the idea was to invite families in the community, so because it’s a rural community that’s a wide area, but invite community members to come and to plant a CHristmas tree on our land. And we wanted it to be a healing experience to everyone who came so we talked through what’s healing for community and individuals. So we brought the five senses into the experience. So we had art, lighting, lumineers, paths through the fields and Christmas music anda baker came and baked Christmas cookies that’s from Goshen and hot cocoa and a bonfire. So we tried to make it as memory making as we could by sealing in those five senses and then families are invited to come back each year and they can either take their Christmas tree if it’s tall enough for them or they can just check on it and take a picture with their family. So that’s been really fun to see families bewildered in the generosity. Families would call us and say, “ok so what are the rules around this?” or like ‘well how do we sign, and ensure that this is ours.” And so they’ve just been really surprised by the generosity.Katie: They also are seeking permission.Ashley: Yeah.Katie: To just show up and have a Christmas tree party?Ashley: Right. Right.Katie: Yeah it kind of shows that we’ve lost a little bit of our muscle for community building. We don’t really know what to do in the face of something as ordinary and simply beautiful as this, it’s kind of like there’s a catch. Where’s the marketing here?Ashley: Right, exactly and we have a friend here at Starfire mention that really we’re just returning to our roots as rural people. Who used to sit on one another’s porches and play music and eat together, so we talked about that that evening that we want more of that. And we really got a sense from our neighbors that they did too. So people would come by and talk to me about it like, “Oh I have this idea or I have that idea.” So we’re hoping that fosters more and more of that. Katie: Did many people know your family who came to the event? How did you make connections and make that neighborliness happen?Ashley: So it was funny because several days before the event we had no one signed up for the event.Katie: Seven days before?Ashley: Several, several so like three or four days before. We had like signs up, we had advertised.Katie: So really quickly describe your neighborhood real quick because when you say you have signs and things up it’s at like the one library and maybe like…Ashley: One coffee shop.Katie: Yeah.Ashley: There’s one coffee shop, there’s like two fast food restaurants or three and two gas stations and a library. Otherwise it’s a very rural community. So we had posted things on Facebook, on the Goshen Facebook community page but then we had also put it in a coffee shop. So we really had no idea how many trees we needed so we picked thirty, I’m not sure why but it was crazy because somebody called like three or four days before and was like I know it’s really late but is there anyway our family could sign up? And I was like yeah we’ve got some room.Katie: You hang up and were like woo-hoo!Ashley: Yes totally, like we got one and her friend wanted to sign up too so that made two families and what we didn’t know which I think is really important is having people invested in the process, so our neighbor Dan brough him and everyone he knew to that event. He was excited about it because he had done so much in giving advice and shopping around for trees and going to get thte trees, that he was invested enough to want it to be a good event and want his people to come and experience it.Katie: And is this the landscaper you had mentioned? So you had a neighbor, I mean you have eleven acres how many acres are around you?Ashley: We have one to our right and one to our left then we have one across the street, so yeah. Not a lot.Katie: So you have three neighbors in the vicinity of you and neighbor Dan was one of them. What a gem.Ashley: I know he is a gem.Katie: How did you meet him? Did you already know him?Ashley: Yeah, he has been friends with my husband’s parents who live right next door also. So he’s been a friend of their families for a while and you know in rural communities if there’s something wrong everyone shows up. But otherwise you kind of naturally keep to yourself and sometimes you might stop over and say hi but this just was really nice because we got to spend more time together and got to use one another’s gifts in a way that brought people together so that was great.Katie: Yeah. So this was not the first time that you’ve been part of a community in an intentional way. This experience that you had in your neighborhood with your family was sort of precluded by your own youth living in intentional community being part of living with a family, so you’ve tried community in various forms?Ashley: Yeah it’s always been important to me.Katie: Can you talk more about that?Ashley: I think I’ve always experienced more joy when I’m doing life with other people and yet when you’re doing life with more people it can be complicated too. So that’s just being with other people. Katie: That’s a good thing to know going into it.Ashley: Yeah I think so.Katie: You had seen some of the pitfalls of it but you had also lived some of the joys of it and knew I want this for my family now too?Ashley: Right and you know even having your own family that’s having a small community. So yeah I’ve experienced it in multiple different settings and really just treasured the gift of letting people be beyond the veils of their front doors and back doors and getting to spend real life with one another.Katie: Yeah so you’ve sought it out in that way. You’ve been seeking it. How were those experiences that
31 minutes | Jan 17, 2020
From Caregiving to Connecting | with Carole Workman and Katie Anderson
EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:1:11 - 2:31Carole: My name is Carole and I’m passionate about Japanese fashion and hopefully bringing it into community.Katie Anderson: My name is Katie, I am passionately working at this point to build community around fashion with Carole.Katie B: So fashion but particularly Japanese fashion?Carole: Mhm.Katie B: Tell me what type of Japanese fashion?Carole: It’s Lolita. Lolita is inspired by the victorian European style era. Where they, you know like the ladies wear the poofy dresses, the over the top here, the styles they wear a lot of accessories jewelry. They wear petticoats under the dresses. It’s kind of like that.2:32 - 3:55Katie B: Yeah and this was brought to Japan..Carole: This was brought to Japan at the time where the women were supposed to look stereotypical, they had certain standard how they wanted the women to look but the women didn’t want to look like that anymore. They wanted to be themselves so they decided that they wanted to keep it and it was the opposite of what the Japan standard was.Katie B: So in some ways, this Japanese fashion Lolita is the anti-Japanese fashion?Carole: Mhm.Katie B: Ok, the Japanese fashion for rebels, rebel women?Carole: Yeah.Katie B: So tell me how you guys know each other, Katie how do you know Carole?Katie A: Carole and I are connected through Starfire as a community building partnership, so we’ve been working together for probably a year and a half now.Carole: Yeah.Katie B: What does that time look like?Carole: We get together every Wednesday.Katie A: Wednesday mornings.Carole: Wednesday mornings. Until noon and we go to coffee shops and we sit down a think about what is our next step of what we want to do in the community, with Lolita or something that has to do with my interests.3:56 - 5:56Katie B: So you guys get together around something that you’re interested in and what was that in the beginning what did that look like in the beginning?Carole: Well it was hard at first because I’m interested in art and so we tried to get together with some artists but that didn’t pan out so well, apparently artists like to be very.. Well either they’re very busy or they’re very shy to do anything with anybody else. They like to do their own thing.Katie B: More like introverts?Carole: Yeah.Katie B: I guess the perception of artists is that they don’t necessarily want to hang out with each other but maybe in just the way that they hang out is in smaller groups and more intimate settings. So have you found people just that one on one connection to go and do art?Carole: When I visit Rhoda, I go over to her house and she has this like garage, she has her art studio in there and I go and we do art in there and we have a meal too. She gives me advice on how to do.. What she thinks I should do with my art, like add a color or a hint of a design or something.Katie B: Tell me who Rahda is again, just kind of explain who she is.Carole: Rahda is awesome. How do I explain her?Katie A: What kind of art does she do?Carole: She makes a lot of mandalas. Her artwork is all around the city.Katie A: You were recently involved with a project she did.Carole: Oh, we made prayer flags and she had them hung up at the Music Hall.Katie B: So drilling back in the time that you’re spending together is around your interests and that fit in with your interest in being connected to someone in the art world but then tell me how the fashion piece started to come into play.5:57 - 8:02Carole: I had interest in the fashion since 2014 and I’ve always worn like little bows and things like that here and there. But I’ve really wanted to actually try it so I bought one of the little dress pieces and..Katie B: This was just on your own, you just kind of went online and found what you wanted?Carole: Yeah I went online and I also had help from mom too. Yeah she helps make some of my stuff sometimes and I mean I help with the sewing too. I’ve always watched my mom sew and she taught me some things.Katie B: Yeah. When you guys first started what were your first initial attempts, what did that look like?Katie A: Just from my conversations with Carole, and you can tell me if I’m wrong Carole, you enjoyed art but you kind of felt like that had run its course as far as creating a project. So our plan together would be to keep up those connections you had and start fresh with a new idea. Which we started doing cosplay, so we thought we’d meet some people around cosplay.Carole: Yeah, that didn’t really work out so well. Nobody really showed up.Katie B: At the cosplay meetings?Carole: Yeah, after one meeting we had like a few people but then after that nobody else started coming so it kind of stopped.Katie B: How did that feel when something you tried didn’t work out?Carole: I mean it hurts because you know you put your heart into it and passion and you take your time on making like these little arts and crafts that we had.Katie B: What were the arts and crafts?Katie A: The idea was to have like when someone passed by they could just kind of join in and grab it real fast and make something without feeling like they had to be a major cosplayer.Katie B: Were there things that you learned from that and you were like ok we got to do something different?Carole: After that we just kind of figured well this is not going so well so..8:03 - 11:12Katie A: Then I think we just had some conversations around ok that’s not working, what else are you interested in? So it was just some more research and we had talked a lot about fashion.Carole: Yeah.Katie A: And we went to Facebook.Katie B: Oh yes. The Facebook.Carole: Then we went to Facebook.Katie B: What did you find there? What was..Carole: There were like two Loltia groups for Ohio.Katie A: And that was something that you were involved in separately from me.Carole: Yeah but I wasn’t like active, like I am now. Katie A: Yeah. Katie B: So you had already been a part of those groups on Facebook but not really actively posting on stuff. So you find them and you are like ok and you guys discover them together like hey this is something we could look into more and really at that point it’s just a random group of people that you don’t know in person, you just know they all like the same thing. How do you start to come up with an idea of how to meet them in person? Because the goal isn’t to stay digital it’s to have some sense of social connection that’s live.Carole: Well somebody had asked the group like if I set up a meeting, meet up in Cincinnati what would you want? So it was kind of set up already for us.Katie A: Yeah there was a list of like thirty five things that people wanted, so we were like this is an opportunity, let’s choose one and let’s plan it.Carole: Yeah they wanted tea events, they wanted crafting events, they wanted it all. So we decided ok let’s have a tea event and also let’s have a crafting event at the tea event too. The first time we didn’t do any crafting but we had a few people come out to the tea event at Essention?Katie A: Yeah, Essention Tea.Carole: Oh one of the Lolita’s we met at the cafe that we always go to, her name is Breanna.Katie B: And you met her how?Carole: She came up to me because I was wearing Lolita that day, and we were working on finding like what to do with the Lolitas. And she was like, “Excuse me, are you wearing Lolita, or are you a Lolita? And I was like, “Yes.” And she was like, “Oh my gosh.”Katie B: So she just randomly saw you sitting at the coffee shop and saw this woman over there, wearing this fashion that if I saw it I wouldn’t have a clue.. She obviously did and she came up and said, “Hey” she wanted to talk to you.Carole: Yeah. And she’s like “I wear Lolita too.” And she was very happy. And I was like huh, somebody else knows about Lolita besides me here? And she was like “I don’t really see anybody wearing it here but I saw you and I had to come rush over and get your number and then we started talking.Katie B: Ok, so the spark happened there.11:13 - 16:18Katie B: Where you there when that happened Katie?Katie A: I was there and it was like I didn’t exist, it was awesome. They just went into their Lolita language and they..Katie B: What is Lolita language?Carole: We talk about like petticoats and wrist cuffs.Katie B: So then you have Breanna, and you have a Facebook group and you start with that premise of we’re going to do this because this is what people in the Facebook group are saying they want, in Cincinnati, and when you got to the tea party, when you got to that day tell me the steps leading up, what made it possible? What made it successful and what the day of like how did that feel when you got there?Carole: We made a Facebook event and we invited all of the Lolita’s in the group and I think by the time like a day before, it was like five people who said they could come. It only ended up being me, Katie, Breanna, and two other girls but it was a big deal because people actually showed up.Katie B: Yes, people you invited came.Carole: Yeah, we were very worried other people wouldn’t be able to come because it was raining that day. It was raining and…Katie B: Oh do Lolita’s not like to get wet?Carole: No if we really want to go we’re going to go, it was just..Katie A: You take an hour putting your dress on you’re not staying at home, right?Carole: Yes, like today I got up at six and I didn’t get completely dressed, like everything together, until like 8. It takes forever to get together. So it started raining and I was like oh I wonder, and it was windy too, and I said oh I hope somebody wearing a petticoat, I hope they brought their umbrellas because it’s raining. But..Katie B: See that was one of the things, everybody showed up and you were..Carole: And we had a group picture and all that.Katie A: I think one of the important things too was, was Breanna like we had already had that initial conversation, one on one, like this would be really cool right to meet up and she had felt that personal connection to her relationship with Carole.Carole: Oh yeah, because we had met before the event too.Katie B: I think that’s really important that you just pointed that out because there’s something about the personal invitation that makes people want
18 minutes | Dec 12, 2019
How to Know if You're On the Right Track | A conversation with John McKnight (Part Two)
Download the Pocketbook Guide: https://www.starfirecincy.org/guidebookTRANSCRIPT:Katie: Yeah so pivoting a little bit I’d like to talk about this idea that for people with disabilities especially because that’s what we care a lot about at Starfire, that this connection to social services usually means a disconnection from community life.That it means a person getting kind of pulled off the path of community member and onto a path as a client. What can you say just initially about how that looks and how that works for people with disabilities?John: I learned a lot from people who are labeled disabled, I’m not the wise guy on this. My response is I’ve learned from people with the real experience. One of these people was a Canadian named Pat Worth. And Pat was a younger man when I first met him, maybe 25, rather tall. He had escaped from an institution for the developmentally disabled, big old fashioned institution. And he said to me, “You know I think, one of the things, not all but one of the thing we ought to do is to organize people who are labeled in local communities so they could have a strong voice. Not their parents, not the professionals, but them, me, right?” He said, “You know about organizing, will you come with me for a month across Canada and see if we can start little organizations in the major cities of people who could come together and become a voice for themselves?” And so we did that and we got started with a fair number of groups. They chose as a name People First. When we got done we ended up in Vancouver after a month Pat said to me, “Now I think you can finally understand that our problem is not that we are disabled, our problem is we are disorganized. And the answer for us is to be organized.” But he also recognized, “and become active in communities.”And I think initially that he had the idea that People First would be entry points into community life because they would be independent of agencies and systems.Once we understand what Pat understood, that what we call and label a disability is really a name for a lack of power to join everyday life. The lack of power to join everyday life. And Pat had discovered how to make that power when he escaped from the institution, right?So one of the basic things I think about the movement is, is everyday life goal? Is being a citizen in connection with others the place in life that you’re trying to achieve? And Pat had that in mind when he formed the group, but he first thought we ought to get enough power to get free of people who were controlling us and then we would have the possibility of moving to the world where we were connected rather than disconnected, or disorganized.Another thing, one of my best friends, she passed away I think now three years ago, was another Canadian named Judith Snow. I think she was very famous in the United States too. And Judith was born so that she could only move her thumb and her face. And we became very, very close friends. She used to come and visit us for her vacation. And she told me one time she said, “You know it wasn’t until I was thirty years of age that I really understood who I was.”And she said, “I had spent so much of my life being labeled and accepting the label and fighting the label but that didn’t tell me who I was.” And then she said to me, “When I was thirty I had a revelation, and it is that I am exactly the person who God created me to be and therefore I have every reason in the world to participate in this world because I have God’s gifts.”Now you don’t have to put it in religious terms, you could say “I have gifts.” And so I think the relentless, relentless insistence that the critical question about somebody is not what’s wrong. It is, what’s their gift? And building a life out from their gift is the key to entering community.Katie: You know for listeners who don’t know who Judith Snow is she is a pioneer really in education, in training programs, she’s an author, she’s written a lot of things and I actually had pulled a quote of hers leading up to this because I knew of your friendship with her.“A gift is a personal quality that when it’s brought into relationships in a valued way allows opportunity to emerge.” - Judith SnowJohn: Oh boy, that’s Judith. And Judith was a person who wanted to be a part of everyday life and I remember one time we have sort of a weekend home up in rural Wisconsin. She knew I was a fishermen and so she said to me, let’s go fishing. And I didn’t know about whether or not that was something that was going to be very good for her or if she’d really like it. But we went and the place we went to fish had some canoes and she said, well if I’m going to fish, I’ll have to be in a canoe. And she was in a wheelchair. You know and the idea of getting her into that canoe seemed to me a little perilous. But she had an aid and we got into the canoe. You know they’re a little tippy, I was very careful, a little afraid. And we went out together and I fished and she talked with me and watched and enjoyed the lake. And I caught more fish than I’ve ever caught before.And I thought you know, she made me a real fishermen by taking her adventure, desire to discover, to be a part of it all. And she brought me into that world, and see what a benefit I got?Katie: And those are exactly the gifts that she’s talking about.John: Right.Katie: Yeah, I love the list that you share that she has, that she said the gifts that people with labeled with disability have. I’ll link to that in the show notes for people to see but it’s brilliant.One thing you mentioned when you were speaking about Pat’s story that I want to go back to is that sometimes parents, in the time that Pat was advocating and starting People First, parents were actually getting in the way of people with disabilities being part of community life. And now today, what we’re doing at Starfire is really putting families at the center of building community and we’re asking families and parents to participate alongside their children with or without disabilities to be a part of effective community change. So how do you know when you’re on the right track with that, as a parent, as a neighbor, as a connector, how do you know when you’re on the right track with building community?John: You know that very idea is pioneering. I’m looking forward to learning from these families what kind of things they did, sometimes it might not have worked, I’d like to know that too. So I think I would probably approach the question you’re asking the same way I would approach if you weren’t say, anybody involved happened to have a label. And I would say that a family might first examine themselves in two ways: number one what do we all care about? What common interest do we have? And the second is: what gifts do we have? Those answers to those two questions are the keys to opening your access into community life.Because you’ll usually find that almost any interest that people have there is some group, club, or association that is focused around that. So if you can come to that part of the communities’ life with what makes the group work anyway, a common interest about the same thing, I think that’s a pretty clear path to becoming engaged. Now you’re not creating something anew but something new may grow out of that relationship, right? And the other possibility is your gifts as against your interests. Your gifts are key to your entry into community. So what do we have that we care about, and can share, can use as our key and if we have been great stewards of Christmas maybe we can bring more Christmas to the block than the block has had before. I think that’s happened with one of your groups. So they’re looking at what they have to offer as the starting point that would involve other people who are attracted to that. Now, there aren’t a lot of people sitting around thinking, “Gee, I’d like to have a better Christmas.” But when a group of people offer them a better Christmas, right? All of a sudden they’re attracted. And that’s what makes almost all groups work.Natural groups, clubs, groups and associations in neighborhoods are groups of people who are together for one or two reasons or both. Number one they care about each other, number two they care about the same thing.Very often the way you come to care about one another is you get together because you care about the same thing. And then your care for each other grows. So those are the avenues I think of, what’s the ramp into the community? And it’s interests and gifts. And your honest conviction that you have something to offer, and not that the community will solve your problems.You have something to offer. Everybody does. I’ve never met anybody who didn’t have something to offer.Katie: So it sounds like you’re on the right track as long as you are using gifts as your north star and you’re focusing on that and the minute you start to veer off into some other direction maybe around your empty half or the problems, or going toward the service to fix things then you’re kind of veering away from the path.John: Yes, excellent summary.Katie: One of the things that you worked on in Chicago was a project called Logan Square. You were the principal investigator in this what became a publication written by Mary O’Connell. And in this introduction Mary starts to describe the myths of the ideal of a small town past where “people sipped lemonade together on the front porch, watched out for the neighbors kids, shared the works of the town and the fruits of their gardens.” And I think there’s a common argument, especially today, we’re very aware of how the way things used to be is oftentimes mythologized, you know, things were way worse back then for people who were marginalized typically who are left out typically. People with disabilities, people of color, people who are part of the LGBTQ community, people who are typically just like I said left out of communities. So when we’re talking about community building are you trying to get back to the way things were, or how do you marry those two ideas? Because I know you worked a lot with civil rights in your career?John: Well I’m not sure they’re two things. I think people who are concerned about ci
24 minutes | Nov 19, 2019
The 6 Gifts of a Community | with John McKnight (Podcast Episode pt 1)
John McKnight has spent a lifetime dedicated to the common good. He’s a Korean War veteran, who worked under John F Kennedy to create the affirmative action program, he was the Director of the Midwest office of the United States Commission on Civil Rights before leaving the government to work in communities. Among his many works, he is the author of The Careless Society – a critique of professionalized social services and celebration of communities’ ability to heal themselves from within. Alongside Peter Block, John is the Co-Founder of the Asset Based Community Development Institute housed at DePaul University and Senior Associate of the Kettering Foundation. And it also helps to mention that John trained a young President Obama in Chicago when he was a Community Organizer. He later wrote one of Obama’s letters of recommendation to help him enter Law School! I really hope this interview with John can help anyone on the path to building community in your own neighborhood! Check out free trainings on how to be a connector at ABCD institute: https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/resources/Pages/tool-kit.aspx Abundant Community Initiative in Edmonton, Canada: https://www.edmonton.ca/programs_services/for_communities/abundant-community-edmonton.aspx