The Courage to Teach (CATALOG 10/22/21)

Every couple weeks, I assemble a “catalog” of news items, books, resources, ideas, etc., that recently piqued my interest. It’s also a pleasure to share my latest finds with you…

1. The premise of The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer is that “good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.” My favorite book so far on education!

2. Leading commerce agency The Stable aims to prove that apprenticeship—not college—is a viable option for learning and success.

3. God bless Osheta Moore for her book Dear White Peacemakers, a model of grace and a calling to grit when it comes to addressing racism.

4. I now lead the Twin Cities chapter of Green Bag Lady. E-mail me if you’d like to cut fabric and/or sew reusable cloth bags to help save our planet from the senselessness of single-use plastic. Open to all ages and abilities—materials and instructions provided!

5. Texture, color, and a paint-by-number-like simplicity—such is the awesomeness of punch needle embroidery! (And cheap doormats can serve as a good base? It’s worth a try!) I’m going to start with this pattern from Wooly Loon.

6. I love yarn pumpkins—yes, I do. I love yarn pumpkins—how ’bout you?

7. I return to this ABDCE formula for writing short stories time and time again!

8. On honoring five promises: A blog post in memory of General Colin Powell and in support of America’s Promise Alliance.

9. On striking a chord: A blog post in tribute to my beloved chord organ and music-making as it should be.

10. Brain differences aren’t flaws—we are getting better at appreciating neurodiversity (this post is worth a read just for the graphic alone).

I’m always looking for cool links and stories about writing, learning, and other creative endeavors. Please send yours my way, and thanks for reading!

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On Seeing SAINT JOHN’S POTTERY STUDIO

My fascination with the Saint John’s Pottery Studio began with “Clay, Wood, Fire, Spirit,” a documentary produced in 1996, but featured recently on TPT Twin Cities PBS. The film serves as a “video portrait” of Richard Bresnahan, a master potter and the studio’s artist-in-residence. Watch video>>

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The sales room offers an overwhelming array of pottery in various forms.

During a recent visit to the campus of Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., I was able to swing by the studio to see it in the flesh. I was greeted by two young apprentrices hard at work at their wheels—barefoot, gooey with clay, and engrossed in the forming of their signature vessels. I took in the gallery walls filled with numerous pieces of pottery in various forms: platters, bowls, vases, candlesticks, and cups. And I marveled at the hundreds of works for sale in a side room. Oh, to imagine the people-hours invested in the throwing and glazing and firing of all that I saw!

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Guests of the studio are invited to enjoy some tea at the “irori,” a traditional Japanese hearth.

Perhaps the biggest impression the studio made on me was its air of hospitality. The apprentices were quick to offer a formal tour, which I look forward to taking them up on another day. I was offered a seat at the studio’s “irori,” a traditional Japanese hearth, for a cup of green tea and conversation. Smiles and warm attention and a sense of home—these qualities definitely enhanced my appreciation of the art around me and, of course, the people who make it.

The experience got me to thinking… How can I infuse some hospitality into my own art making and sharing? What part does environment play in the spirit of my work? These are good—and fun—questions to ponder.  I’m eager to keep my eyes and ears open for more inspiration.