Thank you, Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, for honoring Tumbleweeds with your "Family-Friendly Business of the Year Award" at the 2017 Business Awards Red Carpet Gala in June.
"Tumbleweeds’ philosophy is that a publication that encourages healthy families must maintain work policies that support the health of its own staff and their families," as we wrote in our awards application. To us, a family-friendly work environment means flexible scheduling that allows our staff members to meet their own family's needs and enjoyment, not just meet deadlines. It means making accommodations to allow staff to take workshops in design, editing, photography and other skills that will further their professional goals. And it means encouraging a community among workmates that will in turn encourage us to help our greater community. "Team Tumbleweeds" staff members have volunteered together and individually at the Souper Bowl, Adelante and the Interfaith Shelter, and served on various nonprofit boards.
Thank you, Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, for recognizing Tumbleweeds' efforts to create a family-friendly workplace -- and extra thanks for recognizing the importance of maintaining a family-supportive environment in any business!
P.S. Thank you, Hutton Broadcasting, for the beautiful 'congratulations' bouquet from Amanda's Flowers!
“Spring is enveloping us, at last!” I boasted in an email to a friend in late April. “Luscious afternoons, rafter-rattling winds, the perfume of blooming fruit trees, now lilacs, as if the air itself were saying ‘Why not?!’”
A week later, I woke up to six inches of snow in the front yard.
Sure, there’d been rumors — what’s spring in the mountains without a couple of late-season snows? — but you learn not to bet the farm on a Santa Fe weather forecast. I figured we might get a dusting in town, much talked about, soon forgotten. But this was snow! Coming down in fat, wet flakes, sagging the branches of the apple tree, making the tulips…well…it’s hard not to infer sadness from a tulip head drooping under a clump of snow.
Misty, our belligerent, elderly cat, sprawled on the armchair in the living room. Charles, my husband, forayed out to the driveway for the newspaper and made a fire in the woodstove, which had been idle for weeks.
“Unseasonable snow, freezing temperatures, hit Santa Fe,” read the headline of that morning’s New Mexican. On first glance I thought it said, “Unreasonable snow” — which made absolute sense.
“Unreasonable, very!” a friend replied when I posted these thoughts on Facebook.
“Ask my plum blossoms — definitely unreasonable.”
Family in the Washington, D.C., area wrote that they were expecting highs that day to reach 90 degrees, capping the warmest April on record.
“There’s nothing reasonable about the weather lately,” someone else wrote, and I could practically hear her thinking, “or about anything.”
I know how she feels. Massive change seems to be the norm these days, as political turmoil and environmental change shake the planet. How to find peace with that?
Another image I have in my mental photo album of this spring is a newspaper photo of a man tending a rooftop herb garden in Damascus, Syria.
“Life Amid the Ruins as Syria Peace Talks Take Break,” the headline (Wall Street Journal; March 4, 2017) read, as if the negotiators had just stopped for tea.
I might have thought it was a black and white photograph, if not for the bright-green rectangular garden. The inconspicuous figure of a dark-haired man in a striped sweater bent over the plants with a watering can. Just beyond his rooftop stood the remains of a bombed-out building, its cement roof and floors folded like origami. The photo was taken from above, with a caption identifying the man only as “a Syrian,” making me wonder if the reporter didn’t feel safe going to the roof for the man’s name or story.
Perhaps the only thing a gorgeous, late-season Santa Fe snowstorm has in common with a war-zone garden in Damascus is that both images capture a scene in which life defies its expected storyline. The all-too-common reports from Syria today are of death, destruction, trauma and displacement, yet in the midst of that story an unnamed man is creating a narrative of life, bringing water to plants that will feed him.
Where does he get the water? Is plumbing still functioning in Damascus? Is that barrel at the edge of the garden for collecting rainwater? What will he cook with these herbs? It was easier to infer the story in the bombed-out buildings than find answers to these questions, which framed a different narrative.
My coworkers and I have been talking a lot in recent months about how we as individuals, and Tumbleweeds as a vehicle, can respond to the political and environmental challenges we’re facing. I can’t always change the world (or even myself) as much as I’d like, but I want Tumbleweeds to be a venue for the stories of people asking meaningful questions and seeking compassionate answers in times of unsettling change.
Parenthood, of course, means massive change from the very beginning, as Dr. Halina Krupa points out in the lead to her article, “In Alignment.” A pregnant woman’s question of when she will ever get “back to normal” would be wisely addressed, Krupa notes, with awareness that a “new normal” is coming.
Other contributors write about working for community change. Brianna Neumann, our 21-year-old intern, and David Berkeley, father of two boys, have both chosen to offer their time and love to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Their accounts of trials, challenges and successes reflect their different places in life, and their common commitment.
Each year Tumbleweeds presents a growing number of excellent summer camps and programs — to which many Santa Fe families face barriers of cost, transportation or scheduling. Susan Duncan, former school board member and community volunteer, writes about existing programs with sliding fee scales and flexible hours, and community efforts to expand and improve these options.
I pine for the day when science doesn’t require nationwide marches in its defense; this isn’t that day. In the meantime we’ll keep publishing articles on the importance and joy of learning science. Michael Sheppard, one of Santa Fe’s longtime and beloved teachers, describes a game he created called “Shadow and Gold,” which we can play in our own homes or classrooms to encourage good scientific inquiry by starting with the subject we know best: ourselves.
The Santa Fe Public Libraries (and the Vista Grande Public Library in Eldorado) have chosen “Build a Better World” as the theme for their summer programs, with activities and contests to reinforce the joy of reading or being read to. See Leslie Simmons’ article, “Building a Better Summer,” in English, (“Lectura y esparcimiento,” en español).
As a tool for understanding America’s place in an international context, the Council on International Relations is a invaluable asset to have here in Santa Fe. In addition to bringing international speakers to town, CIR has expanded its focus to education, from late-elementary through high school and college, as Sarah Rivera writes, “Local Kids, Global Citizens.”
Some things blessedly do stay constant, even in turbulent times, such as children’s innate curiosity. Lydia Lopez, a Santa Fe treasure, offers “A Dozen Ways to Take a Walk,” with inspiring ways to activate wonder — in our kids and ourselves.
You’ll also find articles on Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary’s care for elder-animals, Chimera/Meow Wolf’s latest awe-inspiring creative endeavors (and how you can join in), and “Fathers New Mexico,” a new name for a well-established organization supporting dads.
By the day after the big snowstorm, just a few patches were still melting in the shade. A few days later my son pointed out a strange pattern in one of our catmint bushes: a big depression in the center where the stems had broken off, as if a large animal had munched away or perhaps bedded down on it. Several other plants showed a similar pattern.
Had a large animal, or several, visited our yard in the middle of the night? No, the eerie visitor was the heavy snowfall, leaving its strange mark as a souvenir of its arrival so late in the spring growing season.
I talked with a self-professed “Santa Fe old-timer” recently who recalled that snowstorms in May were once predictable events. Normal is a shifting target. The plants in our garden are already bouncing back. Belligerent Misty is sprawled outside on a sunny patch of dirt. And perhaps in Damascus, an unnamed man is tending a rooftop herb garden, writing a narrative of life.
It’s an overcast Saturday morning at the Boys & Girls Club on Santa Fe’s south side. The room is abuzz with chatter: neighbors embracing after a busy work week, friends catching up, others busily jotting down questions and notes. They’ve gathered here to learn more about what their mayor is up to.
Three years ago, when Javier Gonzales was campaigning for mayor of Santa Fe, he spent a great deal of time talking about children and families. How would he create a better and safer place for Santa Fe families? As a father he felt the same obligations that so many of us experience as parents: We want our kids to be safe, nurtured and of course, to have every opportunity that we did not. In short, we want them to thrive.
On this chilly Saturday morning, Mayor Gonzales is making good on his campaign promise to increase access to high-quality early learning opportunities for all Santa Fe children.
His solution? Pre-K for Santa Fe.
Pre-K for Santa Fe aims to ensure that all of Santa Fe’s 3-and 4-year-olds have access to high-quality, full-day, pre-kindergarten, to start kindergarten better prepared to learn. Research shows that 85 percent of the human brain develops in the first five years of life. This targeted policy would educate our youngest learners during a time of tremendous social, emotional, physical and intellectual development.
Pre-K students learn through play. Through a variety of play-based methods they learn socialization skills, how to negotiate conflict with their peers, basic literacy, confidence and self-esteem. Full-day pre-K benefits range from increased school readiness, enhanced social-emotional development and better physical health. Pre-K alumni show increased rates of high school graduation, higher rates of college attendance and greater earnings as adults.
Society also benefits from expanded access to early childhood education, including lower rates of juvenile delinquency, decreased rates of grade repetition and unnecessary special education placement, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. The benefits far outweigh the cost.
Yet despite all these benefits, and the establishment of New Mexico PreK initiative in 2005 providing state funding for early childhood programs, an estimated 1000 Santa Fe 3- and 4-year-olds have absolutely no access to pre-K, either because their families cannot afford the cost of private programs or because there is no availability in public programs due to insufficient funding. The statistics you may have heard are true: Childcare in New Mexico costs more than in-state college tuition and is, for many, more expensive than their mortgage or rent. The mayor’s initiative will provide access to early childhood education programs for children of working parents who otherwise might be denied.
The initiative will also fuel an economic engine in our city. Pre-K for Santa Fe will create an estimated 200 jobs for Santa Feans in early education, with professional development and benefits. This program will both expand and further professionalize early childhood education.
We hear so much about third grade reading levels. Sadly, what we don’t hear about often enough is how significant it is to read and talk to a child. The brain of a 3-year-old is two and a half times more active than an adult’s. Long before children learn to read and write in the conventional sense, they are learning about literacy. By 3 years of age, there is a 30 million word gap between children from the wealthiest and poorest families. A recent study shows that the vocabulary gap is evident even in toddlers. By 18 months, children in different socio-economic groups display dramatic differences in their vocabularies. That gap can be closed through Pre-K for Santa Fe.
Pre-K for Santa Fe will be funded through a two cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks. These taxes have been passed in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Boulder, Philadelphia, Mexico City and the Navajo Nation and are currently being considered in other communities across the country.
A study cited by Harvard University’s “Sugary Drinks and Obesity Fact Sheet” found that each 12-ounce soda consumed per day increases a child’s risk of becoming obese by 60 percent during a follow-up period of a year and a half. This initiative would not only benefit parents, children and public health but would support local businesses, who could attract families interested in relocating to the City Different by promoting the affordability and accessibility of pre-kindergarten. Dozens of business, including Back Road Pizza, Jambo, New York Deli, Meow Wolf and Sage Bakehouse, have already committed their support. You can see the full list at www.prekforsantafe.org.
If you would like to get involved, please sign up on the website or visit the Pre-K for Santa Fe Facebook page.
The Santa Fe City Council has scheduled a hearing on this proposal for March 8 at 5 p.m. Let your voice be heard. Call your city councilor today at www.santafenm.gov/elected_officials, and please come to the vote at the city council chambers of City Hall, 200 Lincoln Avenue in downtown Santa Fe. Visitors should arrive by 4:30 p.m.
Danila Crespin Zidovsky, MPA, is a policy analyst for United Way of Santa Fe County.
It was a song that lured me to the Roundhouse, one snowy day in January.
The surge of hateful speech and action following the November election, and the attacks on civil rights leader John Lewis, had left me depressed and angry. A few days before Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, I attended Sabbath services at our family’s synagogue, Temple Beth Shalom. Music director Aaron Wolf was playing “We Shall Overcome” softly on the piano as the crowd was gathering in the room, and I started to cry. My tears didn’t stop all evening.
I sang the song around the house all that weekend and found versions of it on the Internet. A beautiful NPR documentary from 2013 recounted its 150-year history from its origins as a folk song sung by slaves in the fields, to a lively gospel hymn in African-American churches, to the version published by Methodist minster Rev. Charles Albert Tindley in 1901 as “I Will Overcome.” Tobacco workers striking in Charleston, South Carolina in 1945 picked it up as a rallying cry, and it has been adopted ever since by civil rights marchers, farm workers, union organizers, war protesters and members of resistance movements around the world, who have adapted its rhythms (and pronouns) to suit their message. Hearing its history comforted me with a sense of continuity and community.
So I bundled up, that snowy Monday in January, putting on boots I’d hardly used this long, dry winter, and walked to the Roundhouse for the NAACP’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. I figured no gathering for Dr. King would end without that anthem of resistance.
By the time I arrived, a standing-room-only crowd had gathered in the rotunda and the balcony was ringed with onlookers. There was, actually, one empty seat on the floor, which several people offered to one another but no one took, like the last slice of pie that everyone politely leaves for someone else, or the extra cup of wine on the Passover seder table for the traveling prophet Elijah, a symbolic gesture of welcome.
African drummers set the mood for the multigenerational, multicultural crowd. Three high school seniors received honors for volunteer work in the community: Jason Duncan, of New Mexico School for the Arts; Irvin Peña, Santa Fe High School; and Jessica Sipos, Capital High School.
Dr. Natasha Howard, professor of Africana Studies at the University of New Mexico, spoke on Dr. King’s notion of the Beloved Community. She described, with calm resolve, the experience of seeing swastikas and racist graffiti around the UNM campus the morning after Trump’s election in November. With a historian’s long view she explored those acts, and other recent instances of rhetoric and violence against Muslims, immigrants and women, in relation to Dr. King’s concept of the “Beloved Community” — a society that goes beyond “tolerance” to true embrace of diversity. A society that does not accept racism, poverty, hunger or homelessness, and acts decisively against hate and discrimination.
The ceremony ended, as I had hoped, with the crowd linking arms and singing “We Shall Overcome.” This time I didn’t cry. I cherished adding my voice to the crowd.
Back outside, I saw a group of teens huddled together on the hill beside the west entrance for a group photo, before boarding the bus from the celebration back to their school. I offered to take the picture so the photographer could be in the shot. The kids scrunched together, laughing, teasing, making silly faces, putting up bunny ears behind each other’s heads, leaving me smiling at their joyous, communal activism. This, I thought, is a task of the Beloved Community: nurturing the next generation of activists, the ones (or so I imagined) who will march, lobby, sing, celebrate successes and reel from defeats, in their efforts to overcome struggles of today and ones ahead.
I thought back to my childhood in Maryland in the 60s, a solid blue state long before we knew the term. In our liberal, Democratic household, the ideals of the civil rights movement were ones we took for granted. But in our mostly-white suburban neighborhood, racial equality was a belief we adopted, not our daily struggle. Dr. Howard’s reflections stretch me to dive deeper in my own feelings, wishes and fears, to consider what a beloved community means to me and how I can contribute to its construction.
My beloved community is one that values the contributions of teens and helps them develop their strengths and share them with younger children, in programs such as Randall Davey Audubon Center’s Naturalist-In Training (see more on this in Samantha Funk’s “Growing Naturalists”).
A beloved community provides emotional and mental health support to families with young children as soon as it is needed, to help children be whole, and help parents break generational patterns of trauma and dysfunction. Jodi Rogers of Las Cumbres Community Services addresses this need in “Mental Health Begins In Utero.” Flor de María Oliva, our Spanish translator, chose this article to translate because she realizes how many families benefit from services that help them with everyday challenges, especially with early childhood services and education.
A beloved community aims to make education accessible to everyone, through efforts such as Pre-K for Santa Fe, led by Mayor Javier Gonzales, seeking to raise money for families who can’t afford private childcare or who can’t get into “universal pre-K” for lack of available spaces. See “Bridging the Gap” by Danila Crespin Zidovsky. This program — and others like it — is the sort of work on a local level that builds strength, resiliency and vibrancy in Santa Fe.
Beloved children are heard and listened to from their very first words, as father Will McDonald relates in his essay, “Conversation.”
Beloved elders share the culture and values they picked up in their own childhood by passing down stories of their heritage and culture, as does our prolific local treasure Nasario García. See “Nasario’s New Mexico,” by Barbe Awalt.
Beloved communities don’t tolerate hunger or poverty and find creative ways to feed those in need. The Food Depot has added a new program to provide hot meals to kids after school — just one of their many services for children and families in northern New Mexico. See Jennifer West’s “ ‘Square Meals’ Provides Hot Food After School.”
Beloved critters are fed, housed and treasured. Our beloved intern, Brianna Neumann, describes her adventures in animal adoption as a kid and adult, in her article, “Four-Legged Family Members.”
And beloved communities make a commitment to inclusivity of all religions and ethnicities.
Our frequent contributor and wise friend Rev. Talitha Arnold writes straight to my heart in her letter, “Seeking Rainbows, Finding Helpers.”
This year Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day coincided with my own birthday. My husband and son took me to dinner, and their beloved and loving company reminded me that the beloved community begins in the home and ideally ripples far, far beyond. You, Tumbleweeds readers and writers who care about children, who share your concerns, efforts and feelings on these pages and in our town, are co-constructors of this community, and I’m honored to have a place in it with you.
By Claudette E. Sutton
Maybe I sensed that Charles needed a pick-me-up, or maybe I was just too full o’ beans to contain myself. He was working intently at his computer when I came home, but I couldn’t resist sharing the magical scene I’d just witnessed.
I’d just come back from National Dance Institute, where I’d taken photos of the “itty-bitties,” the 3- and 4-year-olds in Allegra Lillard’s creative movement class, for Sarah Rivera’s article “Tiny Dancers” (page 8 in English, and 24 in Spanish), when our “real” photographers weren’t available. I’m no more a photographer than anyone else who can push a button on an iPhone, but how hard could it be to take pictures of adorable children in motion? (Answer: Very hard. Very fun.)
The half-dozen children were dressed in leotards, skirts, comfy pants or tutus. The lone boy wore a Superman t-shirt and stretch pants. Together they suggested less a dance troupe than a group of colorfully dressed kittens, wandering in and out of each other’s reality.
“‘Let’s get in the elevator!’” I said to Charles, trying to capture Lillard’s excitement as she had the children stand together at one end of the studio.
“‘Let’s see what floor it’s going to stop on. It stopped on the rolling floor!’” Lillard had said, and the little ones began rolling on the ground. “‘Now it stopped on the twirling floor!’” The children flung out their arms and began twirling in different directions across the dance floor.
“I forget how much 3-year-olds still live in their own world,” I told Charles. Our 28-year-old son is by now pretty well grounded on this planet. I pictured these preschoolers on a thin, shifting line between collective awareness and individual reality. From time to time one would wander off to a parent’s lap, or just sit on the floor for a few moments staring off at the ceiling or the wall, before rejoining the activity. Lillard had created a safe environment where any of these options was acceptable.
At the end of class, each child was called one at a time to dance across the room, with their own steps and their own style, to their teacher’s arms for a hug. She gave each child a sticker on their chest, and a dab of fairy dust on their nose. Then each one dipped a tiny finger into the jar for some fairy dust to put on their parents. By this point, in watching the class and in describing it, I was getting teary-eyed.
“We need to end every day with a sticker and some fairy dust!” I insisted.
My dear husband didn’t object to the interruption, or to my deluge of enthusiasm. He had been banging away all morning at bookkeeping for his construction business. Just a few days after the presidential election, he was still reeling from the outcome, as was I. A diversion into the charms of children seemed to be doctor’s orders.
So many parents and teachers I know — whatever their politics, whatever their vote — are stunned by the hate, bigotry, misogyny and violence that surfaced during the campaign and the struggle of explaining these things to children. Kids too young to vote are directly affected by political actions, and by the words and behavior of our politicians. When we see bullying, insults, obscenities and intimidation in public figures that we would never allow in our children, how do we proceed?
Conversations and more concrete actions here at Tumbleweeds on these matters are just beginning. For now, here’s what we have to offer.
Be kind. Children have seen much cruelty and meanness in this election cycle. Show them kindness, to each other, ourselves and others. Those of you who want to broaden your sphere of kindness might consider Cullen Curtiss’s suggestions (“Knit One, Purl Two, Change the World,” page 10) for setting up a service learning program. At home, take up a holiday ritual that emphasizes giving rather than getting. (See Katy Yanda’s idea for “Reverse Advent Calendars” (Holiday Briefs, page 16) for a creative twist on an old tradition.)
Get outside. A walk in the woods, a hike up a mountain, lifts the soul in any season — and any time of day or night. Katie Macaulay, director of Mountain Kids!, bundles up her kids for a moonlight hike at the Santa Fe Ski Basin (“Touching the Quad,” page 26), shaking up a school night, building memories and cultivating a sense of pride in accomplishment and in our beautiful environment.
Read. Winter is the perfect season (along with the three others) for reading to and with children, and helping older ones find books they’ll enjoy on their own. In her article “Timeless Books Find New Friends” (page 18), Dorothy Massey of Collected Works Bookstore suggests classic works that you may remember from your childhood, but which might become new BFFs for your children.
Play! Children do it naturally; older kids and adults might need a little poke. You may not need studies to tell you this, but play is good for you. It defuses tension, engages curiosity and lights up the brain. See Yanda’s “Wanna Come Play?” (page 20) — and you will.
Learn about other cultures. Santa Fe offers many ways to learn about traditions and beliefs of other cultures, an invaluable way to resist the growing trend of xenophobia. You’ll find ways to deepen your family’s understanding in Pat Lord’s “Winter Festivals Light Up Darkest Nights” (page 14)
Talk science; tell science. Strange choice of verbs? Sure — but you’ll understand when you read “Tell Me an Experiment” (page 12), Dr. Olivia Carril and Pat Preib’s article about the value of storytelling in the science classroom. New Mexico’s science test scores are among the lowest in the country — with tragic implications not just for our children’s future careers and the health of our planet, but for their everyday joy. Exploring the underpinnings of our physical world instills a sense of wonder and awe that only begets more.
Accept ourselves and each other. We have something new for us in this issue, a short story. “Normal,” by Meneese Wall (page 28), challenges us to respect differences of all kinds, and to share that perspective with our children. Shari Cassutt’s essay “Roots and Wings” (page 22) acknowledges parental anxieties from a place of wisdom that can help us grow.
Take action. We at Tumbleweeds know how important it is to provide support and unity to families, children and organizations in our community in this time of transition. We invite our readers to email ideas of actions or discussions you might want to see under the umbrella of Tumbleweeds. Write email@example.com. Whatever our party affiliation, whatever our vote, healthy families and communities need our strong action, loving attention and a dab of fairy dust.
Ten Red Delicious and Jonathan apple trees grow on the perimeter of Santa Fe's Railyard Park, in addition to Tilton Apricot trees, as part of the Cerrillos Road Orchard and provide our community with organic apples and apricots during the late summer months. When designing the Railyard Park, planners purposely planted fruit trees along the outskirts of the park for our community to enjoy the apples and apricots.
Red Delicious (Malus x domestica 'Red Delicious')
Red Delicious apple trees bear fruit heavily one year and sparsely the following year. Light pink blossoms appear in April with fruit ripening in mid-September – but these tasty fruits don’t stay on the tree long at the Railyard Park!
Jonathan Apples (Malus x domestica 'Jonathan Apple'):
Jonathan Apple trees are also planted in the Cerrillos Road Orchard and are a late-ripening cultivar, producing fruit in mid-September through mid-October. The fruit produced in warm climates turns bright red when ripe, but in cooler climates like Santa Fe, the fruit has beautiful red stripes and produces fragrant white-pink blossoms. The Jonathan apple was “discovered” by Jonathan Hasbrouck in the early 1800’s in Woodstock, New York when he presented the fruit to the Albany NY Horticultural Society president.
Both Red Delicious and Jonathan apples are prized for their long shelf life of 3-6 months and can be stored at 35-40 degrees in a cool basement, garage, shed, fruit cellar or refrigerator. Both trees grow to about 25 feet tall with a spread of 25 feet and require regular irrigation and a full six hours of sunlight daily. Self-pollination does not occur in most apple species, so other apple trees must be planted nearby to allow for cross pollination. Bees, the critical link towards carrying pollen between trees, don’t travel far in between flower visits so trees must be planted less than 100 feet apart to ensure proper pollination. Currently there are 10 apple trees planted along Cerrillos Road.
Christy Lee Downs is program coordinator of the Railyard Park Conservancy.
If you'd like to support Railyard Conservancy programs, including the Outdoor Science Classroom, which hosts more than 400 elementary school students and teachers each fall to help increase science literacy at an early age, and Sand Play Saturdays, which celebrates creativity and imagination for pre-K children through nature-based play and activities led by early-childhood education specialists, click here.
After 23 years at the helm of Santa Fe Performing Arts, W. Nicholas Sabato will step down as executive artistic director at the end of September. Megan Burns, a seasoned theater artist, longtime director with SFPA, and former student of Sabato’s, will lead the organization.
Under Sabato’s leadership, SFPA received numerous recognitions and awards, including the 2012 Mayor’s Award for
Excellence in the Arts and the Santa Fe Community Foundation’s Outstanding Contribution to Arts and Humanities award. The theater was voted “Best of Santa Fe” by Santa Fe Reporter readers for ten continuous years.
Sabato’s passion for theater and love for his community permeated his tenure. He led the organization through two decades at the Armory for the Arts Theater, holding true to his ideals that the performing arts can be a tool for education and social impact through robust programming addressing the issues of our time and place.
A native of Santa Fe, Burns has served as associate artistic director at SFPA for more than a decade. She is also co-founder of the Santa Fe artist collective Meow Wolf, whose large-scale installation “The House of Eternal Return” has won international accolades and raised Santa Fe’s profile as a top destination in the Southwest for immersive contemporary art.
Santa Fe Performing Arts will hold a fundraiser in support of their work in the community on November 5, 2016. tickets and more information will be available on their website, www.sfperformingarts.org, in October.
Tumbleweeds welcomes Burns to her new position, and wishes Sabato the best of luck in his next endeavors.
Fall is a season of separation. Trees turn color and lose their leaves. Apples ripen and fall to the ground. The songbirds whose music and theatrics have enlivened our yard all summer long are heading south.
Little kids clutch their mom or dad’s hands as they walk into a new school; bigger ones perhaps run ahead with their friends, or drive off to college. Outwardly we celebrate these milestones with proud smiles and encouraging words, even if inwardly our emotions might bounce and jerk like yo-yos.
Our 27-year-old son, Ariel — whom some of you have watched grow up in my stories on these pages — is about to buy his first house. Geographically speaking, this isn’t his biggest step, since the house is just a few miles from ours, and the kid lived for almost eight years in other countries on three continents.
He went to Argentina for a yearlong high school program, a year and a half before Charles and I expected to be empty-nesters. He went to college up in Vancouver, instead of down the hill at UNM (or as a friend calls it, “University Near Mom”), spent his junior year of college in Spain, and then lived in Germany for a year after graduation with the girl he fell in love with in Spain.
The charms of New Mexico — green chile, blue skies, our cat — blessedly lured Ariel back to the states four years ago for graduate school. He landed a job in Santa Fe, and for the last two years he has lived with us during the workweek and gone to Albuquerque on weekends to the house he shared with a friend. Now he’s ready to find a place of his own in Santa Fe.
Geographically, I know, a few miles doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy mixed-up world.
Emotionally, it’s a longer flight, as this may mark the last time our little bird lives in our nest.
At this point in our lives, Ariel’s presence is a particularly graceful one. Yes, he does his own laundry. He cleans the kitchen after himself (and, sometimes, all three of us). He makes grocery runs. Better than that, he brings a fresh energy to our stable, steady lives. The kid is meeting adulthood with the optimism of a relative newcomer, for whom holding a job, fixing his car, even filing a tax return, are still new experiences, each in their own way a little wondrous.
“Go forth and conquer,” Charles tells Ariel as he leaves the house for work in the morning, and Ariel replies, “I fully intend to.” And he does, with bravado, humor and a heaping dose of compassion.
Parents are their children’s first teachers, so the adage goes, but somewhere along the way we discover how much our children are teaching us. Perhaps the most precious lesson I get from this kid is his gentle way of showing me a door in what looks to me like a solid wall. Funny thing is, he might say he got this lesson from Dad and me, but it comes back around as something spanking new.
These themes — separation, individuation, independence and attachment — are woven throughout this issue. Abby Bordner, of United Way of Santa Fe County, describes the butterflies parents feel when their child goes off to pre-kindergarten (“Off On the Right Foot”). Will they be safe? Will they have the confidence to ask for what they need? Will they make friends?
Dona Durham, an educational therapist and consultant, offers suggestions for parents of children with special educational needs, for whom a new school year may present even more uncertainty and anxiety than it does for other kids (“Running Towards the Goal,” in English, and “Cómo lograr su objective” as translated into Spanish by Flor de María Oliva).
Rosemary Zibart talks about the unique challenges of foster parents, for whom the cycle from opening their heart and home to a child, to saying goodbye, might take place in a matter of months, days or even hours. (“Kit Coyote: Children’s Champion”).
Our “Long-Timers Club” article in this issue, honoring people and organizations that have been serving families for 15 years or more, pays tribute to “Many Mothers,” the program founded by our late, dear friend and advisory board member Anne McCormick, which matches volunteers with moms (and some stay-at-home dads) who want support through the seismic adjustment to parenthood.
We bring back an article from our archives, written almost 10 years ago by Brenda Dominguez, a recipient this year of a Golden Apple Excellence in Teaching Award, with input from several other SFPS teachers (“Since You Asked…”). Teachers! Please accept our invitation to share your thoughts and wishes in Tumbleweeds, whenever, however and about whatever you’d like!
Summer fades out early up here in the mountains. Well before Fiesta weekend, the shadows are already growing longer, and the morning air has a bite. Soon, El Rancho de las Golondrinas will observe a traditional colonial harvest — complete with crushing grapes by foot and stringing chile ristras — the first weekend in October (Fall 2016 Calendar). The “Horno Man,” Francisco Ochoa, will fire up the outdoor oven for biscochitos at the Santa Fe Children’s Museum’s Harvest Festival the following Saturday. Fall is a feast of change, letting go, and readying for new growth.
For those of you whose little birds are still at home, this older Mama Bird has a piece of advice. Kiss them on their beaks, stroke their feathers, and take a moment to marvel at their growing wings. As always, we invite you to share what you see.
Desert Montessori begins a new chapter under the new leadership of Phoebe Walendziak, Executive Director and Autumn Wise, Associate Director.
Walendziak returns home to Santa Fe after spending the last 13 years as an educator in Brookline, MA. Coming from one of the best school districts in the country, she brings with her more than a decade of teaching expertise and 21st century educational leadership experience.
Autumn Wise has been a lead teacher and Head of Pre-School at Desert Montessori for over 10 years. She has a deep understanding of the Montessori Method and a solid pedagogical background.
Together, the new directors hope to continue the school’s legacy of social and academic success, while bringing in new ideas and fresh perspectives to guide Desert Montessori School to new heights. They will work to streamline the curriculum, ensuring that each year is dynamic, successive and purposeful from pre-K through sixth Grade. They plan to bring in special talent from around the community to inspire creativity and self-expression by providing rich, well-crafted experiences in Music and the Arts. Phoebe and Autumn are thrilled to be able to merge their diverse backgrounds together to create what promises to be a true educational model.
Each start of a new school year brings with it a basketful of emotions -- excitement, anticipation, apprehension, thrill, anxiety, and sometimes a fear of not being smart enough or ready enough for the next grade. While there are a number of strategies that can help children move from summer to the start of school, one of the most important things that you can do is listen to their concerns and let them know that you are there to help the school year get off to a good start.
As an educational therapist who works with students with different learning concerns, I often use books to help children identify their worries around new learning situations -- new teachers, schools, expectations -- and see that they are not the only ones with these feelings. Books that can be helpful for younger children (preschool to second grade) include: David Goes to School, First Day Jitters, and Scaredy Squirrel. For mid- to late-elementary school students, books such as Miss Malarky Doesn’t Live in Room 10 and There’s A Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom are fun choices. Middle schoolers may enjoy the How to Survive Middle School series from Scholastic. I am a firm believer that picture books can be enjoyed by children and adults of all ages and would recommend Oh the Places You Will Go for everyone.
After you identify your child’s concerns about the start of the new school year, turn this information into a chart or list to help turn free-floating fears into manageable concerns. For younger children, simple drawings can be used to illustrate their ideas. Add a column to your list or table for actions to take to start the school year off on the right foot.
Here are some suggestions that might address concerns on your list.
Shift to a fall schedule. If you and your family have been on a summer schedule, bring more structure into your days and nights as the start of school gets closer. Reinstitute “early to bed and early to rise.” Write important school dates on the family calendar.
Phase in school-like activities. Build in quiet time for listening to books and recorded stories and/or reading on one’s own. Review math facts. Have your child teach you a lesson on something they learned last year. Create opportunities to do activities with others and to work independently. For example, involve your child in a cooking, gardening, or craft project. If you are really feeling ambitious, have your child either dictate or write a paragraph or two about the experience. To get into the homework habit, create a homework plan with your child which includes when and where homework will be completed. Start with the first homework assignment; don’t wait until after Fiesta week, traditionally a date that marks the end of summer for most of us Santa Feans!
Get familiar with your new school. If your child is going to a new school, drive by the building a number of times this summer. It may be possible to ask for permission to walk around the school and visit areas, both inside and outside, where your child will spend time. If your child is transitioning from one area of their same school to another area, say from kindergarten to first grade, downstairs to upstairs, or elementary to middle, it may be helpful to walk the halls of this year’s classrooms together before school starts. Some children may need more than one visit “to learn” the new building.
Take photos of the new place and people. Many children benefit from having a photo album of a new school setting to review during the first few weeks of the school year. Ask for permission to take photographs of the front of the school, the front office, the cafeteria, your child’s classroom, parent pick-up and bus pick-up/drop-off areas, the gym, the playground, and any other areas of the school that your child will often visit. Then either review these photos on a phone or camera with your child, or print the pictures with labels and make a “new school year” book. If the school and staff agree, take pictures of staff who will be working with your child. Don’t forget to take pictures of the office staff and principal.
Rehearse new situations. Another strategy that may help children is to rehearse a few situations that may arise during the first days of the new school year, such as lining up for lunch, being in a class with none of their friends, introducing themselves in class, figuring out what to do at recess (watch what the other kids are doing), etc. Remember to keep role-play fun, and try to place yourself in your child’s shoes. Don't teach formal adult language for introductions to peers; use kid language.
Look for help. If your child is feeling especially anxious, ask your school for assistance. Identify, with the help of your school, key people such as the counselor or nurse that can be safe “go to” people, and make sure that your child knows who these people are. Ask your child’s teacher to seat him or her near helpful and kind peers. And if your child is new to the school, request a “new students” group be formed and class “buddies” be provided so that your child can learn the culture of the school. When all students are new, such as with kindergartners, the teacher will provide an orientation for all the students.
With some planning, preparation, and continued parent involvement, your child can make a smooth transition to a wonderful new school year.
Dona A Durham, Ph.D. is a Professional Level Educational Therapist (ET/P) with a private practice in Santa Fe. Look for her article on helping special-ed students get the support and services they need, in the Fall 2016 Tumbleweeds coming August 17.
Quarterly magazine full of news, views and to-dos for families living in or visiting Santa Fe, NM